March 31, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open today in both Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) -- remember being the day before Easter, things are a little busy. Bust despite the parking lot potholes, and busy aisles, there will be lots of treats, local white eggs, nice dinner foods, fresh greens and well-kept winter vegetables, and craft beer and maple syrup.
It sounds like the Trudeau government is gleefully using some of the same methods as its predecessor to rush consultation and debate on particular bills; the one outstanding now is Bill C-69:
Edited from The Council of Canadians website on Wednesday (and which is to be updated in the next couple of days):
By Emma Lui, water campaigner for the Council of Canadians, March 28th, 2018
Early February, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which in its current form would make sweeping changes to Canada’s water, environmental and energy legislation. (The House Government Bill website) Buried in the lengthy 412-page bill are changes to the Navigation Protection Act, now named the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA). Despite Justin Trudeau’s commitment to restore protections and implement modern safeguards the bill does neither.
Pipelines and powerlines are still exempted under the CNWA. Pipelines like Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, which crosses more than 1300 waterways, would still not be regulated under this proposed act.
Yet the bill is moving quickly through the different readings and stages. The Trudeau government introduced a Time Allocation Motion (The Council of Canadians writes about that here) at the end of February that shut down debate on the bill after just two days of debate.
On March 19, Members of Parliament voted to send the bill to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. The Standing Committee started hearings last week on World Water Day on March 22. Ministers and staff for the departments of Environment and Climate Change and Natural Resources as well as the president of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency presented that day.
(Thursday and Friday of this week were hearings with) a whole slew of industry associations like the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Hydropower Associate, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the Canadian Electricity Association, the Canadian Nuclear Association and the Mining Association of Canada. (More information from the"Our Commons" website here.) (The hearings are expected to resume in mid-April.)
The usual Consultation/Not Really Consultation parameters: the deadline for the public to request to speak passed Friday and was really hard to find on the website.
The deadline for written submissions was only listed "as soon as possible" and finally this week was released as this coming Friday, April 6th.
If the Standing Committee on the Environment and the Trudeau government truly want to hear from Indigenous nations, local residents, community or water groups, they must extend the deadline and give people proper notice to engage in this process.
Despite the short timelines given to the public, the Standing Committee was able to line up numerous industry associations on what it says was “short notice.”
The Council of Canadians is calling for the CNWA to be scrapped and that much stronger water protection legislation be tabled that protects all lakes, rivers and drinking water sources and respects that free, prior and informed consent be obtained, as required by the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Council is calling for the appointment of a federal water minister position to advocate for the protection of water. See our other demands and sign our petition here.
Take action for water by:
Making a written submission by Friday, April 6. See the Council of Canadians' submission focused on the Canadian Navigable Waters Act here. Please feel free to use the points in it for your submission as well as the information below.
It's not funny anymore. A cartoon by Michael de Adder, from December 2016
Sunday, April 8th:
Abercrombie, a presentation with author Joan Baxter, 2-4PM, Farm Centre. She will be reading from her book about the paper mill, and Melanie Giffin from the PEI Fishermen's Association will be speaking, also. People on both sides of the Northumberland Strait are concerned. All welcome.
District 18 MLA Brad Trivers, Opposition critic for Community, Land and Environment, has concerns about the quick consultation process for an expansion of the Raspberry Point Oyster company at Rustico. He is clear he is not trying to squash business, but allowing voices to be heard and concerns discussed. Press release (edited slightly):
Trivers urges extension to public feedback for proposed shellfish project -- March 30th, 2018
North Rustico – Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers is urging the province to delay approving a shellfish processing development on Rustico Bay until further public consultations can be completed.
“Many residents are telling me they haven’t been given enough time and information to fully understand and consider the project, and its potential impacts to the area - on the environment, existing residents, and future residential development," says Trivers.
The Raspberry Point Oyster Company is proposing to construct a processing facility on the Grand Pere Point Road on Rustico Bay, as well as expand oyster production in the bay by adding 20,000 oyster cages. The province is currently seeking public feedback on the permit application period which closes this week.
“The area has great potential and the provincial government has the legislative responsibility to consult with the community with respect to a long-term vision and land use plan before any development decisions are made. That’s why I have written the Minister of Communities, Land & Environment to urge an extension of the public feedback period," Trivers concluded.
Spring and a little bit of rain and some fields -- many fall plowed or left totally bare -- are rivers of topsoil heading for the Strait and the Gulf. Photos could be posted on social media and flag Environment Minister Richard Brown and Agriculture Minister Robbie Henderson.
"When we save a river, we save a significant part of an ecosystem, and we save ourselves as well because of our dependence -- physical, economical, spiritual, -- on the water and its community of life." -- (I could not find a clear reference for the author of this)
March 30, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight and tomorrow:
"The Popalopalots 26-Hour Improv Marathon", 8PM Friday to 10PM Saturday, The Guild, 111 Queen Street, Charlottetown. Fundraiser for the QEH Foundation. Two two-hour regular shows anchor the 22 hours of non-stop improv in between. People are encouraged to come for one of the shows ($15 donation admission) or anytime in between for any donation. Full schedule ("subject to change or be ignored without notice") is on the Popalopalots Facebook page.
The recent announcement by the federal Fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc and the Transport minister Marc Garneau on shipping speeds and snowcrab fishing season and gear are intended to protect North Atlantic Right whales.
Good, though I do not think these measures address other human caused concerns like seismic testing, water pollution, or climate change water temperature and food source factors.
More on the announcement by the Chronicle Herald from Wednesday, March 28th, 2018:
Michael Harris in this iPolitics piece from February 2018 ties the Right whale, seismic testing, concerns about the the glossy Impact Assessment Act (Bill C-69), and the present federal government's ties to the oil and gas industry. Worth a slow read.
Provincially, John Hopkins, after the screening of his documentary Bluefin, made these comments on social media about more more species in peril:
March 25th, 2018
Help protect the last incredible tuna left. Tuna represents less than 1% of fishing income in PEI. Do we need to be fishing these endangered creatures at all right now? Herring fishery collapsing, must stop.
Fisheries Minister (Dominic) LeBlanc directly by writing to him here: email@example.com
Please help this situation and email your concerns and comments to our Island MP's here:
Wayne Easter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence MacAulay: email@example.com
Sean Casey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Morrissey: Robert.Morrissey@parl.gc.ca
More on fish:
Eating farmed Atlantic salmon (whether we know it's genetically-modified or not):
A read-with-a-critical-eye-but-is-probably-on-to-something report from the "Healthy Holistic Living" blog -- "Farmed Salmon -- one of the most toxic foods in the world"
And a lot of references at the end of this article on the concerns about West Coast fish farming; again, for your information but read with that critical eye:
"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea."
--Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), Danish author 1885-1962)
March 29, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Mostly politics and our vision of the future on P.E.I. today --
Lots going on in the western part of the Island--
NDP PEI Leadership Debate -- "Three Fine NDP Candidates", 7-9PM, Loyalist Lakeview Resort, 195 Harbour Drive, Summerside. Margaret Andrade, Joe Byrne and Susan MacVittie will debate before the Saturday, April 7th Leadership Convention.
"Join us to hear their views on topics dear to you from public transportation and housing to how the NDP stand out above other choices for political parties. For more info contact Dr. Herb Dickieson at email@example.com This event is open to the public."
Summerside Community Forum, 6:30-8:30PM, Slemon Park Hotel and Conference Centre, Slemon Park. All welcome to an open community forum for Islanders to provide input and suggestions about issues and solutions. Hosted by Lynne Lund, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of PEI, Steve Howard, Energy, Transportation and Infrastructure critic, and Trish Atlass, Workforce and Advanced Learning critic. You are asked to please register so they can set up appropriately.
And in the middle:
Mark Arenz Meet and Greet, 6:30-8:30PM, Kingston Legion Branch 30 (TCH and Route 9 in New Haven). Welcome the Paralympian at the home of his former Army Cadets base. Free, but donations accepted for War Amps. Facebook event details
There will also be a big celebration after Easter with Arenz and Billy Bridges, in Charlottetown.
Island Jazz Celebrates Holland College SoPA (School of Performing Arts), 8-10:30PM, Baba's Lounge, 181 Great George Street.
No cover charge - but donations at the door for the Island Jazz program are welcome. Island Jazz is a weekly series at Baba's featuring top local musicians performing original music, standards, jazz and pop favourites with a featured special guest artist, followed by an open jam session. All local musicians, students and music fans are encouraged to bring an instrument and join in the second set.
Some commentary on Progressive Conservative Leader James Aylward's op-ed piece last weekend about P.E.I. moving to a consensus-style government model: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-politics-government-parties-1.4592900
Published Monday, March 26th, 2018 on the CBC.ca website
Why this political science professor says a consensus government wouldn't fly on P.E.I. - CBC News website article
PEI political science professor Don Desserud says although the P.E.I. PC leader's idea for a consensus government is "fascinating," it's unlikely to fly on P.E.I.
James Aylward told CBC News: Compass on Friday that he believes a consensus government would be more effective than the current system. "It's fascinating and very intriguing," Desserud told Island Morning. "Here we have a leader of a party who's identifying a problem that I think most members of the voting population also agree with, is that: over partisanship is undermining our faith in democracy."
The consensus system is used in Nunavut where MLAs run as an independents, rather than represent parties, and are elected by voters as usual. However, after the election, the winning candidates get together and choose a premier and a cabinet by consensus.
"Cabinet is always in a minority situation, so, as a consequence, instead of having a cabinet that can run roughshod over your legislative assembly … you've got a cabinet now that always has to seek consensus," he said. "That's why people like it, because you get, in theory anyway, more responsibility on the government side and you have more power from the MLAs because they actually have a say."
One of biggest problems with the consensus system, he argued, is that MLAs would be more inclined to search for favours for their individual ridings and that the collaborative nature would focus less on politicians holding government accountable. "You basically get all the MLAs in a compromised position ... they've all basically come together and work as if they're all in one party as opposed to trying to do what their job is which is to scrutinise government and hold it accountable."
Another issue would be that fewer people will want to run for office, he said, because there would no longer be the backing of a large political party behind them. Though Desserud said political parties "cause a lot of problems," he acknowledged that they do offer a strong backing for those wanting to run.
One of the advantages of political parties is that they bring a team together. And so if you want to be an MLA and run for a political party you've got that whole party apparatus behind you," he said. "It's a scary idea to put yourself forward, your name on a ballot, and put yourself out there and have people judge you in an election. It's a lot easier if you've got a supportive team."
In addition, Desserud said because of P.E.I.'s firm hold on party politics that the Island wouldn't budge on a newer, non-partisan system.
I don't believe that frankly we can do this here on Prince Edward Island. We simply have a political culture that's partisan that's been with us for 200 and some years and that's not going to go away anytime soon."
But he said Aylward may have gained some points from the public by floating the idea. "It's a refreshing idea, it's new, it's not the same old same old ... He's demonstrated that he has a lot of respect for his colleagues … he values the contributions of all MLAs regardless of their party stripe," he said. "He's identifying a problem, I don't know that this is the solution."
From Peter Bevan-Baker of the P.E.I. Green Party, in Tuesday's Guardian
OPINION: Thank you, Mr. Aylward - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Peter Bevan-Baker
Greens welcome full discussion on appropriateness of Nunavut style of government for P.E.I.
Having spent almost three years on the inside of Island politics,and witnessed the rabidly divisive and partisan habits of that world, I was both surprised and delighted by James Aylward’s opinion piece which floated the proposal of radical electoral reform through a consensus-style legislature like the one in Nunavut, with no political parties.
As a legislator, during the last three years, I have also learned to distinguish when a problem is related to an inadequate rule or process, and when it is rooted in the culture and habits of the place: often times it is both. For example, the work of legislative standing committees should be non-partisan and collaborative, and there is nothing inherent in the way those committees are set up that would prevent them from operating in that manner. But decades of ingrained behaviour and deep distrust cause the committees to be infected with every bit as much partisanship as gets displayed daily in question period.
Aylward talks of, “… changing the current system … to come up with a process that fully utilizes the talents of all elected MLAs,” and he goes on to say, “Our current system is based on the winner take all, decide all. This reduces the role of individual MLAs.” In actuality, the system, though far from perfect, does not dictate that the role of MLAs be reduced, or that their talents go underutilized. The reason that happens here on P.E.I., and elsewhere, is because the old parties, over time, have corrupted our democratic institutions, and allowed damaging, partisan habits to dominate.
If we adopted proportional representation, co-operation across party lines is not only possible, it is essential. Even in our present deeply flawed, antiquated First-Past-the-Post version of democracy, if MLAs were to behave in their roles as originally conceived, where they represent their community before their party, we could have the sort of collaborative government that Aylward imagines.
Aylward, tellingly, did not commit to instituting consensus style government if his party gets elected, saying that, “it’s not going to happen overnight.” Proportional Representation – a tried and trusted electoral system that produces exactly the kind of co-operation Aylward desires, could, however be adopted overnight.
Personally, I’d love to see a full discussion on the appropriateness of the Nunavut style of government for P.E.I. – indeed it was brought up by a small number of presenters during the community engagement phase of the electoral reform process we underwent leading up to the plebiscite in 2016.
So, thank you, James Aylward, for your radical idea. In the meantime, let’s honour the vote, adopt Proportional Representation, and take a bold step towards what many of us – including Aylward, and apparently the PC caucus - would love to see practised in Island politics: Politicians collaborating in non-partisan consensus decision-making for the betterment of our community.
- Peter Bevan-Baker is leader of the Green Party of P.E.I.
March 28, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Coming up right after the Easter weekend --
Next Tuesday, April 3rd:
National Farmers' Union Convention, 9:30AM-4PM, Milton Community Hall, Milton. The NFU runs informative and well-organized AGMs, and this year looks to be no different.
10AM -- Business Meeting, including a presentation on the trend in the level of organic matter in PEI soils.
12noon -- noon meal
right after -- Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson will speak
1:15PM -- Community, Lands and Environment Minister Richard Brown will speak on the Lands Protection Act.
4PM (approximately) -- adjournment
Registration fee is $20 if you are there for the noon meal, or no charge if you are attending just the afternoon sessions.
If planning to participate in the noon meal, please RSVP James Rodd at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the participants in the Climate Change "thinkers' retreat" last Fall was Leon de Vreede, who is the sustainability planner for the town of Bridgewater, NS. A brilliant, humble, and caring individual. The town received the 2018 GLOBE Climate Leadership Award for Small Municipal Trailblazer.
How Bridgewater reduced energy consumption by 23 per cent - The Chronicle Herald article by Andrew Rankin
Published on Friday, March 23rd, 2018
Leon de Vreede cringes at the number of Bridgewater homeowners throwing away money they don’t have on needlessly excessive home energy bills. "The numbers are crazy,” said the town’s sustainability planner. “The average household in Bridgewater is spending over $5,000 on energy and when you consider that the median income is somewhere in the low $30,000 range, that is an incredible amount going to energy.
“Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the country. We have low median incomes and high energy costs coupled with inefficient, old housing.”
De Vreede and the Town of Bridgewater have done something about the crisis, offering residents up to $20,000 in low interest loans, exclusively for home energy upgrades. That includes insulation, energy efficient windows and doors, high efficiency heat pumps and solar panels. The cost simply gets tacked onto the person’s property tax over 10 years at a four per cent rate of interest.
“What we’re seeing is most people are getting a dollar for dollar pay back on upgrades within five years. It’s offering people a chance to spend money on the things they really need, but removing the drain from energy is a major issue.”
Since his arrival in Bridgewater a decade ago, the certified planner, and graduate of Acadia University’s environmental science program, has implemented energy efficient measures of his own that have led to a 23 per cent reduction in the municipality’s energy consumption, including the installation of solar hot water panels at the town hall, public works garage and police station.
“So we’re able to spend more money on necessary services we provide. That’s money that we don’t have to take away from other services or get from taxpayers. We’ve mapped that out and used an annual energy report that lays out what our savings are and why.”
