October 31, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Halloween! It's a good reason to show this photo taken Halloween night, 2012, outside Province House, in a bit of Trick or Treating messaging about Stopping Plan B.
Province House with carved pumpkins spelling out "Stop Plan B", October 31st, 2012 (unknown photographer)
There will be lots of fun (and some serious) reminiscences at the five year reunion,
Saturday, November 18th. All welcome, whether you carved any pumpkins at the Plan B camp site or not.
Hannah Bell was named the Green Party nominee in District 11, and Bob Doiron was named the Liberal Party nominee. The PC Party will select a nominee Wednesday evening, and the byelection call is apparently going to happen any day.
Hannah Bell from provincial Party president Anna C. Keenan's Facebook postings:Hannah Bell (center), Green Party shadow cabinet finance critic, and friends at the nomination meeting, October 30th, 2017.
Bob Doiron from Wade MacLauchlan's Twitter posting:
Bob Doirion (at podium with Premier), current Charlottetown city councilor, with MLAs and other members of the PEI Liberal Party, October 30th, 2017.
Today, Tuesday, October 31st:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 10AM, Coles Building. Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on long-term care facilities. Watch Live here.
Later this week:
Thursday, November 2nd:
Todd Leader, Public Presentation: "Ensuring the Health of our Children and Grandchildren", 7PM, Benevolent Irish Society, 582 North River Road.
"There are many parts to make a community as healthy as possible. It is more than just trying to encourage people to eat healthy and exercise. Come be inspired by Todd Leader to learn more about ways to create a healthy community for the next generation, and what you can do to make a difference. Huge improvements for our children and grandchildren can be made, if we use the approaches that we know work well, and if we work together in ways that we know produce results. Come be part of creating a healthy future for young Islanders.
This event is hosted by the Chief Public Health Office of the PEI Department of Health & Wellness in partnership with the East Prince Seniors Initiative, Health PEI, and Heart & Stroke PEI."
The following letter to the editor and the situation prompting the writing makes many of us sad and angry (all those those emoticons). The photo accompanying this editorial (seen on the link) shows Doug Currie and Mayor Clifford Lee, looking much more youthful -- it's an old file photo. Was the last time we really had concrete ways to address affordable housing about ten years ago, and the same provincial government and mayor are in office?
PIX BUTT: Rent geared to income - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Friday, October 27th, 2017
What can governments do to help this situation that is desperate for many?
Hello Mr. Lee and Ms. Mundy. My name is Pix Butt. I am a United Church minister on the Island. I recently met a woman needing the support of Anderson House. We are fortunate to have such a facility with such dedicated and well-equipped staff to give aid when women and children need it so desperately.
Of course we would like to become a violence-free province, and many are working toward that goal, as we live with the reality that we have many miles to go on that journey. In the meantime, women and children go to Anderson House and immediately begin trying to find a place to live before their three-week stay comes to an end.
Sadly, they often can’t find anything they can afford or that offers much more safety than the places they left. Often they return to the violence.
I know you and all the councilors know all of this. The big issue is, what can all of us do to help.
I understand there are two housing projects before Charlottetown City Council at this time. Does council push for these projects to include ‘rent geared to income’ units?
Why could we not do that? One of the projects before you is to create micro units in the downtown. These would be smaller than most now offered and therefore would be a little less expensive. Although these would still be beyond some, they would open up possibilities for some as well. I hope this project is viewed as something needed in the city.
Of course, there are people in need outside of Charlottetown as well.
I know of five organizations that are offering units with ‘rent geared to income.’ I have talked with all of them in the last month and know that presently their waiting lists are long.
Ms. Mundy, what can government do to help this situation that is desperate for many?
Island churches may be a possible partner for government and councils. Let's get talking about some ideas on how to do more than offer long waiting lists to people in need.
- Rev. Pix Butt is the pastor at Margate Pastoral Charge, United Church of Canada
Alex Shoumatoff is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, editor of the website Dispatches From the Vanishing World (DVW).
The latest studies are not encouraging: we are too selfish to make the sacrifices necessary to turn around global warming. Species and languages and the last tribal subsistence cultures are disappearing at ever-accelerating rates, and their ecosystems as well. Extreme weather events are more common and intense. More and more people are living in cities and having little or no contact with the natural world, spending their lives indoors staring at screens, prisoners of gizmos. The modern world, the whole world, it seems, is disintegrating economically, ecologically and ethically. There are way too many of us. We have been too fruitful and multiplied too much and consumed too many of the fowls of the air and the fishes in the sea and there is no health in us, or in the Earth which we are laying waste to.
Our only hope – and there is always hope, even in the face of this, the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced to our continued collective viability – is to devise a completely new system of governance, a new way of doing business on and with the planet, based not on getting as much as you can for yourself but on the premise that every living thing has the right to be here and a role to play. The remaining animistic societies, with their deep understanding of the kinship of all life, have much to teach us: to widen our circle of caring to embrace the cosmos, and all our brothers and sisters, human and non. We are the Walrus. Every living thing is a “person.” So does Buddhism. The planet needs more female nurturing energy to heal from and counteract all the run-amok male resource-gathering energy. If millions of us come together to forge this new empathetic civilization – there are thousands of ways to help the cause – maybe we can get out of this. It will be very interesting to see if we can make this adaptation, if the forces of good can prevail. They will have the instinct to survive on their side, and nothing is more powerful. Except the course of nature.
— Alex Shoumatoff
October 30, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
A little local politics:
Monday, October 30th:
District 11 Nomination Meeting -- Liberals, Birchwood Junior High, Longworth Street,
District 11 Nomination Meeting -- Greens, 5:30PM, Murphy Community Centre, Charlottetown.
Tomorrow, and maybe there will be costumes:
Tuesday, October 31st:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 10AM, Coles Building. Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on long-term care facilities. Presenters include: Andrew MacDougall, Director of Long-Term Care; and Jamie MacDonald, Chief Administrative Officer, Long-Term Care and Hospital Services East.
It's been a year since a blog posting by Trilby Jeeves reminded people how deplorable things are at the Montague's Riverview Manor. Her blog is here: https://honourseniors.com/
Apparently, things are starting to move along with this project, as presumably the Committee will hear. The meeting can be watched from the Legislative Assembly's website.
(See the "Watch Live" button.)
People may not agree with everything Alan MacPhee of the group Island-wide Hospital Access says regarding health priorities, but he really speaks to the administrative hubris and the lack of listening to people in the communities and of those people being able to make decisions locally.
The sick and rural are victims of a broken system - The Eastern Graphic article by Alan MacPhee
Printed on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017, in The Graphic papers.
Health PEI is in disarray - in six years it has had four CEOs and the QEH has had three medical directors. Its organizational leadership is flailing and is directionless. Lack of front line resources also continues to be a long-standing problem.
Since beginning our advocacy, in the Souris Community Hospital region, there has been an improvement in ambulance response to acceptable standards, a renovation of the dialysis centre and maintenance of hospital acute bed status. These issues do not illustrate an informed position or responsiveness from management - it took marches on the legislature against a protesting government to achieve these basic services. These improvements illustrate the sense of the community and the wrongheadedness of centralized unconnected management. Patient registry numbers are also inaccurate.
Souris Community Hospital region is continually under resourced of doctors. Two Nurse Practitioners were hired as a valuable part of health care access and in August, HPEI did not renew the contract for one of them. Once again HPEI leaves elderly sick people in a vulnerable and unsupported position.
The worst problem in Health PEI and the Department of Health is that upper and middle managers who have a duty to ensure people have health access don’t. HPEI recruitment and managerial personnel have told us they will only agree to terms that suits their system. The establishment is primarily looking after the establishment.
Health PEI doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a problem with priorities.
Both the federal and provincial governments have a values problem whereby universal access to abortion is of high value and universal access to basic health care is not, especially if you are elderly, sick and rural.
Health PEI is broken and needs to be reconfigured. The basic steps to reconfiguration are to temporarily centralize decision making back to the Department of Health, whom we are told is making many of the decisions anyway. Secondly, establish two divisions of hospitals; full service hospitals in Charlottetown and Summerside, and community hospitals in Souris, Montague, O’Leary and Alberton. Thirdly, assign budgets and elected boards to each hospital according to their category and the size of the region they serve.
We Can Do Better.
Alan E. MacPhee,
Chairman, Islandwide Hospital Access
Anna Warwick Sears is a writer, speaker, and Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board (B.C.). She writes the October 30th Global Chorus essay.
All our names are writ in water. From floods to droughts, from canal building to wetland draining, to the simple act of fetching with gourd or bucket, water has marked the rise and fall of people and civilizations. Is the water fresh or salty? Clean, or polluted with chemicals and disease? There is nothing more essential to life. Water forms the blood in our veins and – through plants – gives us food to eat and air to breathe. Water binds us together, as humans and with all other species, as shared inhabitants of our watery planet. This bond is the link to our future.
In the developed world, we take water for granted. I can walk to the sink and fill my cup, hot or cold, on demand. The asphalt shingles on my roof keep out rain and snow. But the water gods of mythology were capricious. Climate change is reminding us that water has vast power – as tides flow into city streets, and deep droughts dry up crops. Access to water has also been used as a weapon of control, by colonial powers and warlords. Water can be merciless as well as kind.
Yet, in water also lies our hope. Water is so powerful, it can even transcend politics. And in a world that has never had so much knowledge and communication, it brings people to the table – politicians and diplomats, farmers, fishermen and school teachers. The wave of changes we must make – to our laws, cities and irrigation systems – to accommodate new weather patterns and a swell of population, are changes that relate to water and aquatic systems. We can’t ignore our collective dependence or influence on it. We fail or thrive based on our relationship to water.
— Anna Warwick Sears
October 29, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
"Challenges Facing Immigrant Women: The Cry of the Earth", by Sara Torres, annual Daniel O'Hanley Memorial Lecture, 2PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church, Stratford. Music and refreshments, and donations accepted. More details here.
Bonshaw Monthly Ceilidh, 2-4PM, Bonshaw Hall, many musicians and a homemade lunch, with proceeds going to the the Tozia orphanage in Haiti. Facebook event details.
With Doug Currie's surprise resignation, the representation for people in his District (D11: Charlottetown-Parkdale) appears to be on the rebound with rumours a by-election will be called for very soon.
Monday, October 30th:
District 11 Nomination Meeting -- Liberals, Birchwood Junior High, Longworth Street,
District 11 Nomination Meeting -- Greens, 5:30PM, Murphy Community Centre, Charlottetown.
Wednesday, November 1st:
District 11 Nomination Meeting -- Progressive Conservatives
details to follow
The PC leader James Aylward has named his Opposition portfolios, tidying things up and matching skills with the files (the following adapted from The Guardian article).
James Aylward will assume the critic responsibility for the premier’s office, intergovernmental affairs, Acadian and francophone affairs and Aboriginal affairs.
Brad Trivers will retain his role as critic for communities, land and environment, while adding an additional critic responsibility for workforce initiatives. Trivers will also join the Public Accounts Committee as a permanent member, replacing Aylward.
Former interim leader Jamie Fox was named the critic for transportation, infrastructure and energy; as well as justice and public safety
Sidney MacEwen: critic for health and wellness
Steven Myers: advanced learning, education and rural development
Darlene Compton: finance; family and human services; status of women
Matthew MacKay: economic development and tourism; Opposition House Leader
Colin LaVie: agriculture and fisheries
Trivers being named a permanent member of the Legislative Standing Committeee on Public Accounts is a very good choice.
