November 30, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
It was a very fun rally.
Despite most photos showing how dark the lawn of the Coles Building was, with scores of lumpily dressed people shouting and waving signs, it was a very fun rally -- it was invigorating to see so many people come out and support each other and call on government to enact the results of the Plebiscite. The confidence that our convictions and our purpose were a better way for the Island to go forward buoyed us along, for ourselves and all Islanders who could not be there.
The emcee was Josh Weale, who did a find job (except I think he forgot to introduce himself). Lynne Lund (Deputy Leader of the PEI Green Party), MLA Brad Trivers, Liberal supporter Jonathan Greenan (on how a person could be a member of a major party and still support PR, Brenda Oslawsky from FairVote Canada and who has worked so hard on the PR on PEI campaign, the Premier, MLA and Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker and NDP Leader Mike Redmond spoke (I hope I didn't miss anyone).
The Premier stood in the crowd for a while, then went into the Coles Building, then came out the side door and spoke an(and all give him credit for speaking to an unsympathetic crowd). But he was booed after a while. He attempted -- showing he not too apt at reading people -- to explain in his pedantic and patronizing way why the Motion 80 was the way we were going ("Clear Question"", Binding....get people's input in 2019...we had heard all the justifications before....). But rally speeches are pithy and quick and acknowledge why the crowd is protesting, and he didn't, so people lost interest after a while.
While the crowded expressed anger, there was also excitement and positive energy that we really must continue forward.
MLAs climbed the stairs (some unrecognized and other cheered or booed) and started their sessions a bit after 7PM (except some of the Tories, including District 7: Morell-Mermaid Sidney MacEwen -- who was on that Special Committee on Electoral Reform with Bevan-Baker, Jordan Brown, Paula Biggar, and Janice Sherry -- and lingered on the steps, looking, perhaps at the future and their futures). The Legislature continued its schedule (Tuesday evening is Opposition time and they discussed a very interesting Motion 72 calling for the elimination of a five year requirement for a school review).
Today the Legislature continues from 2-5PM. The Capital budget perhaps will continue to be on the government's agenda.
Information on House records and the link to watch on-line are here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3
An essay by Charlottetown resident Peter Rukavina on why he planned to attend the rally last night, with a lot of background and some of the quoting of some of the fairly inane statements made by some MLAs in discussing the plebiscite results last week in the Legislature.
November 29, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Rally for Democracy, 6:30PM, Coles Building (next to Province House, Richmond Street side). Of course, dress warmly, try to be there for the 6:30-7PM time, since that is when the MLAs will be returning from their supper break to enter the Legislative Assembly chamber in the Coles Building.
Even though it will be cold and dark, so is the thought of more years with a false majority government clinging to power using all means possible to ignore and push off electoral reform; so come out to the Coles Building for a little bit tonight. The rally runs officially until 7:30PM; people are invited to go to Upstreet Brewing Company (Allen Street, near that Sobey's), afterward.
Don't let the lack of parking dissuade you, just rideshare if you can and park wherever you can -- the walk will help :-)
This has been advertised mainly by word of mouth and social media, so encourage others to attend, especially if they are concerned about how the MacLauchlan government has dealt with the plebiscite results.
Also, Keith Kennedy has organized some social media sharing for this, to be Island-wide:
Before that, the Legislature meets from 2-5PM today.
Not sure what is going to be worked (what legislation or motions, whether the Premier's Motion No. 80 is being brought back up or not), but I have heard that the petition on banning the bottled water plant originally proposed for Brookvale is being is being formally submitted or "tabled."
Malcolm Pitre, a concerned citizen, parent and fisherman in the Tignish area, has rounded up many, many signatures for this petition that District 17 MLA Peter Bevan-Baker started in September. Huge congratulations and thanks to him for his efforts.
Even though the Environment Minister finally listened and ordered a ban on such projects, the petition now will still show the level of public concern, and Bevan-Baker may speak about it -- perhaps during the "Member's Statements" part of the afternoon, which would be right after the "Greetings and Recognition of Guests." The Petition would be tabled a bit after that, but without much discussion of it at that point, I believe (I am just surmising a lot of this and am often wrong).
You can attend any part of the afternoon or evening session (bring some ID), or watch from home on Eastlink TV or the internet through the Legislative Assembly video link found on this page.
As far as keeping track of what's going on or what just happened in real time, consider checking the Twitter accounts of two of the Island's legislative reporters, Teresa Wright for The Guardian (who has an excellent opinion piece on page 3 of The Guardian today about MLAs and their double standard on plebiscite criticism) and Kerry Campbell of CBC.
A note on Proportional Representation, from Islander Ron Kelly, who seemingly effortlessly writes clear logical opinions, analyses or rebuttals to skewed information or comments, in response to the criticism that PR will only profit the Green Party or NDP:
PR isn't about benefitting parties. Over time, ALL parties will benefit (and ALL parties will suffer). It's about implementing a system that better reflects the collective wishes of ALL voters.
from Saturday's Guardian, on our Premier:
Premier displays consistent behavior - The Guardian Op-ed by Robert Budd
Opinion piece printed on Saturday, November 26th, 2016
I have read with great interest the extensive array of letters/opinions published by this newspaper since the electoral plebiscite took place.
While the criticism directed at Premier MacLauchlan is certainly deserving, Alan Holman’s column on Saturday November 19, 2016 comes closest to the mark, but still misses the point.
This is a premier who, as a cornerstone of his election platform, guaranteed transparency in his administration as premier.
Unfortunately, Premier MacLauchlan does not understand that the concept of transparency involves both integrity and intellectual honesty.
Rather he thinks so little of the populace on P.E.I. that he regularly descends into artful blather when attempting to deal with major issues that do not fit his personal beliefs.
Before anyone considers this criticism too harsh, consider the man and his past.
During his tenure as president of UPEI, Mr. MacLauchlan engaged in a battle with a number of professors who were opposed to the mandatory retirement policy that forced them out of the workforce. (2005-2006). The professors filed a Human Rights complaint against the university claiming discrimination and seeking damages as well as reinstatement.
Despite the end of mandatory retirement in most other Canadian jurisdictions, President MacLauchlan defended the university’s policy and took the fight to the Human Rights Commission.
Following a lengthy battle at the commission, the university lost and was found to have discriminated against the professors. This decision was rendered in 2010.
Did President MacLauchlan accept the ruling? No. So the university appealed the ruling to the courts. Following a number of court appeals – none of which were successful, the university finally abandoned its policy in the fall of 2011.
Fast forward to the election of Premier MacLauchlan in 2015. One of the most significant issues to face the new premier was the issue concerning the availability of abortion services on P.E.I. - the only province in Canada not to offer such services.
More artful blather as he danced around an issue that was of the utmost importance to many Islanders. Not until many months had passed following the filing of a court challenge based on the Canadian Charter of Rights was Premier MacLauchlan finally forced to do the right thing.
Do we see a pattern here?
Fast forward to the plebiscite, which his government initiated, and spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to operate. The results must have been an agonizing surprise to a premier who did not support electoral reform, and clearly had nothing to gain from any system other than first past the post
Apparently, the vote was just an opinion poll that really had no significance. His solution? Have his Liberal majority reject the will of the voting public, put the question on the ballot in 2019 as part of the general election, and if any change results, wait until 2023 before it happens.
It is one of the most intellectually dishonest decisions I have seen in a long time. It relies on a shell game of politics to engineer another round of votes when the results of the first were not in keeping with his personal/party agenda.
However, he is consistent. P.E.I. has elected a premier who is apparently incapable of making the correct decision unless ordered to do so by a court of law or backed in to a Charter corner where the outcome was obvious and embarrassing.
Premier MacLauchlan, prove me wrong.
- Robert Budd is a resident of Hampton
November 28, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tuesday, November 29th:
Rally for Democracy, 6:30PM, in front of the Coles Building, off Richmond Street. All more than welcome!
The P.E.I. Legislature does not sit today, but does tomorrow and Thursday from 2-5PM and 7-9PM, Wednesday 2-5PM, and Friday, 10AM-1PM. House records and video archives here.
Here are three very good opinions (one from Thursday and two from Saturday's Guardian), all worth reading today when you get a chance:
Main EDITORIAL: Referendum not binding after all, folks - The Guardian Editorial
Published on Saturday, November 26th, 2016
Premier Wade MacLauchlan hoped to cool public anger by tabling a motion to put a “binding referendum” before the electorate as part of the 2019 provincial election. He said the 36.5 per cent plebiscite turnout was not a mandate for change, but the heated reaction, letters and opinion articles suggest otherwise.
A majority of Islanders who voted in the plebiscite surprised the government by supporting Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP), one of two PR options on the ballot. Many Islanders – including those who didn’t vote or didn’t support MMP – feel the government should honour the plebiscite results.
When the premier presented his referendum option, he wasn’t completely forthcoming with Islanders. The motion gave notice the government is going to ignore the plebiscite and seek an outcome more in line with the premier’s vision. The motion said that MMP would be one of two options presented to Islanders. The other will be decided by the legislature but still remains a mystery.
When the premier tabled Motion 80, he assured Islanders that the referendum winner in 2019 would determine how Islanders would select MLAs in 2023. The premier, an expert in constitutional law, was fully aware this would be the case only if his government wins re-election 2019.
It’s called the principle of parliamentary sovereignty where no law or legislation is binding on a new government, because it can always repeal or amend any law passed by a previous administration.
If the Progressive Conservatives don’t support Motion 80 and then win the 2019 general election, they don’t have to honour the referendum. The party will have a new leader in place before the election and it will be reluctant to commit to a referendum question until a permanent leader is selected.
The premier suggests that public pressure will make the referendum binding. Public pressure didn’t make the plebiscite binding and so here are we, back to square one. If the premier can’t guarantee a referendum will be binding, why are we going to enter into what amounts to another plebiscite?
And based on the Liberals refusal to accept the plebiscite result, there is a possibility - although it would be miniscule and the ultimate in hypocrisy - to find an excuse to disregard the referendum vote.
Whether he knows it or not, the premier’s refusal to accept the plebiscite result has likely benefitted electoral reform. The public’s demand for fairness has swung additional support to the PR side. The Liberals slowed PR but cannot stop its progress and eventual success.
This mess can be placed at the premier’s door. He wrote the White Paper on Democratic Renewal last summer. He had a chance to define his mandate with electoral reform but instead, opted to join the good old boys club.
It seems he has been swayed by the trappings of power and has grown comfortable in the executive offices on the 5th floor of the Shaw Building.
(They still could!)
JONATHAN GREENAN: MLAs should vote against premier’s motion - The Guardian Op-Ed by Jonathan Greenan
Published on Thursday, November 23, 2016
Citizens from all political parties support building better democracy in P.E.I. right now
Last Friday, debate began in the P.E.I. Legislature on a motion brought forward by Premier Wade MacLauchlan entitled “Democratic Renewal: A Clear Question and a Binding Vote.”
This motion is the premier’s response to the recent plebiscite on democratic renewal. In the plebiscite, conducted under rules set by all 27 MLAs and the Liberal cabinet, a clear majority of voters (19,418 out of 37,040, or 52.42 per cent) favored a change in the way we elect our MLAs from the current First-Past-the-Post system to a form of Mixed-Member Proportional Representation (MMP).
Over 68 per cent of plebiscite voters (25,473 to be exact) selected some type of electoral reform as their top choice on the plebiscite’s ranked ballot. Only voters aged 65 and above chose the status quo over a change to our system. These results show there is a real appetite for democratic reform amongst a significant number of Islanders.
With his motion, the premier is asking the legislative assembly to adopt a Referendum on Democratic Renewal Act. This Act would require P.E.I.’s government to accept the choice of the voters in a future binding referendum on electoral reform.
This proposed referendum would be the first in P.E.I.’s history. It would be held in tandem with the next provincial election, presently scheduled for October 7, 2019. The premier’s motion also suggests it “will” honour the plebiscite results by including MMP as one of two choices on the referendum ballot.
Fundamentally, the premier’s promise of a binding referendum is an empty promise. In Prince Edward Island, the legislature enjoys absolute sovereignty. When in session at Province House (or until 2020 or so, the Coles Building) our 27 MLAs are supreme over all other provincial governmental institutions. This includes every department within P.E.I.’s public service, our provincial courts, the premier’s cabinet (Executive Council) and even the Office of the Premier itself.
Importantly, the P.E.I. Legislature is also sovereign over itself. This means that the legislature cannot be bound by laws passed by previous P.E.I. legislatures – MLAs can repeal or amend old laws to choose their own course. Because of this, the binding referendum proposed by our premier cannot truly be binding.
In other words, just as Premier MacLauchlan appears reluctant to honour the vote from the plebiscite, P.E.I.’s next legislature – with either Wade MacLauchlan or an as-yet-unknown successor in the premier’s office – could decide that the binding referendum wasn’t so binding after all.
Given his stated opposition to proportional representation, the premier seems to be betting that 25,000 Islanders will lose their appetite for electoral reform as the fall of 2016 fades into history. Backroom advisors in both traditional parties are probably making the same assumption. Old-school thinkers are confident that the red and blue party machines will crush any movement for change when their party machinery is operating at peak capacity during a full-blown provincial election campaign.
The old-school line of thinking is wrong and short-sighted. Citizens from all our political parties support building a better democracy in Prince Edward Island, starting right now. To demonstrate this, MLAs on both sides of the House should stand up and vote against the premier’s motion.
- Jonathan Greenan is a Summerside lawyer and first became a member of the Liberal Party of P.E.I. in 1993. He is currently a voting member on the party's provincial executive.
A good blog in the UPEI student publication, The Cadre, on-line from Friday:
(But a small point to note about First Past the Post (FPTP) being the first choice had it been a FPTP vote is not quite accurate -- good analysis in Ole's article, below:)
Ole does a fine job simplifying the results:
OLE HAMMARLUND: Plebiscite and preferential voting - The Guardian Op-Ed by Ole Hammarlund
published on Saturday, November 26th, 2016
The recent plebiscite on election reform was designed to divide and confuse voters so it is no wonder that many Islanders still are not sure what the results mean.
So please excuse me for repeating the results:
The recent “plebiscite” was really two votes in one:
The first vote, thee real plebiscite asked the voters to choose between 5 choices. The answers were very clear: 54 per cent wanted Proportional Representation and only 28 per cent wanted the current First Past the Post system. Fully 72 per cent wanted change.
For the second vote, the government then asked the voters to rank their choices from 1 to 5th place. Using a method called Preferential Voting, the option receiving the least votes is eliminated, and the voters second choices are added to the remaining options. This was repeated until just two choices remained.
According to this method the end result is 52 per cent for Proportional Representation and 42 per cent for First Past the Post. But please remember these numbers include the last choices of people.
It makes no sense to look at this result when you have the clear first choice of the voters. It is clearly misleading to state that First-Past-the-Post got 42 per cent when this option only got 28 per cent of first choice votes.
Furthermore Preferential Voting reassigning votes normally stops when one option has more than 50 per cent of the votes. Proportional Voting had 54 per cent of the votes in the first round, and it was only because the voters were offered two choices of nearly identical Proportional Voting that this option did not win in the first run.
So all the second Preferential Vote shows us is how wrong this system is, making it falsely appear that First-Past-the-Post is almost as popular.
Our P.E.I. plebiscite was of course of great interest to all Canadians concerned with electoral reform and the Globe and Mail editorial commented the day after the vote, but even the Editor got the result of the vote wrong, claiming that the vote was 52 per cent and 42 per cent. This is indeed the result of the preferential voting system and clearly shows why such a system is undemocratic.
Bravo to the P.E.I. government for devising a system that fooled even the Globe and Mail and apparently most of the P.E.I. voters too.
So I repeat: The result of the P.E.I. plebiscite is 54 per cent for proportional voting and 28 per cent for FPTP. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.
- Ole Hammarlund is a Charlottetown architect
November 27, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
As construction finishes up of the two roundabouts in North River as part of a two-phase Cornwall Bypass, the entire project is getting some mixed reviews.
At $65 million or so, it's a huge amount to spend on a couple of bits of road.