It all falls into de Vreede and the municipality’s broader plan to develop a local energy economy that aims to cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent in the municipality by 2050. De Vreede was the lead on the exhaustive 55-page Community Energy Investment Plan that was unveiled by the town in January. It’s a necessary plan, requiring $11 million in annual investments to keep Bridgewater sustainable, he claims.
It includes massive spending: $153 million for deep energy retrofits to all buildings in Bridgewater. Another $157 million is aimed at large-scale solar, wind and hydro generation in or near Bridgewater, as well as district energy and energy storage systems. That leaves $64 million for electrifying all vehicles in the community (introducing autonomous vehicles), and expanding public transit and active transportation systems.
Put it all together and the plan claims the community can save over $2 billion in energy costs in the 32-year period between 2018 and 2050. “Every solution that’s in our plan is something that uses current technology,” said de Vreede. “We’re not waiting for fusion technology. It’s current technology we already do have and we can make it pay for itself.”
The plan and the town’s efforts in moving toward a sustainable, green economy has garnered national attention, including support of Green party Leader Elizabeth May. At last week’s 2018 Globe Climate Leadership Awards, Bridgewater won the Small Municipal Trailblazer category for its efforts.
“Through their Community Energy Investment Plan, Bridgewater is putting in place unique and innovative climate mitigation activities to help create opportunities to renew the community and its economy,” stated the award citation.
The plan lists lots of potential for employment targeted at tradespeople, equipment suppliers and contractors, that would generate “nine person-years of employment per million invested in building retrofits.”
“We see it as a huge economic development opportunity for our communities that will improve property value, provide better, more secure, more energy resilient homes,” said de Vreede. “We’re doing cutting edge work in what is a fairly average Atlantic Canadian town. If we can prove that this can take off and go places I think it’s a model that can be used everywhere. That’s what I’m really excited about.”
Green party Leader Elizabeth May agrees. “Bridgewater can take a bow for the good work they’ve done,” said May. It’s clear that they have a plan. “It’s not just that we have to give up fossil fuels and everyone has to give up driving. It empowers people and sets a goal. It sets targets.”
But, she says, the federal government has to step up and show similar commitment. “Why can’t we get energy efficiency on the agenda? Thirty per cent of greenhouse gases in Canada still come from leaky buildings. “We have three budgets in a row from (the Liberals) and not one of them promotes eco-energy in buildings, green and active transportation. Canada is the only country in the G7s that doesn’t provide an incentive for moving to clean energy or electric vehicles.”
De Vreede agrees. He’d like to see more support coming from the federal and provincial governments. But, in the end, he said it starts with a community grassroots campaign. “We need to find the money. One thing that our plan doesn’t include is where the money is coming from.
“Maybe someone who wants to invest $1,000 in mutual funds or the stock market would look at putting their money into a community scale energy system that will pay them similar dividends. These are all ideas we’re considering. But we’re determined to make this work.”
Also, here is the link and transcript (thanks to Janet Easton of the Trade Justice Network -Climate concerns list) on the presentation of the Award by Environment and Climate Change Canada Minister Catherine McKenna:
Minister McKenna congratulates town of Bridgewater for GLOBE award win
One-Minute Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDJH6-o9-NI
HON. CATHERINE MCKENNA (Minister of Environment and Climate Change): So, here I am with Leon. He is from the town of Bridgewater and they are doing amazing things to take action on climate change. He’s in fact a winner, the town of Bridgewater is a winner of our GLOBE Leadership Awards. So tell me what the town of Bridgewater is doing.
LEON DE VREEDE (Sustainability Planner for Town of Bridgewater): So Bridgewater, for a very small community, has done something pretty amazing. We’ve created a fully-costed approach to complete energy transition to an 80% emissions reduction by 2050, and we figured out what it’s actually going to cost to retrofit every home, put solar panels everywhere, introduce community-scale renewable energy, transition our entire fleet to electric vehicles, etcetera. And the town is taking that momentum very seriously and is actively investing in it, not only because of the environmental imperative of doing that work, but because it’s a massive economic development opportunity.
In fact, we believe that the ‘Energize Bridgewater’ approach is an opportunity for all Canadian municipalities, and we would be thrilled to work with your office and share that innovation and momentum with other communities.
HON. CATHERINE MCKENNA: So, I love this! So thank you to all the residents of the town of Bridgewater, and also I think everyone can learn from this. I agree. Everyone, we need to figure out the transition and it’s a huge opportunity. Environment and economy go together. A really great example. Thank you.
LEON DE VREEDE: Thank you. I’ve given you a copy of our plan and I’m honoured to have it in your office.
HON. CATHERINE MCKENNA: Oh, that’s great!
Great little swaying hand-camera YouTube produced by the Federal government (followed by two more similar ones with other deserving award winners) in Vancouver in mid-March, but as Elizabeth May said in the article above, let's actually invest in this.
a panel from a "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoon, from the "Alt National Park Service" Facebook page.
March 27, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tuesday, March 27th:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 1:30-3:30PM, Coles Building. "The Committee will receive a briefing from the Rotary Club of Montague on its community activities relating to..." (wait for it!) "...health and wellness." Not making fun of it, as there are sure to be very helpful and engaging programs, and the committee is likely to address their work plan and/or report to the Legislature for the upcoming Spring Sitting (starting Thursday, April 5th).
The Committee consists of:
Chair Hal Perry
Government members Jordan Brown, Richard Brown, Kathleen Casey and Chris Palmer
Official Opposition members Darlene Compton and Sidney MacEwen
Third Party Opposition member Peter Bevan-Baker
Watch live link:
The final NDP leadership debate is this week:
Thursday, March 28th, 7PM, Summerside, Loyalist Lakeside Resort. Facebook event details.
And the leadership convention is Saturday, April 7th, in Charlottetown.
Another major point of Beth Terr's Plastic Free Life is purchasing items without plastics. It means a lot of reaching for stuff you plan to buy, and having second thoughts and seeing if there are any alternatives without so much plastic, or do you need it at all.
Switching where you buy items can reduce the amount of plastic and waste you bring in to your home, with buying at the farmers' markets (though there is still a lot of plastic used to meet customer demands there) and bringing your own containers to a bulk store.
Not to promote Starbucks, but:
the on-line social action group "Stand" in the U.S. has gotten a promise from Starbucks to produce a 100% recyclable #bettercup within three years.
Here's little video (if the Facebook link will work for you) produced by Stand about where the "recyclable" cups go in the Denver, Colorado area. These are the same plastic-lined cups that are just as ubiquitous on P.E.I. unfortunately from every coffee shop. Those cups tend to be put in the Compost stream here, plastic lining and all.
Harry Smith of Bonshaw further probes Waste Watch (Island Waste Management Corporation or IWMC) to be more truthful about its practices on our behalf:
published on Monday, March 26th, 2018 in The Guardian
LETTERS: Waste Waste hiding figures - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
We see periodic publicity from Waste Watch about how many tons or waste have been “diverted from landfills.” What does that really mean, though? We don't really know because Waste Watch is very cagey about publicizing what proportion of the total collected recyclables that represents. Moreover, how much, even of the diverted amount, ultimately ends up “diverted” to the Waste Watch incinerators?
How much of the total, along with the hazardous waste which residents dutifully bring to the Centers, ends up in meter-high piles of incinerator ash piled behind the Waste Watch buildings, broadcasting toxins into the air during the burning and leaching toxins into the groundwater from the ash piles until Waste Watch personnel bestir themselves to haul them away to – uh – landfills.
Of course, no one wants to discourage vital recycling efforts by the province's residents or do anything to derail the years of training we have had concerning sorting, bagging, etc. It's also clear that policies can't change with every fluctuation of markets. At the same time, don't we deserve to be told the truth about how the Waste Watch program (and therefore the province) is ultimately doing in these efforts? If some categories of materials can't be sold or otherwise used productively at present then that is sad, but we can handle the truth.
Harry Smith, Bonshaw
March 26, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A few things happening today; as it is public schools March Break, it's a bit quieter than some weeks.
March Vegan PEI, 6:30PM-9PM, Haviland Club
a good list of guidelines here at the Event details
If you are near Montague and want a sweet animatednmovie for kids of all ages, Ratatouille is being show at Montague Rotary Library at 1PM, today
From little ratties to big fish in movies, regarding yesterday's screening of John Hopkins' documentary Bluefin:
Room 242 at UPEI's MacDougall Hall was packed. It was a beautiful film, slowing down the motion of the fish, letting the cinematography tell the story, showing the history, documenting what we are seeing now (or a couple of years ago when the filming was made), what the fishermen think about this, what the ecologists are thinking about this...
Filmmaker Hopkins made some points at the Question and Answer session right after, and on social media later in the day. He is very concerned even since the movie's release of the severe decline of the number of herring seen, and would like to see the it shut down. It basically supports bluefin, and the lobster fishery.
"Everything in the foodchain is inter-dependent. Demand change NOW from your MLA’s and MP’s as taxpayers underwriting these fisheries with infrastructure, marketing funds, training, fisheries research, seasonal unemployment $$."
-- John Hopkins, March 25th, 2018
Another point discussed afterward was that maybe it's time to retire the Premier's Tuna Cup for landing the largest tuna.
One of the persons interviewed in the film was Carl Safina, a writer and ecologist and former avid sport fisherman. Here is a link to the TED Talks he has given: https://www.ted.com/speakers/carl_safina
and he said in the film, without mincing words, maybe it's time to stop "the torment and harassment....Maybe it's time we should grow up...." and start protecting the fish, instead of putting our heads in the sand about this. He was talking about both catching and killing, and some of the current, rather unsophisticated methods of catch and release.
Safina's work (not discussed in the film) also includes some information on seafood choices. Here is something from his organization:
Back to the Plastic-Free Life , recapping the first few suggestions:
They are relatively easy ones like
don't buy or accept bottled water (get a reusable bottle, finding the size that fits you best, etc.),
use reusable bags for purchases or transporting items (figuring out ways you will actually remember to bring them into stores).
refuse straws when you order a drink; consider a metal or sturdy glass portable one if you prefer using straws
Consider having your own reusables for replacing throw-away plastics when you get take-out food (again about straws, a pair of chopsticks or other utensils in your glove compartment or bag)
bring a reusuable container for leftovers when you plan to eat out.
"Canada Reads" starts today. CBC Mainstreet had a contest giving away the books last week, and Island Morning this week, and the library and bookstores have copies.
The debate and narrowing down to the one book "all of Canada should read" begins at 1:05PM on CBC Radio today and each day this week, or live-stream on-line at 12:05PM, or on-demand later (links in the article, here):
March 25, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Bluefin screening, 2PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242. Edited from the media release:
Filmed in the “tuna capital of the world”, North Lake, PEI, the documentary explores the baffling mystery of a sudden abundance of tuna off the shores of eastern Prince Edward Island, despite scientific assessments claiming tuna stocks are substantially depleted. About his motivation for making the film, Hopkins says, “I hope that Bluefin will bring some long-overdue understanding about the plight of these incredible creatures, struggling to rebound from global overfishing and our lust for sushi.”
The film is also about an incredibly rich and important ecosystem and our relationship with it. “From top predators to baitfish schools that support much of the wildlife at sea, including giant bluefin, whales and sea birds”, Hopkins says, “I found a food chain here in our ocean that is precariously broken . . . I hope to shed light on these highly evolved giants and our relationship with them, so that productive harmony can be restored between us and all life in our oceans.”
Island filmmaker John Hopkins will introduce the film. This screening is being hosted by the UPEI Environmental Society, Save our Seas and Shores PEI and Cinema Politica Charlottetown.
Bonshaw ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall with proceeds toward upkeep of the Hall
Right now the only legislative standing committee scheduled for next week:
Tuesday, March 27th:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 1:30-3:30PM, Coles Building. "The Committee will receive a briefing from the Rotary Club of Montague on its community activities relating to health and wellness."
The final NDP leadership debate is this week:
Thursday, March 28th, 7PM, Summerside.
Associated Press story from The Guardian's website on the teens' "March for Our Lives" yesterday in various cities in North America.
There was a small but heartfelt demonstration here organized by Oliver Rukavina, I am told.
From Gary Robbins, a resident in the "Three Rivers" area, on the amalgamation "process."
published on Monday, March 20th, 2018, in The Guardian
OPINION: P.E.I. moving in wrong direction - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gary Robbins
New super municipal governments being created with no Islanders’ votes required
This process all started up west when several communities attempted annexation and amalgamation under the old Municipal Government Act (MGA), and were defeated by democracy. So how did the P.E.I. government respond? They started enforcing sections of the MGA which had not previously been used by smaller communities as it would have caused an administrative burden.
The government then began work on amendments to the MGA and elicited the help of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities (FPEIM) in getting the word out to all community councils. The residents of most communities were not involved in this process and it was not shared with people in the unincorporated areas at all, since it had nothing to do with them at that time.
However, little did we know that the government’s plan was to amalgamate the 73 municipalities down to 20 to 25 super municipalities using annexation to force all unincorporated areas into these super municipalities. This is in the works right now folks, so the rest of you will be amalgamated soon. This is no longer an Eastern P.E.I. problem, it is an Island problem.
Forced annexation has been well hidden in the new legislation and any requirements that had been placed around annexation have been removed. For example, the old act indicated that the council requesting the changes had to provide written notice to the residents of the area to be annexed along with a copy of the proposed resolution, a map illustrating the area to be annexed identifying the relevant properties by parcel number, a statement of the reasons for the extension, municipal services to be provided, and a statement of financial implications (taxes). This has all been removed under the new act.
The amendments included new powers for the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment which would allow him to overrule any council decision and forcibly annex, amalgamate and restructure at will. He showed his abuse of this power recently when he overturned the no vote from both Georgetown and Montague and ignored the no vote of the unincorporated residents.
Therefore, he has full power over all municipal councils and no one has a say in anything. Of the five communities left on the steering committee, Lower Montague and Valleyfield both overturned the no vote of their residents. When you add that to the other three communities left in the steering committee, they represent about 2,003 residents. How can 27 per cent of a population file a proposal that will disrupt the lives of 5,400 other people?
Other provinces have made the mistake that Premier MacLauchlan and Minister Brown are so vigorously pursuing for us. Super municipalities are going bankrupt and downloading provincial services such as land use planning and highway maintenance to municipalities has been a disaster. I don’t believe P.E.I. should move in this direction. We are unique and that is something to be proud of, not something to be squashed. We don’t need to look like the rest of Canada.
I believe all municipalities should join Rural P.E.I. in the fight to have the amendments to the MGA changed. They are undemocratic and against civil rights. This is disrupting the lives of a lot of rural residents and those in small communities. New bylaws and new taxes are particularly devastating to our seniors who struggle to survive and sometimes have to choose between food and heat.
When the discussions began on the Three Rivers project, communities were told there was no obligation and that if they wanted to leave, they could. This was stated over and over again by Minister Mitchell. He was not speaking as a private citizen, but as the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment and on behalf of the P.E.I. government. Now, these same communities are being told that they have no choice in the matter and they cannot opt out.
Premier MacLauchlan, you and your MLAs were elected to represent the people – not to rule the people. Please, please call an election now. This is one vote you can’t take away from me.
- Gary Robbins, Martinvale, is a retired veteran and an opponent to the amalgamation process in the Three Rivers area.
Think and act globally to fight climate change, and consider the little things:
(though I am not sure the glass floss containers are available locally, though other items are (Moonsnail Soapworks on Water Street in Charlottetown, for example, continues to increase the number of reusable or non-plastic personal and household items it carries)
With thanks to the Holland College Green Machine for passing this poster around.
"Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you."
--John Maxwell, American author and motivational speaker
March 24, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There is NO Wayne Easter visit scheduled for today to express concerns about the Kinder-Morgan pipeline project in British Columbia. Sorry for the confusion. MPs had a full day of line item budget voting in Parliament yesterday, and any visits are on hold for now; when I hear any reliable news I will let you know.