The Guardian wrote a praising editorial on the leadership race last week (below), and followed it with one about the sketchy timing of the Liberal Party by the scheduling of the Lieutenant Governor installation (brought up earlier in the week in a letter by Boyd Allen) and this by-election, among other things.
EDITORIAL: Aylward set to go - The Guardian Editorial
Published on Thursday, October 26th, 2017
New PC leader won't have much time to rest on laurels
James Aylward emerged from Friday’s convention with a united party behind him – a huge bonus for the new leader. After 10 years of turmoil, the Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I. is now focused on defeating the Liberal government instead of being distracted by lingering leadership issues.
Mr. Aylward will have scant time to relax after his five-month campaign where he faced a stiff battle from rookie MLA Brad Trivers and became a better candidate and now a more confident leader because of it.
It seems the Liberal government is fast-tracking a byelection in Charlottetown-Parkdale and the Tories must act quickly to prepare for that looming campaign. The new leader won’t be afforded much time to organize his office or adjust to his new position before being thrust back into campaign mode.
Mr. Aylward was considered the early favourite to lead the party after finishing behind Rob Lantz two years ago. He still had supporters, party machinery and experience at the ready.
Mr. Trivers put up a strong battle and presented himself as a very credible candidate. He had major obstacles to overcome, such as name recognition, money, volunteers and organization. He forced Mr. Aylward to take a stand on key issues and sharpen his positions. He made it an exciting race and deserves a lot of credit for his performance.
Until last week, both Conservative candidates thought they would have two years to prepare for an election. Now that time frame has been greatly reduced following the surprise resignation of Doug Currie. The Liberals will select a candidate next Monday and a byelection call is likely to follow immediately.
It shouldn’t be a huge transition for Mr. Aylward to move from leadership campaign into byelection mode. His battle skills have been sharpened during two leadership campaigns and a provincial election – all since late 2014. If the government thought they might catch the Tories off-guard, they won’t.
Mr. Aylward showed strength on key issues over the summer, especially with mental health, a topic that has moved into the forefront across the province. He was able to connect with families affected by mental health problems, to relate with their pain, their concerns and their needs.
The new PC leader has shown that once he presents himself at the local level, people quickly warm up to him. He is obviously popular in his Stratford-Kinlock district, winning comfortably in a tough race in 2015 against the town’s mayor.
As he addressed party delegates over the weekend, Mr. Aylward was well aware that now the real work begins. Besides the byelection, he must prepare for the opening of the legislature Nov. 14, recruit candidates, raise money and offer his party as a credible alterative to the Liberal government.
History is on Mr. Aylward’s side. It’s rare that any party earns four straight terms in office. The Liberals are deep into their third term and the October 2019 provincial election could really be considered Mr. Aylward’s to lose.
MLA Jordan Brown was named Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture this week, and the press releases were noteworthy for a complete lack of anything about Culture. Apparently, P.E.I. has been working on a cultural strategy for about two years now. This press release, date July 12, 2017,
discusses the consultations held and said:
A strategy is now being drafted from the consultations that will recommend cultural policy direction and guide the development of action plans, programs and supports for the next 10 years.
The strategy will be shared at a cultural celebration in September 2017.
which I do not think happened.
Stephen Hawking is at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, and author of A Brief History of Time. These are excerpts from a 2007 speech (first paragraph) and a 2010 interview (second paragraph) used in the October 29th Global Chorus anthology entry. (It's both extremely timely and a little "far-out" -- before spreading into space we would do better to follow Lisa Bendall's wishes from yesterday's entry to take care of each other on the Earth.)
As we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age and a period of unprecedented climate change, scientists have a special responsibility, once again, to inform the public and to advise leaders about the perils that humanity faces. As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to share that knowledge, and to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day. We foresee great peril if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change. …
We are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history. Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space. There are so many questions still to answer.
— Stephen Hawking
October 28, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farmers' Markets are open today in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM).
Last year around this time, Don Mazur, Andrew Lush, Leo Broderick and I presented to the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, speaking against the private business proposal (Pure Isle Waters) to pump and bottle water from proposed wells in Brookvale for export.
Though the media left before we spoke, the room was packed and that impression may have helped the Minister of Environment Robert Mitchell decide in a few short weeks to place a moratorium on exports of bottle water (November 9th, 2016,CBC article); it is prohibited in the Spring 2017 draft of the Water Act.
Engagement by concerned citizens gets the message across, finally.
Now the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, which is supported by the Citizens' Alliance, continues to try to keep up to date with the AquaBounty proposal to raise and slaughter market weight genetically modified salmon at a new facility in Rollo Bay West. As far we know, the federal Environment Minister wrote that the project needs a new Environmental Assessment, since it's in a new location (not to mention a totally new purpose). That should mean, according to federal environmental law, the project should not be going ahead *at all*. Catherine O'Brien and other Coalition members continue to try to figure out where things are at.
Lisa Bendall is a freelance writer and blogs monthly here at 50 Good Deeds. Her essay from the October 28th entry in the Global Chorus anthology should help us get through the next few years.
People are often disheartened by the glut of bad news in the world. Every time you turn on the TV, they complain, miserable things are reported.
My comeback: it wouldn’t be news unless it was extraordinary. What rarely makes headlines is the everyday goodness that happens so frequently we can almost forget how special it is: the snow shovelled for a neighbour, for example, or the donated groceries or the compliment that was made on an outfit or the seat that was offered or the door that was held.
Acts of generosity are rampant, pervasive in our world. That’s because the human species evolved to be kind. It’s simple logistics: in a society of compassion, we are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing along these genes for niceness. In fact, there’s increasing and exciting scientific evidence for our biological drive to connect with and help others.
Will we one day ruin ourselves and each other? See, that would go against our nature. Our genetics, I’d like to think, will save us well before the end. I remain optimistic.
— Lisa Bendall
October 27, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today, there is the opening of a parking space located by the Engineering Building (School of Sustainable Design Engineering or SSDE) at UPEI, as an electric vehicle charging station. While this is a grand opening, it's...one; we're still just plodding along building infrastructure, and slowly, slowly, prices, availability and improved features make electric vehicles more affordable for some. Robert Ghiz's government repealed one kind of incentive when the HST was introduced. CBC story from 2013.
Last night at the panel discussion on whether P.E.I. could become the first carbon neutral province, the answer is of course, yes, paraphrasing what we know: if we have the will, the courage and the humanity. Some Colonel Gray high school students have formed a group (Renewable Transportation PEI) promoting electric vehicle and one member, Christopher Randall, joined the panel and passed around the group's petition for the provincial legislature. Their Facebook page.
The best quote I heard from the evening (I did not get there for the whole presentation, though), was a comment from Phil Ferraro, manager of the Farm Centre and also of director of the Institute for Bioregional Studies, in response to a comment from someone else in the audience about the seemingly long pay-back time for Summerside or any municipality or other installing renewable systems,
"What is the cost of doing nothing?"
The George McRobie annual lecture is tonight, doors open and reception at 6PM, lecture by Wayne MacKinnon at 7PM, Macphail Homestead, admission by donation. The topic is "Since When Did Farm become a Four-letter word: A History of Sustainable Agriculture on PEI."
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 28th:
Community Sharing Day, 10AM-12noon, Hillcrest United Church, Montague (across from the Wellness Centre).
(edited) we are hosting our first fall community sharing day in Montague. We will be opening the doors to the sharing community, re-cycle and re-use. We are taking everything from shovels, snow scrappers, books, toys, winter jackets, dishes, lamps, electronics and much much more.
Drop-off Schedule today: 10AM-6PM
This is a family event and open to the public, we will also be looking for services so please contact me at email@example.com if you would like to get involved.
Silver Donald Cameron is a prolific author and journalist and documentarian, with his most recent film being Green Rights: the Human Right to a Healthy World, which we plan to host a screening of in the New Year. He writes the October 27th Global Chorus essay.
I’m breathing hard in the thin air. Gazing at Taktshang Goemba, “The Tiger’s Nest.”
A magnificent Buddhist monastery. Gold, white, burgundy. Hanging on a cliff-face in Bhutan. Across a deep gorge from me.
I’m 72 years old. Yesterday: New Delhi, elevation 233 m. Today: 3120 m. I’ve climbed 700 m from the Paro Valley floor, far below. Grinning Bhutanese kids scamper past in flip-flops. I climb ten steps. Stop. Breathe.
Buddhists think about breathing. Buddhists believe in the unity of the world.
I believe it too. Breathing unites us.
Air is 1 per cent argon. David Suzuki quotes the astronomer Harlow Shapley, who calculates that a single breath contains 30,000,000,000,000,000,000 argon atoms. Argon is inert. It isn’t absorbed; it doesn’t change. I breathe it out; you breathe it in. Breathing connects us to all life on Earth, through all of time. I breathe what the dinosaurs breathed, what my seventh-generation descendants will breathe. Each breath of mine includes 400,000 argon atoms that Gandhi breathed. In the Himalayas, half of my oxygen comes from plankton in the sea.
And breath is only one bridge between organisms. Through our digestion, our skin, our voices, our thoughts, the cycle of birth and death, we continuously collaborate with the world around us. As Alan Watts wrote, “We do not ‘come into’ this world. We come out of it, as leaves from a tree.” Or a breath from a body.
We are the world around us.
This is the most important fact of all. Contemporary science knows it. All great wisdom traditions know it. Industrial society blinds us to it. We must strive to see, and to know who we really are. If we act with humility and reverence, the world may yet find us worth keeping.
— Silver Donald Cameron
October 26, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some events coming up:
Standing Committee meetings are attending some details as mos( pause in their works and report on their activities to the Legislative session *which starts around November 15th). Today there are two meetings:
Thursday, October 26th:
Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy, 9:30AM, Coles Building (the Legislative Chamber). Topic: The committee will meet to receive a briefing on Slemon Park Corporation from Shawn McCarvill, President, Slemon Park Corporation; and Jamie Aiken, Executive Director, Island Investment Development Inc.
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment, 12:30PM, Coles Building. Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on building permits from Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment.
More on committees here on the Legislative Assembly website.
And you can watch the Committee meetings on-line live and archived -- see the front page of their webpage.
Farm Centre Farmers' Market (Last One!), 4-7PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue. There are still many winter vegetables and such to be had, and pleasant vendors. Last farm market of this Thursday series.
PEI as a Carbon Neutral Province, Panel Discussion at UPEI, 7-9PM, Business Building (McDougall Hall), Room 242 (auditorium). Parking is pretty much allowed anywhere in the evening without tags or feeding the meetings, it appears, but sometimes lots can be busy, too.
Some events coming up:
Sunday, October 29th:
Daniel O'Hanley Memorial Lecture, 2-3PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church, Stratford. This annual lecture is sponsored by the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) and this year is by Sara Torres, PhD, on "Challenges Facing Immigrant Women: The Cry of the Earth". Lecture, music and refreshments, and donations accepted. More details here.
Thursday, November 9th:
"Let's talk Food", public sharing session, 9:30AM-4:30PM, hosted by the City of Charlottetown, United Way, and Food Security Network. Free, but preregistration requested and oh, the deadline was yesterday
But it just took mine so there are likely still spaces.