On one hand, most of us sympathize with the residents of Cornwall. Who wants the TransCanada Highway bisecting your town? How can you really enjoy any small town quality when Islanders and tourists and tractor-trailers are flying right by you? (Bonshaw suffers from this in a much smaller degree, but we can imagine.)
The Cornwall folks have wanted something to happen for quite a while. There was a plebiscite some years ago that is often referred to. (It was done before the build-up of homes down Meadowbank and Ferry Roads really began -- which is traffic that won't be siphoned out of Cornwall by a bypass.)
During Robert Ghiz' time, he told those of us fighting the Plan B highway that he offered Cornwall a sensible option ("The Chevy version" were his words) solution to improve the road in the town and try to calm traffic, too, but the town wanted the "Cadillac version", so talks ended. Besides, Ghiz was promoting Plan B.
Fast forward to now -- the same kind of infrastructure money (as Plan B), with the Federal Government matching the dollars of the province if certain conditions apply, so the project is written to those standards and very likely plumped up use all the money that could be allocated. Of course, when you are a province in debt, getting even fifty-cent dollars is rather unwise.
Of course, the construction jobs are important; it seems after watching the equipment-heavy Plan B highway construction, more people could be employed with simpler projects and funds into repairing and maintaining the roads we have.
With the proposed Phase 2 Cornwall Bypass, one direct casualty will be the Hughes-Jones Centre. it sounds like a magical but also down-to-earth horse-and-people place, very caring of the individuals who come there, very accepting ,and showing the remarkable abilities of individual growth by working with animals.
But the bypass as drawn will go right through their property. Which is worse: having it bulldoze through your beautiful house/barn, or skirt by on the next property, totally ruining the quality of life. So they agreed to the design which plows them down, figuring they would go somewhere else. But they want to get a new property obtained and get a facility to be ready to move the horses into *before* things get crazy with the road construction.
And as many of us who have dealt with this "process" before, we can guess they aren't getting any clear answers:
from their website:http://www.thehughesjonescentre.ca/wearehjc/
As many of you are aware HJC is in the path of the future Cornwall bypass. Although the news of this is bitter sweet we have never shied away from new beginnings and welcome the challenge of improving HJC so in it's 2.0 form we are better than ever.
Unfortunately, through no fault of our own, the process has stalled.
We are struggling to capture the attention of the department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy with our concerns of the intricacy of our relocation. In fact we are having trouble communicating with them at all.
So they are asking for more public awareness through some social media, which they go into on the link (above).
November 26, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown today.
Green Party of PEI Meeting and Potluck, 5-8:30PM, Sherbrooke Community Centre.
Tuesday, November 29th:
Rally for Democracy, 6:30PM, outside of the Coles Building (next to Province House, Richmond and Great George Streets), sponsored by the Proportional Representation on P.E.I. group.
Wednesday, November 30th:
The PEI Food Exchange Fundraising Dinner "Step Up to the Plate", starting at 5PM, Charlottetown Fire Hall, some tickets are left (though this has sold out in the past). $25/dinner, appetizers for sale beforehand, cash bar, auctions.
Yesterday, in the P.E.I. Legislature, the Speaker ruled that debate on Motion 80 could continue (as I understood, since it was just a motion in the House and not a law, so he couldn't rule on its constitutionality, and it didn't break any language rules of the Legislature for motions).
Later, when the Legislature was sitting as a "Committee of the Whole House" to discuss a bill, District 18 Rustico-Emerald MLA Brad Trivers, and Jamie Fox, Leader of the Official Opposition, really dug into how to make sure local companies and local food providers could be included and still obey various current trade agreements and meet certain definitions. (The particular bill was No. 36 The Procurement of Goods Act)
Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac said a Local Food Act was being written (perhaps to be tabled in the Spring 2017 sitting of the Legislature) and that they were working on the local provisions part and seeing what other jurisdictions did. It was good to see how much attention the Opposition is paying to the matter of local food and goods, and to many details of particular pieces of legislation.
Peter Bevan-Baker has had the transcripts for his Question Period questions (he is allowed one per Question Period session) complied (once daily) and posted on his website:http://www.peterbevanbaker.ca/category/legislature/question-period/
This would be great if all MLAs could winnow out the transcripts of what they saw, though some do get to ask many more questions in the Legislature.
CBC Radio Island Morning Political Panel for Friday, November 25th, 2016, with Roy Johnstone joining Paul MacNeill, Mary Lynn Kane and Dennis King. It was mostly about the plebiscite results. Listen for Mary Lynn trying many times to interject with an apparently well-rehearsed zinger of "any 6 year old on the playground..." (I am not sure really sure what the 6 year old's point was.) 17minutes long.
A very poignant letter, from yesterday's Guardian.
Did my vote not count? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on November 25, 2016
Dear Premier MacLauchlan:
As a responsible citizen of P.E.I. for 80 some years, I must express strong misgivings regarding the recent plebiscite and the negative reaction by your government.
Did my vote not count? Does government have the right to ignore my vote?
Hon. Premier, I will not be here in 2023. My time is of value. Did I waste my time?
Muriel Allen, Argyle Shore
November 25, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Legislative Assembly sits from 10AM to 1PM today. You can watch from the Gallery or from the internet, here.
Though the plebiscite problems dominated some parts of the Legislature, there are other issues being worked on that will likely be discussed next week. The ban on bottled water exports placed by Environment Minister Mitchell earlier this month addresses one concern. District 17 (Kelly's Cross-Cumberland) MLA and Third Part Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is planning on tabling the petition which was started earlier in the Fall to address the proposed water bottling plant in Brookvale, and address the issue in the provincial legislature, probably next week. People are encouraged to send any petitions (with any number of signatures per page) to him as soon as possible -- today or this weekend. The mailing address is:
Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Contact the Office of the Third Party if you need help getting the petition back (902) 620-3977.
Petitions can also be downloaded from the Citizens' Alliance website.
The Speaker of the P.E.I. Legislature, Buck Watts, is going to comment today or early next week on whether Motion 80 ("A Clear Question and Binding Vote") can really be binding on another future government.
With Apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien:
"One Motion to Rule Them All and in the Darkness Bind Them."
or at least for about another decade.
The Political Panel will be on CBC Radio about 7:37AM this morning. It sounds like Roy Johnstone will be joining the regular group today.
EDITORIAL: Mixed signals on consultations - The Guardian Lead Edtiorial
Lead Editorial: Published on Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The Prince Edward Island government has often repeated its commitment to public consultations. That mantra - to consult with Islanders on major issues affecting the province - is repeated at every opportunity by the premier, his cabinet ministers and government members.
And it’s true; the province loves to hold public meetings. Last fall, Islanders were swamped with several simultaneous consultations on major initiatives. We were awash in discussions.
But it seems that some consultations take place after decisions are already made, and others, like the lengthy and expensive plebiscite on electoral reform, are just ignored.
What then, is the value of these consultations and engagements if government fails to act on them or already has made up its mind?
Several examples were raised in the legislature last week – apart from the hotly debated plebiscite issue.
One concerns the current, province-wide review of schools. Two of three rounds of public consultations have been held. The first round in October saw presentations of data on all families of schools. The second set in early November allowed the public to provide input on viable options for change. A third round of meetings will be held once the recommendations are developed - when major changes are expected.
It’s been suggested that key decisions have already been made and government has decided on school closures and rezoning options.
As proof, the Opposition points to a report commissioned by Education Minister Doug Currie earlier this year where Ontario consultants recommended amalgamating small schools with low student numbers. The consultants’ report said department resources would be better spent on learning rather than maintaining half empty buildings.
This report was kept quiet and now we know why. The government would have been far more transparent to present the consultant’s report and hold public meetings to discuss it. The meetings might have been vocal and heated but at least parents, students and teachers would know the facts up front. Government has tabled the report, apparently as evidence to support an imminent decision to close schools.
Even more confusing was the announcement Friday that the province has commissioned an economic impact study on the Cornwall bypass.
It would make sense if the study had been launched in the spring before construction started on the $65 million project.
But work started over two months ago, phase one is almost complete and now we’re getting an economic impact study?
What value is the study now? Is the focus on the benefits for Cornwall or the economic stimulus for the province – or both?
The province defended its sudden decision to proceed with the bypass because federal dollars became available on short notice and it had to act quickly.
The same excuse was used with the controversial Plan B highway in the Bonshaw and Stratgartney areas, which caused the provincial government no end of grief. The province obviously hasn’t learned any lessons.
These mixed signals and disturbing trends must cause interested and engaged Islanders to question if the government is really committed to constructive consultations?
November 24, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today the P.E.I. Legislature sits from 2-5PM (with it being the time for Motions and Orders other than Government and such, generally set by the Official Opposition) and 7-9PM. Not sure which Motions the Tories will discuss. A list for this entire motions for this session (which started last Spring) is here:
and the link to watch proceedings is here:
The Tories generously gave Opposition Time to the Leader of the Third Party's Plebiscite Motion No. 54 and are really to be commended for working with others in the House.
It's being reported in today's The Guardian that the Premier admitted the "Clear Question and Binding Referendum" of his Motion 80 may not be binding to another elected Legislature. That much is clear. Motion 80 may be discussed in the evening session; if it is called, Peter Bevan-Baker would resume speaking to it, I think.
Here is a nice opinion piece by Allan Rankin. Bold is mine.
The great electoral reform debate that wasn’t - The Eastern Graphic article by Allan Rankin
Published on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016, in The Graphic newspapers
A debate took place last week in the provincial legislature on electoral reform and the results of the recent plebiscite, although in my opinion was a pathetic excuse for honest and reasoned political discussion, and an embarrassment for the government.
The premier promised a full debate on the issue but was politically outfoxed by the Leader of the third party, Peter Bevan-Baker, and he crudely shut down the sad affair so his government members didn’t have to take a position on Proportional Representation, the expressed first choice of plebiscite voters.
There are two ways of looking at Premier MacLauchlan’s actions with respect to the plebiscite vote.
One is to view the premier as a careful, responsible political leader, unhappy with an imperfect expression of democratic will. Apparently, he wants all Islanders to gather around some mythical kitchen table to decide with absolute certainty their democratic future. Now some are willing to hold back their doubt and cynicism, believing he does have the interests of the people at heart. We just need another vote, one that is binding, and with clearer choices.
But there are many other Islanders who see it quite differently. They look at the premier’s refusal to honour the outcome of the plebiscite, and its preference for a Mixed Member Proportional electoral system (MMP), as nothing more than an artifice to protect and preserve the Liberal Party and the business and professional class that benefits from it.
Electoral reform has become the Wade and Peter show. Truly, the Green Party leader is the premier’s only worthy adversary on the floor of the legislature, and Bevan-Baker’s collegiality and collaborative spirit in previous sessions has given him credibility and stature, and a popularity well beyond the boundaries of his own district.
The governing Liberals of course resent Bevan-Baker’s rising star, and the premier has attempted to cultivate a kind of brotherly kinship. But last week the gloves came off, and MacLauchlan I believe was shocked to encounter a more aggressive third party leader ready to make accusations and call a spade a spade.
The premier clearly did not expect the plebiscite to favour Proportional Representation over the present First-past-the-post (FPTP) system of voting, and government seemed totally unprepared for the subsequent debate. Bevan-Baker was prepared however, and he introduced a motion for acceptance of the plebiscite result, seconded by Conservative MLA Sydney McEwen, whose eloquence and authenticity is quite impressive.
Bevan-Baker’s motion put the Liberals back on their heels, and in the debate that followed government members babbled on with irrelevant, out of context nonsense. The Minster of Family and Human Services, Tina Mundy, resorted to military metaphors in her ramble, declaring herself a “loyal soldier” to her constituents, with a “scout mindset”, willing to listen to their voices and “find a way forward.” But after watching her performance, it was unclear to me if those voices were inside her own head or ones she had encountered on the streets of Summerside.
As the debate clock was running out, the premier rose, crossed the floor, and whispered something in Liberal Jordan Brown’s ear. Now it might have been nothing consequential, perhaps a reminder to close his car windows because of impending rain. But my guess is that Premier MacLauchlan instructed the Charlottetown MLA to run out the clock, in other words to filibuster until the government house leader called for adjournment, preventing a vote on Bevan-Baker’s motion.
This provided government with the opportunity to introduce its own motion on electoral reform, which it subsequently did, a motion effectively pushing the issue down the road to the next provincial election.
While the premier’s desire to regain some tactical advantage is understandable, given the political mess he was in, he should have assigned a compatriot to deliver the orders.
It was not a stellar day for either Premier MacLauchlan or the government.
The entire affair revealed a thin-skinned Liberal leader caught in the crosshairs, uncomfortable being pushed into a corner, and an obstinate premier accustomed to getting his own way.
His rebuke of Third Party Leader Bevan-Baker looked petty, and if the Wade and Peter show is being scored as a heavyweight fight, I would give this round to the MLA from Kelly’s Cross-Cumberland.
There remains a path of great resistance for electoral reform in Prince Edward Island. Put in language that establishment politicians and their tribes will understand, for Premier MacLauchlan to endorse the plebiscite results and MMP would be to sign the death warrant of the Liberal Party as the natural governing political party of the province.
MacLauchlan is a conservative, a traditionalist, steeped in old party politics, and he is not about to assign a century or more of Liberal Party hegemony to the dustbin of history. Even his mentor and reformer predecessor Alex B Campbell would never have dared attempt that. And yet, substantive democratic reform is coming, and the results of the recent plebiscite though discredited and devalued by politicians who now stagger across the Island landscape like dinosaurs, will not be easily swept under carpet.
And taking a lighter look at things, "from the P.E.I. Legislature yesterday", an old Wayne and Shuster, almost six minutes of serious silliness:
"Question Time" -- the YouTube bit of the comedy piece is much less blurry than this screenshot
November 23, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Another tough day in the provincial legislature for many Islanders seeking electoral reform, and full of irony.
First, there was the oddity of two motions both dealing with the results of the electoral reform plebiscite.
In the afternoon session, Tuesday, November 22nd, the Government's Motion, No. 80, "A Clear Question and Binding Referendum" was called and debated by eight government members and the hour was called when Peter Bevan-Baker was speaking to it. (I thought he was last in line for it and that no Progressive Conservatives were going to address it, but I was wrong -- the definitely will when it is called again).
The octet of government MLAs each took a facet of the Honour the Vote argument, or a part of the plebiscite results to pick over. It seemed very well coordinated, like little chapters in a book.
Here are some little notes (all my own observations and opinions), and the order of MLAs in the afternoon session:
1) Richard Brown (District 12) -- he left the theatrics behind, was quite conciliatory, full of gratitude for the plebiscite engagement, but it'll have to be a referendum.
2) Tina Mundy (District 22) -- she mentioned the criticism she got about her previous comments (on Bevan-Baker's Motion 54); then she described her interpretation of the plebiscite numbers and says we need an(other) Island-made solution
3) Sonny Gallant -- touched on all the fears of Friday's speakers, such as PR causing rural powerlessness, and wanting something Clear, and Binding. But spoke in a very calm way.
4) Robbie Henderson (District 25: O'Leary-Inverness) -- He talked a lot about his impressions of PR, of Israel's coalitions and about PR letting extremist parties in, bigger Districts ruining direct access to MLAs, and other rather misrepresentations of a system with two sets of MLAs. Then he returned to criticizing "over-educated" people.
5) Chris Palmer (Summerside-Wilmot) -- talked about the low voter turnout, but he didn't mention the low voter turnout for the recent byelection ;-) and wanting a binding vote.
6) Bush Dumville turned up the volume and returned to theatrics and patriotism. He explained MMP, as if he had just figured out how it works but also touched on rural under-representation. He says he must vote his conscience, not what his constituents voted. I was thinking about that Standing Committee meeting a couple of weeks ago where he showed, as Paul MacNeill wrote, a "scintilla of backbone". Then. Bush also rather nastily went after Bevan-Baker, and was quite agitated at the PR on PEI group, insinuating huge donations from labour groups and very full coffers.