MPs Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby South) and Elizabeth May (Saanish-Gulf Islands), both apparently not in the House yesterday, were arrested at the Kinder Morgan pipeline site yesterday.
from the National Observer article, MPs Kennedy Stewart and Elizabeth May carrying a banner, earlier yesterday, British Columbia, photo by Dylan Waisman.
From the Green Party notices, a place to sign up to show your support by adding your name:
and consider sharing that with others.
Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM). The Charlottetown Market will have the PEI Symphony Orchestra's annual citrus fruit sale at one end.
Seedy Saturday, 1-3PM, Confederation Centre Public Library. All welcome to buy, trade or just browse.
Social: Green Tea in Tyne Valley, 2-4PM, Backwoods Burger, 1327 Port Hill Station Road. "Green socials are a great opportunity to see old friends, make new ones and connect with your Green leaders and shadow critics. With so much going on in PEI politics, there is no shortage to talk about. Join Greens for coffee, and bring a friend! All are welcome." Facebook event notice
Tomorrow, Sunday, March 25th:
Bluefin documentary, 2PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242. Admission by donation. Filmmaker John Hopkins will be there to introduce the film.
Watch for coverage of the student rally in Washington, D.C. (#MarchforOurLives) today as kids figure out they need to push for the changes that the elected leaders are not willing to make. These kids are tomorrow's voters. Article in the Wall Street Journal
Leader of the Official Opposition PEI Progressive Conservative Leader James Aylward surprised some people yesterday with an opinion piece, in The Guardian, on real democratic renewal:
OPINION: Time to rock cradle - The Guardian Opinion Piece by James Aylward
Consensus Government model could be effective solution to many concerns P.E.I. faces
In his column of March 10, 2018, Alan Holman suggested the party I lead would not support Mixed Proportional representation because we favour the existing system. I would like to correct him on that point. I believe reform of our system is essential to enhancing trust and respect and to maintain a high level of public involvement. I took the position that the party should not formally engage to promote one specific option thereby avoiding the charge of the party trying to influence the outcome.
I support the results of the plebiscite and our PC MLA’s were allowed a free vote. The failure of the premier to act on that preference has further undermined trust in the system and politicians. It has also offered us another opportunity to consider radical reform.
I was disappointed in one aspect of the process - all of the options presented to Islanders were based on the continued direct role of political parties. For those truly interested in reform, I for one, wonder why the Nunavut model of Consensus Government was not presented. It is a model that given the population of Prince Edward Island could be a very effective solution to many of the concerns we face.
It may seem strange for the leader of a political party to be suggesting the possible adoption of a system that does not involve the political parties. Nunavut was established in 1999 and deliberately opted for an elected assembly void of political parties. We now have four main registered political parties in the province, vying for support, advancing policies, raising money, nominating candidates. It may seem like a healthy political environment but is it the most effective? Each party offers some highly talented individuals, some are elected in government and have either a cabinet or backbench role, others are elected in opposition. Many times, the talent of backbench members and opposition members are underutilized in the governing process although they have an equal interest in helping Islanders. My interest in changing the current system is to come up with a process that fully utilizes the talents of all elected MLA’s.
Our current system is based on the winner take all, decide all. This reduces the role of individual MLA’s. As you may recall from part one of my article there is a need for serious reform of the role of MLA’s.
Consensus government achieves that. Each MLA is elected on an individual independent candidate basis. No party platforms, no party signs, no party advertising, no premiers selected by a party, no focus on politics over policy, no backbenchers, no formal opposition. Just good people elected by each district working to provide good government.
All MLAs meet following the election and from their own members elect a speaker and premier, and then the cabinet; all by secret ballot. The premier can assign and reassign portfolios, but it requires a two-thirds vote of all MLAs to remove a minister.
The cabinet is always smaller than half the members so that nothing can be achieved without the input and support of non- cabinet members. Cabinet is truly accountable to the assembly. Mid-term there is a leadership review of the cabinet. Individual members of the assembly have more influence over government actions.
The government business plan, budget estimates and capital expenditures are reviewed in draft form prior to formal presentation to the assembly. MLA’s have the opportunity to suggest changes before the plans are finalized. There is more open discussion and without party lines more openness to collaboration.
We are a province of 150,000. We are the cradle of Confederation. We could also be the cradle of change among the ten provinces for more effective government. Maybe it is time to rock the cradle.
- James Aylward, Leader of Official Opposition and Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I.
March 23, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Cancelled: Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries. This was supposed to be a briefing on buying local initiatives. It will be rescheduled, presumably.
"Defend the Water" Action show support and solidarity with those opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
UPDATE: As Wayne Easter is not here until tonight, this is postponed until Saturday, March 24th, 10AM** (was Friday, March 23rd 11AM, Wayne Easter's Office, Rte. 13, Hunter River)
**UPDATE: As Sean Casey can't be back on P.E.I. today, this has been postponed until after Easter, possibly April 5th.** (was 2:30PM, Sean Casey's Office, 75 Fitzroy St., Charlottetown)
from the LeadNow appeal: "Kinder Morgan is starting a key phase of construction on a pipeline and tanker project that would put hundreds of rivers and streams at risk of oil spills -- but a powerful Indigenous-led movement is rising up to defend the land, water, and climate. On March 23rd, we’ll deliver water collected from the coastline in BC to our MP’s offices, and demand they stop pushing for the pipeline."
NDP Leadership Debate -- Montague, 7PM, Montague Rotary Library.
"This is your chance to meet the three candidates for leadership of the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island – Margaret Andrade, Joe Byrne and Susan MacVittie.
Are you concerned that we have strong leadership in PEI on issues such as: decent jobs; affordable housing; strong rural communities; First nations and Metis rights; mental health services; health care; the environment and sustainability; and overall fairness?
Bring your questions! Everyone welcome. Free childcare is available on site.
Storm date: Saturday, March 24th."
Community Fundraiser for LaVerne Ellands, 7-12midnight, Crapaud Curling Club, 20573 TCH. LaVerne is a wonderful member of the Crapaud area, a young mother fighting a form of leukemia. Entertainment and auctions. https://www.facebook.com/events/161555537965186/
An interesting opinion piece on pot and politics by publisher Paul MacNeill in Wednesday's Graphic newspapers:
Can we trust PEI’s new pot system?- The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
Published on Wednesday, March 21st, 2018, in The Graphic newspapers
Wayne Jory didn’t know what was wrong. It started two years ago with an odd, lingering taste in the back of his mouth. He was lethargic with out of the norm mood swings. The 55-year-old Murray River carpenter was unable to work, and then there was the unexplained weight loss from his steady 215 pounds to 170.
But finding a cause proved elusive for he and his doctor. Tests for the most obvious potential afflictions all came back negative. Life became a mysterious struggle that almost cost him his 20 plus year marriage to his wife Jo.
On January 9, 2017 New Brunswick medicinal marijuana producer Organigram issued a voluntary recall on product produced between February 1 and December 16, 2016. According to the company, trace amounts of pesticides were found in what was supposed to be certified organic marijuana.
When Jory learned of the recall a light bulb went off, the chemicals discovered would not show up in routine blood work and he had been an Organigram customer for close to a year. He was one of the first in line for medicinal marijuana as he sought relief from constant back pain, the result of a squished disk. Marijuana seemed a better option than the morphine or Percocet he had been using.
And for the first couple months there were no negative symptoms, the pot numbed the pain while acting as an anti-inflammatory. But then his downward health spiral began and his symptoms worsened while he continued to Vape or eat Organigram (he does not smoke it) product. He applied to Health Canada under the federal Access to Information Act for results of tests conducted on batches of Organigram marijuana. Rather than data he received documents with masses of data blacked out. Health Canada deemed it confidential corporate information.
What Jory did learn is that he is not alone. Hundreds of Canadians share his suspicion that tainted product negatively impacted their health. They banded together in a class action lawsuit against Organigram. For its part the company contends contaminant levels were insufficient to harm humans.
Jory and his group, however, point to their own independent data that disputes the company line. From their membership they collected eight samples, seven of which were still under factory seal. Results show levels of several toxins far in excess of levels deemed safe for human consumption.
As a result of the quality control breach, Organigram lost its organic certification. Last month it wrote former customers to ‘apologize for the inconvenience’ and acknowledge ‘shaken trust’ and outline actions it is taking to ‘regain your confidence.’
The company has offered Jory a $600 credit for future purchases. “I don’t want to buy off Organigram again,” he says, noting he now legally grows five marijuana plants. Since stopping use of the company’s product more than a year ago Jory’s health has slowly improved. He has put on weight and is gradually returning to work.
It is unclear how long it will take for the legal action to wind its way through the justice system. But it is clear there was a significant breach of protocol at an organic medicinal marijuana production facility, owned by a company making a major push into the recreational marijuana market. It is also clear there are opposing views about the seriousness of the public health risk.
For Islanders this is not just a case of an individual with a beef against a company. It’s an issue for all of us. On January 16 of this year the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the MacLauchlan government to supply it at least one million grams of recreational marijuana annually.
Finance Minister Heath MacDonald is quoted in a press release on the Organigram website as saying “The province is very pleased to partner with Organigram in securing a safe supply of cannabis for the PEI market.”
What the province doesn’t say is how it knows the product will be safe. What due diligence did it complete in the narrow time frame between when the federal government announced legalization of recreational use last spring and the signing of the MOU? Did we just take the company’s word for it? Did we raise alarm bells about the lawsuit? Did we ask for independent data to corroborate company assertions?
The Organigram deal is not the only pot agreement raising eyebrows. The majority of government purchased marijuana, three million grams per year, will be supplied by a company called Canada’s Island Garden. In January, owner Edwin Jewell, a respected Island businessman, agreed to sell a controlling interest of 75 per cent of his company to American tobacco firm Alliance One of North Carolina. The deal was announced in early February, but negotiations, according to a story in The Financial Post, began in November.
The MacLauchlan government was aware of the impending sale, but made no mention of it. There is nothing illegal or nefarious about the transaction – other than awful optics. Jewell will remain company president. But make no mistake about it, an American tobacco company now controls the majority of marijuana supply being sourced by the PEI government. At a minimum Islanders should have known it before the contract was signed.
The history of the American tobacco industry is one of acting, almost without exception, in self-interest and with disregard for truth or public interest.
Island taxpayers now lie in a contractual bed with the industry.
One of the reasons the provincial government offered for requiring separate retail outlets for pot (it would never acknowledge patronage as a motivator) is so as not to sell both alcohol and marijuana in the same store. The premier claims government decisions are based on ensuring public safety.
Well the PEI Liquor Commission is throwing that idea out the window. In Montague it has chosen a location in the same retail complex as its liquor outlet. Walk out of the liquor store, stumble past a Dollarama and voilà you’re there. Government’s retail store is literally just steps away. No need to even change parking spots. The only one happier than double-dipping customers is the landlord who doubles up on a long-term rental.
Monday Minister MacDonald said government is doing all it can to ensure a system that the public can trust, including having Health PEI work closely with Health Canada on monitoring. “There are many opinions on this. I firmly believe we as a province must regulate this before it becomes normalized,”
Here’s the reality. This is what happens when government is forced to create a whole new system in a very short time. Prime Minister Trudeau hit the rush button on marijuana legalization and set off a Wild West stampede among provincial governments, all of which jumped at the opportunity to create a whole new bureaucracy.
Premier MacLauchlan’s assertion that public safety and interest are driving the bus is nothing but a political talking point. We already knew that from government’s disregard of a Canadian Medical Association recommendation to set the legal age to purchase recreational marijuana at 21 and limit dosage to those under 25. The reason is due to a growing mountain of scientific evidence on the potential for cognitive impairment in still developing brains.
Government’s overriding motivator is speed, greed and maximizing tax benefit to government.
Wayne Jory knows what can happen when slick promises are not met. Now we are supposed to trust suppliers of recreational marijuana that they will always act in our best interest. We are supposed to trust Health Canada, which also oversees the medicinal marijuana industry, to ensure the purity of the recreational product produced. And we’re supposed to trust the provincial government that it will always put the safety of Islanders first.
Unfortunately, through its own actions, that is a promise already broken.
from a few years ago, but relevant in various times and places:
“Drilling without thinking has of course been Republican party policy since May 2008. With gas prices soaring to unprecedented heights, that's when the conservative leader Newt Gingrich unveiled the slogan 'Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less'—with an emphasis on the now. The wildly popular campaign was a cry against caution, against study, against measured action. In Gingrich's telling, drilling at home wherever the oil and gas might be—locked in Rocky Mountain shale, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and deep offshore—was a surefire way to lower the price at the pump, create jobs, and kick Arab ass all at once. In the face of this triple win, caring about the environment was for sissies: as senator Mitch McConnell put it, 'in Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and Texas, they think oil rigs are pretty'. By the time the infamous 'Drill Baby Drill' Republican national convention rolled around, the party base was in such a frenzy for US-made fossil fuels, they would have bored under the convention floor if someone had brought a big enough drill.”
--Naomi Klein, author, environmentalist and activist
March 22, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is World Water Day, a day to celebrate our waterways -- and perhaps figure out how our protection of them could be better -- and reflect on our ways with water.
Here is a one-minute, illustrated YouTube on the theme for 2018 of Water for Nature:
And a longer (five minute) one on twenty facts about water, for World Water Day 2018:
Thanks to Ann Wheatley of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water for flagging the first YouTube.
The Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.
The NDP Leadership Candidates' Debate in Summerside is postponed until next week.
The Green Party Community Forum in Emerald has been cancelled and not rescheduled at this time.
The weather recently the January cabinet shuffle, Spring Break merging with Easter and an early start to the P.E.I. Legislature in April, all means the time for Standing Committees to do any meaningful work is quite compressed. It's definitely harder for committees to meet once the Legislature resumes sitting, especially keeping in mind the committee members who have longer to drive and still try to keep in touch with their constituency during the session.
This concern was on display at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts yesterday, when Chair Brad Trivers brought up the Committee's workplan and how to fit in more meetings. The Cabinet shuffle (which resulted in major committee reorganization) definitely slowed down any committee's ability to do meaningful work before the Spring sitting, especially this one.
Also from yesterday's Public Accounts committee meeting, where Auditor General Jane MacAdam described her work auditing the province's books: former finance minister Allen Roach (who you would think should know these things) appeared to confuse her role, thinking she kept the province's "blue books" of accounts, when that's the Finance Department's job -- she's the one as an independent officer who goes over submitted accounts for accuracy and makes recommendations on improving the financial recording. She has made many, many recommendations in the past years that she noted yesterday have not been implemented.
Another note was a comment that the Chair made that Allen Roach took issue with, being recognized to speak several times then saying he would make his point later, and finally making the point, starting with "I am not trying to make a big deal about this", which he was. Since Trivers has no idea what comment he was referring to, Roach said he would wait for Hansard and bring it up again. More to look forward to.
The Electoral Boundaries Commission recently released its map with 18 geographical districts, after submitting it to the Speaker of the Legislature, to go with the 9 provincial seats under a Mixed Member Proportional voting system, here in this Special Report:
With self-interest I looked closely at the area where I live (current District 17 on 27-geographic MLAs' map) and saw there are areas completely different than either of two sample maps. (A consultation time for maps and plans and then a final decision made that doesn't look at all like what was presented to the public originally seems to be a hallmark of the Ghiz-MacLauchlan administrations.)
Close-up of the West River area, west and south of Charlottetown, under the Electoral Boundaries Commission 18-District educational map for a MMP system (keeping in mind the other 9 provincial seats).
Let's bring in Mixed Member Proportional and see how it works!
Thanks to Ian Petrie for pointing out this short biographical essay of Rachel Carson from the new issue of The New Yorker. Definitely worth the ten-15 minute read on a "storm day", but a bit too long to copy and paste here. The magazine allows several "free stories" a month on-line. Her life and work as an aquatic biologist prior to writing Silent Spring is described.
The Right Way to Remember Rachel Carson
by Jill Lepore
"In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference."