More details (edited):
Prince Edward Island has been referred to as Canada’s Food Island, the Garden of the Gulf, and a Foodie’s Paradise. We are fortunate to be acknowledged for the high quality food we bring to the table but we must also recognize that for many Islanders there is trouble in paradise. According to the Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (2014), 15.2% of households in Prince Edward Island experience marginal to severe food insecurity. The experience of food insecurity can range from concerns about running out of food, and not being able to afford healthy food, to going hungry due to missing meals, or in extreme cases not eating for days at a time due to inability to afford food.
Whether the focus is positive or negative, public engagement in food on our Island is high, making the time ripe for discussions around our current food system. Our vision for the Let’s Talk Food event is to bring together the many industries, organizations, and individuals who are integrally linked to our Food system on Prince Edward Island to talk about their common interests the issues that matter to them. From these conversations, we hope to harvest ideas, make plans and get to action.
For additional details please contact:
Jessica Brown, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator for the City of Charlottetown
902-629-6368 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pema Chödrön is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author and writes the October 26th Global Chorus essay. Good, but not easy, words to live by.
We have the capacity to wake up and live consciously, but, you may have noticed, we also have a strong inclination to stay asleep. It’s as if we are always at a crossroad, continuously choosing which way to go. Moment by moment we can choose to go toward further clarity and happiness or toward confusion and pain.
Taking this leap involves making a commitment to ourselves and to the Earth itself – making a commitment to let go of old grudges; to not avoid people and situations and emotions that make us feel uneasy; to not cling to our fears, our closed-mindedness, our hardheartedness, our hesitation. Now is the time to develop trust in our basic goodness and the basic goodness of our sisters and brothers on this Earth, a time to develop confidence in our ability to drop our old ways of staying stuck and to choose wisely.
Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted. Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save this planet from extinction.
— Pema Chödrön
October 25, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The PEI Food Exchange hosted a delicious and well-run fundraising dinner last night, with lots of fun and a great turnout. Karen Mair emceed and had a lot of personal comments about food in her life, Leo Cheverie gave the best grace ever, Darcie Lanthier led the auctions, Shannon Courtney the trivia, and a team of chefs and volunteers led by Chef Emily Wells filled and cleaned up after a roomful of very fortunate people who want to share food resources and skills with Islanders.
A few upcoming events:
Thursday, October 26th:
Panel Discussion: The Island as a Carbon-Neutral Province? Making the Case, 7-9PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall (Business Building), Room 242 (aka MacKinnon Auditorium).
Dr. Catherine Potvin is the primary presenter and will be on Island Morning today, I think. Talk sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies, and all welcome.
More details at UPEI's website.
Friday, October 27th:
McRobie Lecture, reception at 6PM, lecture at 7PM, Macphail Homestead, Orwell. Wayne MacKinnon is presenting the lecture.
Saturday, October 28th:
Concert -- Mestizo Soul: Rebeca Lane, 8PM, The Guild, $15. "PEI Guatemala-Maritimes Breaking the Silence Network welcomes world-class act, Guatemalan hip-hop artist and activist Rebeca Lane." Facebook event details here.
Monday, October 30th:
Liberal Nomination for MLA seat for District 11 (Charlottetown-Parkdale). Doug Currie resigned from his seat less than a week ago, but interested persons have a few more days to decide.
QUICK FACTS (from an updated Guardian story on-line this week)
Recommended salary for MLAs
MLA base salary - 67,400
Premier - $140,600
Cabinet ministers - $114,500
Speaker - $107,000
Deputy Speaker - $87,200
Opposition Leader - $114,500
Government House Leader - $80,100
Opposition House Leader - $71,800
Government Whip & Opposition Whip - $71,100
Non-ministerial members of executive council committees - $73,600
Leader of a third party - $86,200
The Indemnities committee (which makes those recommendations) is or has been seeking public input for their annual recommendation, but I can't find the print ad or anything on-line, so I am not sure if the date passed.
from yesterday's Guardian: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-staying-in-office-main-liberal-goal-157144/
LETTER: Staying in office main Liberal goal - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Printed on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017
On Friday, Oct. 20, the Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I. chose a new leader at a convention in Brudenell. On the same day, at the other end of the Island, a ceremony was held to install our 42nd lieutenant-governor. Was this a coincidence? Hardly.
When a political party in our system elects a new leader, it is usually positively reflected in the next round of polls. By pulling media focus from this by scheduling a high profile ceremony on the same day, this impact would likely be lessened.
Yet again the party in power is offering insight into its real priorities. Staying in office is their primary goal. As a bonus this blatant public relations stunt didn't cost the party a dime. Government was happy to use public assets in a manner that could only be described as political gamesmanship. Islanders' tax money is being used to influence our image of the current government. The only way to break away from this skewed model is for Islanders to give a long, hard look at other ways of electing our legislature.
Boyd Allen, Pownal
Matthew R. Foster is retired engineer and a very organized thinker. Last year he wrote the book The Human Relationship to Nature: The Limit of Reason, the Basis of Value, and the Cirisi of Enviornmental Ethics. More from Philosophy papers website.
Here is his essay for Global Chorus for today; a clear plan for working on climate change and more.
The people and the planet have many dire problems. We must accept that there is only one key with which to effectively tackle these problems. We have given the scientists, corporations, politicians and the UN the opportunity to resolve the global social– ecological crisis; now it is the people’s turn to step directly into the process in a more effective way.
From the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 until now, we’ve seen little meaningful progress. We must ultimately react more quickly and resolutely.
We know the issues; we have unlimited knowledge accumulated in several million NGO databases; we have the means and know-how to communicate globally; we know the power of social media.
We are fragmented and all trying to be heard in our various political systems, which unfortunately are highly influenced by powerful international market forces and unreceptive to our concerns. It is indeed a bad situation in which the whole world shares, but it is not hopeless. Collectively we can propose and significantly influence meaningful changes if we can simply get organized into a cohesive, worldwide movement. Here’s how we could begin:
* Develop a social media site dedicated solely to social–environmental issues.
* Incorporate multi-language capabilities to communicate with the world.
* Categorize all social–ecological issues into manageable groups (to a maximum of 26).
* Prioritize the issues in each category through debate and consensus and put them into a 20- to 25-year plan.
* Use the new site, and/or allied sites, to put the issues to the world’s people for approval in a logical format with a consistent approach (i.e., one issue in each category every two weeks enables the addressing of 26 separate issues per year).
* Forward the duly considered petition, with the names of the signatories, concurrently to the legislatures of all nations, as this is a crucial worldwide emergency that affects everything.
* Require every category unreservedly to have equal weight and equal opportunity to put its particular issues to the public for debate and consideration each year in its turn.
* Accept that time is our unforgiving enemy.
— Matthew Foster
October 24, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today, Tuesday, October 24th:
Step Up to the Plate fundraising dinner, 5-8:30PM, all welcome for the "Appy Hour" pay as you eat snacks, and to bid on silent auction items. Tickets can still be purchased at the door, if you wish to stay for the dinner that begins at 6:30PM, or just make a donation. The PEI Food Exchange is non-profit, figures out how to connect to good food that is available with people who need it, and helps people learn skills on growing, harvesting and preserving food.
Jordan Brown, MLA for District 13: Charlottetown-Brighton, was sworn in yesterday at the new Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture. He remains the Government Whip and also the chair, still, apparently, of the Special Committee on Democratic Renewal, apparently. (The not surprising quote from the committee's page: "There are no meetings presently scheduled.")
But there will be a robust discussion, perhaps of the mangling of Democratic Renewal and definitely of moving forward on Wednesday, November 8th, at Murphy Centre,
Honour the Voter -- Looking Forward, Facebook event details
Minister J. Brown's portfolio includes Culture, more on that later.
Wayne MacKinnon, who I think is the same person giving the McRobie Lecture Friday, October 27th, at Macphail Homestead, wrote this 40-some article, for the Canadian Study of Parliament Group (CSPG) called:
Muddling Through: the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly
which might be an interesting read....not sure of its publication date.
More about the CSPG here.
Heather Eaton is a professor at St. Paul University (Ottawa, Canada), co-founder of Canadian Forum on Religion and Ecology, and writes today's Global Chorus essay.
Can we get past this crisis? Yes we can. Perhaps we will. The crucial changes require new visions, actions, politics, economics, ethics and so much more. How to do this? There are many ways. This path I walk has three aspects:
1. A substantial knowledge of the dynamics and processes of the universe and of Earth. This changes everything.
2. We, as humans, navigate life within stories, worldviews, or social visions.
3. We need a new vision that empowers and inspires responses to complex global, social and ecological issues.
When we become aware of the wild, ingenious, creative and evolutionary processes of this gorgeous and extraordinary Earth, we experience wonder, awe and even reverence. We see the depth of continuity between the Earth processes and ourselves. Earth is our home, and our source. We are a process of the Earth, a self-conscious element of the Earth’s crust. We live on a thin layer of culture over a vast expanse of nature.
Our stories and visions about what is real, important and vital are too narrow, inadequate and incomplete. So is our response to the current crisis. The relationship between vision and action is crucial to understand. If we contemplate the resourcefulness of the Earth, and that we emerged from and are animated by these great processes, we are inspired and energized. Such awareness leads to a profound spiritual and ethical awakening, and insightful political actions.
We need a spiritual vision that teaches us how to be present to the Earth, on Earth’s terms. Spiritualities are teachers of consciousness, and are as intimate and as vital as breath. They arouse desires, a zest for life and the ability to feel awe and wonder. Spiritualities encourage inner depth, strengthen courage and inspire reverence in the face of the immensity and elegance of existence. Developing a spiritual consciousness is often described as moving from death to life, from illusion to enlightenment, from confinement to liberation.
We need vision to see our way forward, and for this we need to awaken to Earth.
— Heather Eaton
October 23, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some signs of different kinds of community and creative thinking:
The PEI Home and School Federation is hosting its semi-annual meeting in Hunter River, Tuesday night, 5:45PM-8PM, to discuss "A vision for P.E.I. education: Semi-annual meeting Oct. 24th offers chance to explore new ideas for schools". It's not a lot of time to really discuss vision for education, but it's a start. More details:
Georgetown has left the "Three Rivers" amalgamation talks and is talking to its nearer neighbours of Georgetown Royalty and Burnt Point to see if merging with them would make a better stronger (but no, not 4,000 residents) community.
Paul MacNeill vesuviated in a recent column here
berating Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell:
....who championed the act through passage in the provincial legislature, now says he is willing to look at amalgamated communities smaller than the legislated minimum of 4,000 citizens with a taxable land base of more than $200 million.
This isn't a new shift -- my understanding is this was communicated to municipalities before the Act passed in the Legislature late last fall. Georgetown is doing what Mitchell has been suggesting for month and months -- "talk to your neighbours". Talking about renewed strong, reasonable and consensus-based Land Use Policies (which haven't made much news for a couple of years) would be a good thing to do, too.