7) Alan McIsaac (of the Flip of a Coin) just said the next one will be Clear and Binding
8) Kathleen Casey acknowledged that people want change. "But let's walk, not run." It is more like crawling, or heeling.
No other Liberals spoke -- Not Ministers Currie, Mitchell, Heath MacDonald, Biggar, nor Hal Perry.
9) Peter Bevan-Baker was last to speak in this afternoon session about Motion 80, going over some history of all this, a bit of fact-checking, being very organized in his remarks. He did accuse the Premier of political meddling.
The hour was called and Bevan-Baker will be able to resume his remarks and other MLAs can speak to it either this afternoon (the House sits only from 2-5PM today) or another time.
The evening, as the news reported, was Opposition time and Motion 54 (accepting the results of the Plebiscite) came up. In the end, Tory MLAs Sidney MacEwen, James Ayward, Brad Trivers, Darlene Compton and Matt MacKay, and Peter Bevan-Baker, voted for the motion, but all else did not and it was defeated. It sounds like the Gallery was full with many of the Young Voters of P.E.I. there to absorb this lesson.
Later, debate started on Motion 39, "A Child Advocate for Prince Edward Island," which James Aylward has been working very hard for.
Richard Raiswell's political column on CBC Radio's Mainstreet, from Monday, November 21st:
From David Weale, two days ago, on social media:
THE GREAT BETRAYERS - Facebook post by David Weale
The bane of Island politics for a very long time has been that the good of the party supersedes the good of the people and province every time. It is, I believe, a form of tribalism that has become counter-productive. I doubt, however, if there has ever been a more glaring example than this morning's statement by the Premier who stated proudly, with not so much as a blush, that the entire Liberal caucus, almost all of whom represent districts that voted clearly for Reform, will nonetheless be voting for FPTP.
From this time forward this group will be known in the history books as the 'Great Betrayers', and the Premier as a man who had a glorious chance to take the lead in something truly memorable, but chose instead the crooked little path of partisan self-interest.
Others have said it, but let me one of the first to predict that this move will backfire, and that many of those tucked in tightly around the Premier will not be elected in the next election. Betrayal of the common good is not, after all, a very attractive quality.
November 22, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Yesterday was a string of vigils across the country telling Prime Minister Trudeau not to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
There were three speakers at the one at UPEI: David Varis of the Mawi'omi Centre at UPEI; Hannah Gehrels of UPEI Environmental Society and ECOPEI, and Gary Torlone of Sierra Club PEI.
Hannah said, "Resistance *does* matter because what we don't resist will persist unchecked."
Gary Torlone quoted, "There is a saying, All rivers lead to one ocean. We only have one planet. We all need to be on the same page (to protect it)."
Vigil to Stop Kinder Morgan pipeline. Photo by Robert Van Waarden, Monday, November 21st, 2016
Gary Torlone and Teresa Doyle lead the group in a song, Monday, November 21st, 2016
The vigil was followed by the documentary The Yes Men are Revolting, about two real guys who set up elaborate pranks to bring attention to climate change and promote positive action.
The P.E.I. Legislature resumes today, 2-5PM and 7-9PM. A group which has been persistently working towards getting regulated midwifery is having a rally before the afternoon sitting. District 14 (Charlottetown-Lewis Point) MLA Kathleen Casey had advocated for this, and will be presenting a petition from the group.
When Plebiscite discussions resume is anyone's guess. You can sit in the Gallery for any of the proceedings (use the entrance under the main stairs to get your visitor's badge), or watch from home on Eastlink or through the Legislative Assembly website:
Both Kerry Campbell from CBC News and Teresa Wright from The Guardian share news via Twitter at:
Citizens' Alliance is on Twitter, too:
mostly repeating interesting things ;-)
Keep up with MLAs and Honouring the Plebiscite Vote at the Coalition for Proportional Representation's page:
which lists all the MLAs, the results in their district, and if they've already made a statement on the issue.
A couple of compliments to the Official Opposition from last week:
Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico-Emerald) for promoting local production -- food, energy, crops that will improve the value of the land and be profitable for small farmers (like hemp), etc. He is a hard-working advocate on this.
Jamie Fox (Leader of the Opposition, District 19: Borden-Kinkora) for pointing out that we need a year round ferry service as a emergency preparedness measure for Island transportation of people and goods (if for no other reasons).
James Aylward, Darlene Compton and Matt MacKay also made good points about economic choices and how the province is managing its finances, and most of the Tories and Leader of the Third Party spoke about the importance of the schools in their areas and of teacher interaction in a good education.
I bobbled reporting who spoke on Points of Privilege the first day: it was Darlene Compton (about when Alan McIsaac was on Treasury Board) and James Aylward (about Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald and misleading answers). Thanks for the corrections.
"Question authority, become involved, find solutions, protest prejudice and injustice."
-- Kevin Jeffrey, Islander and eco-home builder
November 21, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Monday, November 21st,
Vigil to express opposition to the KinderMorgan pipeline, 7PM, Duffy Amphitheatre (Room 135, UPEI Campus), all welcome. There will we a few short statements and two minutes of silence,in conjunction with vigils across the country. Free. Facebook event details
Movie: The Yes Men Are Revolting, 7:15PM, Duffy Amphitheatre. Two pranksters take on the decision-makers on what Climate Change is going to the planet. All welcome, free, but donations accepted.
From last Thursday, CBC Radio's interview with MLA Peter Bevan-Baker regarding the Premier's Motion 80 to interpret the plebiscite results.
MLAs are not sitting in the Legislature today (resuming tomorrow at 2PM), but tend to turn to constituent work and some other meetings. It might be a good day to call or send this simple message which I am copying from a concerned Islander:
Please think ahead. Please do the right thing - the ethical thing - and honour the vote. Please represent your people.
Members' names and contact information:
and you can always cc the Premier: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wayne Young teaches journalism at Holland College and writes opinion pieces for The Guardian:
WAYNE YOUNG: 500,000 ways to disappoint - The Guardian column by Wayne Young
Islanders shouldn’t have to wait until 2023 for PR ballot
Published on Saturday, November 19th
Having just invested at least half a million dollars to learn that most Islanders want a new voting model, the prospect of that not happening until 2023 - if then - is more than a little disappointing.
Islanders who cast a ballot in last week’s plebiscite told government they want to kick the antiquated system of electing our MLAs (first-past-the-post) to the curbside.
During 10 days of online and in-person voting, they said they’re ready to try proportional representation (PR), specifically Mixed Member Proportional. Of the five options on the ranked ballot, MMP emerged as the choice of 52 per cent of voters compared to 43 per cent for first-past-the-post.
But right away, Premier Wade MacLauchlan said the voter turnout, 37 per cent, made the result “debatable” and that it was not a clear expression of the will of Islanders.
Hardly surprising, then, that during the second day of the fall legislative session this week he moved to extinguish any hope of a new voting model being in place for the 2019 provincial election. The plebiscite result with its half-million dollar pricetag would be interpreted as merely a suggestion that probably, perhaps and just maybe, some Islanders actually want change.
The Liberal government then effectively filibustered a debate that would have led to a vote on the plebiscite result. Then the Liberals tabled their own motion calling for another vote on the same issue, this time a binding referendum tied to the 2019 election. One of the options on the ballot would be MMP, the other to be determined by a debate in the legislature.
So instead of going into the next general election with a new voting system, Islanders will have to wait at least seven years until the 2023 election to get PR – assuming that option gets the same of level of support as it did in the recent plebiscite.
That’s a long way to kick the PR can down the road.
Ironically, the government will likely get its way simply because it holds a clear majority of seats in the legislature - thanks to the current first-past-the-post voting system. It gives the candidate with the most votes in each of the 27 districts the seat. So although the Liberals took only 40 per cent of the popular vote in 2015, that translated into 18 seats and - in the absence of a free vote - that’s more than enough to pass the referendum motion, even if the Opposition members all vote against it.
And that’s exactly why many Islanders want change now rather than years from now. In 2015, the Conservatives were only a few percentage points behind the Liberals in the popular vote but they got only eight seats. Had the election been run using a PR model, the Liberals probably would have won but with a greatly reduced majority, and likely a minority. The Third and Fourth parties would each have gotten at least a few seats.
I’m confident Islanders will eventually get rid of First-Past-the-Post, but I’m disappointed it will clearly be later rather than sooner.
Even though the plebiscite was non-binding, our legislators should have had the opportunity to confirm the result and put P.E.I. on the map as the first province in Canada to try a proportional voting system.
Disappointing, in at least 500,000 ways.
- Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.
November 20, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Daniel O'Hanley Memorial Lecture with Stephen Augustine, Hereditary Chief, Title:"The Mi'kmaq: People of Hope", at 2PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church, Stratford. Free but donations accepted.
Stephen J. Augustine, is Hereditary Chief Mi’Kmaq Grand Council and Dean Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning at Cape Breton University. <snip> In this lecture, Stephen will be sharing signs of hope from the Mi’Kma’ki People and actions that both indigenous and non-indigenous can take to create a more just world.
Today is really and truly the last day the provincial Department of Environment can accept comments to be passed on to the consulting group working on the P.E.I. Climate Change Mitigation Strategy. This is the document that looks at how P.E.I. can reduce its Greenhouse Gas production (GHG) from all sectors, including energy, agriculture, transportation, etc. [There is a lot of overlap the the P.E.I. Energy Strategy, which is being done by the same group (Dunsky) and is in the hands of the Province now. It should be tabled in this sitting of the P.E.I. Legislature this Fall, I think, and the implementation plan released.]
At the end of this newsletter, I have copied some of ECO-PEI's Tony Reddin's comments, if you wanted to select and send any of them that are important to you. (People can submit any other comments at any time.)
There was an excellent selection of opinion pieces and letters in yesterday's Guardian regarding the Premier's reaction to the Plebiscite. Here is one by Alan Holman.
ALAN HOLMAN: A cowardly move? - The Guardian column by Alan Holman
Is another electoral reform vote the best the premier can do?
Published on Saturday, November 19, 2016
Premier Wade MacLauchlan has introduced a motion that will see the province hold a binding referendum on electoral reform in conjunction with the next provincial election.
There’s a peculiar line in the motion the premier tabled on Thursday in his response to the plebiscite that indicated Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR) was the choice of the people who voted.
The motion sets out what everyone knows, that the plebiscite was not binding, and it goes on to state, “whereas a binding referendum will underline the importance of the decision facing Islanders - and provide an opportunity for respectful and informed debate.”
By using the phrase, “underline the importance of the decision,” is the premier suggesting that the plebiscite we just went through at a cost of some half million dollars, was just some kind of joke?
When he states the referendum will “provide an opportunity for respectful and informed debate” is he also suggesting that the plebiscite was in someway disrespectful, and lacked the opportunity for informed debate.
If that is the case the premier is sorrowfully wrong. There was ample opportunity for advocates of all positions to express their views. In fact, ministers of the Crown, both past and present, both Liberal and Tory, were fulsome in their endorsement of the FPTP option. But they lost.
It’s clear that the premier didn’t get the result he was expecting, either a ringing endorsement of the existing First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), or at the very least an acceptance of the preferential ballot. Instead, on the initial count of the ballots cast, nearly 70 per cent of the voters rejected FPTP, and only slightly more than 10 per cent chose the preferential ballot as their first choice.
When the government chose the preferential ballot to determine the outcome of the plebiscite they put in place a mechanism to determine the voters’ preference among the options presented. The results are known, and though it doesn’t have to, the government could easily act on them.
In his biography of Alex Campbell which he entitled The Premier Who Rocked The Cradle Wade MacLauchlan wrote that the former premier, “is an exemplary listener who has the courage to advocate for ideas while they are still in embryo.”
Cowardly might be a tad too strong, but, as premier, Wade MacLauchlan has shown that he lacks the courage to make the big move on his own. He seems inherently cautious, a small ‘c’ conservative in most matters.
We saw it first in his handling of the abortion issue. He wouldn’t make abortions available on the Island. All he was prepared to do was make arrangements for them to be conducted in Moncton, closer than Halifax or Fredericton, yes, but a half measure at best. It wasn’t until the province was threatened with a lawsuit that he caved in.
The premier talks about the province of having ‘the gift of jurisdiction’ but when presented with an opportunity to use it, he pushes back, he doesn’t act. When he entered the political arena many Islanders expected Wade MacLauchlan to be more than just another politician. Across the province and across the political spectrum, because of his intelligence, because of his success at the university, because of the book and his knowledge of what Alex Campbell had accomplished, people expected bigger things of Wade MacLauchlan than he has shown to date.
It’s not that he has done nothing, or done anything wrong. He just hasn't done anything great. Why did he want to be premier? He seems to be a competent manager; no scandals, nor hints of any. He’s a tinkerer. He’ll likely make some changes in the education system and in municipal affairs, but at the end of the day, we, and he, could be facing that awkward question - Is that all there is?
- Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Climate Change Mitigation Strategy thoughts
Tony Reddin, of Bonshaw, has done some work of examining and commenting on the Climate Change Mitigation Strategy Discussion Document, which he shared. Below is an edited version.
If you have time, you could pick one that means something to you to send to the Climate Change Mitigation people through their "submit comments" page, if you feel like making a small contribution to the matter:
The submit button is at the bottom of the page. (If the link doesn't work, then googling "PEI climate change mitigation strategy" should get you there.
Comments on the PEI Climate Change Mitigation Strategy 2016 discussion document Tony Reddin, Bonshaw 902-675-4093 firstname.lastname@example.org
1. It is important to add to the preamble ("Climate Change Mitigation and Why It Matters") that regardless of how small PEI’s role is in reducing global greenhouse gases, there are many advantages in moving to clean renewable energy and reducing our society's addiction to fossil fuels.
Those advantages include:
(1) healthier environment for people and animals (and reduced health care costs) due to less air pollution, fewer oil spills, fewer death machines (i.e., cars and trucks) on the road, and more physically active Islanders,
(2) less money leaving PEI to pay for fossil fuels, electricity and other imports,
(3) local control of energy production and other necessities, leading to stronger communities,
(4) empowerment of citizens, especially young people, to find solutions for the transition to a clean energy society, and
(5) increased expertise and provincial pride in being climate action leaders. Prince Edward Island had energy and food independence not so long ago, and could show the world how to use wind, solar and other technologies to reap the benefits of a 100% clean and renewable energy economy. Already many communities across the world are prospering this way, notably Burlington in Vermont, Holzkirchen and others in Germany, and Samso in Denmark.
2. Actions to reach the stated GHG reduction goal of “35-45% below 1990 levels by 2030” (and better) must be found and detailed with the % contribution of each action, e.g., for the ‘Buildings and Facilities’ sector, give the % each of the recommended actions will contribute to the 13% reduction. And do the same for the other sectors.
3. Progress toward reaching that goal must be assessed regularly, every 4-5 years at least, and more GHG reduction programs implemented.
4. In the section on ‘Home and Institutional Heating’, include thermal heat storage as a choice of heating system, and include battery storage as an important component of a High-Efficiency Heat Pumps pilot program to eliminate the need for oil back-up.
5. Where High-Efficiency Heat Pumps are listed, state the amount of GHG emissions to be reduced, rather than the reduction in heating costs.
6. Where there are monetary savings, those should be put in the context of enabling better energy use, e.g., reducing or eliminating fuel purchases and maintenance costs by using EVs, electric buses and plug-in hybrids. Extra vehicle purchase cost could be offset by using a utility-bill-based, LIC (Local Improvement Charges) and other loan programs.
7. Home-based 220V charging plugs should be especially promoted in new construction, plus possibly 2-way household EV battery storage.
8. Efficiency in all new building construction, both private and public, must be promoted and mandated to the highest extent possible, including loan programs for extra construction costs that are offset in the long term (possibly not very long term) by lower heating costs.
9. This sentence at the bottom of p. 9 needs clarification: “Between efficiency and fuel switching, Government, private and public, and the residential sectors all have a role to play in reducing GHG emissions, and these actions will assist them in doing so.”
10. GHG reduction figures from programs for gov’t facilities, as the ‘low-hanging fruit’, should be detailed separately from other programs.