--Rachel Carson (1901-1964)
March 21, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today, Wednesday, March 21st:
Public Accounts Standing Committee meeting (#3), 10AM, Coles Building. "The committee will meet to receive a briefing on The Public Accounts of the Province of Prince Edward Island For the Year Ended March 31st, 2017 by B. Jane MacAdam, Auditor General."
Thursday, March 22nd:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy meeting (#2), 1:30PM. "The committee will receive a briefing regarding vehicles passing school buses."
Friday, March 23rd:
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries meeting (#4), 10AM. "The committee will receive a briefing on efforts to encourage buying local from Bobby Cameron, Manager of Policy, Planning and FPT Relations; and David McGuire, Manager of Agri-food and Seafood Services, of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries."
To watch committee proceedings, go here:
James Aylward, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, has worked with the PC Caucus to reassign Legislative Assembly roles and Government Department Critics in the Official Opposition.
Here are assignments:
(There are new assignments in the Standing Committees, for another day.)
"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
--Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
March 20, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble concert, 7:30-10PM, The Pourhouse above The Old Triangle, proceeds going to the Holland College School of Performing Arts.
Some more dates:
Thursday, April 5th:
Spring Sitting of the PEI Legislature opens, 2PM.
Tuesday, April 10th:
Rural Rally for Democracy, 6:30PM, about unincorporated areas and a clear voice in the amalgamation/annexation process.
Both events are at or in the Coles Building, next to Province House.
Voting for the next leader of the New Democratic Party of P.E.I. is by voting in person at the Convention on Saturday, April 7, or on an absentee ballot that needs to be at their office at the Voluntary Resource Office by 4PM on Thursday, April 5th.
To vote in person that day, one must be a member in good standing, which means one has to be there, pay the $10 (or $5 for unwaged) fee, and I am assuming, pledge not to be a member of another party.
Two scheduled debates this week:
Thursday, March 22nd, Summerside
Friday, March 23rd, Montague
More details on Bluefin (documentary):
Sunday, March 25th, 2PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall,Room 242. Admission by donation.
Island filmmaker John Hopkins will be on the Island to introduce his multi-award-winning film, Bluefin, in Charlottetown on March 25. Filmed in the “tuna capital of the world”, North Lake, PEI, the documentary explores the baffling mystery of a sudden abundance of tuna off the shores of eastern Prince Edward Island, despite scientific assessments claiming tuna stocks are substantially depleted.
With stunning cinematography, Hopkins documents this mystery, exploring the complex issues at the heart of the story. Underlying the documentary is a shared and passionate concern for the fate of the giant bluefin tuna. The film has received rave reviews from audiences around the world, and has been awarded prizes at the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the 2017 International Ocean Film Festival, and the 2016 Lunenburg DocFest.
Although the focus is Bluefin tuna, the film is also about an incredibly rich and important ecosystem and our relationship with it. “From top predators to baitfish schools that support much of the wildlife at sea, including giant bluefin, whales and sea birds”, Hopkins says, “I found a food chain here in our ocean that is precariously broken . . . Through my documentary, made with the strong support of the National Film Board, I hope to shed light on these highly evolved giants and our relationship with them, so that productive harmony can be restored between us and all life in our oceans.”
This screening is being hosted by the UPEI Environmental Society and Save our Seas and Shores PEI and Cinema Politica Charlottetown. It will take place on Sunday, March 25 at 2 pm at MacDougall Hall on the UPEI campus. More information can be found on the Cinema Politica Charlottetown Facebook page.
Harry Smith calls out the garbage on garbage: published on Monday, March 19th 2018, in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/letter-recycling-stumbles-at-commercial-level-194689/
LETTER: Recycling stumbles at commercial level - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
If you have been observing the recycling efforts in the province over the past couple of years you have probably noticed that the separate bins for compost, waste and recyclables have disappeared from many restaurants and other businesses. Sometimes the bins are still there, without labels. In a few examples, the labels are even still there, but the refuse from those bins is mixed together when it is removed.
At the residential level, we should be proud that, in the face of cumbersome requirements, we have an excellent record for the percentage of waste that we are able to recycle.
At the commercial level, however, the requirements have either been eliminated or are unenforced. Too difficult for businesses (who presumably have staff who could be assigned to handle this issue), but not a problem for individuals who have no help at all?
The recycling police (in their fossil fueled van) drive around looking for snotty Kleenex in the wrong colour bag while tons of unsorted commercial waste are passed by with no concern.
It's past time for this lackadaisical approach to commercial recycling to be reversed. All of us, residential and commercial, need to pull our weight.
Harry Smith, Bonshaw
And it is also the lack of sorting of compost from the waste stream in many commercial establishments, too, that undermines the efforts of homeowner sorting, too. Rather than seeing it as something tourists won't do, with a little effort this could be turned into a positive, with some visitors thrilled to participate in a place so dedicated to helping their environment.
Also, consider speaking up at places where you dispose of your waste, applauding companies that simplify their packaging so it is mostly compost or reusable, and that that only offer straws if you ask, and provide compostable ones.
The Spring Equinox is at 1:15PM today.
"An optimist is the human personification of spring,"
--Susan J. Bissonette
March 19, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
There are two NDP Leadership candidate debates this week (due to the storm two weeks ago):
Thursday, March 22nd:
Summerside, 7-9PM, Loyalist Lakeview Resort.
Friday, March 23rd:
Montague, 7-9PM, Montague Rotary Library.
These will feature leadership candidates Margaret Andrade, Joe Byrne, and Susan MacVittie. (I am not sure the last day to be eligible to vote -- perhaps someone can fill me in. Thanks!)
In municipal politics, today is the campaign launch for Ellen Mullally, who will run in Ward 4 in the Charlottetown Council elections to be held in Fall.
Ellen's Campaign Launch, 4:30-6PM, Farm Centre
The next Sundays before and after Easter promise interesting events and conversation in the intersection of environment and politics"
Bluefin documentary, 2PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall (business building, Room 242)
Abercrombie: 50 Years of Pulp and Pollution, 2PM, Farm Centre, Charlottetown
The Handpie Company is moving to the empty Albany Scotiabank just off the TransCanada Highway. Owner Benny O'Brien will quadruple her space and be producing pies for the wholesale market. She hopes to be open in May. Journal-Pioneer article.
Teresa Wright's last column for The Guardian, published on Saturday, March 17th, 2018:
TERESA WRIGHT: Thank you, Islanders. Now go read The Guardian - The Guardian column by Teresa Wright
Islanders, you are lucky to have The Guardian.
I know, I know, I’m biased. But, as I type this, my final piece for this newspaper, I can’t help but reflect on how this newspaper has taught me so much about the rich and nuanced aspects of life in Prince Edward Island.
All the good, the bad, sad and tragic, happy and celebratory, important and functional, fun and entertaining things you need to know about this community on any given day are tucked into the pages of The Guardian. And I truly feel that overall, this paper reflects the true nature of life in this province. And that’s a commodity I hope Islanders will continue to cherish.
When I started working here, I was young and green and new to journalism. As I began to delve into the wonderful world of P.E.I. politics, I quickly realized the ties that bind people in P.E.I. together are tight and deeply intertwined. I also learned that many of these connections have more to do with how and why political and policy decisions are made than it may appear on the surface. This can sometimes lead to problems. But, it also leads to opportunities – areas of collaboration and bridges that can be built that could never be possible in large centres filled with an inattentive public and deeply partisan politics.
This close-knit connection among Islanders also means the events that happen here can have a profound effect on the whole community. When a young woman dies suddenly in a car accident, you can almost feel the shockwave of grief radiate across the Island. When an Islander achieves something great, like an Olympic gold medal, the whole province basks in a collective glow of pride. When someone organizes a fundraiser for a sick friend or a suffering family, Islanders charge like a stampede of generosity to their aid.
Islanders are the biggest cheerleaders for local artists and athletes. They are so keenly interested in new businesses or developments, you can almost hear the strains of the song “Did you hear? Did you hear?” from “Anne of Green Gables-The Musical” playing in the background. And when a politician or a public figure does something unsavoury, there is a palpable sense of disapproval in the air of every coffee shop.
All of these things make Prince Edward Island the province that we love. And all of this is reflected in the pages of The Guardian every day. Each section of the paper depicts the connections among Islanders in far more meaningful ways than other publications or news organizations – and not just in the articles. The advertisements, the classifieds, the birth announcements, the death notices. They all tell the story of this community, this province.
And that’s why it has been such an honour and privilege for me to be part of this paper. It has allowed me the opportunity to be welcomed into homes, and sit at people’s kitchen tables. It has given me the ability to ask Islanders to relay their most touching and sometimes painful experiences in order to share their stories with the world. And it has given me the responsibility of holding our government, our policy makers and political leaders to account – even when they didn’t like it, even when it was challenging, even when they pushed back.
It has given me a deep understanding of the values that Islanders cherish and the lives and histories of the people who make this province what it is.
My colleagues have helped me and guided me and inspired me all along the way. They will continue to tell your stories, and reflect your communities. And I will continue to read their important work. I hope you will, too.
Because The Guardian really does cover Prince Edward Island like the dew. And that truly is something to cherish.
Teresa Wright was The Guardian’s chief political reporter. She has accepted a job with The Canadian Press in Ottawa. Her last day at the paper was Friday.
We were lucky to have such intelligent, inquisitive reporting. My wish is that whoever replaces her on the "political beat" strives to ask tough questions and synthesize information -- we really need that in the next couple of years with the Ghiz-MacLauchlan government heading into its second decade and the pushing around of any real democratic renewal initiatives.
"Journalism is the act of faith in the future."
--Ann Curry (b. 1956) photojournalist and TV anchor
March 18, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Workshop, Annual Solidarity Sunday Workshop, 2-4PM, St. Pius X Church, MacKenzie Room, Charlottetown. Sponsored by the Charlottetown Diocesan Council of Development and Peace-Caritas Canada. The guest speaker is Ms. Nagham Tarhini of Lebanon, and her topic is "Building Bridges of Peace." All welcome. More information: (902) 892-9074.
Here is a short article and interview clip from her stop in Antigonish earlier this week.
And thanks to Mary Boyd for mentioning this event.
If you missed the Seedy Saturday in Breadalbane (as I forgot about yesterday), you can still visit the seed display when the Library is open. 4023 Dixon Road.
Tuesday (10AM-1:30PM), Thursday (3-8PM), Saturday (2-5:30PM)
a few weeks from now:
Tuesday, April 10th:
Rural Rally for Democracy, 6:30PM, Outside Coles Building, Charlottetown. This will primarily be about the amalgamation process regarding the Three Rivers Communities, but it affects many, many P.E.I. residents.
From an opinion piece published on Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 "Rural Strong" Facebook Page
Author not credited but probably Richard Toms
To Minister Robert Mitchell and Minister Richard Brown:
What’s a Liberal Promise Worth?
Long before (American comedian and talk-show host) Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness” and Donald Trump created the idea of “fake news” there was something quaintly called the truth. Truth was an idea that was irrefutable, that could function as a cornerstone of democratic principles and policies. Truth was an important way of seeing the world, separating the wheat from the chaff. A way to move forward and to react to an ever more complicated world. It was a way to build trust. Truth brought people together. Truth was important. Which brings me to Wade Maclauchlan’s Liberal Party and their relationship with the truth.
To say they have played fast and loose with the truth on a number of occasions is common knowledge and not open to dispute-that is, if you believe in the truth. This is easy to verify by examining the political platform they ran on in 2015. So what is a Liberal promise worth? Will Minister Robert Mitchell and Minister Richard Brown actually honour their pledge to the Three Rivers Region to: [paraphrasing} “that the government would not force amalgamation on any unwilling communities and would allow the communities time, even it takes substantially longer to reach a compromise”.
That’s what the Ministers’ stated; now watch closely what they do. Do Liberals still honour their word and respect the truth. Or have they cynically forsaken that cornerstone of democracy in favour of a more arrogant and less truthful ideology? What’s a Liberal promise worth?
And not related to the environment, but a reaction to the way society sets norms for parenting:
'You can't force a child to be independent, you can only force him not to depend on you.' -- original author unknown
March 17, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside (9AM-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).
P.E.I. Community Theatre Festival, 1-5PM (various shows starting about every 45 minutes or so), Carrefour Theatre, admission by donation.
A Green St. Patrick's, Green Party of PEI fundraiser, 7PM, tickets available, featuring singing and storytelling by Catherine MacLellan, Alan Buchanan, Catherine O'Brien, GP leader Peter Bevan-Baker and others. more information here.
Other Green Party events this coming week:
Wednesday, March 21st:
Green Drinks Summerside, (rescheduled date), 7PM, OpenEats in Summerside.
Thursday, March 22nd:
Community Forum -- Queens County, 6:30-8:30PM, Emerald Community Centre, free. Conversation about issue and priorities, more details here.
And the Progressive Conservatives are hosting two
Budget & Community Consultations
Kensington: Wednesday, March 21st, 7PM, Kensington Legion,
Montague: Thursday, March 22nd, 7PM, Montague (Lane's Riverhouse Inn)
Friday, March 23rd:
NDP PEI leadership debate, 7PM, Montague Rotary Library.
If you doing some grocery shopping today, and trying to figure out if food have genetically modified ingredients in them (in a country whose government resists clear and accurate labeling on such products), the organization "The Non-GMO Project" has a product verification program, with a logo of a leaf and stylized Monarch butterfly, which you can find on some packages in Island stores:
Lists of products (aimed at U.S. markets, but listing still valid for Canada)
"Know your food, know your farmers, and know your kitchen."
March 16, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Council of Canadians is concerned about the the federal government's bill C-69, which will return some of the protections to our water, but there are some serious concerns.
"The Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to dramatically strengthen environmental reviews and water protection measures in its recently tabled Bill C-69 that would govern the reviews of proposed tar sands pipelines, mines, hydroelectric dams and transmission lines."
from an article on their website with some background, from last month: https://canadians.org/blog/council-calls-trudeau-government-fix-c-69-table-new-water-protection-legislation-appoint-water
They are asking people to contact their MP with this plea (it automatically goes to your MP based on your postal code.
In other water news, here is a concern about the amount of microplastics in...bottled water. As if you needed another reason to avoid it.
"The environment is were we all meet; where we all have a shared mutual interest; it is the one thing that we all share." -- Lady Bird Johnson, first lady of the USA (1963-1969)
March 15, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment meeting, 10AM-12noon, Coles Building chamber, all welcome. The Federation of Agriculture is briefing the committee on land speculation and the cost of real estate. I am not sure if anyone else is going to be presenting (like a realtor). You can attend in person or watch live at the Legislative Assembly website: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/watchcommittees
You can also watch recent previous committee meetings by going to the video archives of meetings, and transcripts are available for meetings at some point afterwards.
Results of Local Food Security project in Island Schools and other places, 3:30-5PM, Farm Centre. Community Food Security and Food Education Project (CFSFEP) is the unlovely accronym for the collaboration between several government departments to get this group of projects going. All welcome but perhaps let Hanna Hameline at (902) 368-7289 or <email@example.com> know so enough chairs will be ready. Hear how the projects went and participate in what can be the next steps.
NDP Leadership Debate, 7PM, Murphy Community Centre, all welcome. Margaret Andrade, Joe Byrne and Susan MacVittie are all participating. Two more debates (Summerside and Montague, I think), on the coming Thursdays.
Budget & Community Consultation hosted by the PEI Progressive Conservative Caucus, 7PM, Rodd Royalty, Charlottetown. Official Opposition MLAs will be on hand to hear attendees' concerns about priorities for provincial resources as the budget is prepared (and will be examined by the Opposition parties in the Assembly starting next month).
Save the date: Sunday, March 25th: Bluefin (documentary), by John Hopkins, 2PM, UPEI MacDougall Hall, Room 242, hosted by UPEI Environmental Society, Save Our Seas and Shores PEI, and Cinema Politica.