Interesting discussion on the "We are Rural Strong" Facebook page in the past few months, tying in schools and communities, too:
Western United States resident Gary Snyder is often called "The Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology", and is also a lecturer and environmental activist. He certainly does his own take on his Global Chorus essay on the environmental future. EcoTopia entry on Gary Snyder
I am tired of seeing optimistic hopeful and largely predictable ideas being put forth by very nice people over and over again when no one is asking the hard question of what might work. We need a hands-on, gritty, on-the-ground, post-liberal, post-humanist, post-utopian push into that territory.
— Gary Snyder
October 22, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Here is news of the death of Islander Irene Larken, who was involved in so much caring work and initiatives. Plans for visitation and a celebration of her life are tomorrow evening at Hilllsboro Funeral Home in Stratford. Details. Condolences to her family and friends.
A reminder for this week:
Thursday, October 26th:
Symposium: "The Island as a Carbon-Neutral Province? Making the Case", 7-9PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall, Room 242. All welcome. More info:
With the Legislature set to open in mid-November, Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker is looking at improving the provincial whistleblower legislation to extend protections to employees in the private sector.
Friday, October 27th is the deadline for input from interested Islanders.
Wednesday, November 8th:
Honour the VOTER -- Looking Forward, 7-9PM, Murphy's Community Centre, 200 Richmond Street.
One year after PEI voted for Proportional Representation - and one year after the government cast doubt on the plebiscite's validity - please join us for a panel discussion to discuss the way forward for Proportional Representation on PEI.
This event is being hosted by the PEI Coalition for Proportional Representation, which has been at work over the past year to ensure that the democratically expressed desire of Islanders for a fair, proportional voting system is not ignored. Come hear updates and plans for the near future, and how you can help!Facebook event details
Saturday, November 4th:
Voluntary Resource Centre Fundraising Breakfast, Farm Centre, tickets available from VRC board members or by contacting the VRC at 368-7337
And another reminder:
Saturday, November 18th:
Stop Plan B 5th year reunion, 7-10PM, fun and games, refreshments, reminiscences, and laughs. All welcome!
Here is a link to the Council of Canadians' website and a pdf booklet called "Getting it Right: A people's guide to renegotiating NAFTA." It is by Maude Barlow, honourary chairperson, and advisers at the Council, and is a manageable read on a complicated subject with corporate/government having the loudest voices.
Robert Sandford is an author, and the EPCOR (an Edmonton-based and municipally-owned power and water utility) Chair for Water and Climate Security, at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.
Beyond population growth and its unanticipated effects, the greatest threat humanity presently faces is a changing planetary climate. With warming mean global temperatures, our planet’s atmosphere holds more water vapour and becomes more turbulent. Extreme weather events are becoming more common everywhere. Droughts are becoming longer, deeper and more frequent, and intense rainfalls are causing extraordinary damage and great human suffering around the world.
People everywhere want to know whether we can turn these problems around while they are still more or less linear and incremental, before the world begins to change all at once. Others worry about hope for their children. They want to know if there is hope for the unborn, which is to say intergenerational hope.
Hopelessness emerges directly from helplessness. Much current hopelessness comes from the recognition that our political systems are not designed and structured in such a way that would easily allow them to be capable of addressing issues of this magnitude. The scales are all wrong. While political systems are designed to function within limited, often competing, jurisdictions over timeframes of four or five years, the problems we have created for ourselves span generations and encompass not just nations but the entire globe. Many don’t believe it is possible to rescue our political systems from the influence of vested economic and ideological interests and the self-referential focus of party politics in time to prevent collapse of important elements of the Earth system.
So where do we go now? Firstly, it is important to realize that a storm is coming. This is not the time to throw up our hands in helpless despair. The sky is not falling and the world is not coming to an end. But the problems we face are real and substantial, so we need to act decisively. If we are to adapt, we cannot permit ourselves to be made to feel helpless. If there was ever a time in history that demanded personal courage, inspired citizenship and thoughtful and persistent leadership action, it is now.
— Robert Sandford
October 21, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
James Aylward won the provincial Progressive Conservative leadership vote, as was announced last night at the party convention. I think the AGM continues today in Brudenell. Congratulations to James and also to Brad Trivers for both getting out and seeing and listening to Islanders. Keep it up, hone a vision for P.E.I., and stay positive.
It was a busy day for media as the swearing in of the new Lieutenant Governor was in Tignish earlier. One wonders at the timing, as the PC date had been set for months.
The timing was up to Doug Currie (MLA for District 11: Charlottetown-Parkdale and present Minister of Education and Culture), who resigned from politics Thursday, but I do feel for his constituents, who will have to direct their concerns elsewhere with the Legislature set to open in less that a month. J. Alan McIsaac (D5:Vernon River-Stratford), current Minister of the unwieldy Agriculture and Fisheries Department, is now additionally the acting Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture. One wonders if somebody flipped a coin to figure out who would caretake that portfolio.
Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM).
Lots of produce like peppers and tomatoes, still, that you could cook up and store in your freezer for this winter.
Local Food promotional event: "Taste of the Island: Presenting the Best PEI-Made Products", 9AM-12noon, Murphy's Queen Street Pharmacy and Food Market (at the -sigh- former downtown Co-op Food Store location). Samples and "Deals on Local Products". They carry Receiver Coffee, and Duinkerken foods, and some other Island products.
Tuesday, October 24th:
Step Up to the Plate Fundraising Dinner for the PEI Food Exchange, 5-8:30PM, Farm Centre. Tickets available. Details.
Friday, October 27th (just heard about this yesterday):
6th Annual McRobie Lecture, "When Did 'Farm' Become a Four-Letter Word: A History of Sustainable Agriculture in Prince Edward Island", 7PM, Macphail Homestead, Orwell. Wayne MacKinnon, former Dept. of Agriculture communications officer (now serving in Dept. of Finance communications) will be giving the talk.
Full press release at the end of this CA News.
Thursday's "Funeral for Nova Scotia Forests" was held in Halifax and coverage of the event is here:
Annette Saliken is the author of Cocktail Party Guide to Global Warming and Cocktail Party Guide to Green Energy, and a real estate agent in Vancouver. Here is a YouTube interview about her books.
To survive on this planet, I believe humanity needs a framework for decision-making that guides us toward innovation and prosperity, without burdening future generations and threatening our existence. I envision an “endurance framework” comprised of thoughtful questions carefully designed to lead us to better choices. These self-queries would prioritize our economic, environmental and social needs to help us make decisions that reflect what is most important to us as a society.
This endurance framework would apply to everyday choices in households, companies and governments. For example, at home we might ask, will my decision have a positive or negative impact on the financial, environmental and social well-being of my family? How will it affect these same needs of my children and grand children? What will be the affect on my neighbours? For businesses, since they typically have a mandate to maximize shareholder wealth, we as shareholders should demand them to use an endurance framework with questions forming a more balanced mandate, such as: how will this decision help our firm meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets? How will it affect the social well-being of our employees, their families and the community? For governments, the endurance framework could be used in the development of laws requiring them to address each of the questions as part of their legislative process: how will this resolution impact the economic, ecological and social well-being of our citizens? Will it compromise these same needs of future generations? What effect will it have on our global community, including other countries, their people, and other species?
If society can make the paradigm shift from traditional money-first thinking to an endurance framework for decision-making, then I believe we can create the conditions necessary to survive on this planet. This does not mean we should stop seeking economic growth or sacrifice our creature comforts; rather, it means we need to refocus on a more balanced, sustainable decision-making process. I believe we can work together successfully in this way to ensure the endurance and well-being of humanity on this planet for this generation and those to come.
— Annette Saliken
Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead
When Did ‘Farm’ Become a Four-Letter Word: A History of Sustainable Agriculture in Prince Edward Island
The Sixth Annual George McRobie Lecture will be presented by Wayne MacKinnon, at the Macphail Homestead on Friday, October 27th, beginning at 6pm with a reception and cash-bar. The title of Mr. MacKinnon’s talk will be “When Did Farm Become a Four-Letter Word: A History of Sustainable Agriculture in Prince Edward Island.”
Our speaker, Wayne MacKinnon, was raised on a farm in Brooklyn, Prince Edward Island. He is an award-winning author who has written extensively on Prince Edward Island politics, and co-authored a study on traditional, sustainable agriculture on Prince Edward Island for the Institute of Island Studies. He served as senior communications officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for more than 20 years, and currently holds a similar position with the Department of Finance. He is a sessional lecturer in political science at the University of Prince Edward Island.
This entertaining and informative presentation will provide insight into the patterns of land use, ownership and stewardship, the post World War 2 transformation of the sector and the politics of agriculture. He will also explore the role that farm organizations played in the development of the industry.
This special lecture is named in honour of Dr. George McRobie, who was one of the world's leading proponents of sustainable agriculture and appropriate, small-scale technology. He was a close friend and colleague of the radical economist E.F. Schumacher, whose landmark book Small Is Beautiful made such an impact in the latter part of the 20th century. For some years, McRobie served as President of the Soil Association, Britain's foremost farm organization promoting organic agriculture. In his later years, McRobie developed a special affinity for Prince Edward Island: he was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Prince Edward Island and became a part-time Islander, dividing the year between homes in London and Brackley Beach. He personally attended all five previous McRobie Lectures at the Homestead.
We invite you to come at 6pm to mingle and have a drink preceding the lecture. You may register in advance by phoning (902) 651-2789, or sending an email to Angie at email@example.com. Suggested donation of $10.
October 20, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today, Friday, October 20th:
New Lieutenant Governor Antoinnine Perry swearing in, 10AM, Tignish. Be prepared for two 15-gun salutes.
Last day to comment on the provincial Climate Change Adaptation Report; perhaps even to comment on the comment period for this very important aspect of all of our futures....
Last day to vote for the new provincial Progressive Conservative leader, 5-7PM, Rodd's Brudenell. Memberships must be current (bought new before the deadline last month, or bought within the last four years and can be renewed before voting). The Convention starts at 7 and the new leader will be announced about 8:30PM. CBC Radio is providing live coverage of the announcement. Brad Trivers and James Aylward are running, have both been excellent, available and friendly, and both care deeply about the future of the Island.
Both campaign organizations have ways to get people to Brudenell to vote and/or the convention:
Tuesday, October 24th:
Step Up to the Plate Dinner, 5-8:30PM, Farm Centre, tickets $25. This is a fundraiser for the PEI Food Exchange, with a wonderful meal of local food prepared by Chef Emily Wells.
In Thursday, October 19th, 2017's Guardian:
ELLEN JONES: No trophies for ignoring the rules - The Guardian Opinion piece by Ellen Jones
Ellen Jones, pictured here with her horse Ginger, won her case for much higher compensation from the province which expropriated her therapeutic horse farm in Cornwall to make room for the bypass highway around the town.
There should be no reward for cheating people out of fair compensation or income
Well, after almost a year and a half of dealing with our provincial government throughout this Cornwall Bypass project, I’ve learned that our system is set up to benefit government, even when it doesn’t play by the rules.
With this in mind I’m going to channel your thoughts back toward our current P.E.I. government. Recently, although they won’t say it this way, they failed - significantly.
I’m not telling you this because I want to rub it in their faces; rather I see a learning opportunity for them and the rest of us, which needs to be spoken aloud instead of swept under the rug.
The Minister of Transportation Infrastructure and Energy along with many other cabinet ministers and bureaucrats (the premier too) - lost in the arbitration regarding land prices in the Cornwall area. The judge threw out their contracted appraisal and basically said the job performed was not one of relevance to the issue before her.