11. Government employees on all levels should be given a mandate to choose conservation and clean energy solutions in their decisions, including all tendered contracts. Plans should be made (with timelines) to substitute clean energy for all uses of fossil fuels; that will likely mean using electricity generated from renewable sources, especially wind and solar, combined with energy storage systems.
12. Especially in highway construction, plans for projects such as the Cornwall Bypass must be reconsidered as incompatible with the PEI Climate Change Strategy and the intention that our economy will convert to Clean Energy, by using infrastructure spending to lower our energy use and demands, not increase space for more vehicles.
13. In the proposed new Municipal Government Act (section on Increased Scope of Municipal Utilities) municipalities (communities) should be given the ability to establish an electric utility, so they can cooperatively develop their own clean energy supply, contribute and be engaged in the new PEI Energy & CCM Strategies, while supporting local employment and community pride. This will also attract newcomers and entice young people to stay in those communities. (see this article on Community Ownership of Renewable Energy and the Distributed Electrical Grid http://orec.ca/community-ownership/)
14. There should be a wide spread public ‘energy education’ campaign, including community organizations; and in all education centres, so as to reach our future leaders and citizens.
15. There should be no expectation or reliance on corporations such as Maritime Electric to promote or deliver energy conservation education or programs, since their corporate mandate is to maximize profits, not energy conservation.
Chris's comments on agriculture:
1) consider that reducing overall consumption of meat and dairy is a goal. A reduction to better quality, more sustainably and humanely raised, as opposed to increasing production of protein per animal. High tech "solutions" offered by companies selling something, whether increased mechanization or increased biotechnology, should be looked at very carefully as far as health and well-being of animals and the long term implications.
2) the major point is in P.E.I. and world-wide, smaller scale, locally-emphasized diversified farming methods would be much more in line with sustainable, lower carbon-output production of food.
November 19, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' markets are open in Charlottetown and Summerside today, as are lots of Christmas Craft Fairs, including this little one on the 435 Appin Road(10-6 today and 12-5 tomorrow).
On Monday, November 21st (and I had the date wrong in yesterday's newsletter), there will be a short vigil -- part of nationwide vigils -- to express opposition to the KinderMorgan pipeline, before the Cinema Politica showing of the movie The Yes Men Are Coming (which is about some unique ways of fighting climate change).
7PM, Duffy Amphitheatre, UPEI campus.
All welcome to this, too.
Wednesday, November 30th:
Fundraising dinner for PEI Food Exchange, "Step Up to the Plate", Charlottetown Fire Department, event and ticket details here.
Yesterday, in the P.E.I. Legislature, the Premier introduced Motion 80, the Government's way of dealing with the recent plebiscite on electoral reform by putting off until the next general election a concurrent "binding referendum" offering two choices, Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) and some undetermined-but-to-be-decided-by-this-Legislature alternative.
Two other MLAs spoke before the session ended at 1PM, and these observations are my own. Pat Murphy (District 26: Alberton-Roseville), whose seat was recently moved from the Speaker's Right in the back row to the Speaker's Left (Government side) to the back row, seconded it. He spoke of MMP taking the voice away from rural voters since they would have no local District representation, and he said the Party Lists would only have Summerside and Charlottetown candidates, and had other slanted fear-mongering. It appears he doesn't understand the basics of MMP (that there *would* be District MLAs elected by First Past the Post (FPTP), and then a set of Proportional MLAs voted on by Islanders). The Liberal and Tory Caucuses, I believe, were given special sessions by electoral experts on the systems.
Then Richard Brown (District 12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park), assumed Shakespearean postures (Richard III, Falstaff, etc.) and went through the following themes: patriotism, accepting Syrian refuges, The Civil War in the States, Trump. The first two are due to FPTP, the last two somehow related to PR. Brown also described (his words) "The Great Purge of 1996" (in P.E.I.) when I think the Binns government replaced a slew of Joe Ghiz-term appointments and personnel with PC-loyal people. He repeated "The Great Purge of 1996" several times to great effect. (I am not defending those firings -- that was wrong, no doubt about it.) He also dramatized the threat of rural emasculation and of secret lists if MMP is adopted from the plebiscite.
That only leaves 14 more (not including Speaker Buck Watts) Liberal members to speak only once, but to their heart's content, on the Motion; this includes all the Liberal MLAs who represent districts where MMP ranked higher in the plebiscite. The Opposition Members and Leader of the Third Party can speak about it, too. This will likely resume Tuesday afternoon. Even, when it comes to vote, if it is specified as a "free vote", it is hard to see it not being a straight ticket of voting.
This whole spectacle is an *excellent* example of why electoral reform is needed as soon as possible.
Islanders can call their MLA's office Monday and remind them of the plebiscite results, and that each MLA approved the report containing the Plebiscite Question last spring. (The Legislative Assembly discussed and approved the Report of the Special Committee in May 2016, with the discussion of plebiscite ballot option.) I am not sure why some MLAs are distancing themselves from this report and making it appear they had no role, no responsibility, no voice on the complexity of the question. Why not have discussed and made it a "clear question" then? What was the rush?
The video for yesterday can be found on here on the Legislative Assembly's website video archives, found here.
Lead Editorial in The Guardian, Wednesday, November 16th, 2016:
EDITORIAL: Report, poll add support for plebiscite - The Guardian Editorial
An interim report on Prince Edward Island’s democratic renewal plebiscite and a public opinion poll, which sampled almost 2,000 Islanders, all support the province moving forward on electoral reform. They offer additional arguments the province cannot ignore.
In comments following the plebiscite, Premier Wade MacLauchlan signaled he might disregard the democratic vote because the 36.5 per cent turnout was not a clear mandate for change. It was disappointing to see the premier apply personal criteria after the fact.
Islanders do care deeply about fairness and democracy and the premier campaigned on strengthening democratic institutions. The Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) option was the clear winner using the ranked ballot. When you factor in support for Dual Member Proportional, Islanders clearly indicated they favor a PR ballot in the next election.
Yet, the premier argues that the voter turnout isn’t a clear expression of the will of Islanders. One thing is clear – almost 68 per cent of first round counting supported something other than First-Past-the-Post. The report released by Chief Electoral Officer Gary McLeod indicates the majority of ridings – 22 of 27 - supported MMP as the winning option.
In 11 ridings, the vote in favour of MPP was almost 40 per cent or above. That's about the level of support for the Liberal government when it won re-election in May 2015. These are numbers the premier cannot ignore. They are not debatable or doubtful.
Then a poll for the Coalition for Proportional Representation suggests a strong majority of Islanders want the province to honor the plebisicite result. The poll was extensive - 1,772 Islanders were surveyed. The poll shows that 56 per cent of respondents want the province to respect the plebiscite, 30 per cent think government should ignore the vote and 14 per cent don't know. By the premier’s own criteria, the poll is conclusive.
The only Islanders divided on the plebiscite are Liberal supporters, but they are just about evenly split - 40 per cent to accept and 42 per cent to reject.
The poll sample is much larger than the quarterly Corporate Research Associates poll, which is widely used to gauge P.E.I.’s political winds. What should alarm the government is the decline in Liberal support. It’s a clear signal the government is on the wrong side of the plebiscite question.
Most MLAs have remained quiet about the plebiscite results. They wanted to see the riding breakdowns to determine how their own constituents voted before offering comments. There should be a full debate on the plebiscite and an open vote in the Legislature so Islanders can judge MLAs for themselves.
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker unearthed some interesting details on past plebiscites. There have been six in P.E.I. since 1893. The one in 1923 on P.E.I.’s prohibition laws saw 28.3 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, but it was still honoured. The province has always acted on plebiscite results, regardless of turnout or majority.
This government must honour its oft-repeated twin pillars of transparency and accountability.
That editorial is actually a little mild in tone compared to today's, and other op-ed pieces in today's Guardian.
This is from Peter Rukavina's blog, an excellent wrap-up on commentary from three people who have been in government and are speaking out clearly. Consider making some time to read it over the weekend, as it puts together a lot and has the referred-to columns and essays nicely linked.
Alan (Buchanan) and Cynthia (King) and Allan (Rankin) have been locked inside the panopticon of our democracy; each has a deep understanding of how things work on the inside of our first-past-the-post two-party system. And while each has had reasons, since leaving public service, to grind axes, their axe-grinding days are long since over, and their contemplations are among the best, least-biased user’s guides to democratic reform we have.
We would do well to heed their wise words.
--Peter Rukavina, November 18th, 2016
November 18, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The P.E.I. Legislature sits today from 10AM to 1PM. After Greetings and Question Period, the Government may call its motion to deal with the Plebiscite results, Motion 80, "Democratic renewal: a clear question and a binding vote", which some wags have nicknamed #HumourThe Vote and said we should "Stop Pleb B". You can attend by sitting in the Gallery or watching on Eastlink or the Legislative Assembly's website: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3
I am not sure of what happens to Motion 54, "Plebiscite on Electoral Reform", which was tabled by Peter Bevan-Baker on Tuesday night.
Some events going on that have been a bit sidelined by all the legislative talk:
Saturday, November 19th:
Backyard Chicken Keeping Workshop, 1-3PM, Farm Centre, free but please register.
Rebecca Cowans of Down by the Bay Backyard Poultry and Sally Bernard of Barnyard Organics is leading a keeping backyard chickens workshop tomorrow at the Farm Centre. There still may be space. E-mail: email@example.com or see https://www.facebook.com/events/607316092774638/
for more details.
Sunday, November 20th:
Daniel O'Hanley Memorial Lecture with Stephen Augustine, Hereditary Chief, Title:"The Mi'kmaq: People of Hope", at 2PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church, Stratford. Free but donations accepted.
The annual lectures, sponsored by LAMP (Latin American Mission Program) are always very thought-proving and this year's looks excellent. from the event details:<snip> Stephen J. Augustine, is Hereditary Chief Mi’Kmaq Grand Council and Dean Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning at Cape Breton University. Over the years, Stephen is well-known for sharing his expertise in research, traditional knowledge, Maritimes history and storytelling. For the last eight years he has been teaching a course at Carleton University called Aboriginal Peoples and the Knowledge Economy. His book Mi’kmaq & Maliseet Cultural Ancestral Material, Mercury Series, CMC Collections has proven a valuable resource for academic researchers and educators alike. He has been Elder Advisor to the Federal Court of Canada Judges, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Canada. In this lecture, Stephen will be sharing signs of hope from the Mi’Kma’ki People and actions that both indigenous and non-indigenous can take to create a more just world.
Monday, November 20th:
Movie: The Yes Men Are Revolting, 7PM, Duffy Amphitheatre (Room 135), Duffy Science Centre, UPEI campus. Hosted by Cinema Politica as part of Social Justic Week (November 17th-21). Admission is free, donations welcome. from the Event details:
The film chronicles the past five years of , the infamous activists known for duping the media with their impersonations of corporate shills and government stooges. At this stage of their career, the Yes Men have climate change at the top of their agenda, which takes them to Washington, Copenhagen, Uganda, and the Albertan tar sands. Laura Nix and the Yes Men team up as directors, as they meet with collaborators and pull off their witty stunts. Their planning and execution is filled with anxiety and improvisation, some pranks fizzling while others turn into media whirlwinds — and one case brings a threat of legal action more serious than any the Yes Men have ever encountered before.
The federal committee on electoral reform has finished touring regions of the country, but some are worried about their progress, especially FairVote Canada, which is working toward Proportional Representation. If you wish to view their recent campaign to urge people to make a quite phone call to their regional MP on the committee (in our case it is Matt DeCourcey from New Brunswick, details are here: https://fairvotecanada.good.do/callaliberalerremp/
November 17, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
This is the Park Avenue Sobriety Test
It’s a kick in the teeth, it’s the hornet’s nest
It’s the Park Avenue Sobriety Test
It’s the cold hard light of day.
--Joel Plaskett, singer-songwriter
(Thoughts when hearing about the Premier's motion to conduct a binding resolution on electoral reform with the next general election. On we go.)
I cannot find the Motion on the Legislative Assembly website, but the CBC on-line story has a photo of it.
From the Proportional Representation Facebook posting later last night:
The government today proposed a binding referendum on electoral reform in October 2019, attached to the next provincial election. We assume they would like that election to still be conducted under First-Past-the-Post, which lost the plebiscite by 3500 votes to Mixed Member Proportional.
Under this plan, we wouldn't see a proportional election until at least 2023.
Call your MLA - tell them to HonourTheVote, so that we use MMP for the next provincial election. No later. No referendum needed. www.pronpei.vote/friends_of_democracy
Peter Bevan-Baker will be on CBC Radio Island morning between 7:30-8AM to discuss the matter.
His Motion 54, "Plebiscite on Electoral Reform" discussed on Tuesday night in the Legislature, is here:
The Legislative Assembly meets from 2-5PM and 7-9PM today. The afternoon's order on Thursday after the Greetings and Question Period is for the Opposition to set the agenda, but I am not sure what is scheduled.
to watch live from the internet, go to this home page and look for the link:
Climate Change Mitigation Strategy comments, even short ones to short support of any efforts to reduce our greenhouse gases and move to renewables at quickly as possible, are due from the public by the end of today:
November 16, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Legislature started just yesterday ...what's supposed to be a pleasant, shortish Fall sitting to take up the last weeks of November....but yesterday wasn't entirely pleasant nor short. The day started with a couple of "Matters of Privilege" Points of Order from the Tories about some comments made in the Spring Sitting that they don't think were accurate (one was from James Aylward regarding current Agriculture Minister Alan McIsaac saying he wasn't on Treasury Board when e-gaming was discussed but he actually was). Speaker Buck Watts said he would look into the matters before ruling.
Some MLAs have new seats after Chris Palmer was welcomed as being the new MLA from Summerside-Wilmot. He is on the left side when you walk in (generally the Opposition and Back Benchers side) and Tina Mundy and Pat Murphy have moved to the Government side.
Question Period was mostly the Tories zeroing in on points of the e-gaming file and of Premier Wade MacLauchlan's defence of cleaning house while keeping many of the same people around. Leader of the Third party Peter Bevan-Baker asked about the plebiscite results, and the Premier got a bit lawyery with vocabulary and presentation, basically said there would be robust debate when a government motion was introduced. The Premier also mentioned the phrase "Truth to Power", but I am not sure what he was referring to.
Later, Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald tabled a Motion about exports and growth -- nearly all agreed on this though Peter Bevan-Baker brought up about the environmental realities of limitless growth.
And the afternoon session ended. Actually, the call to recess, for years, was signaled by former MLA (Summerside-Wilmot)'s Janice Sherry ("Call the hour!"), and then others would repeat that and the Speaker would say, "The Hour has been called," and state the house would recess until such and such time. With the retirement of Janice Sherry, no one piped up to call the hour while Peter was speaking about the perils of limitless growth. Finally, someone did, and they recessed for supper. (It was mildly amusing to this on-line observer.)
I was in town later yesterday and thought about ducking on to watch part of the evening session, but decided to get home and check in on internet, figuring the Tories would be discussing one of their motions, since Tuesday night usually the Official Oppostion sets the agenda. The title of the motion is printed on the screen and it appeared to be calling for the plebiscite results to be respected and Mixed Member Proportional to be set forth in the next general election. Surprise!
So, perhaps to circumvent the upcoming Government's motion, in case it turns out to be something restrictive or very delaying like holding a referendum on voting systems in the next general election in 2019, this motion was introduced? I don't know. The motion was tabled by Peter Bevan-Baker with Sidney MacEwen's seconding, and approval of the whole house to debate it (without it being on the Order Papers for some minimum time). Three MLAs spoke to it: Paula Bigger, citing all the voters in her district who didn't vote for PR (and therefore she presumes would have voted FPTP), opposed the motion. She said it as just not right it took three rounds to get a majority anyway (which is how Ranked Ballot, which she championed in the plebiscite, works...).