The City of Charlottetown is looking at really focusing on food security -- and groups like the PEI Food Security Network and the PEI Food Exchange have made a huge difference making the City aware of this issue and their role in this.http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-charlottetown-establishing-food-council-1.4575938
Last night's mental health forum hosted by the CBC PEI has a wrap-up here: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-mental-health-services-forum-1.4576177
and more on their website. I was only able to hear a few excerpts, but I did notice that Minister Robert Mitchell is concerned, genuinely, and believes the department is moving along ("but these things take time") while the one department rep sounded almost a little patronizing toward citizen "grassroots" groups like Island Mothers Helping Mothers/#HowMany Wade bringing issues to light. I also did not realize Dr. Heather Keizer's mother was instrumental in helping get video lottery terminals out of corner stores. Certainly an example of a citizen bringing an issue to the forefront, engaging others, and causing government finally to move on an issue.
"One planet, one experiment."
--biologist Edward O. Wilson
March 14, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is cancelled for this morning.
Tonight, 7PM, is the Reception for participants in the Engaging Island Women in Political Action and friends, 4-6PM, Holman Grand Hotel, Grafton Street. Should be a fantastic group of women, with the previous cohort and the newly selected participants. I believe all are welcome.
Also, tonight, CBC PEI is presenting a forum on mental health at 7PM at The Guild, live-broadcast on CBC Radio, website and Facebook. Dr. Heather Keizer and mental health advocate Sarah Stewart-Clark will be the panelists.
Yesterday, the Standing Committee on Education and Economic discussed autism supports for people, especially once they turn 18 years old and leave the public school system. Board members from the Stars for Life Foundation for Autism were there and presented and answered questions. I haven't had the chance to watch this but here is the link the video (about 2hours and 15 mniutes):
Susan MacVittie has entered the NDP PEI leadership race. She joins Margaret Andrade and Joe Byrne, with the leadership convention Saturday, April 7th. There will be a debate in Charlottetown at the Murphy Community Centre, Thursday, March 16th, 7PM.
Kids in the United States, who have been taking the lead on pushing for more gun control, have organized a 17 minute walk-out of school today, and planned a march in Washington, D.C. for this Saturday. Yesterday, supporters and parents of victims of gun violence placed 7,000 pairs of shoes on the lawn of the Capital Building (the shoes were collected afterward for donation to charity) to visually show the number of children killed by guns since Sandy Hawk in 2012. 7,000.
Story and photos:
Tonight if the skies are clear, there is a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). More here:
Sadly fitting that news of Stephen Hawking's death comes on International Pi Day (3.14)
"It matters if you just don't give up."
March 12, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Events this week:
Monday, March 12th:
Engaging the Disengaged (A Workshop for the Already Engaged), 6:30-9PM, hosted by the Young Voters of PEI and SPRINGTIDE. Sounds very fun and informative, especially as we head into municipal elections and an educational component for a referendum on voting systems, and people are either aware...or they are not.
Upcoming Standing Legislative Committee Meetings (from: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/meetings/index.php), all at the Coles Building. The public is welcome to attend in person or watch at home on the Legislative Assembly website.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development
10:00 AM, Meeting # 2, Briefing on conditions for people with autism in PEI Topic: The committee will meet to receive a briefing on conditions for people with autism in PEI from representatives of the Stars for Life Foundation for Autism.
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness
1:30 PM, Meeting # 2, Catastrophic Drug Program Topic: Briefing regarding the Catastrophic Drug Program and other drug programs available to Islanders. Presentation from: Denise Lewis-Fleming, Chief Operating Officer, Health PEI; Grant Wyand, Manager, Provincial Pharmacare Program, Health PEI
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
10:00 AM, Meeting # 3, Briefing on the Public Accounts of PEI, 2017 Topic: The committee will meet to receive a briefing on The Public Accounts of the Province of Prince Edward Island For the Year Ended March 31st, 2017 by Gordon MacFadyen, Comptroller, Department of Finance.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment
10:00 AM, Meeting # 1, Land speculation and cost of real estate Topic: The committee will meet to receive a briefing on land speculation and the cost of real estate from David Mol, President, and Robert Godfrey, Executive Director, of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. Other witnesses to be confirmed.
Also Wednesday, March 14th:
Welcome Reception: Engaging Island Women for Political Action, 4-6PM, Holman Grand Hotel, 123 Grafton Street.
Come meet the women selected to participate in this year-long training and leadership skills development program, and some who have just completed it.
Thursday, March 15th:
NDP PEI Leadership Debate -- Charlottetown, 7PM, Murphy Community Centre, 200 Richmond Street. Meet candidates Joe Byrne and Margaret Andrade and hear debate about issues and leadership style. All welcome.
Saturday, March 17th:
A Green St Patrick's Green Party of PEI Fundraising Concert , 7-9PM, College of Piping and Performing Arts, Summerside. Ticketed. Featuring Catherine MacLellan, Catherine O'Brien, Alan Buchanan and Peter Bevan-Baker with music and storytelling.
More details: https://greenpartype.eventgrid.com/Dates/55944
Here is a link to a nice ten minute documentary, the result of a social justice workshop, on the the biomass plant in Port Hastings, Nova Scotia. "It's Too Big" and it's much too inefficient, to burn wet forest wood for electricity.
Biologist Bob Bancroft, whose very nature is one of earnest integrity and intelligence, figures prominently in this. Gorgeous fall colours of the beautiful mature forest.
My ability to figure out e-mail address lists with small devices is poor, so I will send out a lot now, and try some more; and post on our Facebook group page from now until Saturday if I can't manage any other way.
and also a bit on our website:
"What I stand for is what I stand on."
March 11, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A slightly quieter day:
For staying inside and listening to music,
Warm Tones for Cold Weather -- A Low Brass Recital, 2:30PM, Dr. Steel Recital Hall, UPEI, admission charged. Dale Sorenson, trombone, Gregory Irvine, tuba, and Frances McBurnie, piano. Facebook event details
or outside now that there is fresh snow:
Brookvale Ski Park Customer Appreciation Day, 9AM-5:30PM, Alpine and Nordic and tubbing areas, Brookvale. Discounts and special events. Facebook event details
A nice, sharp article, which is relevant for P.E.I.:
Electoral Reform: Myths and Misinformation Prop Up the Status Quo - The Tyee article by David Chudnovsky
Scare tactics shouldn’t block change to a better democracy.
Published on Thursday, March 8th, 2018, on-line at The Tyee
The debate on electoral reform in B.C. has hardly begun, but the people arguing against a change to the status quo - the first past the post system - have been quick off the mark. They’ve already launched an attack on mixed member proportional representation (MMP), one of the options for reform.
Unfortunately, their claims have almost always been wrong and sometimes just plain silly.
First, let’s understand how mixed member proportional representation works.
It’s simple enough. Voters get two ballots. The first, just like the vote we have now, is used to elect a constituency representative.
The second lets them vote for the party of their choice. Those votes are counted and, based on the percentage of support, each party is awarded seats in the parliament or legislature. This ensures the result is more fair, democratic and accountable. These seats would be filled from lists prepared by the parties, made public before the election. The parties could let members, or all voters, decide who should be on the list.
Now let’s unpack some of the things defenders of the status quo have been saying.
1. They claim MMP leads to extremism and first past the post doesn’t.
Supporters of FPTP argue there is something unique about proportional representation that leads to extremism. There’s a simple, two-word response to that false claim: Donald Trump. Trump was elected under FPTP with less than 50 per cent - not unusual under our current system. The claim is often made that with proportional representation extremist parties sometimes get elected to parliaments and legislatures, so change should be rejected. But compare the impact of a small minority extremist party in a parliament to the extremist president of the U.S., a racist, misogynist, egotist with his finger on the nuclear button, elected under FPTP.
2. They claim MMP leads to unstable parliaments and FPTP doesn’t.
Supporters of first past the post say that there’s something about mixed member proportional representation that leads to unstable governments that fall before their mandate is up, while FPTP guarantees stability. But they should read our history a bit more closely. Between 1957 and 1965 there were five Canadian federal elections under our current system - one every 20 months. One government lasted less than nine months.
In B.C., there were three elections in four years between 1952 and 1956. What electoral system was used? First past the post.
And it’s not just Canada. In the 1920s, Britain had three elections in less than two years using out current first past the post system. So much for stability.
3. They claim that under MMP “party insiders” and “backroom boys” would have tremendous influence on who gets to be a candidate and under FPTP they don’t.
This is laughable. We all know that under the current system party heavyweights intervene all the time to influence and even control who their candidates will be. Justin Trudeau did it. Stephen Harper did it. Virtually every party and every party leader has been caught out trying, and often succeeding, in “managing” who becomes a candidate and who doesn’t.
Defending FPTP candidate selection as pure and uncontaminated by party insiders is just silly. Under mixed member proportional, each party will create a list of candidates to correct unfairness and lack of democratic representation. These lists can be determined in many ways - including open, democratic primary votes by party members or the general public.
4. They claim that MMP is too complicated for the B.C. voters to understand.
All around the world, people vote in various proportional representation systems, including MMP, which is used in countries like Germany and New Zealand. Those hundreds of millions of voters are no more intelligent than British Columbians. They just have fairer electoral systems.
And that’s the most important reason for mixed member proportional - to make elections fairer, more democratic and more accountable.
5. Why bother to make this change?
There are lots of reasons that people prefer mixed member proportional to the current system, but the most important one has to do with fairness and democracy. If we’re going to make a change, we should be able to identify a problem. And when it comes to electoral reform in B.C. it’s easy to identify the problem.
Remember the 2001 BC election? The BC Liberals got 51 per cent of the vote and 97 per cent of the seats. The NDP got 21 per cent of the vote and two per cent of the seats. The Greens got 12 per cent of the vote and no seats. That’s not an insignificant or minor difficulty; it’s a big problem.
But it’s not an unusual outcome under FPTP. It happens to a greater or lesser extent in every election. So a system that includes constituencies (so every voter has an elected community representative) and a list to “top up” the results to make them more fair, more democratic, and more accountable makes sense.
The decision to reform our electoral system is an important one. Every voter should make themselves aware of the points of view pro and con. And every voter should look critically and skeptically at the arguments being used to defend the antiquated and flawed system called first past the post.
I have to do a bit of traveling this week, so I will be testing my remote options today with another newsletter on events this week. Thanks for your patience.
"People often ask, 'What is the single most important environmental population problem facing the world today?' A flip answer would be, 'The single most important problem is our misguided focus on identifying the single most important problem!' "
--Jared Diamond, author, in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
March 10, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Events today will likely be on but check, first.
Farmers' Markets in Charlottetown and Summerside.
Confederation Centre Public Library Used Book sale is this weekend.
Fix-it-Fair, 10AM-2PM, Murphy's Community Centre, Charlottetown, free.
Seedy Saturday -- Montague, 1-3PM, Montague Rotary Library. Facebook event details
Benefit Auction and Dance for F. Ben Rodgers, 7PM-midnight, Cymbria Lions Club,
Here are the Island Political Parties' event listings website page links:
Green Party of PEI:
Liberal Party of PEI events listing:
New Democratic Party of PEI (scroll down):
Progressive Conservative Party of PEI:
Nova Scotia Legislates Education "reform"
A week after it was introduced in the N.S. Legislature, the Education bill passed yesterday. English language elected school boards are abolished, and school administrators can no longer be represented by the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union. Advisory committees will be established.
(Education Minister Zach) Churchill said transparency remains intact because the advisory body reports to government and government is open and accountable. "In terms of decisions we make, the reasoning behind it, everything is going to be as it is now, which is open and transparent."
The P.E.I. Legislature passed its education "reform" bill in Spring 2016, Bill No. 26, Education Act, during the with the Second Session of the 65th General Assembly. The abolition of elected school boards in the English system were a main feature.
The particulars about the bill are here on the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly website:
except I don't see any way to tell how MLAs voted, unless one reads the Hansard transcript and there is a recorded vote or watches the archives. (I may be wrong and will check that.)
From memory, that Bill passed unanimously in May 2016 by the Government and Opposition members who were in the House at that point, but it was not a very clear debate during the second reading. (Peter Bevan-Baker was out of the country due to the death of his mother.)
The Opposition (Official and Third Party) has been much more effective going through bills in the most recent sittings.
The website Open Parliament monitors who said what and voted how in our Canadian Parliament. It is run by a very engaged and talented Michael Mulley, and it is a fun-to-read website with lots of colour highlights to categorize who said what about which item. Voting is referenced with the Bill number, context in debate, and the website has a lot of information about Island MPs, including their current favourite words:
Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey's is "fisheries",
Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay's is "agriculture"
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey's is "languages"
Malpeque MP Wayne Easter's is "report"
March 9, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A list of events for tomorrow, any of which may be affected by the weather, so there are some contact info or event details for checking:
Saturday, March 10th:
"Can't Wait for Spring! Concert"-- Cornwall Community Choir, 2PM, West River United Church, Cornwall. A selection of traditional and contemporary choral music. Admission charged and more info at 367-4756.
City of Charlottetown Fix-it-Fair, 10AM-2PM, Murphy's Community Centre, free. It "will include a Repair Café, workshops, demonstrations, information booths and more."
Seedy Saturday -- Montague, 1-3PM, Montague Rotary Library. Swap, buy, share seeds. Facebook event details
Benefit Auction and Dance for F. Ben Rodgers, 7PM-midnight, Cymbria Lions Club,
Friday, March 16th:
Community Forum on Aging, Housing and Diversity, 8:30AM-3PM, Murchison Centre, PiusX Avenue, Charlottetown. Free but registration needed. (902) 206-1352, or firstname.lastname@example.org More details to follow.
This informative article is on the editor of the National Observer, which grew out of the Vancouver Observer:
Linda Solomon Wood profile:
On International Women's Day, we share a story about National Observer's roots, courtesy of Nieman Lab, a Harvard-based organization that investigates the future of journalism.
In January, Nieman Lab deputy editor Laura Hazard Owen interviewed and wrote about National Observer founder and CEO Linda Solomon Wood. With Owen's permission, we reprint the article in its entirety below.
'We stepped in and started doing it'
How one woman built an award-winning news outlet from her dining room table
The rest is at the end of this newsletter.
And from the National Observer, this article on David Suzuki as he talks about climate change, Justin Trudeau, and the future.
And is a story from the Vancouver Observer about the David Suzuki Foundation's focus on community-led renewable energy initiatives.
Linda Solomon Wood is the American who threatened to move to Canada — and then actually did it. Once there, she did something else perhaps even more improbable: She launched a national, investigative digital news site that, just three years in, is winning prestigious awards (including the first-ever National Newspaper Award to a digital-only site), and is on the path to becoming entirely funded by readers.
National Observer, which Solomon Wood founded in 2015, is a daily news site covering issues like government, the environment, health, climate change, and human rights, all with a progressive bent. It has 10 full-time employees split between work spaces in Ottawa and Vancouver, as well as five part-time contractors and a host of freelance journalists. With that small staff, the site has done big things: Last year, Bruce Livesey, then the outlet’s lead investigative reporter, won a National Newspaper Award in 2017 for his series on New Brunswick’s powerful Irving family — the first time a digital-only outlet had won the award.
“Thank you so much to the investors, Kickstarter supporters, subscribers and monthly donors who have empowered [Livesey’s] reporting since our launch two years ago,” Solomon Wood said in a statement at the time. “It all comes down to you. This is your award, too.” National Observer was also the first digital-only outlet ever to receive a Michener citation of merit in public service journalism, earning the team a trip to Rideau Hall, Canada’s equivalent of Buckingham Palace.
The site generally publishes three to five original stories per weekday, as many as 10 on a busy day. In one ongoing series, “The Price of Oil,” National Observer is collaborating with the Toronto Star, Global News, and other partners to look at the health impacts of oil and gas development on local communities. But most of National Observer’s work originates with its staff. “We’re small, but we punch above our weight and are positioning ourselves to grow significantly,” said Mike De Souza, the site’s managing editor and the reporter behind National Observer’s award-winning investigation into TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project. (His investigation into the secret meetings held around the project ultimately contributed to TransCanada’s termination of the pipeline project last fall.) “We’re taking over space that is being abandoned, I think, by a lot of older media outlets” as Canada’s newspaper market drastically contracts.