The government hired a third party independent appraiser and gave him a mandate, which meant we, as an expropriated party, were never going to be treated fairly. There was never any negotiation or discussion, just a position government took and refused to look beyond. This means had we not taken the initiative to seek out our own third party independent appraisal with a mandate regarding expropriation - we never would have known how short sighted and unfair the situation actually was.
It’s frightening to think of how many people were short changed on their land because government has become accustomed to getting the trophy at the end of the game - even though they haven’t played by the rules.
We never hear any real admission of failed initiatives in government? There is no transparency - just spin, which means we give permission by default, allowing the same things to happen again and again.
Leading by example is hard for governments - especially ones who are led by academics who believe they are the smartest person in the room. Criticism can be really difficult for those people to absorb.
If the government themselves, either because of ego, conditioning or lack of knowledge are unable to admit or acknowledge their failures, they will never be able to grow and this means things in this province will never change.
This isn’t a one sided issue though, and here’s where it gets tough. It’s on all of us to hold the government accountable for their shortcomings and failures.
We’ve reached the finish line now and the results are clear, the bad behaviour of government did not net them the results they were after. I believe it’s our job to not let the government forget their failures; we need to begin to require change.
If the P.E.I. government doesn’t start treating people fairly and with the respect every human being is entitled to - they are going to lose (in the legal system as well as the court of public opinion) consistently and often, at the taxpayer’s expense.
There is no reward (nor should there be) for cheating people out of fair compensation for their forcibly taken hard earned home.
At best this could be a learning opportunity, at it’s worst it could be permission for the government to continue it’s poor practice.
There are more landowners who have not yet been dealt with by government for this road and there is an amazing opportunity to demonstrate through future actions that this government is capable of growth.
The P.E.I. government failed us, and that doesn’t mean they can’t be committed to doing better next time. There’s no mistaking that after our arbitration, we all know better.
It’s time to apply that knowledge and begin to require government to do better for the people of this province.
- Ellen Jones owns the Hughes-Jones Centre for People and Animals in Cornwall.
Adam Ravetch is a wildlife cinematographer and ﬁlmmaker. His essay is featured in the October 20th entry of Global Chorus.
I know there is much concern about the environment and our natural world. I, myself, have seen much change over the last two decades in the Arctic. But even as the planet shifts and changes, I can’t help to stop, if only for a moment, to admire what we have.
I feel fortunate to be part of an amazing generation of wildlife documentarians that have made an incredible contribution to how the world views Nature.
And in the last 50 years, a select group of cinematographers working in some of the world’s most inhospitable places on our planet are responsible for a phenomenal natural history archive of how we see and understand our planet today.
So what is its value as we move forward? What purpose does it serve? How does this remarkable effort help us, if at all, as we head into a future of uncertainty?
As our population grows and expands, the amount of natural lands will most likely reduce, and the consumption of our natural resources will increase, which will put more pressure on all living things. As a society, we will be faced with huge decisions just to ensure our own survival on this planet. And for wildlife, future generations will have to decide which animals to protect and which to let go.
But for these future leaders, they are lucky to not be alone. At their fingertips will be a rich and detailed natural history archive; a chamber of wise consults to support them – voices of the passionate caretakers of wildlife, whose determination and single-minded focus produced imagery that gave us all a better understanding and knowledge of the amazing wild life of our planet. It is truly inspirational, and will hopefully inform our future citizens to allow them to realize that what is really unique and important about this planet is LIFE itself!
Today, there are more cameras and cinematographers in the wild then ever before, and I for one am encouraged about the future, knowing that the world is watching!
— Adam Ravetch
October 19, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
If you or friends are in the Halifax area today, or hear a recap on regional news later today:
Forest Funeral: Mourning the Loss of Nova Scotia's Forests, 1PM, Parade Square, Halifax. Speakers include biologist Bob Bancroft ("presenting the eulogy", according to the flyer). This is about major concerns regarding NS forest management decisions.
The last Climate Change Adaption Report consultation is tonight:
Montague, 7-8PM, Riverhouse Inn.
Also in Montague is the solar energy talk led by Renewable Energy,
7-8PM, Montague Rural Action Centre.
Tomorrow, Friday, October 20th:
Provincial Progressive Conservative leadership voting and convention, Rodd's Brudenell, evening.
The last chance to vote is from 5-7PM, and those with active or lapsed (within the last four years) are still able to renew memberships and vote.
Saturday, October 21st:
Confederation Forest planting, 10AM-1PM, Upton Farmlands off Maypoint Road, Charlottetown. From the press release by Gary Schneider of Macphail Woods: "Be prepared to get your hands dirty." And learn some skills and lend a hand.
This charming article about Gary Schneider and Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project from a little while back in Saltscapes magazine (just providing link so you can go and read the article AND see the wonderful photos by John Sylvester used in the article):
We are lucky to have several farmers growing and selling local flowers: Vanessa Hamming at V's Flower Farms (available at country stores in the South Shore area), Isobel Forrester at Isobel's Flower Farm north of Hunter River and at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market, and Red Roots Flower Farm. Local Flower CSAs would be a beautifying option to really take off here.
Debra Prinzing is an author, speaker, designer, founder of Slowﬂowers.com
It feels daunting to think one person can change things in this world. That is when I turn from the macro to the micro and focus on individual action. A single gesture takes on meaning far greater than me, my family, my block, my neighbourhood, my city. When that gesture is frequently repeated, its impact is exponential.
I have always turned to flowers, those growing in my garden and in the fields of my flower farmer friends.
The symbolic gesture of giving flowers has been practised for generations. Flowers appear in history, in literature, in every culture and in every land. Gathering flowers as a show of affection or a celebratory display is no small thing. It is a timeless, universal practice.
Flowers connect humans with Nature and heighten our awareness of the seasons. They root us to our place on the planet. Our senses see, smell, touch (and even hear and taste) botanical beauty. This is a truth understood by all humans.
I do believe that flowers parallel food. We don’t often eat petals and buds, but they feed us nonetheless. The spiritual sustenance of flowers has caused me to think more intentionally about how I consume them. I have been inspired to start the Slow Flowers movement, a conscious practice of sourcing flowers grown close to me rather than ones shipped to me from afar. When I choose local flowers, I am preserving farmland, ensuring economic development in rural areas and keeping farm jobs viable.
As an advocate for those who grow flowers enjoyed by so many, I believe it’s important to remember the human toil required to plant, cultivate and harvest those blooms. I find hope in honouring the flower farmer, hearing his or her story and acknowledging the farmer’s role in bringing beauty into our lives. By making a simple connection between flower and farmer we humanize an entire industry, one that has previously been so disconnected from us. It is perhaps more indirectly rather than directly world changing, and yet, it is the act I know makes a difference far beyond the vase on my dining table.
— Debra Prinzing
October 18, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The three days of public consultation for the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy continue, with tonight and tomorrow having a rather skimpy hour in two other parts of the province.
Wednesday, October 18th: Summerside, 7-8PM, Summerside Community Church.
Thursday, October 19th: Montague, 7-8PM, Riverhouse Inn, Montague.
At the Charlottetown one last afternoon, it was an engaged but small crowd of educators, former government/current industry people, and citizens. (5PM, in an out-of-the-way residence meeting room on campus doesn't really engage the public, even if the refreshments were a nice gesture.)
The presentation by Dr. Adam Fenech highlighted probable effects of climate change and started a discussion. Stephanie Arnold continued the discussion and its clear the team knows their stuff.
There are concerns property rights and about possible adaptation methods, and discussion about how to inform kids (and decision-makers!) and infuse the educational system with science.
However, the authors could have gone through the sectors (Agriculture, Energy, Education, Infrastructure, etc.), and some major recommendations, even if all 89 recommendations could not be covered in a reasonable amount of time. An overview worked pretty well with both the Dunsky Consulting Climate Change Mitigation (greenhouse gas emissions reduction) Strategy and the Energy Strategy, and it would help people who haven't had the opportunity to absorb the full 140-page report.
More info, the shorter 13 page summary and the full document: https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/service/climate-change-adaptation-strategy-public-consultation
Comments are accepted until Friday (see link, above).
It sounds like the Alberta Climate Dialogue (mentioned below) was a longer term discussion engaging the public, which is something that could continue here as the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies are worked on by the provincial Climate Change Secretariat and its executive director, Todd Dupuis.
David Kahane is a professor of political science at University of Alberta, and former director of Alberta Climate Dialogue; his essay (written a few years ago) refers to that job. Another really excellent entry.
My work involves convening citizens to deliberate about climate change and climate policy. Whatever life and political perspectives people bring to the table, they hear each other, dig deeply into their own priorities and values, and grapple together with tough choices. They show the collective wisdom and care that humans can generate, person to person.
Are these human capacities enough to deal with global environmental and social crises? I don’t know. I often doubt it. Our political, economic and cultural systems tend to cut us off from the effects of our actions, insulate us from the suffering of other beings, and lead us to pursue short-term rewards even when these compromise what we care about most deeply. These systems churn along, seemingly relentless.
I’m interested in what happens if we give up hope as well as the reactivity and despair that are its flip side. What happens if we act with fearlessness and integrity and compassion – not because we’re convinced these can turn the tide, but simply because they reflect who we are and aspire to be?
We can do this as a personal practice: cultivating a sense of our own basic goodness, the goodness of others, and of human society. Being as present as we can to our bodies, our emotions, our interactions, the phenomenal world. Passionately connecting with our everyday lives: eating, dressing, gardening, cooking, washing dishes, walking, working. Recognizing our tendencies to dissociate and to dull out, and shifting these.
We can do this in our social and political lives too: weaving relationships and projects that reflect real human interconnection and mutual concern, that wear away our habits of fear and aggression, that draw upon our deepest intelligence to cease harming and support healing.
Will these shifts create the conditions necessary for human survival and the survival of other species? My questions back: how would we know, and why does it matter? At worst, the relationships and structures and personal capacities that we build will increase our courage and resilience as the world slides toward catastrophe. At worst, we will tap into some real human dignity and joy in the time we have left.
— David Kahane
October 17, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last advance Poll for Provincial Progressive Conservative leadership race, 2-6PM, Murchison Place, off St. Peter's Road, Charlottetown.
(The final chance to vote is Friday at the convention from 5-7PM in Brudenell)
Martin Rutte, who penned one of the Global Chorus essays, writes about his project "Heaven on Earth" in all various manifestations, and asked PC leadership candidate Brad Trivers on the spot at the Farmers' Market in Charlottetown not long ago about his thoughts. Here is Martin's description of the meeting and link to the actual one-minute video:
CBC reporter Laura Chapin interviewed me last week about the Pugwash Conference on Climate Change and Humanity. It apparently aired on Mainstreet but the last minute or so was cut off accidentally. The last part was when I finally got my wits about me, so consider listening to the end (or just the end). Almost seven minutes. http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1072591939509
The organizer of the retreat, Bob Cervelli of the Centre for Local Prosperity, has been interviewed this week and that piece may air today.