Tina Mundy spoke about a lot of things. She went from topic to topic, detailing her own evolving thoughts on the matter. Now, she and Jordon Brown (who spoke last) both wished they had more time to prepare, and that showed. It did allow the hour in a way gracefully to end (though with an instant cacophony of the Tories to extend the hour, which also has to be unanimous from the whole Legislature). The motion won't be put to the floor of the Legislature until the Opposition wished to give it more time and sets the agenda again (so maybe Thursday afternoon). But it didn't get voted on and perhaps defeated, either.
The general order of the day is listed here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3?number=1029027&lang=E
Wednesday should be a nice quiet 2-5PM in the House. We'll see! You can watch from home, here:http://www.assembly.pe.ca/video/video.php
Again, there is much to be said for phoning or at least e-mailing your MLA and the Premier's office to let them know to "Honour the Vote". Contact info is found starting here: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/current-members
Climate Change Mitigation strategy comments from the public are due tomorrow, Thursday, November 17th. The website is here and I hope to have some ideas for comments in tomorrow's Citizens' Alliance News.
David Suzuki is hosting a Blue Dot Environmental Rights webinar tonight you can join in to watch tonight about 9PM. Details here:
Praise to our local media, specifically to Teresa Wright of The Guardian and Kerry Campbell of CBC, for reporting without cynicism and with helpful explanations regarding what was going on. Their comments on Twitter were pretty much the only way to decipher what was happening.
November 15, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Institute of Island Studies put on another thoughtful, engaging symposium last night on the subject of "sustainable agriculture and food systems", by bringing it right down to a personal level of choices for both home and community. Dr. Mark Lapping from Maine was the featured speaker, and very entertaining -- I think most of us could have listened to him for two straight days, he has so much information and many perspectives -- and Mark Bernard and Barry Cudmore (and I am sure Colleen Watson, but I had to leave early) had insights into what they are doing here at home.
Dr. Ed MacDonald was very welcoming at moderator, too. The Institute of Island Studies usually posts a lot of information after their events in the past and future events on their website:
There is a lecture tonight, Dr. Jean Mitchell sharing "Stories of Weathering Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu: Leaf-houses, Flying Foxes, and Body Bags", at the Faculty Lounge of the Main Building of UPEI, at 7PM (details on link above).
Richard Raiswell, among other things, comments on CBC Radio's Mainstreet on Monday afternoons during the Legislative Assembly session and a few other times, and has commented on the Plebiscite results. Here is a summary, but when the audio is available, I'll pass that on, since it was well worth listening to.
The P.E.I. Legislature opens today for its Fall Sitting, and should sit Tuesdays 2-5PM, and 7-9PM; Wednesdays 2-5PM; Thursdays 2-5PM, and 7-9PM, and Fridays 10AM-1PM. You can watch at home by a link here:
People are welcome to sit in the Gallery in the Chamber. The entrance for visitors is the lowest level of the Coles Building, and you will need to show some sort of ID.
Presumably, at some point today, the Premier will address the Plebiscite.
You can still call or e-mail your MLA this morning to express your concerns. Contact info is found starting at this page to find your member:
You can find your district and then your MLA, or go to the "Find Your MLA" page where they are listed alphabetically.
And if you are wondering about fallout in the United States after the election of Donald Trump, here is an essay from Senator Bernie Sanders, who touched on many of the same concerns Trump has (but in a more caring, inclusive way), and the way forward.
November 14, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here is the link to the audio recording from yesterday's Maritime Connection phone-in show. from what I could hear, host Preston Mulligan spent a good deal of the first part questioning guest Mark Greenan (of the Proportional Representation on P.E.I. group) about the results, and assuming those that didn't vote would have voted for the status quo, an opinion gleefully seconded by another guest, Murray Murphy (lawyer and former Progressive Conservative pundit on CBC Radio's political panel). Hans Connor was a guest for later in the show and was quite positive, Philip Brown (the former PC MLA and assistant to Gail Shea, very PR supportive) called and had some good points, and Leo Cheverie got in the last four minutes and hit on every point you could wish with his natural charm. Have a listen to if you get a chance:
Bottled water export ban petition: If you wish to sign, and have anyone else sign, the petition from September of this year calling on the province to ban the export of bottled water, you can find and print if off the Citizens' Alliance website, print, sign and send it to MLA Peter Bevan-Baker. If you have it in the mail mid-week, he will have it to "table" next week. Environment Minister Robert Mitchell has used his Directive powers to halt any proposals, but the petition will still gauge public concern.
Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
The Provincial Legislature opens tomorrow afternoon at 2PM. You could attend and sit in the Gallery any time or watch from home by the "Watch Live" button on the website:
If you wish to contact your MLA and send a word of support how how you voted in the Plebiscite, contact information is here:
There should be someone who will count your opinion when you call, or you can e-mail your MLA.
Journalism instructor and Guardian opinion column writer Rick MacLean links the U.S. election with events closer to home:
RICK MacLEAN: A lesson from Donald Trump - The Guardian columnist Rick MacLean
Published on Saturday, November 12th, 2016
President-elect knew his target audience and what they wanted to hear
Donald Trump was right.
Those words taste as bitter as vinegar in my mouth, but a peddler of hate and nonsense is the president-elect of the United States. His finger is on the nuclear button on Jan. 20.
But he knew what he was talking about.
No, not his lunatic ravings around building a wall, or his non-plan plan to solve the war raging in Iraq, never mind him accusing the Chinese of cooking up climate change as a tactic to economically cripple the United States.
No. He knew his target audience. He knew the message they wanted to hear. And he pointed out, correctly, he could walk into any street in Manhattan and shoot someone, and his supporters would still vote for him.
He practically did just that. And he’s the 45th president of the United States. The party of Abraham Lincoln is now the party of Donald Trump.
There’s a lesson in what just happened south of the border for politicians on this side of the 49th parallel.
I’m convinced Trump triumphed because the political system in the United States failed to reflect accurately the concerns of the people willing to cast a ballot in an election.
Trump’s backers were angry. In part, they were angry with those who earn their living in the incestuous anthill that is Washington, D.C.
The politicians ignored those voters while catering to the special interest groups best able to hire lobbyists and fund re-election bids.
The media, whipsawed by the loss of money to the Internet - and the resulting cuts in staffing, allowed themselves to be disconnected from the daily concerns of the everyday lives of the voters. They failed to serve those voters.
So Trump did.
He lied to them. He’ll keep lying to them. And maybe they’ll figure it out. But that won’t make their needs, fears and concerns go away.
Only a government that truly reflects the voters’ real needs can hope to protect us from what’s about to happen in the U.S.
We’re not starting into that dark abyss in P.E.I., but if politicians cannot find a way to see past their own interests and reform the electoral system, they run the risk of losing the support of the people they are supposed to represent.
The results of the recent plebiscite on electoral reform may prove to be a crucial line in the sand.
True, only 36.46 per cent of those eligible to vote actually took the time – what, two minutes online? – to cast a vote on how they’d like their government members are elected.
That’s a pitiful turnout in a province where double that number would be considered disappointing in a provincial election.
But just over half of those who took the time said they want change. They want their votes to count. They want some form of proportional representation.
And this is not the first time voters have declared their desire for change. One voter in five in the last provincial election said they wanted to be represented by a member of either the Green party or the NDP.
Between them, those parties should have six MLAs in the legislature. They have one.
If our political leadership keeps ignoring the voters, they risk the kind of angry protest we just witnessed in the U.S.
- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.
November 13, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Elections PEI put together 74-page document on the breakdown of the voting numbers in the P.E.I. Plebiscite.
It is available here:
Some results, but not the whole report is here:
What does the interim report say? It shows the numbers that Islanders voted for change. A few points:
That 22 of 27 districts voted for Proportional Representation (Mixed Member PR) in the ranked ballot.
This is illustrated not in the ElectionsPEI Report but by the PR on P.E.I. group in this map:
A wonderfully detailed map on the District breakdown, from the PR on P.E.I. website. A simpler map is on the PRonPEI website. http://www.pronpei.vote/
An aside: Richard Brown, District 12 (Charlottetown-Victoria Park), who defended First-Past-the-Post most robustly, saw his district go overwhelming for PR options.
Page 55 of the document shows the number of voters in each age group. The 16-17 year old group were actually quite engaged with a percentage of voters close to the mean. The vote shows that ages groups 16-65 overwhelmingly want a change in the electoral system.
Reminders for the Premier to accept the results continue.
Paul MacNeill, published of the Graphic newspapers, is to be credited with immediately after the results were released Monday night coming up with the "hashtag" #Honourthevote. Editorials in Island papers have urged the Premier strongly to start making meaningful changes now. (The Guardian wrote last week about this before the results were out, and the Journal-Pioneer and the Graphic newspapers this week.)
Ways to urge the Premier, and their links, and very much informaiton, can be found here at the PR on P.E.I. website:
including a link to an on-line petition:
If you are on Facebook, you can modify your profile picture yest again with the frame "Honour the vote" from Twibbon:
Preston Mulligan's CBC Sunday afternoon show "Maritime Connection" is on electoral reform and the P.E.I. vote, among other topics. If you are interested in phoning in and making a comment -- perhaps about what Premier MacLauchlan needs to do -- the time is 4-5PM, CBC 96.1FM, and the phone number is 1(902) 565-1940.
In a huge U.S. election week, there was the obvious news, but there were also small things recently like this:
California just made history by becoming the first state in the Union to officially ban plastic bags. The California Plastic Bag Veto Referendum (Proposition 67) was approved by voters on Nov. 8 by a narrow margin of 51.97% in favor to 48.03% opposed. The narrow win came despite a $6 million campaign waged by the out-of-state plastic bag industry.
from Saturday, November 12th, 2016, from:
"Inhabitat.com is a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future."
And in Florida:
Florida voters say no to misleading solar amendment - The Miami Herald article by Mary Ellen Klas
TALLAHASSEE, Florida, by Mary Ellen Klas, published on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
Florida voters rejected Amendment 1 on Tuesday, the utility-backed measure to limit rooftop solar expansion, after a scrappy, grassroots campaign and last-minute revelations raised doubts about the proponents’ claims that their goal was to expand solar generation.
<snip> rest of story on-line through link
November 12, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown, and it is still remarkable what produce and products are available.
Several producers have Fall CSAs (community supported agriculture) starting or continuing.
Crystal Green Farms
Schurman Family Farm
and Aaron at Organic Veggie Delivery also offers year-round service.
I have likely missed some producers, but the PEI Food Exchange complete list of CSAs is here:
By the way, the PEI Food Exchange is having their annual fundraiser soon:
Wednesday, November 30th:
Step Up to the Plate Dinner and Event, 5-9PM, tickets $25. Appetizers, locally-sourced dinner by Chef Emily Wells, live and silent auctions, etc.
Feed the Birds:
Phillips Feed Store on Exhibition Drive has its annual bird seed sale starting today until next Saturday. I think both seed is discounted and a portion of sales goes to Island Nature Trust. They are open 8AM-noon on Saturdays, 8AM-5PM weekdays.
Monday, November 14th:
Symposium, 7-9PM, Duffy Amphitheatre (Room 135), UPEI campus (parking is generally free in the evening)
from the media release:
Sustainable Agriculture and the Island’s Food System
The Island’s “food system” will be the topic of a Public Symposium to be held at UPEI’s Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre, Room 135, on Monday, November 14th, beginning at 7:00 p.m. In particular, the discussion will focus on a move toward a more sustainable agriculture, with a stronger emphasis on local food and food security.
This event is one of a regular series of Public Symposia sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.
The main speaker will be distinguished author and public policy specialist Dr. Mark Lapping, long associated with the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Dr. Lapping has held many academic leadership posts, including that as founding Dean of the prestigious School of Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong interest in land issues in Prince Edward Island, and has published several papers and studies on the topic.
In recent years, Dr. Lapping has focused his work on food systems and has written extensively on the subject. He was the leader of an ambitious undertaking at the Muskie School which developed a food plan and strategy for the state of Maine.
“To most people,” says Dr. Lapping, “food is about growing and consuming food. But a food system,” he continues, “is a large set of processes and it is critical to take a wider, systems perspective. Only then might we have a more robust understanding of the ways by which a sustainable agriculture can become part of a larger process of change toward a more nutritious and just life for individuals, families and communities.”
Responding to Dr. Lapping’s talk will be a Panel comprised of two Island farmers and a researcher in public health nutrition. Barry Cudmore of Brackley Beach farms seed potatoes, soy beans and grains. A Nuffield scholar and member of the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame, he is a proponent of seeking farm-sustainability in moving from commodities to branded products, and reconnecting consumers with producers.
Mark Bernard and his wife Sally operate Barnyard Organics in Freetown. As the fourth generation Bernard on this family farm, Mark has moved away from potato production. The objective of Barnyard Organics is “to bring the farm back to its original state as a self-sustaining mixed farm, using traditional methods combined with some of the efficient technologies of our time.”
The third Panelist is Dr. Colleen Walton, Associate Professor in Applied Human Sciences at UPEI. She has over 20 years of working experience within the Island’s food system. Her research interests lie in the area of building capacity among groups and individuals toward strengthened livelihoods and greater household food security.
Members of the public are cordially invited to attend. Admission is free. Following the presentations, there will be ample time for discussion and questions from the floor.
November 11, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here is a partial list of Remembrance Day events:
it is not complete (Hartsville at 11AM isn't on there, for instance), but has some info.
Bottled Water Export Ban Petition
Environment Minister Mitchell Wednesday ordered that no new bottled water plant proposals would be considered until after a Water Act is passed, which is something.
To emphasize the matter and the concern of Islanders,
MLA Peter Bevan-Baker is going to table the petition calling on government to halt this project in the Legislature probably the week of November 21st anyway, so it's public record.
If you still wish to print out, get signatures, and send any hard copies to Peter, please do.
Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA
Charlottetown, PEI C1N 7N8
Mail by November 16th.
The petition can be found on the Citizens' Alliance website, and you can print it out (please let me know if the link doesn't work!!)
CBC Radio convened its political panel on Thursday, to talk about the U.S. election results and of course the results from our Plebiscite on Electoral Reform. It is 19 minutes long, with Paul MacNeill, lawyer and Liberal supporter Mary Lynn Kane, and consultant and Tory commentator Dennis King.
Passed on by Dr. Bradley Walters at Mount Allison University, an on-line Slate article about the implications of a Donald Trump U.S. presidency on Climate Change; thanks to Brad for sending it. An excerpt:
But despite what some—even many—are saying right now, the climate fight did not end Tuesday night. All is not lost until everything is lost, and we’re still far, far from that point.While defeatism may feel like the only option right now, with something as important as the planet, you can never give up. For the next four years, we must constantly remember that a small number of victories are better than none. And now, if we give up, we’ll have none. <snip>
Don’t be tricked into thinking your actions to protect the climate we all share are meaningless under Trump. You are more important than ever. Reach out to those who are different from you. Trump won, in large part because of disaffected rural voters and people who felt like the system wasn’t working for them. To win on climate, we have to help create a system that works for everyone.
November 10, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tonight, Thursday, November 10th:
Montague family of schools reorganization meeting, 7-10PM, Montague Regional High School
Summerside Climate Change Mitigation Strategy public meeting, 6-8PM, Credit Union Place.
Some notes from Wednesday:
Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell acknowledged that it was in his power, and the best interest of Islanders and a common trust like water, to place a hold on any bottling water plant proposals until after a Water Act is passed.
from the government website, issued yesterday afternoon.
Ministerial Order Issued Regarding Use of Island Groundwater
Recognizing that water is one of our province’s most precious resources, the provincial government has suspended any new development of bottled water until the Water Act has been introduced.
“The province is committed to the protection of our water for future generations,” Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell said. “The development of a new Water Act for Prince Edward Island will provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for all water use, including the bottling of water. We want to ensure public confidence in government’s ability to protect and preserve our Island groundwater. This temporary measure will allow both the opportunity for the public to participate in a second round of consultations to communicate their thoughts on this issue, as well as the time needed to complete the new Act.”
Section three of the Environmental Protection Act states the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment has the authority to take ‘action as he considers necessary in order to manage, protect or enhance the environment’. This action can be achieved through a Ministerial Order. Government has endorsed a Ministerial Order suspending any new development of bottled water undertakings until the Water Act has been introduced, allowing the issue to be fully considered.