Solomon Wood, 61, is a Canadian with a Southern accent. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and her first job was as an intern at The Tennesseean in Nashville, in 1979. John Siegenthaler, the publisher at the time, was a civil rights activist who let reporters work on investigative stories for months or years. As an intern, Solomon Wood got to investigate and report on the exploitative industrial life insurance that was sold to poor people; The Tennessean’s coverage of that issue led to Senate hearings, a 60 Minutes episode, and the ban of that form of insurance. Solomon Wood went on to spend years as a freelancer, doing “lots of one thing and another over many years.” She profiled Wangari Maathai, the woman who launched the Green Belt movement in Kenya and went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace prize; Noerine Kaleeba, the woman who organized Uganda’s reponse to the HIV/AIDS crisis; and Medha Patkar, the Indian social worker who organized the protest against a World Bank dam that would have displaced nearly a million peasant farmers.
“These women inspired me,” she said. “I left them feeling that one person really could do a lot. What I saw them all doing was building strong relationships, often with other women. It wasn’t really that they thought they were going to accomplish these huge things. I don’t think they knew what they were going to accomplish. It was just that they felt like they had to do what they were doing.”
After the years of freelancing, Solomon Wood ended up in New York. She was pregnant with her second son during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the family was living a few blocks from the World Trade Center. “I remember standing outside my older son’s kindergarten moments before it happened, talking with an Israeli man. There had just been a car bombing in Israel, and I remember saying, ‘Oh, you must be so glad to be here!'” she recalled. “And then, boom, we heard an explosion.” After the attacks, Muslim mothers in her son’s kindergarten class told her how they’d been yelled at on the streets. “On top of that, Bush was saying we were going to be in an ongoing war, a forever war. I knew that I was going to be giving birth to a second son. I thought, ‘No. I don’t want to live in a country that’s going to become increasingly militarized and where the future might be war.’ And so we left.”
In Vancouver, Solomon Wood was inspired by Arianna Huffington, who had launched The Huffington Post in 2005. “I understood that I wasn’t Arianna Huffington. I didn’t have her Rolodex. But it was exciting to see a woman do this, to see a new journalism publication just appear online and take the world by storm.” She started publishing her own website. “I liked being able to write and publish and not go through all the bureaucracy of pitching to other publications. Maybe they’re not so interested in women in Africa who are changing their societies, but I am.”
In 2009, Solomon Wood launched Vancouver Observer as a hyperlocal site ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The Olympics would lead to increased interest in Vancouver and higher potential traffic for the site, she figured. Vancouver Observer did a lot of general-interest reporting at first, but it also did environmental investigative reporting. “It,” at that point, was essentially Solomon Wood herself plus a “stream of interns from universities in the Vancouver area who exchanged their work for mentorship and editing… that was how it grew in the early years, it was really all volunteer.”
In 2010, Solomon Wood got a call from a whistleblower in Arizona who tipped her off to archaic Canadian laws that were preventing war brides and their children from becoming citizens. “He said he’d been trying to get an investigative piece done and hadn’t been able to get anybody to pay attention to him,” said Solomon Wood. They talked for more than two hours. “At the end of the call, I said, ‘You know what — I’m intrigued, but I can’t take on a story like that because we don’t have the resources. If I had $10,000’ — or, you know, I probably said $5,000 or less; I was not thinking very big in the beginning — ‘If I had some resources, I could hire some interns from University of British Columbia School of Journalism and I could guide them and we could do this. But you can’t have anything to do with it; you’re gonna have to sign an agreement that says hands off, and I don’t know, we might not find what you’re looking for at all. All I can tell you is we’ll look into it if we have the funding.’
“I never expected to hear from him again. About two months later, a check came in the mail.” Vancouver Observer’s reporting on the “Lost Canadians” began in 2010 and continued for the next four years, leading to awards and changes in the Canadian law.
Money continued to trickle in. Solomon Wood began pitching people, and one invested $25,000. At this point, Vancouver Observer was literally running from Solomon Wood’s dining room table. “Oh, you know, this is all going on in my apartment, my kids were small and running around, there were always interns here,” she said. “And then that spring (of 2012), we were nominated for a really big award” — a Canadian Journalism Foundation award.
“I remember getting the letter and just sitting down and crying,” Solomon Wood said. “There had been so much unbelievably hard work that had been going on for a really long time, and it felt like, oh my God, somebody noticed.” Vancouver Observer ended up winning the award.
(At this point in our discussion, I mentioned that it was impressive that Solomon Wood had been able to get so much investigative reporting done with journalism students as her primary staff, and asked if she thought she was a good teacher. “Oh, I think I am really a people person, that is one of my skills,” she said. “And they were smart. And they were dedicated.” Then she began telling me about the time that she and an intern uncovered a stream of money that the Koch brothers were funneling into a conservative Canadian think tank. “Also we uncovered the fact that our spy agency and our national police force were spying on environmental organizations.” These discoveries were made from her dining room table, of course.)
Vancouver Observer was doing well. If investigative reporting was its heart, the bulk of its traffic came from the other kinds of stories it did — back when some of the Twilight vampire movies were being filmed in British Columbia, “we would do really fun, like, paparazzi stories, and then we’d just watch our traffic spiral up on every Twilight story.” For the first time, the site became profitable.
Yet Solomon Wood was attuned to the larger media environment the site was operating in, and she felt something wasn’t quite right. Some of this was only fully recognized in hindsight — “What we were doing, during those days, was going after as much traffic as we could, and we were doing that thinking that we were going to build a business based on advertising dollars. That was still back when that had not been proven to be something that wasn’t going to happen. We know now that that is never going to happen! But we didn’t know that then.”
But other trends were more obvious to her at the time, even as American companies like BuzzFeed expanded into Canada only to withdraw after traffic struggles. “I saw Facebook come in [in 2014],” she said. “I got a notice where they were like, ‘We’re gonna come in and we’re gonna meet with local businesspeople and tell you how to use our platform better!’ They got on the ground, Google was doing the same thing, and it was just like the rug got pulled out from under us. That was the year we stopped getting advertising.”
Local coverage, Solomon Wood decided, wasn’t going to be enough. “It was popular, it was well-read, but people didn’t want to invest in it.” Instead, she decided, she’d go national — but niche. National Observer launched in 2015 (with the help of $80,000 raised in a Kickstarter campaign), and from the start, Solomon Wood knew, its business model would not be based on advertising. (Vancouver Observer is still running as a separate site, but it’s morphed into a community publishing platform whose content comes from Vancouver citizens.) “We had to shift from the idea of ‘We’re a traditional newspaper that covers everything’ to ‘We’re a niche publication that is going to — that can only do things that we have a revenue model for.'”
This meant a continued focus on environmental reporting from a clearly pro-environment angle. “National Observer definitely comes to the story with a point of view,” said Jacques Poitras, provincial affairs reporter for CBC New Brunswick and the author of the upcoming Pipe Dreams: The Fight for Canada’s Energy Future. “But the reporting and the research and their approach to the coverage, to me, is journalistically sound and rigorous and what you would expect from any professional news organization. Where their point of view comes in, I think, is in what they choose to cover, how dogged they are in sticking with the particular story.”
In 2015, it almost seemed as if Solomon Wood had been too cautious; 2015 was an election year in Canada, and National Observer’s traffic boomed even as it added a paywall in mid-2016. Just as quickly, though, that traffic dried up. “People were just exhausted from the news,” Solomon Wood said. “I had a lot of people tell me: ‘I just don’t look at it anymore.'” The site briefly tried micropayments, with no success. The company outgrew the subscription platform it had been using and had to switch to new software, which meant it had to try to get everyone who’d already subscribed to resubscribe. 2016 was a low point: “We hit a big slump.” Solomon Wood’s mother-in-law died. “I was really at a point of not knowing.”
On the advice of her advisory board, she sent a passionate email to National Observer’s subscriber list. From that letter:
For the last six years I’ve spent thousands of hours trying to solve a very difficult problem: weekends creating spread sheets, running numbers, counting how many of you read National Observer, and trying to guess how many of you would see it as a critical public service.
I’ve run these numbers many times and by my calculations, if only one per cent of you champion our reporting, National Observer can spread its wings. You can be part of the remaking of journalism in Canada….
We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars this year alone supporting Bruce and Mike’s investigative series on the Irvings and the National Energy Board. We’ve torn out our hair trying to crunch the numbers that keep our operation sustainable, but during those months, we brought in maybe $700 from banner ads. No, I didn’t drop a zero there — we literally brought in just $700 (Facebook algorithms and Google ads have pretty much eliminated ad revenue for news companies. Sigh).
People responded; the letter resulted in a lot of new subscriptions. “That was the bridge that got us through. We took off from there and went into a strong 2017.”
A National Observer subscription costs $139.99 a year or $12.99 per month. Users can read five articles for free per month before being asked to pay, and any article backed by crowdfunding is also in front of the paywall. “We can’t give away a lot,” said Solomon Wood. “We can’t go, ‘Oh, well, The New York Times gives you 15 free articles, so we should do that.'” (In fact, the Times recently tightened its paywall to five free stories a month.)
National Observer also does group sales to government ministries, universities, and other institutions. Students at University of New Brunswick and Simon Fraser University have free access thanks to those deals, as do many employees of Canada’s federal government. National Observer also runs sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when a subscription is half off. “Those sales are huge for us,” Solomon Wood said. “(Last year), we pulled in $20,000 just in a couple days.” Meanwhile, National Observer asks anyone who wants access to the site but can’t afford it to get in touch, and they’ll figure something out. “We get amazing letters from people who describe themselves as seniors or retired, living on pensions, about how much they value the site,” Solomon Wood said. “They’ll send us a $25 check in the mail, and we’re thrilled to give them access. Ultimately, we don’t want to shut anybody out. On the other hand, it was very clear to me that if we cannot find enough people who want to pay for the reporting that we’re doing, then we’re doing something wrong.”
Solomon Wood wouldn’t share how many paying subscribers National Observer has. But including the group subscriptions, she said, around 250,000 people have access to the site. National Observer now gets 30 per cent of its funding from subscriptions (up from just five per cent before the paywall), and the remaining 70 per cent comes from crowdfunding, events, spontaneous donations, and philanthropic funding. The goal is for National Observer to be 60 per cent reader-funded by the end of 2018, and close to 100 per cent by the end of 2019.
During one of my conversations with Solomon Wood, alerts kept popping up on my phone’s screen about Trump’s plan to privatize large chunks of national parks. This inspired me to ask her whether environmental investigative reporting ever gets her down. Does she actually feel as if National Observer is making a difference?
“I really believe in the power of investigative journalism, and I believe that good investigative reporting is, by its nature, very solutions-oriented,” she said. “The whole point of an investigative series is to bring further attention to a problem so that there can be policy change for the better.”
At the same time, “we have a government that is committed to making progress on climate. It’s amazingly different from Trump taking the EPA apart — amazingly different,” she said, almost joyously.
“Now, are they actually hitting those goals?” she continued. “It’s an imperfect world, so no, they’re not. But they are committed, and they are making steps forward. It’s not all depressing news out of Canada.”
March 8, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
International Women's Day events, various locations, including:
Time to Make Waves, 3-6PM, St. Paul's Hall, Prince Street.
More info: (902) 368-4510
Progressive Conservative Party District 11 Thank You Event, 6-8PM, PC Association Office, Pond Street. "Candidate, Melissa Hilton and District 11 President, Martha Ellis would like to invite all volunteers who participated in the District 11 by-election to a thank you event."
Unincorporated Communities meeting about Three Rivers Amalgamation Plans, Georgetown, 7PM, Georgetown Rink, second floor. Perhaps find updates on the Facebook page "We Are Rural Strong".
**Postponed**: NDP Leadership Debate in Summerside. More updates when available.
Green Drinks, 7-10PM, Doolys in Summerside, Green Party monthly social time.
On a Island full of wonderful women, one of the most talented and caring is Amanda Jackson. She and the Amanda Jackson Band are part of the Searchlight competition, and here is a music video made by John Hopkins (of Bluefin fame), with Amanda Jackson, Todd MacLean (of Global Chorus fame), Reg Ballagh, Dale McKie, and Jon Rehder, all wonderful and giving people.
or just the song at the Searchlight page (audio only)
March 7, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Public Accounts Standing Committee, 10AM-12noon, Legislative Chamber, Coles Building, or on-line "The committee will meet to receive a briefing on performance reporting by Robert Hughes, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Stratford."
District 15 Progressive Conservative Founding Meeting and AGM, 7PM, PC Association Office, Pond Street.
District 15 was Charlottetown-Springvale, but now is bigger geographically and fans out from Charlottetown more and is called Brackley-Hunter River. Map fun:
Thursday, March 8th:
(these events may be weather-dependent so best to check)
NDP leadership debate link with Joe Byrne and Margaret Andrade, 7-9PM, Summerside, Loyalist Lakeview Resort.
"This event will be live streamed on this page https://www.facebook.com/events/1304652849636175/if you can't attend. What questions do you have for the leadership candidates?"
Green Drinks, Summerside, 7-10PM, Doolys Summerside, 298 Water Street. Regular second-Thursday-of-the-month gathering, with a Green Party leadership and shadow critics in regular attendance.
Also on Thursday, a meeting for those opposed to the Three Rivers Amalgamation proposal -- I can't find the details, and again, it's weather-dependent. More details tomorrow.
Here is some thoughtful commentary (and reminding us of the predicament the MacLauchlan government finds itself in repeated due to ignoring the electoral reform plebiscite) from Ron Kelly, posted on social media, yesterday:
I'm not necessarily opposed to some form of amalgamation -- if the citizens of the communities involved support it. But enforced amalgamation may backfire and will certainly put the MacLauchlan government in a tricky spot. They know there's significant opposition to this move and that's been demonstrated in a number of community votes.
Of course, they can't accept or acknowledge these votes because the turnouts were generally on the same level as the turnout for the electoral reform plebiscite last year -- which they rejected as being too low.
On the other hand, if they proceed in the face of this opposition, they will suffer the consequences at the ballot box.
On the third hand, they probably feel that they can't back down, either -- so they're "hoisted on their own petard".
To complicate things even further, if they allow the amalgamation to go ahead in the face of so much opposition, they may as well just lay out their amalgamation plans for the rest of rural P.E.I. and force them all through. Any process of public consultation or pretext of community approval would be laughed out of the room after the Three Rivers experience.
There may be a small window of opportunity represented by an approach that says: "Citizens, we respect your views and so we're not going to proceed with amalgamation at this time. Instead, we'll take a break, let things cool off a bit and come back in a couple of years -- if we're still in government -- and start a whole new process that does a better job of promoting the benefits of amalgamation, while really listening to you and respecting your knowledge and, ultimately, your wishes, It will be a real community dialogue, in the true sense of the term."
Given that the P.E.I. Liberal Party usually operate as a top-down elitist party, though, I doubt that their natural inclination would be to adopt that approach (unless they apply it on the surface only, as a guise for their own agenda).
Well said, Ron.
March 8th is International Women's Day and there are several celebrations planned, all part of a mosaic, as no one governing body directs activities. Here are two:
Thursday, March 8th:
MOVE IPA -- International Women's Day Beer launch, going from 12noon Thursday until Sunday, March 11th, or until supplies last, with a new beer crafted by "the women of Upstreet", and portions of the sales going to the Aboriginal Women's Association of P.E.I. Facebook event details.
International Women's Day Celebration, "Time to Wake waves", 3-6PM, Trinity United Church, all welcome.
Come join us on Thursday, March 8 to celebrate International Women’s Day!
There will be FUN, food, friends, music, a kid’s station and of course DANCING!
This is a FREE event - no charge to join in the celebration!
Everyone is welcome – Come as you are 😊
Hope to see you there!