Also this week:
WAPIKONI, CINEMA ON WHEELS, SHOWCASING SHORTS
MADE DURING WAPIKONI STOPOVERS ROLLS ACROSS CANADA
As part of Wapikoni Mobile’s first-ever coast-to-coast tour, Wapikoni: Cinema on Wheels will be stopping in various cities and communities across the country from April to November 2017 to bring a selection of incredible short films with compelling stories and incredible visuals directed by Indigenous youth from Eastern Canada to urban areas and remote communities. The Wapikoni, Cinema on Wheels tour is part of "Wapikoni From Coast to Coast: Reconciliation Through the Media Arts", a project under the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and supported by the Government of Canada.
Tonight: October 17, 7PM, Lennox Island, 327 Sweetgrass Trail
Wednesday, October 18, 10:30AM, Mi'kmaq Family Resource Centre, 158 St. Peters Road, Charlottetown
Thursday, October 19, 7PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, 2 Kent St., Charlottetown
The Leap Organization has written a breezy short article called "Five things that will blow your mind about Alberta's oil and gas wells." From the sheer numbers to costs of cleaning them up to alternatives.
Tami Simon is the founder and publisher of multimedia publishing company Sounds True. She writes the Global Chorus essay used today.
What matters most is our motivation. If we orient ourselves towards a motivation that is based on an awakened heart, then whatever the outcome of our efforts, we can rest in the assurance that we have done our very best as human beings and as a species.
So what does it mean be motivated by an awakened heart? To me, it means aligning ourselves with the good of the whole, with the deep heart that feels our interconnection with all of life, the sensitive heart that breathes with and is in communion with the flow of life itself. When we drop into this deep, pulsing heart, a heart that is not defended in any way but is acutely sensitive to the relational field and the needs of the moment, there is a natural desire to be of benefit and to serve the good of the whole. Can we continually return to this true heart and reconnect with our deepest motivation to serve all beings, again and again and again?
If so, we become a living heart-fire of love and justice in the world. This heart-fire is contagious; others will catch it when they hear our warm voice or touch our sensitive hands or see our kind face. We become an indestructible human torch of goodness. This is not an idea but something that needs to be deeply felt and embodied. If we can embody this motivation in our life and in our moment-to-moment actions, then we can join together and creatively solve whatever environmental or social problems we face.
The fire of the human heart can never be extinguished. It burns brightly in the face of any and every challenge. The open, tender, creative human heart is our best refuge and hope.
— Tami Simon
October 16, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Tomorrow starts the three-days only public consultations on the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
Tuesday, October 17th, 5PM-6PM, UPEI Andrew Hall (Residence) Building Room 142; use parking lots A or B from the Belvedere UPEI entrance.
Andrew Hall is No. 19 on this map: http://files.upei.ca/map.pdf
Wednesday, October 18th: Summerside, 7-8PM, Summerside Community Church.
Thursday, October 19th: Montague, 7-8PM, Riverhouse Inn, Montague.
As you can see, there is only one hour set aside at each Public Engagement session. (So pay attention and be prepared to comment fast. ;-) )
Input can be submitted via the website (below) until Friday, October 20th.
More info, the shorter 13 page summary and the full document:
The Guardian published an editorial late last week about the cancelling of the Energy East pipeline. http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/editorial-blind--obsession-155490/
EDITORIAL: Blind obsession - The Guardian Lead Editorial
Published on Friday, October 13th, 2017
As environmentalists celebrate their victory halting the Energy East pipeline, storm clouds are appearing to dampen the party and darken that green horizon.
Groups such as the Sierra Club of Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation welcomed the announcement by TransCanada to abandon plans to build a $15 billion pipeline to supply the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John. Their lobbying for enhanced greenhouse gas emission standards is partly responsible for killing the pipeline, and TransCanada did cite those tougher criteria as a factor.
Market forces also played a major role. When the pipeline idea was first proposed in 2013, the oil sector was booming, with the price of crude oil above $100 per barrel, compared to $50 today. So the decision was based as much on economic factors as roadblocks from the National Energy Board and anti-pipeline groups.
It’s interesting that the Sierra Club or Suzuki Foundation failed to express any concern for the devastating impact on Saint John and New Brunswick. They must be satisfied that young Atlantic Canadians are forced to find work in Ontario and Western Canada and that this region will continue as a have-not area. Depressed oil prices have hammered Newfoundland and Labrador, and placed hardships on residents. Yet, again, there is no concern from the anti-oil lobby.
This week, Nova Scotia announced it is preparing for the end of natural gas from the Sable Offshore Energy Project as reserves dwindle. The region is losing an important energy option and revenue source.
The environmental risks posed by transporting Alberta oil by rail car or transport truck to Atlantic Canada are much higher than by pipeline. We don’t want to see another Lac Megantic disaster where 47 people died. Pipeline opponents show no concerns for these dangerous alternatives.
Many Canadians are demanding a review of the NEB’s mandate. They see the regulatory body as an obstruction.
The Energy East decision is reigniting West against East tensions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accusing pipeline supporters of stoking national divisions, as he plays the unity card to blunt Conservative criticism of a disastrous Liberal energy policy.
The eastern pipeline would have benefited all Canadians and helped create tax revenues to fund healthcare, education, infrastructure and yes, increased alternative energy research and projects.
We agree the country must move toward green energy options and follow the Paris climate accord, but not at the risk of crippling our economy and adding hardships onto Canadians.
Apart from ambiguous support for an interconnected electricity grid - that would close coal plants in Nova Scotia – anti-oil lobby groups are largely bereft of ideas.
These groups are intent on crippling the Canadian economy even further. Emboldened, they plan on directing attention to other pipeline projects such as Keystone XL and Kinder Morgan.
There are other factors in play besides climate change, waterways, wildlife and lands. Billions of dollars in fossil fuel exports pay for our standard of living – not the sun or wind.
It was rather narrow-focused argument, forgetting the absolute truth that the environment is the economy, and the economy is the environment. It's an illusion that the two have to "balance". They are the same and it's pretty obvious to most that if we ruin our environment, we ruin our economy.
Renewable plans to get to drawdown (the point were carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere start to decline or "draw down" the line) are out there -- the voices just don't have the bigger microphones and marketing campaigns.
Note that the font of the editorial on The Guardian's website alternated in sections -- which could be an artifact or a sign of additional contributions in the writing of the editorial or a committee effort.
Don McKay is a Canadian poet, editor, and educator. He writes the October 16th Global Chorus essay.
Let me point to a pair of benefits of the environmental crisis – paradoxical benefits, to be sure – but apparent just the same in the remarkable shifts we can observe in the general mindset regarding the environment. One is the new-found sense of its losability – the awareness that natural elements we took for granted (e.g., dependable sea levels, seasonal regularity, arable land) are subject to radical, perhaps catastrophic, change. Losability leads us to value what we’ve got when – to adapt Joni Mitchell – it’s not quite gone, much as we do when a friend or relative contracts a serious illness. It’s a sad irony that astonishment and attachment increase when that black frame settles around a species, a landscape or a place.
The second, related shift in our thinking could be called a sense of membership. As the truths of ecology gather and gain acceptance (a long process, it has to be admitted, given that it’s a 19th-century idea) our idea of ourselves shifts from the notion of the Master Species at the summit of a hierarchical order to that of a member of a system that works as a vast web of interdependencies. Membership in the natural world has already brought us fresh insights into its intricacies, its amazing symbioses and networks of communication. Of course, membership includes the recognition that we have often damaged and destroyed parts of the ecological web, and put its very existence – at least in its current life-enhancing form – in jeopardy.
As the official name for our epoch becomes accepted as the Anthropocene, we will implicitly acknowledge the role of anthropos – us – in altering the planet’s systems sufficiently that a geological record will be left. Simultaneously, we will position ourselves as inhabitants of deep time rather than a shallow, human-centred history. Membership and losability: these gifts will mean that, to whatever extent we are able to mitigate the disaster, we will have earned back some capacity to grieve, rather than numbly suffering the ravages of environmental degradation. They mean that when we say “we,” the collective pronoun will resonate beyond the bounds of the much celebrated human saga into remote reaches of our temporal and spatial dwelling. Perhaps, to draw upon one of the most eloquent human arts, we may be privileged to perish as characters in tragedy rather than farce.
— Don McKay
October 15, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today (besides the finish line of the PEI Marathon and the PEI Symphony Orchestra in Charlottetown this afternoon):
Autumn Walk in the Forest, 2-4PM, Macphail Woods, Orwell. Free.
"Yesmen, Bagmen and Defeated Candidates" were often nominated for the Senate -- at least that's how either former CBC political reporter James Fitz-Morris or James Cudmore put it when then Prime Minister Harper appointed several Senators, including Mike Duffy. (I cannot remember which James said this, as both used to rotate in the Tuesday morning chats with the Island Morning crew, and both now work for federal Liberal politicians.) But it's was very accurate.
Now with the retirement of Libby Hubley, P.E.I. is "due" a Senator, and Graphic publisher Paul MacNeill has his comments, here:
(bold is mine)
Race for Island Senate seat is on - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
Published on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017, in The Graphic newspapers
The race to win a coveted and cushy seat in the Canadian Senate is on and while it’s billed as an opportunity for all to apply, it will come down to the opinion of two or three to decide who PEI’s next Senator will be.
Prime Minister Trudeau made changing composition of the Senate a key public relations strategy in the fallout over institutional arrogance displayed time and again during the Mike Duffy fiasco.
This was, however, before his government began a habit of kicking itself in the behind. It’s bungled tax reform. It’s bungled cultural reform. It’s bungled energy expansion. In short, the bloom is off the Liberal rose and the notion that an ‘independent’ Senate is a good thing for a floundering government is looking less and less enticing.
Diane Griffin has admirably represented the Island (as much as a Senator can represent a province) since being appointed a year ago. But her appointment left many Liberals quietly grumbling that a Tory jumped to the head of the line. It’s amazing how political party arrogance can be so dismissive of such an eminently qualified appointee.
Still, it is becoming apparent that the prime minister needs allies in the Senate as much as he needs photo op appointments if he wants to move his agenda forward. And this begs the question who will replace the recently retired Senator Libby Hubley?
While anyone can apply a few will jump to the top of the list based on the recommendation of Premier Wade MacLauchlan or Cardigan MP and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. They will make their recommendation in the shadow of comments last week by Senator Percy Downe that the Senate is not adequately represented by farmers, fishermen and veterans. Whether Downe’s comments hold any sway remains to be seen. But there is an argument to be made that the Senate needs less political correctness and more common sense.
Current and former Liberal politicians and operatives are quietly making known their interest in the job. It’s believed former Ghiz cabinet minister Valerie Docherty is among this group. While she has the political pedigree, it's believed Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis sits atop the provincial government’s wish list of potential appointees. There is a certain attraction to the idea. It would be a first and Premier MacLauchlan likes this type of historic marker. Like Griffin, Chief Francis is eminently qualified. He is a leader of substance.
But there is one big problem.
Earlier this year the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI launched a legal action against the provincial government over the premier’s decision to sell Mill River Resort in a very developer friendly transaction. The confederacy contends the province ignored its constitutional obligation to consult First Nations. The Mill River deal has caused significant bad blood between the provincial government and First Nations.
Last week the premier was challenged at the First Ministers meeting by the Native Council of PEI for failing to properly consult it. It is an allegation the premier denies but it is clear the relationship between the Liberal provincial government and First Nations is stressed, in a similar way to the federal government’s relationship with First Nations.