“Government has said we want to hear from Islanders on the topic of bottling Island water and this Ministerial Order will allow this to happen,” said Minister Mitchell.
The draft Water Act is nearing completion with the second round of in-person consultations planned for early 2017. For more information on the PEI Water Act visit www.gov.pe.ca/wateract
A huge thank you to the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, and MLAs Peter Bevan-Baker, and Brad Trivers and Sidney MacEwen. The MLAs urged the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment to invite the bottled water proposal proponents and the Coalition to appear before the committee; Beven-Baker was prepared to introduce a Private Member's Bill prohibiting the export of bottle water in the upcoming session of the P.E.I. Legislature.
On the topic of the Plebiscite on voting systems results: Peter Bevan-Baker was on Island Morning radio Wednesday morning, sharing his disappointment about the Premier's cool response to the plebiscite results.
A petition has started for Islanders to call on Premier MacLauchlan to Honour the Vote regarding the results of the Plebiscite.
The petition is organized by the Proportional Representation Coalition, and also included urging people to call their MLAs Thursday, or at least e-mailing. Contact info is on their Website (or by asking me, if you can't find it).
November 9, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Well, um. The U.S. elections results. I do feel for those who supported Bernie Sanders.
The Premier commented on the Plebiscite yesterday afternoon (full text, at the end of this newsletter).
Some other voices reminding the Premier to honour the vote (#honourthevote).
from earlier yesterday:
Mr Premier, honour the vote - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
by Paul MacNeill, Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, on-line (see above)
Despite a process built to ensure failure, despite the unsubstantiated fear mongering of MLAs with a vested interest in the result, Islanders voted for change Monday.
And now it is time for Premier Wade MacLauchlan to honour the result of PEI’s electoral reform plebiscite. If he does not he will quickly move from the hope of being a transformative leader to one indistinguishable from so many before him who put party loyalty ahead of what is best for the Island.
Monday’s result is what real transformation looks like.
The vote sent Liberals scurrying for the excuse box. Only 36 per cent of the electorate turned out, they bellowed. That’s no mandate, they whined. You could almost see the proverbial trough emptying before their eyes.
The problem, of course, is the argument lacks all logic. Since Confederation, Liberals and Tories have benefitted from First-past-the-post, a system that made it all but impossible for a third party to break the two party monopoly. Liberals and Tories never complain about losing or winning based on the percentage of voter turnout. Sure it’s something Islanders brag about, but we’ve never set a minimum standard for an election to be deemed credible.
Last month just 60 per cent of voters cast a ballot in a Summerside byelection. Premier MacLauchlan accepted the result with relish. He called it a vote of confidence even though 58 per cent voted for someone other than the Liberal.
And then there is the 2015 election. MacLauchlan’s Liberals won 18 of 27 seats with just 41 per cent of the vote. Put another way only 35 per cent of registered voters cast a Liberal ballot.
No Liberal suggests giving any of those seats back because the mandate lacks credibility.
On the contrary. They brag about the decisive mandate delivered.
Well if May 4, 2015 was decisive so too is the 52 per cent who voted to adopt a mixed member proportional system. Islanders who chose not to vote - be it because of laziness, confusion (brought on by a process intentionally created to confuse) or because they want change but could not bring themselves to vote for it – had more opportunities than ever before to vote. For the first time we employed online and telephone voting, in addition to extended in person voting. Not voting is no rationale for quibbling with the results.
And the results are clear. Islanders want change. The question is whether the premier and his caucus will deliver or turn their backs on us. By the time you read this, the decision may already be made. The Liberal caucus will meet Tuesday.
What will it say to the 16 and 17 year-olds who took the time to educate themselves and vote if the Liberal caucus says their vote doesn’t matter based upon some unwritten rule made up after the fact? It will say rather than encourage and engage youth we are prepared to slam the door shut with a patronizing and predictable political response.
How many times do we hear a politician say ‘the people are always right?’ It is a statement never qualified by phrases like ‘just in case’ or ‘in the event’.
Once again voters got it right.
Wade MacLauchlan made it clear he supports maintaining the status quo. Monday’s result puts him in the unenviable position of having to side with the people or the party. If he caves to the whims of the PEI Liberal Party and his caucus, his political capital will evaporate. If he has the courage to acknowledge the validity of the count, he will deliver on the promise of transformative change.
He gets to pick which side of history he sits on.
PLEBISCITE TURN-OUT - Facebook blog by David Weale
by David Weale, on-line
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
It is well to remember that the reason the voter turn-out was lower than a regular election is because this was not a 'patronage' election. The two old parties that have benefited routinely from winning elections were not out there beating the bushes to get the halt the blind and the lame to the polls. When you factor that in, along with the daunting complexity of the question, the turnout yesterday can be considered outstanding.
To ignore it would be tantamount to political treachery.
from the Journal-Pioneer editorial yesterday
P.E.I. Plebiscite: Voters have spoken, time to move on wishes of electorate - The Journal Pioneer Editorial
Published on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
The stage is set. It’s time to get on with the business of governing Prince Edward Island.
And following the conclusion Monday of the plebiscite on electoral reform in this province, that means changing the way Islanders elect their Members of the Legislative Assembly.
The electorate, with 52.42 per cent of the vote, has chosen Mixed Member Proportionate Representation from the five options on offer. The others included: First-Past-the-Post (the current system); Dual Member Proportional Representation; Preferential voting; First-Past-the-Post plus leaders.
Elections P.E.I. allowed Islanders to vote online, by telephone and in-person during the 10-day vote. The ranked ballot saw 37,040 votes cast, which translates into a turnout of 36.46 per cent of registered voters.
Now that it’s over there seems to be some of the opinion that those who chose not to cast a vote in the plebiscite were somehow content with the current system. If that is the case then it is very unfortunate for them. That is not how democracy is designed to work.
It’s sadder too that the premier, following his statement Tuesday on the results, seems to share that view.
There is no arguing that a voter turnout under 37 per cent is disappointing, but it does not mean democracy does not move forward. If that percentage were ever the turnout in a general election (look no further than some municipal elections or provincial byelections) there would be those who would bemoan the numbers, but the result would still stand – just as it ought to in this instance.
If the United Kingdom can leave the European Union with 51.9 per cent, certainly P.E.I. can change its electoral system with 52.42 per cent.
What the results of this plebiscite tell us is not that the 63 per cent of the electorate who chose not to vote support the existing system. It shows us that they were indifferent to the process and its result. It says that they have no strong preference one way or another. If they did they would have voted. After all the current system was on the ballot. In fact 42.84 per cent of voters indeed supported keeping it. It was the second most popular choice.
But for those out there who do not like or agree with the result of the plebiscite, the people – at least those with an opinion on the matter – have spoken. If you have a position, and it’s on the ballot, you support it. If not, your opinion, like the vote you chose not to exercise doesn’t count.
It’s now time for Premier Wade MacLauchlan to get on with it, despite Tuesday’s long-winded excuse for delay. He avoided throughout the process stating how he would react to the results, but now, the premier, should he choose not to act on the will of the electorate, throws into question his entire election campaign of open and transparent government and doing things differently. In short he may have the legal right to continue to govern but the moral right has abandoned him.
Salute! Variety Show presented by the P.E.I. Military Family Resources Centre, 7-9PM, Florence Simmonds Hall at Holland College
Still some seats available
Climate Change Mitigation Strategy, 6-8PM, Murphy Community Centre. Details:
No school family consultation tonight (Montague's is tomorrow)
There have been some very good analysis of the Premier's statement on the Plebiscite, and these will be reprinted in the coming days.
Premier's Statement on the Plebiscite
Tuesday afternoon, November 8th, 2016
Between October 29 and November 7, Prince Edward Islanders were invited through a plebiscite to express their views on electoral reform. The plebiscite was conducted with historic innovations in the methods and time-frame to cast a ballot. Islanders could vote online, by telephone or in-person over a 10-day period. The plebiscite format and voting options were based on the recommendations of an all-party special committee of the Legislative Assembly and made possible through unprecedented efforts by Elections PEI, with the objective of achieving a high level of voter participation, notably in light of the fact that only 33 per cent of Islanders cast a vote in the 2005 plebiscite. The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal in its April 15 report expressed the hope that “A clear expression of the will of the population of Prince Edward Island will be the result.”
Notwithstanding unprecedented measures taken to encourage voter turnout and to facilitate voting, just under 36.5 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot during the ten-day plebiscite voting period. On the other hand, 63.5 per cent of registered voters did not participate.
The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, while declining to recommend a specific threshold for voter participation, expressed its belief that “the outcome of a plebiscite must be considered in concert with voter turnout.” An Oct. 21 CBC report states the Leader of the Third Party and member of the special committee “(Peter) Bevan-Baker is suggesting majority support for any one of the options to change the electoral system, together with voter turnout of at least 50 per cent, should be enough to compel government to act.” In the 1998 Secession Reference, the Supreme Court of Canada spoke of the desirability of having “broad support of an ‘enhanced majority’ to achieve constitutional change.” [p.259] The Court translated that principle into a requirement that there be a clear majority on a clear question.
The White Paper on Democratic Renewal of July 2015 that launched this process observed that Prince Edward Island has taken an evolutionary approach to electoral reform since achieving responsible government in 1851. And it acknowledged Prince Edward Island’s exemplary track record of voter turnout. Island voters participate at rates that lead regional, national and international standards. Prince Edward Islanders understand the value of a vote. In nine of our past ten PEI elections, voter participation rates have surpassed 80 per cent. In the 1988 plebiscite on the Fixed Link Crossing, 65 [64.95] per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.
In combination with the low voter turnout of 36.5 per cent, it is debatable whether the plebiscite conducted between October 29 and November 7 produced a clear majority. Among the five options on which Prince Edward Island voters were asked to express their preference, Mixed Member Proportional Representation received 52.42 per cent support during the fourth round of counting. During the first three rounds of counting, First-Past-the-Post (the current system) received the highest number of votes. By the fourth and final round of counting, the support for MMP represented 19 per cent of eligible voters, or fewer than one in five. It is doubtful whether these results can be said to constitute a clear expression of the will of Prince Edward Islanders, to adopt the language of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal.
The results of the plebiscite confirm the continuing need for our Legislative Assembly and our province as a whole to work to enhance our democracy. We recognize, as did the 2015 White Paper, the appetite and room for change and enhancement, and will fully deliberate this as Members of the Legislative Assembly. The plebiscite was an exercise on representative democracy and bringing this discussion to the floor of the Assembly underscores this endeavour. Beyond the question of how we select MLAs, the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal noted that other issues had arisen in the course of its public consultations and Committee deliberations, including electoral financing, strategies for involving more women in public life and improvements to the Parliamentary calendar. As required by the Electoral Boundaries Act after every three elections, the Electoral Boundaries Commission will be constituted and commence its work of redrawing district boundaries. < /p>
When the Legislative Assembly meets in its fall session starting next Tuesday, the question of democratic renewal and the results of the plebiscite will be on the minds of all legislators. We look forward to learning in greater detail the results, including levels of support in various parts of the province, ideally by electoral district, as soon as Elections PEI can provide the information.
I want to acknowledge those Islanders who did participate in the plebiscite, as well as the work of Elections PEI, and look forward to further discussion during the Legislative Sitting.
November 8, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Such exciting plebiscite results!
The whole breakdown is here:
and thanks to Elections PEI for getting results up and out within a couple of hours of the poll closing.
Since the plebiscite was held with a Preferential Vote, lowest scoring options were removed one at a time and votes redistributed until one choice got a majority, or over 50% of the vote. That happened to Mixed Member Proportional Representation after some eliminations.
The vote showed a huge desire for change, and that change being some sort of proportional system. There is every reason to believe the Premier and the Legislature will follow through on the wishes of the people.
The Premier sent out a statement saying: "Our caucus will meet tomorrow to deliberate upon the plebiscite results. I will have a further statement Tuesday afternoon."
It was stirring, walking by the beautiful, nighttime-lit Coles Building and Province House (our current and once again Legislative Houses), after smiling with the PR team at Murphy Centre, to find one of my kids and relate the news about how our Legislature will changed in the future.
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment meeting, 2PM (NOTE time change), J. Angus MacLean Building, Great George and Richmond Streets. Amalgamation will be the topic, with the Federation of PEI Municipalities presenting.
Climate Change Mitigation public info and consultation session, 6-8PM, Wellington (Royal Canadian Legion)
Comments are now due in about a week.
Education reorganization. 7-10PM, Westisle Family of Schools, Westisle Composite.
Mark Greenan, who helped run the campaign for the PR team, wrote so wnderfully in yesterday's Guardian:
MARK GREENAN: The personal, the political and PR - The Guardian Opinion piece by Mark Greenan
published on Monday, November 7th, 2016
Electoral status quo on Island stands in the way of us reaching our full potential as a province
Three of my biggest passions are election campaigns, improving parliamentary democracy, and my native province of Prince Edward Island. During the 2015 election, I was inspired by Premier MacLauchlan’s call for Islanders away to return home, and his pledge of a more collaborative and open government that calls upon our better nature.
When I was offered the opportunity to work as Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Proportional Representation for this fall’s plebiscite, I was excited to come home with my partner Nicole and our 8-month old son Asher.
Like so many Islanders, educational opportunities took me away, but I could never imagine a better place to raise my own family. As I had hoped, they have been charmed by this place and we are excitedly planning to set down our family’s roots in P.E.I.’s red soil.
Throughout this campaign, it has been a great pleasure to discuss Island democracy in your homes, workplaces, schools and on your doorsteps. Our campaign has been successful because we have reflected the very best of Island values - honesty, hard work, civility and respect for our neighbours.
We see those values in our communities from tip to tip. These values enrich our Island every day in rinks and sports fields, at bake sales and benefit concerts, and in our many active social and community organizations. Those values have allowed generations of Greenans, Floods, Nicholsons to make a living and raise their families on P.E.I.
We see these same values reflected in the welcome in peace and friendship of our Mi’kmaq neighbours and the contributions of the newcomers that come to live in this place and grow to love it.
But do we see those values reflected in our political system? Is status quo politics here about pulling together our best people, adopting their best ideas and embracing our better nature? Or is it about dividing Islanders into winners and losers? Red and blue?
We see the darker side of Island politics in the whisper campaign to preserve the status quo, which has seen so many of our elected representatives focused on confusing or scaring voters, rather than helping voters make an informed choice that reflects their values. But clearly, some of our MLAs are uncomfortable with changes to the status quo.
However, our call for change has never been about criticizing individual MLAs; it is about changing a political system that does not reflect our best values and that is increasing Islanders’ cynicism and disengagement from our political life. In this fall’s plebiscite, voting for Proportional Representation gives Islanders a rare chance to demand a better democracy from our politicians.
It is my most sincere hope for Asher that he can raise his family in an independent, sustainable and prosperous Prince Edward Island. It is my fear that the political status quo here on the Island stands in the way of us reaching our full potential as a province.
My family and the hundreds of families who have given so much to improve Island democracy through Proportional Representation are very proud of our campaign. This evening, let us briefly rest with those we love. Our work to build a better province continues.
- Mark Greenan of North Bedeque is the campaign manager for the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation. He holds an MA in political science
November 7, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
It's been quite a time, but it's coming to an end -- the plebiscite voting is only on until 7PM tonight.
Please make sure you (and others in your household) have voted.
Phone: 1(877) 271-8587
If you didn't get or can't find your Elections PEI letter with your PIN, call them at 1(888) 234-8683, and they can e-mail your PIN to you.------
If you have a friend or relative who could use some help getting on-line and voting, go offer to help! While the type-face is pretty big, the computer interface could be overwhelming for some. Offer on social media to be contacted by folks who may still have questions, and ask people wherever you are today if they voted!