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900's - a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. International Women's Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women's network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women's Day.
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,"
International Women's Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action - whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for well over a century - and continues to grow from strength to strength.
Next Wednesday, March 14th:
"Peace of Mind" -- CBC forum on Mental Health, 7PM, The Guild. Free but limited space so seats must be reserved. Link and phone call to reserve tickets here at this CBC story on-line.
I wasn't not able to get to the Environmental Studies Symposium last night on plastics -- I would appreciate any thoughts or notes from anyone who was able to go.
Also at UPEI:
UPEI is being called on by its Faculty Association, Students Union and CUPE to be included in the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation.
The groups issued a joint news release, which is the only way the public found out this information, since submissions of comments to this review process -- rather one-way "consultation" -- were not shared with the public. CBC article here.
March 6, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tuesday, March 6th:
This afternoon, Souris:
Community Wildlife Session-- Our Shrinking Island, 1:30-3PM, Eastern Kings Community Centre, Souris. Dr. Adam Fenech and the UPEI Climate Lab team will present on sea level rise and effects. All welcome.
And if you can be in a few places at once tonight:
"Our Plastic World" -- UPEI Environmental Studies Symposium, 7-9PM, UPEI, Duffy Amphitheatre, Room 135. Three speakers on different aspects of plastic waste and where this is going, with much time for questions. All welcome. Event is supposed to be on Facebook, live, too.
NaturePEI monthly presentation "Getting to Know the Herptiles of PEI", 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street. Dwaine Oakley on the Island's reptiles and amphibians.
District 10 Founding meeting for the Progressive Conservatives, 6:30PM Registration, meeting at 7PM, PC Association Office, 30 Pond Street (by drop-off doors of Value Village).
If you are trying to figure out the new boundaries of the Districts for the next election (on a 27-District, First Past the Post system, which apparently it will be), current District 18 MLA Brad Trivers has maps on his website you can overlay and see areas all across the Island.
Some wonderful people in the Cornwall and surrounding area are planning this:
Saturday, March 10th:
"Can't Wait for Spring!" concert, Cornwall Community Choir, 2PM, West River United Church, 9 Cornwall Road. Storm date Sunday the 11th. A selection of traditional and contemporary music, under the direction of Lisa Stead, light lunch, admission $10 adults, children12 and under free.
Monday, March 12th:
Engaging the Disengaged (A Workshop for the Already Engaged), 6:30-9PM, Startup Zone, 31 Queen Street, free but registration needed: http://sprngtd.co/2HN84zh
from the event description:
We all know the importance of getting more people engaged in elections, politics, and civic life, but it can be challenging to know how to do so effectively.
The most effective ways to get someone to get engaged involve those of us who are already engaged taking the time to reach out, invite them, and support their inclusion.
For those willing to take the time to engage with those who usually don't, there’s something in it for you too: you might find new volunteers for your program or initiative, people who are willing to offer you support for your campaign or agenda, and that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you reach out to someone you don’t know. And, of course, more passionate, informed citizens in your community.
In this workshop, we will:
- share effective strategies for reaching out to people in our communities less likely to participate in elections and civic life
- hear from local leaders with experience reaching out to disengaged voters and citizens
- offer participants a chance to learn from one-another’s experience in this area
This workshop is presented by Springtide in partnership with Elections Canada and Young Voters of PEI. More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1725018350898842/
Word has come from Guardian political reporter Teresa Wright that she is taking contract work in Ottawa for the Canadian Press. Congratulations to her, but too bad for us!
Most of us are longing for the ice to retreat from our brown areas, but here is some perspective on lawns and laws, with an exasperated smile.
OPINION: Pesticide decision ‘a joke’ - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Ole Hammarlund
To simply allow people to apply banned pesticides, with or without a $50 fee is ridiculous.
Published on Friday, March 2nd, 2018, in The Guardian
The recent vote by Charlottetown City Council and mayor has opened the door for new and exciting sources of revenue for the city.
A year ago, the city, after years of discussion, approved a pesticide bylaw that eliminated the use of cosmetic pesticides to combat the dreaded dandelions and cinch bugs. The bylaw included an innovative exception: For a fee of just $50, a city inspector would visit your property and authorize the use of the banned pesticides. This proved a popular option and recently city councillors and mayor decided to keep this exception.
As an architect dealing with cumbersome bylaws in the city for 40 years, I welcome this development and suggest that the city use this innovative method of collecting revenues. Instead of cumbersome variance hearings, why not simply collect a fee? For instance, the city could collect $100 for each foot that a building addition could move closer to the property line. The potential for extra revenue is huge, especially in the traffic control area. I think a fee of $100 for driving 60 km instead of the usual 50 km could be very popular and what about that bothersome stopping at stop signs when no one is around?
I am joking, right? Or is the city joking?
The pesticide bylaw was initially approved, based on the fact that the use of cosmetic pesticides pollutes our environment, with the so-called benefits being only cosmetic, such as a lawn without dandelions or cinch bugs. The bad effects of using pesticides are immediate to kids and adults suffering from breathing problems such as asthma and there are likely many other detrimental effects on birds, insects, pets and people.
Some people that have been used to annual pesticide sprays to keep their lawns spotless may be a bit of a loss of what to do now. I think it is OK to have a city expert help with advice on the options. They are not exactly new or radical. The English perfected lawn care for centuries without pesticides, and remedies include weeding for dandelions or apparently soapy water for cinch bugs.
To simply allow people to apply banned pesticides, with or without a $50 fee is ridiculous. Remember we banned pesticides in the first place for a good reason. This recent decision is a joke. What was the mayor thinking?
- Ole Hammarlund, Charlottetown, Hammarlund and Lips Architects
"I've long maintained that the American lawn is one of the greatest mass brainwashings of all time. How we all voluntarily signed up to spend untold hours growing and cutting a non-native monoculture which we lace with poisons to kill plants and insects never ceases to amaze me."
-- Bill Heavey, writer and sportsman
March 5, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Monday, March 5th:
Last few hours to comment on Electoral Boundaries Commission's 18-District Map, by 12noon, form here:
Pints & Politics, 7-9PM, sponsored by the PEI Progressive Conservative Youth and PC Party, Upstreet Craft Brewing. Political Trivia, hosted by Dennis King, begins at 7:30PM. I am sure all are welcome!!
Do you know it's about a month until the Spring Sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature begins?
Mitch MacDonald of The Guardian writes more succinctly than I do, so I will print this with some notes of my own, a synopsis of the symposium Saturday on the Lands Protection Act (LPA):
Group says P.E.I.’s Lands Protection Act is being abused and loopholes ‘must be closed - The Guardian article by Mitch MacDonald
Published on Monday, March 5th, 2018, in (print edition) The Guardian
The spirit and intent of P.E.I.’s Lands Protection Act is being abused, even if the letter of the law is being followed, says a group of Islanders.
About 60 individuals called for greater protection of the province’s land during the Cooper Institute’s fourth social justice symposium held at Milton Community Hall on Saturday. (Chris notes: It was closer to 70 people, though The Guardian tends to be more accurate than CBC's crowd counts)
The symposium, which had a theme of “The P.E.I. Lands Protection Act: The Spirit and the Letter”, saw a panel and group discussion about how to ensure Islanders keep control of the land.
One idea raised was the formation of a coalition to advocate for better land protection. “How come we’ve never had a coalition for the protection of P.E.I. land? We had a beautiful, beautiful coalition formed and it was very effective for the protection of P.E.I. water,” Marie Burge, of the Cooper Institute, asked participants at the end of the day. “Let’s have groups, organizations and individuals be part of that and put our voices together. That’s what I really feel, what I wish would come out of the discussion we had today.” (Chris note -- see below)
Other suggestions throughout the day included encouraging individuals to read the act and lobby politicians to implement a review of the act every three years as recommended in Lands Protection Act commissioner Horace Carver’s 2013 report.
A major concern brought up was around loopholes that some say allow corporations to circumvent the spirit of the Land Protections Act, which currently allows individuals to own up to 1,000 acres and corporations to own up to 3,000 acres, while still technically following the law.
Douglas Campbell, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) district director for P.E.I., and NFU member Reg Phelan previously warned the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment last fall about the abuse of those limits. The minister at the time said the province was monitoring the situation and that the act was being followed.
However, Campbell said the law is open to misinterpretation and that lawyers are able to get around some of the act’s acreage limits.
“That’s why we’re saying even though they may be following what the law states, the intent and purpose of what it was meant to do is being contravened and therefore the spirit is being abused,” said Campbell, who was a panelist for the symposium.
Campbell said he was happy to see a diverse group at the symposium and noted that concern over land protection is not a new trend on P.E.I.
“It’s been ongoing from the beginning here with absentee landlords and trying to keep the land in the hands of Islanders,” he said. “The public in general have to be concerned because their food comes from the land. If it gets too out of control and into corporate hands, you lose that ability to be able to have a say when it comes to food production and costs." <He added, > "The land affects everybody.”
Panelist Edith Ling, who is the NFU women’s district director on P.E.I., said the loopholes also make it more difficult for young farmers to get started and for existing farmers to lease or buy additional land.
She said a forming a coalition advocating for more land protection would be an excellent start to solving the issue. “People have got to get up in arms about what’s going on with their land… people have the power, they certainly have it every four years at the ballot box, and I think this has to be a people’s movement,” said Ling. “It is really encouraging to see this hall full of people. It says that people really are concerned about the land.”
Mitch MacDonald wasn't there at the beginning, I don't think, or he would have mentioned Gary Schneider, of ECO-PEI, reminding us of the purpose behind the creation of the LPA, and that "the letter of the law trumps the spirit of the law", as we saw in the creation of The Water Act. He quoted the three reasons in the Purpose for creating the Lands Protection Act: historical land ownership issues, the small area/high population density, and the fragile nature of the Island's ecology, environment and lands requiring "the exercise of prudent, balanced and steadfast stewardship." Gary said those last two words are really what it is all about. (It is in Section 1.1 (c), in the Purpose of the Act, link below, emphasis mine.)
Tony Reddin lead the group in Father Andrew MacDonald's original song "No! No! Don't Sell P.E.I. Lands!" and Teresa Doyle spoke and sang about another threat to that "steadfast stewardship", the PNP (Provincial Nominee Program) and the buying and speculating on properties, very noticeable in Charlottetown. Her song, connecting "Where will our children live?" and "Pull the Plug on the PNP!" was very moving, and she reminded us not to forget the role of music and humour in any struggle for the public good.
Lands Protection Act Report (2013 -- Horace Carver, commissioner): The Gift of Jurisdiction: Our Island Province is here:
The Lands Protection Act itself:
And it is very likely interested groups and individuals will be welcome to help found some sort of coalition for the protection of PEI land -- stay tuned.
Much music: Emerald Junction, made up of Anne Quinn and Ron Kelly, is chatting with Angela Walker on Mainstreet CBC Radio in the first half hour of the show today, sometime between 4:10 and 4:30PM, about their work to record their first CD. (Besides very lovely guitar-playing and vocals, Ron has a depth of feeling and depth of analysis on many Island issues, and thoughtfully relays his knowledge and opinions about many matters.) Huge congratulations that this goal of making a record is almost completed! Emerald Junction was also nominated in the first round of the CBC "Searchlight" competition.
Much music, and more:
At the pre-concert talk before the PEI Symphony Orchestra yesterday, guest conductor Dinuk Wijeratne chatted with the group about the day's program. He mentioned how he as a Sri Lankan-born, Middle Eastern-raised person, got to Halifax; and he joked about how, having left The Juilliard School of music in New York City, he was surprised -- and soon got used to and embraced -- that East Coast people tend to smile and say hi to everyone, including strangers.
He spoke of a concerto he was composing for a friend from Juilliard who plays clarinet, a person from Syria who can't ever go home again. They have spoken of what home means, and this friend said,
"Home is the place you most want to contribute to."
March 4, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The PEI Symphony Orchestra performs today at 2:30PM at Zion Church, corner of Prince and Grafton. Tickets available at the door.
Monday, March 5th:
Last Day to comment on Electoral Boundaries Commission's 18-District Map, by **12noon**, details and form here:
There are three submissions on the page, and there are audio recordings of the five public sessions on the website.
The Commission has produced two sample maps for dividing the Island up into 18 geographical voting districts, as an "educational tool" for the public before a referendum on Mixed Member Proportional Representation. There is an issue that the maps do not make any reference to the nine provincial seats which would be in an MMP system -- the omission gives the impression of less representation. Also, you may have comments on the grouping of communities into Districts on one map or another.
The PR Coalition produced a short video:
and a map to clarify this:
screenshot of a clearer sample 27-MLA map under a MMP voting system, from the video.
And see Marie Burge's letter, below.
Pints & Politics, 7-9PM, sponsored by the PEI Progressive Conservative Youth and PC Party, Upstreet Craft Brewing. Political Trivia begins at 7:30PM.
Tuesday, March 6th:
Community Wildlife Session-- Our Shrinking Island, 1:30-3PM, Eastern Kings Community Centre, Souris. "Dr Adam Fenech and researchers from UPEI Climate Lab will deliver an informative session on sea level rise and what it means for Islanders. Refreshments will be provided, everyone welcome!"
Annoyingly, there are two excellent environmental events at the same time Tuesday evening:
UPEI Environmental Studies Symposium -- "Our Plastic World", 7-9PM, UPEI, Duffy Amphitheatre, Room 135. "Format: Three informative speakers will provide insights in different aspects of plastic waste and the challenges we face. A panel discussion will follow."
NaturePEI monthly presentation "Getting to Know the Herptiles of PEI", 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street. Dwaine Oakley will talk about the Island's reptiles and amphibians.
Pinch us, there are two Public Accounts Standing Committee Meetings scheduled for Wednesday, March 7th and Wednesday, March 14th, 10AM-12noon.
This week: "The committee will meet to receive a briefing on performance reporting by Robert Hughes, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Stratford."
March 14th: "The committee will meet to receive a briefing on housing from Hon. Tina Mundy, Craig Dalton, Mark Spidel and Sonya Cobb of the Department of Family and Human Services." You can attend in person or watch at the Legislative Assembly's website.
I'll write tomorrow about the Lands Protection Act symposium which was held Saturday and organized by Cooper Institute and the wonderful Marie Burge. When she wasn't doing that, she was crafting this letter about the MMP map:
OPINION: Fostering rural opposition - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Marie Burge
Published on Thursday, March 1st, 2018
A question of intent in presenting these sample (and misleading) MMP maps to Islanders
The P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation is raising concerns about the content and intent of the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s sample maps for mixed member proportional representation (MMP).
The content of the so-called MMP maps is misleading to the public. These maps give the false impression that the core of MMP is that there will be 18 electoral districts. However, the true essence of MMP is that there are 18 electoral district seats, plus 9 province-wide seats, all of which are decided in a provincial election by P.E.I. voters. There will be 18 district MLAs and 9 province-wide MLAs for a total of 27 MLAs in the Legislature. Each Islander will have their own district MLA, plus having access to any or all of the nine province-wide MLAs.
In the various community consultations thus far on the designed MMP maps, the chair of the Electoral Boundaries Commission declares at the beginning that his commission was mandated only to show the 18 possible electoral districts. Members of the public are bringing up the issue that the maps are actually hiding the true reality of mixed member proportional representation. It appears that the commission, because of its limited mandate, cannot deal with what is missing from the maps.
The P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation has produced a video as a way of graphically presenting the MMP system of 18 district seats and nine province-wide seats. (https://youtu.be/2d6gMziavYc)
This brings us to the question of the intent in presenting these sample (and misleading) MMP maps to Islanders. The first reaction of the Coalition for Proportional Representation, and many others, was that this is a deliberate and shameful attempt to foster opposition to MMP in rural P.E.I. It is important to note at this point that the conventional electoral boundaries review (required after every third election) has been hurting rural P.E.I. for many years. Under MMP, rural Islanders will get a new advantage as will many other sectors and cultural, gender, and political interests in the P.E.I. make-up.