Into this mix you can add the e-gaming file which still hangs over the MacLauchlan government like a lead weight because the Ghiz government used the First Nations as a front to promote the idea of making PEI the regulatory gaming capital of North America.
Chief Francis is a strong leader and a needed asset on the First Nations side of any negotiating table. But given all the moving parts between the provincial government and First Nations, any attempt at this time to appoint him to the Senate would simply feed our already healthy skepticism of the Canadian Senate.
"...has the political pedigree" is an interesting description for someone who left $5 million in the budget for Social Services and Seniors while poor people suffered, and whose resignation was called for by the various times by Paul MacNeill when she was in another Ministerial portfolio. Then there is her complicity in the Plan B Highway. Docherty was defeated in the May 2015 election which saw Peter Bevan-Baker win District 17.
There are surely more qualified Islanders for this Senate seat than "yesmen, bagmen and defeated candidates".
Ross Jackson is co-founder/chair of the Gaia Trust, Denmark, and author of Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform . The Gaia Trust website is here: http://gaia.org/
He wrote this essay a couple of years ago for the anthology, Global Chorus -- with a different way of looking at our "usual" economic paradigm:
I believe the greatest threat to our survival is the way we have organized our international economic/ political structures. For example, the rules of the World Trade Organization work fine for corporations – especially the largest multinationals – but are particularly perverse in the way they penalize any country or company that tries to take the leadership in developing more environmentally friendly technologies. This is because the WTO rules do not permit a country to impose tariffs on foreign products produced with a lower environmental standard. In fact, a country cannot even demand to know how an imported product was produced. This one rule is, in my opinion, the greatest single barrier to a sustainable future.
The dismal record of the EU’s CO2 emissions quotas is a perfect example. The intention was fine, but there is no way to protect European companies that develop friendlier, but more costly technologies, because they will be undercut by foreign competitors. The result is that quota prices are too low to have any effect. If they were high enough to be effective, the EU’s corporations would scream and threaten to leave the EU (many have already done so). The difficulties of reform are further compounded by the fact that the people in charge of the WTO/IMF/World Bank are the very ones who benefit from the current system.
In Occupy World Street, I outline what I call a “breakaway strategy” that I believe has a chance of succeeding. It requires a few small countries to unite in forming an embryonic new organization giving the highest priority to sustainability and human rights – rather than economic growth – and then invite others to join. The strategy requires that civil society around the world subsequently unites in support of the breakaway states.
I believe that this is our best chance for survival. All it really needs is a single visionary leader to step forward and follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice: be the change you want to see in the world.
— Ross Jackson
October 14, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Today, Farmers' Markets are open in Charlottetown (9AM-2PM) and Summerside (9AM-1PM)
Today is also one of the three days left to vote for the PC Leadership race, if you have a new, current, or recently lapsed membership (meaning if you had purchased a membership to vote in the previous leadership race of Lantz-Aylward-Compton). The next dates for polling are Tuesday, October 17th and Friday, October 20th. More details.
Tomorrow, Sunday, October 15th:
Autumn Walk in the Forest, 2-4PM, Macphail Woods, Orwell. Free.
from their media release:
Woodlands are wonderful places at any time of the year, but a forest in autumn is always special. There are still lots of birds around, the witch hazel is blooming, and many plants are showing their fall colours. On Sunday, October 16th, staff of the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project will be leading an Autumn Woodland Walk through the trails on the Macphail Homestead in Orwell.
The walk will be an excellent opportunity to learn about the natural history of Prince Edward Island and develop an appreciation for woodland communities. It begins at the Macphail Woods Nature Centre at 2pm.
There is no charge for the walk and no registration is necessary. Participants are advised to bring good walking shoes and clothing appropriate to the weather conditions.
This event is just one of the many nature and forest‑related walks and workshops sponsored by the Environmental Coalition of PEI throughout the year.
For more information, call 651-2575, check out our web site (macphailwoods.org), email us(firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit us on Facebook.
From Thursday's Guardian lead editorial:
EDITORIAL: Desperate situation - The Guardian Lead Editorial
Published Thursday, October 12th, 2017
Last week’s update on P.E.I.’s mental health and addictions strategy did little to ease the concerns of Islanders.
What came out of the standing committee hearing caused additional alarm. Instead of hearing how the strategy is moving forward, MLAs just the opposite. We are facing a crisis – largely because of a dire shortage of psychiatrists.
Parents watching the proceedings from the gallery were horrified. Children in the school system, who need early intervention before symptoms worsen or problems arise, are at risk. Parents are demanding assurances about the safety of their children.
Dr. Heather Keizer, the province’s chief mental health and addictions officer, didn’t use the word ‘crisis’ before the Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, but that is exactly the message that parents heard. They have good reason for concern. Suicide rates on P.E.I. are alarming and some tragedies can be prevented.
As soon as Dr. Keizer was done, parents gathered to prepare a response for the province. “As parents of children currently being treated by the mental healthcare system, we were horrified to hear the chief psychiatrist of the province say that the system is so understaffed she can’t guarantee patient safety.” The statement accused the province of gambling with the lives of children and demanded immediate action to ensure their children’s safety.
Dr. Keizer had other alarming news for MLAs. Emergency rooms in P.E.I. are “extraordinarily short-handed” when it comes to treating patients with acute mental illness. The major shortage of psychiatrists is putting pressure on the remaining psychiatrists working in those ERs.
Dr. Keizer suggested there are higher rates of mental illness in P.E.I. than other provinces, such as Ont. where she had previously worked. Mental illness cases on P.E.I. are more common, more severe and more regularly show up in Island emergency rooms than in Ontario.
While the province should have 15 psychiatrists on-call for ER duty, there are 4.7. The numbers have inevitably led to extensive wait times for Island patients in need of acute mental health and addictions treatment. And Keizer confirmed that it’s conceivable that someone who is suicidal could be discharged from an ER without seeing a psychiatrist.
The province is trying hard to implement its new strategy unveiled last fall. Despite those good intentions, the critical shortage of psychiatrists - caused largely by retirements and attrition - is making implementation a severe challenge.
Health Minister Robert Henderson admits that remuneration isn’t comparable to other jurisdictions so it’s difficult to recruit these specialists to P.E.I. He hopes to review the pay scales and get to a number that makes P.E.I. more competitive. While there are no easy solutions, every effort must be made to attract more psychiatrists.
The need for long-term planning and investment in mental health and addictions is needed, Dr. Keizer told MLAs.
That’s a laudable strategy, but it’s the immediate self-harm danger to Islanders - young and old - that is of critical concern. It’s an alarming crack in our health care system, which seems to be widening daily.
Then, yesterday, Friday at 5PM, this press release is sent out:
announcing more walk-in clinic hours for mental health issues, in Charlottetown.
No where, no where, does the government credit the people -- mostly mothers -- who have been keeping the lack of cohesive mental health care before the public eye, no where was any credit given to those people, like Sarah Stewart-Clark. It's a government that won't admit that public pressure is having an effect; and that the people living with issues would be imperative to consult with about improving it
Sarah Stewart-Clark has organized the "#HowManyWade?" Facebook group, featuring posts by Island parents and others dealing with the system. It must be exhausting advocate work.
After summing up government's response up until last week, Sarah suggested things people can do:
(reprinted from a social media posting earlier this week, and slightly edited, with permission)
1) contact your MLA and tell them why these situations are unacceptable to you. MLAs found here
2) write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper describing why these situations are unacceptable to you. (Here are two:
Paul Macneill (Graphic) publications: email@example.com )
3) the legislative assembly opens November 14th. We need volunteers to witness what occurs each day in the house to hold politicians accountable. (More details later)
4 ) we need people to help serve those in our communities who need help. Medical treatment is just one of the many needs of people in a mental crisis- can you help drive to appointments or help families with logistics.
5) We have incredible community groups and non profits who could use your volunteer time or your fundraising to help them serve our community.
6. Find out who the candidate in your (district)riding and become politically engaged.
Everyone can help in some way. Big or small the only way we can make change happen is by working together. Imagine the impact we could have if all 4300 (In the HowManyWade? group) of us took some action
Theresa Helen “Susie” Matthias is a foot-painting artist:
I say “yes”: that we as humanity can survive the current, and future, environmental and social crises.
But our global social issues cannot even begin to be solved if we as a people do not better ourselves toward being able to treat all others as equals – regardless of race, religion, colour or creed. As a person with a disability, I have met people of all kinds who have assisted me at times, and I see a lot of them with kindness once given a chance.
With regards to the environmental crisis, as a human race, we once had to rely on each other and the environment in order to survive. But over a period of time, we have become more selfish and self-centred. We have become greedy and less caring about how we treat the environment, taking all of the Earth’s resources without replenishing them.
Everything comes down to respect: if we accept others’ differences, and if we maintain the same respectful attitude toward our environment, then I feel that we all have an opportunity to survive and thrive.
— Susie Matthias
October 13, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Advanced voting for the provincial Progressive Conservative leadership resumes tomorrow. Information on candidates can be found at their websites:
The leadership race ends next Friday, October 20th.
From yesterday's Guardian, on this chilly morning: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/letter-heat-pumps-vs-oil-option-155266/
LETTER: Heat pumps vs. oil option - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on Thursday, October 12th, 2017
Several years ago I became interested in the Green Party, both federal and provincial, but the chances of them ever taking power seemed remote.
That was back in the 1980s and 90s. Remember, we had a number of fuel shortages and the prices soared. People were concerned and the race for small fuel-efficient vehicles was on.
The big three produced some halfhearted attempts such as Vega, Pinto and Omni. They didn’t last and soon we were back to big gas guzzling trucks and V-8 cars again. However, today the story is different, indeed the situation is different, gas prices are at an all time high, prices that we once could not have imagined.
I think we can take hope from this, oil seems to be slipping, and the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline is a good example. Just drive around the Island today and try to count the number of heat pumps at private homes and large apartment buildings. We have several Green politicians elected across the country including here on P.E.I.
Climate change has become a reality (maybe not to Trump) and people are concerned. Finally, auto manufacturers are taking seriously the necessary change to electric and clean energy vehicles. China is leading the way and everyone else has to catch up. There is at last some hope for the future of our world and the human race
F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village
My first car was a used sky blue Pinto.
The Provincial Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Draft Recommendations Report is out and the public has one more week to comment on it. There will be meetings in Charlottetown (5PM), Summerside and Montague (both at 7PM) next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the public to get an overview, ask questions, and make comments.
Provincial Climate Change Adaptation Strategy page
John Pomeroy is the Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, and director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan
We are in a very dangerous time in history due to rapidly rising greenhouse gas concentrations and other impacts of our growing population. Climate warming means that we are now starting to see exactly how loss of cold melts snow, permafrost, sea ice and glaciers and how intensification of the hydrological cycle results in severe storms, floods and droughts. This involves irreversible thermodynamics and complex ecohydrological regime changes which take time to manifest themselves and are often unanticipated. Changes to water are focused and magnified downstream in river basins and are inordinately directed to rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands and floodplains where key ecosystems and our main communities reside.
I have found humanity’s response to the degradation of climate, ecosystems and water to be discouraging – we almost always respond and correct our behaviour only after a disaster and rarely with foresight. And then we try to forget about it. I fear that we will only begin to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions after repeated catastrophes have limited our ability and will to emit. It is virtually certain that we will see more extreme climate, ecosystem and water problems before the effects of declining emissions on climate become apparent. But there will be no return to “normal.” The responses to climate forcing will alter the Earth dramatically and irrevocably and require all the adaptation that humanity can tolerate.