Perhaps we shouldn't be pulled into being discouraged by reports of "low" turnout in the voting -- any engagement in this plebiscite has been great! (We knew people would be turned off by the number of choices, and getting many mixed messages from people who DO understand what's at stake and don't want any change to that.) And a lot of people will finally get around to voting today. Half the people in my house hadn't voted until late yesterday, for various reasons. And our media has had to find some angle for stories while they await results.
Here are some things to keep in mind when talking with people:
Any numbers of voting for a change will send quite a message to our Legislature (no matter what the actual percentage who voted is). The Legislature will discuss these results in the Fall Sitting (which starts next week).
Nothing is permanent! Any change can be implemented for (let's say) two elections, and then be reviewed. This is sometimes called a Sunset Clause and was clearly described by Leo Broderick and others during the first round of public consultations a year ago. It was mentioned in the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal's first report in November 2015, but I am not sure about the second report in Spring 2016.
Concerns about minority governments if the voting system is proportional? PR tends to form a different kind of minority government, where instead of trying to go get snap elections (and hope for a majority), it's about working together until the next scheduled election. Lynne Lund put this very well in the CBC Forum.
No system is going to work perfectly and 100% accurately. And there are questions about the details in hypothetical scenarios, but democracy grows and evolves and any concerns or challenges could be figured out.
From May 2016, from Teresa Doyle, and still quite clear today:
Proportional representation will save us from more Stephen Harpers and Plan ‘B’ highways - The West Prince Graphic Letter to the Editor by Teresa Doyle
Published on May 11th, 2016, in The West Prince Graphic
Every time I drive over the Plan B section of the TCH I get riled. We spent millions to create a dangerous highway. If you go off the road you could plunge 80 feet. In a citizens' plebiscite (in July 2012), 91% of Islanders begged Ghiz to abandon the project but our concerns were ignored.
And then there was the Harper occupation. He was a party of one, a vindictive, mean spirited individual with a blatant disregard for every democratic tradition. But that didn’t matter. Our current voting system First Past the Post, FPTP, gave him all the power even though only 39% of the country voted for him. If there is one thing Canadians should learn from that episode is NEVER AGAIN.
In November Islanders will have a chance to vote for a new electoral system. Canada, the UK and the Americans are virtually the last three democracies hanging on to the antiquated FPTP. Fully 85 countries in the OECD have proportional representation.
One of the options on the plebiscite, Preferential Ballot, is even worse than FPTP. It rewards the party in the middle. Experts predict Preferential Ballot will give us Liberal majorities forever (Trudeau might have had 40 more seats). FPTP Plus Leaders must also be avoided. It throws a bone to the majority who did not vote for the winning party by including the leaders of the Greens and NDP; but Peter Bevan-Baker is already in the legislature, so we would go through this costly exercise to gain just one seat.
Mixed Member Proportional is tried and true around the world. Dual Member Proportional, DMP is even better, tailor made for PEI. With either system, if a party gets 40% of the vote they get 40% of the seats. Parties would have to co-operate and listen to the public. No more Plan Bs, Homburg hotels or other schemes hatched by party insiders. It’s time we evolve as a province and a country and embraced a modern electoral system.
Teresa Doyle, Bellevue
Charlottetown Bulk Barn starts a new program today where customers can bring in clean containers to fill with their items. (The containers are weighed upon entering the store and the weight deducted from the order.) Good for the chain to heed consumers' concerns about excessive packaging. (Now they could work on improving the country of origin labeling of their products for their customers' information :-) )
School reorganization discussions:
Kinkora Family of Schools, 7-10PM, Kinkora Regional School
The first Climate Change Mitigation Strategy public session is in
Montague, 6-8PM, Cavendish Wellness Centre
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8th, at 1:30PM, the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment is discussing amalgamation and the proposed Municipal Governance Act and having a presentation by the Federation of PEI Municipalities. The public is welcome, and it won't likely be packed like the one last month on the bottled water plant, but still a very important subject.
"We need reform. Democracy in PEI as we know it was born in reform. Let's honour that splendid tradition, not fear it." -- David Weale
November 6, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Voting in the Plebiscite on Voting Systems continues today and tomorrow (until 7PM).
It's a good time to let people know that you could try to answer any questions they may have about the different options if they haven't voted yet.
On-line voting is at:
from Jordan MacPhee:
Unless Elections PEI is extending their hours today because of the plebiscite, their answering machine yesterday said they'd be closed today and open regular office hours tomorrow. In that case, people can register by going to yourchoicepei.ca if they have a driver's licence. If they don't, they can call tomorrow and they'll be able to register them another way.
You will need a Personal Identification Number to vote these ways, sent by Elections PEI in a bright yellow envelope last week. If you didn't get it or don't have it anymore, Elections PEI can be reached at 1(888) 234-8683 (VOTE) for questions.
The second part of the consultations (hearing input from parents and area residents about solutions to school utilization goals) is next week at the following places. All 7-10PM:
Monday, November 7th, Kinkora family of schools, Kinkora Regional High School
Tuesday, November 8th, Westisle family of schools, Westisle Composite High School
Thursday, November 10th, Montague family of schools, Montague Regional High School
And this crosses over with the
Climate Change Mitigation Strategy consultations, all 6-8PM:
Monday, November 7th, Cavendish Wellness Centre, Montague
Tuesday, November 8th, Royal Canadian Legion, Wellington
Wednesday, November 9th, Murphy Community Centre, Charlottetown
Thursday, November 10th, Credit Union Place, Summerside
Two future events:
Catherine O'Brien of the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. and the chair of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, has helped organize and is the artistic director of a show called Salute.
Wednesday, November 9th:
Salute, 7-9PM, Florence Simmonds Performance Hall, Holland College (Weymouth Street entrance), Charlottetown, tickets $20 and available from the Box Office (902) 894-6885, or on-line through TicketPro; proceeds to PEI Military Family Resource Centre.
edited from press release: "A variety show celebrating our military, RCMP, Veterans and their families. The emcee for the evening is Eric Payne, a veteran of Afghanistan and 23 years with the Canadian Armed Forces, (who has also).toured with the Canadian Armed Forces Comedy Tour. Performers include: The PEI Regimental Band, the School of Performing Arts choir and dancers choreographed by Taryn Verkerk, Joey and Julien Kitson, Generation Drum, Piper Nick Vanouwerkerk, Capt. Reverend Tom Hamilton and a 'blast from the past' appearance by 'The Andrews Sisters'."
Monday, November 14th:
Symposium: Sustainable Agriculture and the Island's Food System, 7-9PM, UPEI, Duffy Science Centre Amphitheatre (Room 135), free. Sponsored by UPEI's Institute of Island Studies and UPEI Research Services.
edited from press release: The discussion will focus on a move toward a more sustainable agriculture, with a stronger emphasis on local food and food security. The main speaker is Dr. Mark Lapping, from the University of Maine's Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong interest in land issues in Prince Edward Island, and has published on the topic. In recent years, Dr. Lapping has focused and written extensively on food systems. He was the leader of an ambitious undertaking at the Muskie School which developed a food plan and strategy for the state of Maine.
In Saturday's Guardian, former Progressive Conservative MLA Pat Mella, who has staunchly defended the current voting system (First Past the Post) and has blamed PR (Proportional Representation) for all sorts of ills, including the falsehood that PR bankrupted the actually well-off Germany, wrote a letter to editor "Rural P.E.I. Loses Under PR" (not reprinted due to space limitations).
P.E.I. resident Gordon Cobb refuted that in social media later that day (edited, bold is mine):
By Gordon Cobb, Facebook personal page, Saturday, November 5th, 2016:
Pat Mella asserts in today's Guardian that PR is elitist and not good for rural voters.
She cites no historical or jurisdictional examples to support her arguments. That is because in the dozens of jurisdictions around the world using PR voting, these negative impacts have not occurred.
In fact, the opposite is true.
Three countries I respect very much and follow in the news have prospered and modernized under PR. New Zealand, Germany and Scotland.
I have lived in Scotland, and follow issues there on a daily basis. Over the decades, Scotland has become a more inclusive, confident and progressive society. Its First Minister is a very dynamic woman who does not regard herself as anybody's ruler but works with all interests to advance the country. Scotland's economic growth rates exceed Canada's in recent years. There are robust rural economic development programs in which hundreds of people participate.
PR is not elitist in Scotland. And it would not be on Prince Edward Island.
Pat Mella denigrates the proportional seats by suggesting these MLAs would not represent rural interests. That has not been the case in other jurisdictions and it would not be the case here. PEI is still 55% Rural. MLAs elected under PR would serve rural PEI very well or they would be voted out in the next election.
And it is here where Pat Mella omits a key historical point. When I worked with her a decade ago in opposition to closed list MMP (Mixed Member Proportional Representation), it was my understanding that we were open to reforms to PR models whereby people could vote in and vote out individual MLAs.
That is exactly what is happened. Both the PR choices on the ballot are open list where people see the candidates offered. This a major reform worth recognizing.
Pat Mella does not.
But I do. And so do thousands of other people that have already voted 1 and 2 for MMP and DMP. Among that number are hundreds of young people who bravely and openly state they want change and will commit to life on the Island like never before if PR is established as our voting system.
That is what I am fighting for. And that is why I encourage all Islanders to do the same.
I was born and raised in rural PEI. I spent a lot of my professional life serving rural Islanders. I follow development policies from all parts of the world. I have every confidence that the best rural development options would get greater air time in a PR Legislature than under the current system.
Former MLA Cynthia King writes about her experiences and observations as an MLA (with the Liberal government of Robert Ghiz from 2007-2011):
CYNTHIA KING: Putting legislators back in legislature - The Guardian Opinion piece by Cynthia King
Published on November 5th 2016
How our politicians are required to work together and achieve policy and legislative compromises will change
The pending decision facing Islanders over the choice of which kind of electoral system we support is complicated, to say the least. But it can and should be reduced to the fundamental systemic question as to whether or not you support the status quo - First Past the Post (FPTP) - or proportional representation. At its most basic level, the question is - what is the best method of allocating seats to the political parties that contest elections.
I want to offer a perspective on this question from the vantage point of a former MLA. I want to talk about the kind of politics and political culture that is institutionally entrenched in FPTP system. History has shown that the current electoral process produces lopsided majorities. The winning party is disproportionately rewarded with the number of seats relative to the percentage of votes they received.
In a large government caucus (like the ones that result from First-Past-the-Post) the Premier makes all the decisions, assisted by cabinet, or not. Backbench MLA’s are required to support legislative initiatives based upon the direction from Executive Council. MLA’s don’t support or oppose legislation based upon its impact on who they represent. They behave in a partisan manner. Told how to vote. The same holds true for Opposition. Opposition MLA’s, by and large, oppose the initiatives of the government of the day for partisan reasons.
Let me be clear . . . these are not criticisms of the government of which I was a member. I believe that they are endemic to our electoral system and how it interacts with our provincial legislature.
I learned some hard lessons very quickly about being an MLA
I learned that MLA’s are expected to tow the party line, regardless of what an issue means to the constituents I was elected to serve.
I learned that being a career councillor (note: perhaps "counselor" is the right word here?) was more important than being a legislator.
I learned that a perceived impression of doing people favours was the preferred modus operandi.
I learned that cynicism is as pronounced with government as it is with the electorate.
I learned that advancement in the system in the form of chairing a committee or getting into cabinet, for example, was based on a number of factors with partisan loyalty being chief among them.
Liberal or Conservative . . . it is all the same and will remain so as long as we continue to elect governments using FPTP. Proportional representation will change many of the negative and outdated elements of our parliamentary system. Committees will matter. MLA’s will matter. The legislature will become more diverse. Peter Bevan-Baker has made an enormous contribution to the workings of the legislature by introducing a different, less partisan perspective.
Both as an Islander (by choice) and a former MLA I believe that proportional representation is a game changer for the style and substance of how P.E.I. is governed. Our politics will change as will the role of the MLA. How our politicians are required to work together and achieve policy and legislative compromises will change. MLAs will be required to work together on committees and find common ground versus partisan-dictated, executive-dominated positions.
Let’s embrace an electoral system that puts legislators back in the legislature. Support proportional representation.
- Cynthia King is a former Liberal MLA for Stratford-Kinlock
November 5, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today is the second of two days for in-person voting in the P.E.I. Plebiscite on Voting Systems.
10AM-8PM, various locations:
Souris High School
Cardigan Consolidated School
Montague Regional High School
Wood Islands Welcome Centre
Vernon River Consolidated School
Mount Stewart Consolidated School
Ch'town and Area
L.M. Montgomery School (Charlottetown)
Stratford Town Hall
Stonepark Intermediate School (Charlottetown)
Queen Charlottetown Intermediate School (Charlottetown)
West Royalty Community Centre (Charlottetown)
APM Centre (Cornwall)
West of Charlottetown
Englewood School (Crapaud)
Central Queens (Hunter River)
Somerset Elementary School (Kinkora)
Queen Elizabeth Elementary (Kensington)
Athena Consolidated School (Summerside)
Ellerslie Elementary School
Miscouche Elementary School
O'Leary Elementary School
WestIsle Composite High School (Rosebank)
The Elections PEI office is open at 1(888) 234-VOTE [1(888) 234-8683] if you didn't receive your voter "card" in the mail.
If you have a bit of time to drop off flyers in mailboxes or doors in some areas of town encouraging people to vote in the Plebiscite and vote for proportional representation, stop in at the PR campaign office at 91 Water Street in Charlottetown this morning between 10AM and noon.
Here are Facebook event details:
and the Proportional Representation on P.E.I. page on Facebook has many good videos and lots of discussion:
Farmers' Markets are open in the two year-round locations of Summerside (9am-1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM-2PM).
Plebiscite voting ends Monday, November 7th at 7PM, and next week the provincial government is asking Islanders to turn their attention quickly and briefly to the Provincial Climate Change Mitigation Strategy. I'll post more about it tomorrow or Monday, the evening information and consultation sessions on the aspect, which deals with how P.E.I. can reduce its greenhouse gasses from all sources, are:
Monday, November 7th, 6-8PM - Cavendish Wellness Centre, Montague
Tuesday, November 8th, 6-8PM - Royal Canadian Legion, Wellington
Wednesday, November 9th, 6-8PM - Murphy Community Centre, Charlottetown
Thursday, November 10th, 6-8PM - Credit Union Place, Summerside
Public meetings are open to everyone and will include a presentation followed by group discussion. Pre-registration is not required.
Sean Graham, who constructed the Dual Member Proportional voting being proposed in this P.E.I. Plebiscite, writes in yesterday's Guardian:
SEAN GRAHAM: DMP reflects Islanders’ values - The Guardian Opinion piece by Sean Graham
Published on November 04, 2016
Voters should judge plebiscite options on actual merits, not where their inventors are from
RE: Editorial off base in support of DMP. As the inventor of the Dual Member Proportional (DMP) voting system, I would like to respond to Peter McKenna’s opinion piece from November 2nd. McKenna’s first criticism of DMP is that I am from Alberta. It’s a puzzling objection. P.E.I.’s current electoral system, First-Past-the-Post, wasn’t created on the Island. It doesn’t even have its origins in Canada. In fact, all of the options in the plebiscite are versions of systems from other continents - except for DMP, which I developed to reflect the values Canadians have expressed they want to see in their voting system.
In particular, DMP reflects many of the values Islanders have expressed in this debate. DMP retains local representation and accountability, as each MLA would represent a two-member district. This would not only build on P.E.I.’s history of using two-member districts, it would also result in more people being represented by a candidate of their choice. Indeed, based on past elections in P.E.I., more than 70 per cent of Islanders, on average, would have a local representative that they voted for in their district.
While McKenna rightly points out that an NDP or Green Party candidate may be elected to a second seat in a district with only 20 per cent support, he fails to mention that the candidate elected to the first seat would most often capture more than 40 per cent of the local vote. Therefore, at least 60 per cent of the voters in such a district would be represented by a candidate they voted for, rather than 20 per cent as McKenna implies or 40 per cent as is typical under the current system. Most importantly, DMP would ensure that the every Islander’s vote is reflected in the makeup of the Legislative Assembly.