What is most disturbing for the PR promoters is that the premier identified the MMP maps as an educational tool. First of all, it is important to point out that people are not educated by tools. Secondly, presenting the maps as educational shows a deep disconnect with how productive community education happens.
Islanders who want to learn about electoral systems and about how real democracy works are best served by community-development-style education. This model begins with acknowledging the vast knowledge that people already possess. It designs programs and processes which encourage teachers and learners to interact as equals to share old knowledge and new knowledge.
Nobody learns well in a system that imposes viewpoints. The dog and pony show style, no matter how slick the videos, posters, diagrams and social media interconnectedness, is an inefficient teaching-learning style. It involves high cost input and low level of learning results.
The P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation and its members urge the Government of P.E.I. to find a way to initiate and fund a transparent educational effort in preparation for the referendum on two electoral systems. This referendum is to be held in conjunction with the provincial election in 2019.
- Marie Burge, on behalf of Cooper Institute, member of the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional representation
March 3, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown and Summerside.
A note that Seedy Saturdays and Sundays, to swap or obtain seeds, happen later this month at public libraries; times to be posted later.
Montague (Saturday, March 10)
Summerside (Sunday, March 11)
Charlottetown (Saturday, March 24)
Some events this afternoon --
Symposium on the Lands Protection Act, 12:30PM, Milton Hall, Facebook event details. I am planning to attend this, and there is likely space if you want to attend
WAVES -- The Gathering -- Engaging All Generations, 1:30-9PM, The Haviland Club, Charlottetown. This event (details here) bringing together generations of Island feminists, is probably sold-out, but I would appreciate hearing any details.
Green Tea Summerside, 1:30-3PM, Granville Street Diner, have tea or coffee with a bunch of Green leaders and shadow critics on the western side of the Island.
Last day for the PEI "Pay What You Can" Theatre Festival -- two shows left.
"Lunchtime Leftovers: Improv Games with Becca & Friends", 12noon, The Guild. Today's features a seven-minute improvised version of The Lion King. All ages.
"Time Flies: Five Short Plays by David Ives", 7:30PM-9PM, intended for mature audiences.
The afternoon play-reading of " 'night, Mother" has been postponed , rescheduled to be announced.
Sunday, March 4th:
PEI Symphony Orchestra, 2:30PM, Zion Presbyterian Church, Charlottetown. Guest conductor is the fantastic Dinak Wijeratne. Third of four concerts this season, and the fundraising fruit sale begins.
The PEI NDP leadership contenders (Joe Byrne and Margaret Andrade) are having a series of debates across the Island; the first was in O'Leary Thursday night.
NDP leadership candidates share similar views - The Journal Pioneer article by Eric McCarthy
Participate take part in first of four leadership debates
Published on Friday, March 2nd, 2018
Questions on patronage and access to high-speed internet got the leadership candidates for the P.E.I. New Democrats fired up during the first of the party’s four scheduled debates Thursday night in O’Leary.
In shaping the question, moderator and a former leader of the party, Dr. Herb Dickieson, noted another former leader, Jim Mayne, had described patronage as a cancer on democracy.
“It’s also a cancer on people’s dignity,” Joe Byrne responded. “This is predation on poverty,” said Byrne, one of the two contenders for party leader. “You hand out low-wage jobs because you want to keep people down; you want to keep them intimidated.”
Fellow leadership candidate Margaret Andrade said patronage is “completely and totally unacceptable.” She said her way of fighting it is in convincing more young people to become party candidates. “Let’s move all of the cronies; let’s move all of the ones who are so wealthy and connected out of the provincial scene. Get them out of the government. Replace all of them so that we can start fresh and everything is fair again.”
Byrne recalled a screen shot of a message O’Leary-Inverness MLA Robert Henderson allegedly sent to a constituent during the last election campaign: “Remember who got you that job.”
He said he wants to encourage Islanders to write down and share such messages.
“It’s awful, it stagnates us but, more than that, it rips away our dignity,” he said of patronage. “When we witness this and we do nothing, we become complacent and compliant.
Fourteen party-faithful braved a winter storm to hear the candidates.
The candidates also had strong and similar stances on high-speed internet, insisting comparable high-speed internet should be available across P.E.L, but it’s not.
Andrade said her 19-year-old son is part of the first generation with computers in their lives from the moment they were born. “If we think that we want to keep the youth on our Island and we don’t want them all to congregate in Charlottetown or Summerside; if we want them to stay on the Island, keep the family farms going, keep the outlying areas the rural areas strong, we must be able to combine internet services.”
Byrne was highly critical of the internet service contract the provincial Liberals signed with Bell Aliant, insisting many rural Islanders are not getting the level of service the company promised. He said companies should be penalized for not living up to targets. “If you can’t live up to your part of the bargain, then you don’t get the money. That seems, to me, to be a reasonable way to proceed,” he said.
Both candidates suggested that with the competitiveness in internet service delivery it should be possible to provide adequate service Islandwide.
The two candidates shared similar views on all questions posed by Dickieson and members of the audience. They were still in agreement when asked about those similarities following the debate.
“I think Joe and I have a really strong understanding of what the NDP is, so I think we are not going to have a lot of differences of opinion. What we’re going to have differences on is methodology, style,” said Andrade.
“I think what happens is we’re a party where the leader doesn’t determine policy; the party does,” said Byrne. “We will have our own styles and we have different backgrounds. Each of us offers something a little different, and not substantially on policy, because we’re going to be leading the same party.”
Both candidates said they will still be part of the team once the votes are counted on April 7.
Island Waste Management Corporation's guidelines for sorting and for what's acceptable change over time, and in the past year or two are now saying, "No Bag is Best!" for waste carts and compost carts.
or the first link on this page if you can't open the pdf from this newsletter.
After several decades of the "convenience" of lining every indoor basket and can with a bag, then getting used to clear bags, this is a good shift back to the old days of managing you trash without encasing it in more plastic. Reducing the trash you make is still the first step :-)
But IWMC still requires blue transparent bags for recyclables, which LLoyd Kerry mentions in this recent letter in The Guardian:
LETTER: Time to change blue plastic bags - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Almost every day there is a call for reducing our dependence on plastic. Some retail chains are charging for plastic bags at checkout to reduce demand (or simply passing on a cost to their customers). Many retailers offer reusable bags (but most of those are plastic). And P.E.I. is at the top of the pack in our recycling program.
That’s where the irony comes in. Island Waste Management Corporation (IWMC) forces us to buy and use blue plastic bags to put our recyclables in. How is that reducing our plastic use? Other places use blue plastic bins which last for years.
Why don’t we do that? You can’t use the rain and snow argument, other places using blue bins get the same weather we do.
Time for change, IWMC.
Lloyd Kerry, Charlottetown
March 2, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The last committee meeting this week is this morning -- you can watch it live at: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/watchcommittees
Friday, March 2nd:
Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, 10AM, Coles Building, Legislative Chamber. Meeting #3: Soil organic matter; bee pollination program.
Topic: The committee will receive briefings from personnel of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on the study 'Changes in soil organic matter over 18 yr in Prince Edward Island, Canada' by Barry Thompson, Manager of Sustainable Agriculture and Kyra Stiles, Agri-Environmental Development Coordinator; and on the honey bee pollination expansion program and concerns regarding the impact of pesticides on bee populations, by Cameron Menzies, Berry Crop Development Officer/Provincial Apiarist, and Sebastian Ibarra, Agri-Environmental Specialist.
Charles MacKay, clerk of the Legislative Assembly, spoke to the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Members, and Privileges yesterday afternoon, giving them ideas on what they could consider updating and improving, as far as the workings of the Legislature, and answered their questions. It was an engaging couple of hours.
He reminded them that the actual role of the Legislature is to keep the Executive accountable, and that the shared goal is better government for Prince Edward Islanders.
One issue is when there are more Cabinet positions and a healthy opposition, there are fewer government members to sit on committees and effectively do this work of holding the Executive accountable, so a smaller cabinet would be better. MacKay also mentioned the 30-seat Legislature allowed for more private members to do these things, too.
Some areas for consideration
Sitting Hours could be adjusted, as they were famously set to work with the existing train times for MLAs to get home for the weekend.
Committee Reports could be dealt with more effectively. Right now the Committees submit a report, which is basically tabled and accepted with a quick reading of it or the recommendations. There could be more time to read and discuss it before accepting it, and more ways to follow up on the recommendations.
Structure of the Day could be improved.
Length of speaking on motions was brought up(not getting bogged down in verbiage of a motion). The Clerk doesn't feel Members need to be timed on their responses (I'll see if I can find exactly how he put it for another day).
Certainly there are "wonky" old rules that could be tidied up, and a few that compete with each other that could be adjusted.
Questions by MLAs there included utilizing the Legislative Assembly space as effectively as possible, especially while not having Province House for the next couple of years. Establishing a Daycare was mentioned, and the Office of the Auditor General is wished to be here instead of the current location in the government complex.
The Legislative Counsel, which does their job well, all agreed, reports to the Department of Justice, so it doesn't look as independent as it should be.
There was a lot of praise for Leader of the Opposition James Aylward and his paper "Modernizing the House: Moving Towards a More Efficient and Inclusive Assembly", to use in public discussions.
Peter Bevan-Baker brought up the start of the day Prayers (The Lord's Prayer, a prayer to the Queen, and a Legislative Assembly prayer), delicately wondering about making them non-demonimational or more of a moment of silence. Charles said, "Well, I'll skate on this one," to laughter, but that it was the Assembly's to decide. The main idea, he said, was to give the MLAs rushing in from busy schedules a moment to catch their breath, reflect and reorient for the start of the Assembly. They can decide the form this takes.
Other areas mentioned by the group there were the Seating plan in the small space, and considering going to an alphabetical arrangement, as it is with committees. The length and stretching of the Recognition of Guests annoyed some MLAs there, and all agreed they could work on just recognizing people in the Gallery. (Perhaps, however, there *are* people watching at manors and such who couldn't physically ever attend the Gallery who may appreciate the gesture.)
(Also, some of the pontificating about the length of Recognition of Guests interfering with the work of the day was coming from an individual who spends a lot of time chatting with seatmates, beating on desks, and loudly zipping up portfolios before the Speaker adjourns the assembled. Just an observation.)
The Committee discussed figuring out the best ways to get public feedback, through meetings or otherwise, and address how to tackle any improvements.
It was decided to work on some easy items first, and seek public input (though a former cabinet minister now on this committee seemed a bit reluctant about this being a good use of time). An eventual result will be that the committee produces some sort of white paper with their recommendations.
The final part of the meeting was addressing Special Committee on Democratic Renewal chairperson Jordan Brown's letter that he didn't understand what the committee wanted to hear from him when they asked him to appear, so could they clarify?
Basically, they want him to talk about what else besides electoral reform did that special committee hear about. They got some excellent submissions that were shoved to the back with the flurry to get the plebiscite question going. (And even then, many people were focusing on the electoral reform who likely had ideas about other avenues to improve, so this Standing Committee initiative may provide that opportunity.)
"We line up and make a lot of noise about big environmental problems like incinerators, waste dumps, acid rain, global warming and pollution. But we don't understand that when we add up all the tiny environmental problems each of us creates, we end up with those big environmental dilemmas. Humans are content to blame someone else, like government or corporations, for the messes we create, and yet we each continue doing the same things, day in and day out, that have created the problems. Sure, corporations create pollution. If they do, don't buy their products. If you have to buy their products (gasoline for example), keep it to a minimum. Sure, municipal waste incinerators pollute the air. Stop throwing trash away. Minimize your production of waste. Recycle. Buy food in bulk and avoid packaging waste. Simplify. Turn off your TV. Grow your own food. Make compost. Plant a garden. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don't, who will?”
-- Joseph Jenkins, from The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure
March 1, 2018
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Thursday, March 1st:
Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges, 1PM, Coles Building, Legislative Chamber.
Meeting #1: Review of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly. "Topic: The committee will begin a review of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly. The committee will receive a briefing from Mr. Charles MacKay, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly."
Here is the link for the Committees' "Watch Live" page: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/watchcommittees
UPEI Don Mazer Arts and Sciences lecture, by Dr. David McKay, 7PM, UPEI, McDougall hall, Room 246.
Dr. Don McKay has been called the Canadian poet laureate of ecological philosophy. A revered poet, esteemed naturalist, distinguished scholar and editor, celebrated teacher, and famously witty speaker, <snip> McKay’s talk, “Dragon, or Tectonic Lithofacies Map of the Appalachian Orogen,” will be, he says “an attempt to approach one of the most famous and important maps in geology from both sides of my brain, the scientific and aesthetic.” The Appalachian orogenic belt is an ancient mountain range extending from Alabama to Newfoundland.
Dr. McKay will also read from his poetry works tomorrow, Friday, 7PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, as part of the UPEI Winter's Tales Author Reading Series.
Green Party Community Forum #1 -- Charlottetown, 6:30PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Ave. "Join us for a conversation about what matters to you – and help build real solutions for Prince Edward Island." Registration requested. Other sessions are planned on the coming months.
With news that Nova Scotia appears to be signalling that maybe their fracking ban isn't so solid, here is a report from earlier this month in the publication Environmental Health News: http://www.ehn.org/do-fracking-chemicals-cause-cancer-2532123436.html
It describes the publication of some research in the journal Endocrinology, (publication date, today) on "Gas Operation Chemical Mixtures Altered Mammary Gland Development in Adult Female Mice"
This latter link is for the abstract of the article. The first link gives a more plain language description of the research and findings.
Islander F. Ben Rodgers is known to many for his razor wit and flights of fancy in his letters to the editor, and for this vivid memories and commentary captured in his blog. He's suffering from an auto-immune disorder which could be treated with a drug currently not covered by the provincial formulary, (CBC on-line story here) and a benefit is set for him for Saturday, March 10th, at the Cymbria Lions Club: Benefit Auction and Dance for Frederick (Ben) Rodgers Facebook event details
Here is a silly letter about the Plan B highway, written in the summer of 2012, in the thick of the opposition to it:
A new Tale of Robin Hood - The Guardian Letter to the Editor July 26, 2012
Recently in The Guardian newspaper our finance minister likened himself to Robin Hood. A real stretch of the bow string me thinks.
However, Minister Wes Sheridan’s recent comments have inspired another great Island story on a par with Anne of Green Gables. It goes like this:
Once upon a time there was this merry scary band of outlaws; they lived deep within the city. Their leader was the bad sheriff Ghiz of Nott(listen)ingham. Robber Hood Sheridan was his right-hand man. He was busy planning a new way to rob the poor and give to the rich.
Meanwhile, the resident camp faith giver, Friar Tuck McKinley, was attending another last supper. The merry scary band knew the locals were restless and may at any minute take to the streets waving dangerous banners and flags.
However, the merry scary band were not worried, Little John Vessey had a Plan B, he would build a fast escape route through Bonshaw to Borden where they could safely hide out in the hills until things cooled down.
The merry scary band were a merry lot, they had lots of money and credit cards, and if the locals cast them out, they had rich government pensions to see them through. The merry scary band had nothing to worry about; they would just live happily ever after.
--Frederick (Ben) Rodgers, Ebenezer
Recapping the first part of the steps to reduce plastic, a list of 100 items by Beth Terry, and others point out that one of the biggest impacts you can have is not to drink bottled water, and point out times it really just isn't necessary, when you are at events, or planning something. It also doesn't hurt to point out when a place keeps or reinstalls a water fountain and/or water bottle refilling station. It's good to see these show up at schools (especially with the push to pop machines), and discouraging that a place like Murphy's Community Centre has big pop/water machines on its main level, where a free water fountain would make a healthier and kind gesture.
"Environmental Degradation is an iatrogenic disease induced by economic physicians who treat the basic malady of unlimited wants by presribing unlimited growth.... Yet one certainly does not cure a treatment-induced disease by increasing the treatment dosage."
--Herman E. Daly, Steady-State Economics