Islanders should judge the five plebiscite options based on their actual merits, not where their inventors are from. Excellent resources for DMP have been put together by Elections P.E.I. at www.yourchoicepei.ca and the P.E.I. Coalition for Proportional Representation at peipr.ca. I have also posted my research and educational resources at DMPforCanada.com. However, since McKenna has chosen to cast the fact that I am from Alberta in a negative light, I would like to say a few words about it.
Just over a year ago, I submitted my work to P.E.I.’s Special Committee on Democratic Renewal for consideration. I did this not as an Albertan wishing to meddle in the political affairs of P.E.I., but as a Canadian who is deeply committed to our democracy. I started working on the issue of electoral reform because I firmly believe that citizens must be the basis of our governments’ authority and that every vote cast in an election should mean something. Unfortunately, as a consequence of the First-Past-the-Post voting system, that second democratic value is not a reality in Canada. Everyone’s vote, whether they are from Alberta or P.E.I., should matter come election time, and I am committed to assisting in making this a reality.
That is why I responded to questions posed to me by members of the Special Committee when DMP was chosen for further study, why I worked with staff at Elections P.E.I. when they needed clarification on how DMP works, and that is why I have spent hundreds of hours over the course of this year to make sure Islanders have the educational resources they need to make an informed decision in this plebiscite. Regardless of the outcome of the plebiscite next Monday, it has been an honour to volunteer my time and to be of service to Islanders in making this important decision.
- Sean Graham created Dual Member Proportional with research funding from the University of Alberta. In addition to his work being considered on P.E.I., he has appeared as a witness before the federal Special Committee on Electoral Reform. He holds two degrees from the University of Alberta in physics, math, and political science. firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 4, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today (4-9PM) and tomorrow (10AM-8PM) are the two days Islanders can walk into a voting station and vote in person in the provincial plebiscite. (Of course, they can still vote on-line or by telephone from now until Monday, November 7th at 7PM.)
Ideally, a voter will have his or her paper ("VIC" or Voter Information Card) from Elections PEI with the PIN (personal identification number) and other information. If not, just have some photo identification ready.
Locations for voting in-person:
with thanks to the persons who compiled and distributed this.
You might want to keep in mind, when talking with some folks, that they will very likely come to the conclusion of "Yes, it *is* time for change", when someone explains the the pros and cons of the various systems, and points out what just one member of a third party has engendered when added to the Official Opposition. It often does take time to explain voters' questions and concerns.
Here are some stunning words, an excerpt from historian and storyteller David Weale's recent posting:
Yes, "these things have been said before, but until there is action we need to go on saying them, rather than standing on the sidelines, observing silently the slow suffocation of the public interest."
The entire essay:
THE VIEW FROM THIS BRANCH - Facebook blog by David Weale
It Belongs to Us
Published on-line on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016
It’s a sorry and dangerous state of affairs when the citizenry becomes de-sensitized to corruption and influence peddling; or when gross misbehaviour on the part of politicians and public officials is considered unpleasant but unavoidable, like a child wetting the bed.
We have become a community of shruggers. “Oh well, what can you expect?” we say. But the answer to that is “better.” It will never be perfect, but it needs to be better.
In The Guardian this morning we were informed that, in response to a question by Peter Bevan-Baker the Auditor General revealed the name of three persons involved in the e-gaming larceny who still work for Government. These individuals were guilty of, at best, irresponsibility and terrible judgement, and at worst criminal behaviour.
Now this is where it gets surreal. Not only were these three not reprimanded; not only were they not let go; not only were they not demoted; they were all rewarded by this present Premier with ‘plum’ positions of power and trust. And there were others in that circle of deception who have fared no less handsomely.
I don’t know about you but I call that aiding and abetting abuse of power, and ‘normalizing’ that diseased political climate of which we are speaking.
Further, two of the men named by the AG were also up to their elbows in the boondoggle we call PNP; one that made the friends and family members of a number of politicians very wealthy.
In the face this growing sense of entitlement by politicians and officials we should all be repeating together as often as possible, “The money and the power belong to us.”
There are two principal reasons why this matter has not been addressed openly and honourably. The first is that the Conservative Opposition for the last ten years has been entirely compromised because of their own dirty laundry. Further, as a party they have shown little or no interest in fundamental reform of any kind. They are the yin to the Liberal yang.
Our Premier is the second reason. In my mind his steadfast unwillingness to address the corruption in the previous administration comes awfully close to obstruction. It is away past time for him to communicate to Islanders his concern about these matters rather than dodging and deflecting every time they come up, and serving up hollow assurances that it won’t happen on his watch. But it is happening. His very silence, and turning of a blind eye, are continuations of the process.
Yes, these things have been said before, but until there is action we need to go on saying them, rather than standing on the sidelines, observing silently the slow suffocation of the public interest.
So once more I say, let us repeat together as often as possible, “The money and the power belong to us.”
Let’s get used to that revolutionary notion.
November 3, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Thanks to all who made the "Your Plebiscite, Your Future" an all-ages event and a lot of fun. While most of the "youth" there were related to other Islanders present and pretty much engaged already, we were able to explore a lot of angles in various electoral systems, and answer some great questions. Thanks to Brad Trivers, Peter Bevan-Baker, Lynne Lund, Gordon McNeilly and Sarah Bullman for being wonderful, articulate, funny, candid panelists.
Legislative Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 1:30PM, J. Angus MacLean Building
"The committee will meet receive briefings on the topic of Active Transportation: • City of Charlottetown (Ramona Doyle, Sustainability Officer • Town of Cornwall (Kevin McCarville, Chief Administrative Officer) • Town of Stratford (Kevin Reynolds, Development Officer) • Cycling PEI (Mike Connolly, Executive Director) • PEI Trails (Barb Trainor, Vice-President)"
PR on PEI is hosting a "Question Period 4 PR: Ask us anything!", 7-8:30PM, on-line
"Curious about the current vote on electoral reform? Have burning questions about how proportional electoral systems would affect PEI? We're hosting Question Period for Proportional Representation (#QP4PR) to clear things up. Anna Keenan & Mark Greenan, two of our expert staffers, will be answering questions about the plebiscite and proportional systems LIVE on November 3rd from 7 - 8:30 p.m. Tune in to the live video on our Facebook page to watch!
To submit your questions (either before or during the event):
- Comment directly on the Facebook live video
- Send us a Tweet to @practionteam using the hashtag #QP4PR
- E-mail us at email@example.com with the subject "Question Period for Proportional Representation"
School reorganization public meeting tonight: for people "to provide input on options for change":
Colonel Gray family of schools, 7-10PM, Colonel Gray High School, Spring Park Road, Charlottetown.
from the Graphic newspapers main editorial yesterday:
Why I’m voting for PR - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
Published on November 2nd, 2016 in The Graphic newspapers
The plebiscite on electoral reform comes down to a pretty simple concept: Either you believe it is time to modernize how we vote or you support the status quo.
The bogeyman used by those who oppose change is any move away from First-past-the-post, the winner take all system used throughout our provincial history, will create a less stable government.
It’s fear mongering that relies on a suspect definition of stable. According to Liberals and Tories stable simply means supporting a system that promotes absolute control over how government spends our money, absolute control over the perks and patronage of power and absolute control over the voices – with very rare exception – heard in the provincial legislature.
Our system is not stable. It is prone to massive swings that result in the decimation of one of the two major parties to the benefit of the other. Our history has shown that 27-0 or 26-1 shellackings are not in the public interest.
Under the ‘stable’ system promoted by the old guard our provincial debt has grown to more than $2.4 billion, and routinely doubles under each administration. We have no capacity to repay. We are leaving that debt to future generations to figure out. The provincial civil service has ballooned in size and cost and yet neither the Liberals or Tories want the public to know who works for government, what they do or how much they are paid.
Under our ‘stable’ system, the governing party doles out patronage rewards. And don’t for a second think that patronage is any less prevalent today than it was two or three decades ago. It’s more upscale now, just walk through the executive offices of the PEI Liquor Control Commission.
Our ‘stable’ system allows MLAs to claim they represent all of their constituents when in fact they do not, at least not all the time. Most MLAs are diligent about representing the interests of constituents on personal matters involving government. But with very few exceptions in our provincial history that constituent support evaporates the minute a Liberal or Tory government demands party loyalty for the policy of the day (think school closures or tax increases) - regardless how it negatively impacts individuals.
Some elected officials, including Liberal Bush Dunville and Tory Stephen Myers, argue the current system ensures local representation.
Both are wrong. The Supreme Court of Canada has ensured the gradual erosion of local representation by mandating that election boundaries be reviewed after every third election, resulting in a decline in the rural voice in the provincial legislature. Proportional representation has the potential to change this trend.
In the 2015 election, MacLauchlan Liberals were handed 18 seats despite winning only 41 per cent of the vote. The Greens and NDP combined for 22 per cent but only managed a single seat.
Traditionalists claim any change will result in more minority governments, as if that is a bad thing. They ignore the reality in countries like Scotland, New Zealand and Germany where proportional representation is working. They also ignore our own fleeting experience with having third party representation in the house. We have provincial kindergarten because Herb Dickieson, as a leader of the NDP and one term MLA, pushed until it was implemented. When our house is represented by more than just Tories and Liberals, as Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is once again showing, our legislature becomes less fractious and more productive.
This is not an endorsement of the first past the post plus leader option promoted by the likes of Dr Dickieson and current Liberal cabinet minister Alan McIsaac. Take your lead from the NDP, which stands to benefit more than any other party by its implementation. The NDP rejected the option for what it is: incremental tokenism. It is nothing more than Tories and Liberals effectively patting other parties on the head and saying ‘your time will come, when we decide it is your time.’
It is wrong and symbolic of the issue we face. First-past-the-post offers the perception of stability while allowing government to run roughshod over Islanders. It allows government to put off tough decisions to future generations. It creates the optic of local representation while ensuring party loyalty is paramount.
Our province has not been well served by the ‘stability’ of First-past-the-post. We can do better. We are small enough to lead the nation. Islanders will not suddenly lose access to elected MLAs if we change. Our legislature will not suddenly devolve into an ineffective, bickering arena of self interest anymore than it already is. We may just find that with more women and minorities our legislature becomes reflective of who the Island is today rather than a throwback to the male dominated system created generations ago. We may just find it is possible to govern in a more thoughtful, focussed and less wasteful way.
That’s why I’m voting for PR.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 2, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
"Your Plebiscite, Your Future", and info session for teens, 7-8:30PM, Murphy's Community Centre, Room 202 (down the hall near the washrooms on the main floor). A chance for the 16 year olds and up to ask questions about the plebiscite, and share thoughts with some folks like Peter Bevan-Baker, Brad Trivers, Lynne Lund and Sarah Bulman of the Young Voters of PEI. Some others may be able to pop in for a bit. Let the teens you may know hear about this, and offer a lift to the event!
from today's Guardian's front page
School reorganization, Morell Family of Schools, 7-10PM, Morell High School. This is important, as overcrowding is not an issue in this sweet and supportive rural school.
A different issue:
Last April, before the ground was dry and there was a provincial election, another board member of the Citizens' Alliance and I went to many manors and elder-care facilities across the Island, dropping off leaflets with some question suggestions for candidates.
We learned a lot about how voting works in these places, and had lovely conversations with workers and a few residents. Except in one place, the Riverview Manor in Montague, where we were greeted with a very stony, but almost fearful, reception. I don't blame the health care worker, who was very professional, but it was so unlike what happened at every other place.
Worse was an "aura of decay". The place was narrow, dark and didn't smell clean and fresh. So we smiled and backed out.
But we had other places to go, so off we set.
All this came flooding back when Ms. Trilby Jeeves wrote about it in her blog -- two entries now -- about her experience caring for her father in the last period of his life there, and about the promises made to improve the situation.
After reading those, if you feel like commenting to the local MLA, the Premier, the Health Critic and/or the Leader of the Third Party about this sorry state, please do:
Allan Roach, MLA for District 3 Montague-Kilmuir
Wade MacLauchlan, Premier
James Aylward, Opposition Critic
Peter Beven-Baker, leader of the third party
Any short note expressing concern/dismay would be taken into account. You can copy and paste this next line on most e-mail programs:
November 1, 2016
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Citizens' Alliance is hosting a plebiscite info session for Teens tomorrow:
Wednesday, November 2nd, 7-8:30PM, Murphy Community Centre Room 202.
Peter Bevan-Baker and Sarah Bulman (of the Young Voters of PEI) are attending, as is Green Party Deputy Leader Lynne Lund. Confirmation from others is forthcoming. We hope it will be a good and welcoming time for kids 16 and up who have questions or want to share their thoughts on the plebiscite. If you want to print any posters of the event or send the "poster" as an image to people not on social media, let me know and I will send you the file. All publicity helps!
School meeting tonight:
Charlottetown Rural family of schools, 7-10PM, Charlottetown Rural.
From yesterday's Guardian:
OLE HAMMARLUND: Divide and conquer on ballot - The Guardian Op ed piece by Ole Hammarlund
Vote PR, then leave other spaces blank. Why support systems you don’t believe in?
Being a proponent for proportional representation, I am of course very excited about the plebiscite on democratic renewal.
I am less happy about the preferential voting format they have chosen for the ballot. Obviously we are given two choices for proportional representation in the hope to divide the vote so they both fall off the list in second or third round.
This is because the ballot is set up for a preferential voting system.
Preferential voting makes sense when you have to elect a candidate. This is the case in most party conventions when you have to end up with a single candidate, no matter how long the process. If your first choice loses on the first ballot, you will have a chance to switch your vote to your second choice of candidate. This can happen many times until a candidate wins the majority of the votes and gets elected. At that point you may have switched your vote to the winning candidate and you will feel fine, or your choice simply did not have enough votes to win. This is democracy at work.
While this works fine at conventions, this is not appropriate for this plebiscite.
First of all, unlike at a convention, you have no idea of how the votes are coming in or what the effect of your second or later choice will be.
Secondly you do not have the opportunity to stick with your preferred option. Many people, and I admit I am one of them, will want to keep voting to the end for proportional voting. In other words, my choice is proportional voting first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth time.
But the third and biggest objection is that the proportional voting option is split in two, in a very deliberate attempt to make sure that those options will drop out.
So how can the informed voter make the biggest impact using this strange ballot system?
First of all, make Dual Member Proportional representation your first choice. This will make sure that at least one of the proportional representation options stay in the game. Let’s all vote for that option to give both options a chance. Only if all of us vote for that option first will proportional representation have a true chance
Second choice, vote for Mixed Member Proportional. This system may pick up other people second choices as well, and is really an equally acceptable solution.
For third, forth and fifth choice, simply leave the space blank. Why let your vote support systems you do not believe in?
Preferential voting is being promoted both by the federal Liberals as well as the provincial Liberals for the simple reason that they will get even more votes that way. This is because our two smaller parties, the Greens and the New Democrats are ‘Liberal’ as well. Thus under preferential voting, Greens and NDP’ers are most likely to vote Liberal for their second choice. Therefore preferential voting only gives us more Liberals and no representation from smaller parties. Who wants that?
First-Past-the-Post Plus Leaders is hardly an improvement either, when you can get the same and better with proportional representation. What is a leader anyway without his fair share of MPP’s and the funding that comes with it?
As Alan Holman pointed out, all kinds of significant changes to the voting system has in the past happened simply by the government of the day making the change. Regular people who were not landowners as well as women got their vote that way. Why do we need a plebiscite this time around? Is the government just trying to confuse us by making so many choices?
The ballot states that ranking a 2nd, 3rd etc. choice will not hurt your first choice. That is simply a lie. If your latter choices support, say, First Past the Post, then you vote will help a system you do not believe in. So my suggestion is never to check an option you do not believe in.
- Ole Hammarlund is a Charlottetown architect was born in Denmark, a country which has proportional voting, stable coalition governments and the happiest people on earth. During last year’s provincial election, Hammarlund established a residence in Argyle Shore so he could cast a vote for the local Green Party candidate. He chose to vote in Charlottetown at another residence after threats of jail from an electoral officer. Proportional voting, would of course, eliminate the need to move.