Though unrecognizable in many instances, this will still be our home. Our clever species and many others will survive – intrinsically refigured by the trauma of change. Through this we must ensure that decency, diplomacy, integrity and our natural creative, hopeful spirit survive as we contend with irreversible thermodynamics and ecohydrological change.
— John Pomeroy
October 12, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Farm Centre Farmers' Market, 4-7PM, at the Farm Centre on University Avenue. Produce of all kinds, eggs, meat and crafts, and pleasant music and conversation.
More on Tuesday night's Council of Canadian's forum on NAFTA, and Water:
I was rather unclear about NAFTA regarding comments made by Scott Sinclair of the Centre for Policy Alternatives at the Forum Tuesday night, and fortunately some folks helped clarify what actually was said.
Whether we have a NAFTA or not is not "the be all or end all." And thought it is often implied for this country, life without NAFTA wouldn't be the total disaster.
And a strong that was made is that the Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDM) should be removed. Most national media about NAFTA indicates that Canada wants this, but many people who really examine it realize it's not good for our country at all on many levels.
Maude Barlow narrates this short (90 seconds) hands-on-a-whiteboard video about the ISDM, with a discussion on the page, too.
Concerns about how the National Energy Board approves projects is the subject of this initiative by the Sierra Club of Canada. Discussion and petition here:
The David Suzuki Foundation has "Climate Fellowships" available in the areas of Climate Change Communications, Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change, and Climate Change Adaptation and Cities. Higher degree prerequisites but it's good to see these opportunities in these fields, and it will be good to see what comes out of this.
Mary Evelyn Tucker, PhD. is a senior research scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She and her husband John Grim direct the Forum on Religion and the Ecology. She writes the October 12th Global Chorus essay.
More than ever before in human history we are facing a moment of immense historical consequence. Our planet has evolved over four and a half billion years. It has brought forth complex and beautiful life forms. We are latecomers to the Earth community. Our planetary presence and our technological powers are causing the climate to change, species to go extinct and ecosystems to be diminished. We have an immense challenge before us.
In over two hundred thousand years of our presence on this blue-green planet we have never been asked to renew the face of the Earth. That is what we are being asked to do now. To renew our wetlands and restore our woodlands. To re-inhabit cities and countryside in a sustaining way. To participate in healthy cycles of carbon and nitrogen. To become a life-enhancing species on a life-giving planet. This is no small task.
The possibility that is held forth for us as humans in renewing the face of the Earth is to become worthy of our name Homo sapiens sapiens. Perhaps we had to be named twice, sapiens, so we could reflect on what our gift of self-reflection would mean over time. We have to earn the name of wisdom.
To do that we will need to draw in the powers which have helped to shape our universe and Earth. As Thomas Berry suggested, this immense journey may be a source of great strength as we align our efforts with the unfolding universe:
If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the Earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.
— Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth
— Mary Evelyn Tucker
October 11, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
The Forum on Water and NAFTA held last night was well-attended and wove together many issues together:
* the myth of abundance of water and the actual state of the world's water,
* that climate change (and its effect on water) is closer to Canadians than we might think,
* that there is the potential of the provincial water act to enshrine the right to clean water in the upcoming legislation (and she thanked Minister Robert Mitchell (Communities, Land and Environment) and Agriculture and Fisheries Minister J. Alan McIsaac for being there and reminded them of this opportunity),
* that there are of course still are many concerns about a lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells, how this may need to change what we grow to adapt to changing climate, and that holding ponds filled with domestic wells are NOT the answer
* that the NAFTA negotiations are on-going and the Investor State Dispute Mechanism is not the be all and end all that the media sometimes makes it out to be (more on NAFTA another time).
Both NFU District Director Doug Campbell and Centre for Policy Alternatives research fellow Scott Sinclair made excellent presentations and clear points, Starchild Eliza Knockwood gave a beautiful welcome, and Nouhad Mourad did a great job moderating. Council of Canadians Honourary Chairperson of Maude ended on a wonderful positive note about the Energy East decision and the absolute power of people's voices, reminding us (smilingly), that in speaking truth to power, "it's always too soon to go home."
Maybe it is something about snowfence being used in a natural setting in an unnatural way at this time of year, but this picture of Kinder Morgan's attempt to prevent salmon from spawning in west coast rivers where they plan to build pipelines -- and installing that before they got the necessary permissions from DFO -- is infuriating.
photo originally on the Trans Mountain website and reproduced in the article:
published on-line Thursday, October 5th, 2017, by Peter McCartney
There may be similarities with the current situation involving AquaBounty and its proposed GM-fish factory in Rollo Bay. Though it received provincial environmental impact assessment approval, the federal minister of environment wrote that the new project needs its own new environmental assessment; no one is certain (due to tight security) but it sounds like they are starting to build on the site anyway.
"Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission"? Not with the environment.
Anita Stewart is a "culinary activist", food journalist, and founder of Food Day Canada which is scheduled for August 4th, 2018. She writes the October 11th Global Chorus essay.
If humankind is to survive, let us rekindle the extraordinary spirit that built our respective nations. Let’s learn and honour the fact that farmers and plumbers and cooks are as important to society as lawyers and politicians and pundits. Let’s cook, eat and preserve the harvest together, sharing our knowledge generously. Let’s embrace one another’s happiness as our own.
These dreams are indeed achievable. As Jesuit thinker Thomas Merton wrote, “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
— Anita Stewart
October 10, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Council of Canadians forum on Water, Supply Management, and NAFTA, 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown, Kent and Pownal. Free but donations accepted.
If you can only go to one event this week, come to this forum tonight and hear Maude Barlow, Doug Campbell and Scott Sinclair speak. They all know their fields and what is happening in the world; Maude is a most encouraging and knowledgeable speaker, and we are fortunate she gets here as often as she does. Plus, she keeps track of what's going on here in P.E.I. and offers useful, positive suggestions. If you have any of her books, bring them tonight (and there may be some for) and it's likely she will sign them afterwards.
Eliza Starchild Knockwood will open the event, and Nouhad Mourad will be the moderator. If I have it straight, Nouhad is now the Island's Council of Canadian representative, the Island's lion-hearted Leo Broderick is the national chairperson, and Maude is the honourary chairperson. The superlatives are pretty thick, but these people deserve it -- they are watchdogs of democracy and our environment.
Scott Sinclair was on CBC Radio's Island Morning this morning before 7AM, so if that is archived I can send it around.
The Public Accounts Standing Committee scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed due to a scheduling conflict with the Public Trustee.
MLA Peter Bevan-Baker writes:
As Leader of the Third Party, I am planning to introduce a Private Member’s Bill this fall that would amend the Employment Standards Act to provide improved whistleblower protections to employees working in the private sector. My staff and I are seeking input on this bill before we introduce it in the legislature.
In the spring, government introduced Bill 76: The Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act, which offers whistleblower protection to members of the public sector. We immediately thought it would also make sense to extend some basic protections to employees in the private sector. We reviewed legislation in other jurisdictions and discovered that both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick offer these protections. The Office of the Third Party has prepared a discussion paper on the proposed amendments and draft legislation for public consultation.<snip>
The rest of the blog posting and the document to look at are here:
And the deadline for input is set at Friday, October 27th.
George Mu’Ammar is a Palestinian food security analyst for the UN World Food Programme, and a beekeeper. This is a really thought-provoking essay he wrote, published for the October 10th day in the anthology Global Chorus.
How do we discuss “change”? “Did the dinosaurs evolve or die out?” Both and neither; the problem is only linguistic. “People who love this country can change it” has more meanings and implications than words. Language appears inappropriate for defining, analyzing and solving problems that go beyond individual daily personal life. We are language animals, genetically built for communication. But we do talk too much, giving ourselves unjustified praise, often lies, to satisfy our justice-seeking sentiments, or those of the conqueror within us. Language distorts and misrepresents reality, even nullifying efforts of entire communities. Years of manipulation using language produced societies that can be driven to consensus by religious/political leaders but, regardless of centuries of scientific advancements are incapable of agreeing upon solutions to problems that are easily observed and quantified by individuals.
Today we realize that global social and environmental problems are relentlessly advancing uncontrollably because of financial and political drivers. Commodities are incorrectly priced, discounting the real cost of the social/environmental impact their production caused. Incorrect measures of human success, defined in previous eras were based upon religious fantasies or military ideals with no regard for the bigger picture drawn by human accomplishments. We must start today defining standards for equilibrated globalized pricing of our industrial production based on the real cost to the planet, and more importantly (but less urgently) redefining the meaning of “success” by giving individuals the ethical background and support to define their moral compass and their goals in compatibility with those of their community and society, if necessary by calling upon the human need for religion and justice.
Human knowledge is adept at saving the global situation, requiring extensive and prolonged efforts on behalf of us all, with the only reward being the awareness of not having damaged Mother Nature as our predecessors had. Our consumption/disposal of food and non-food commodities must change based on new ideals to which our industrial practices must adapt, driven mostly by adjusted pricing. Our energy production/ consumption must be redesigned and our demand for military hardware must cease, outlawed. Obtaining this in a democratic world requires not only increased global awareness but also a correct metering of our actions and ambitions and those of our communities, guided by scientific strategy and not political blurb.
— George Mu’Ammar
October 9, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
A few events coming up this week:
Tuesday, October 10th:
Public Forum on Water Crisis, NAFTA & Supply Management, 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown. Featuring: Maude Barlow, Honourary Chair, Council of Canadians; Doug Campbell, District Director, National Farmers Union; and Scott Sinclair, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Scott Sinclair will be on Island Morning Tuesday with Matt Rainnie.
Wednesday, October 11th:
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 10AM, Coles Building. All welcome. "The committee will meet to receive a briefing on the Office of the Public Trustee from Mark Gallant, Public Trustee & Public and Official Guardian."
Five years ago around Thanksgiving, treeclearing and other heavy construction had started on the Plan B highway project in Churchill. Looking back, four years ago (in 2013) I wrote:
And a year ago (2012) there was the beauty and confusion of the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Once the snow/safety/security fence was installed, we dialed back the roadside sign-waving protest for the holiday, and those first few tents and campers blossomed to a village complete with many structures, visitors, awnings, food, a satellite supply station near Peter's Road -- everything except a milk cow, who was not easy to trailer in.
On the weekend <snip> Keptin John Joe Sark came over and lit a sacred fire and performed a smudging ceremony.
Keptin John Joe Sark blesses a sacred fire. Photo October 8th, 2012, by Margie Giddings, from photos posted later on the Facebook event -- with thanks to Margie.
More photos and memories to be shared (and we hope by you!) at the Plan B 5 Year Reunion, Saturday, November 18th
David R. Boyd, PhD, is an author, environmental lawyer, professor, and co-chair of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Team.
He provides a huge amount of information about environmental rights, and was featured in Silver Donald Cameron's documentary Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World. Here is David's website: http://davidrichardboyd.com/
I’m an optimistic environmentalist. That’s not an oxymoron. Over the past fifty years we’ve witnessed an extraordinary transformation of human legal systems, values and behaviour. Hundreds of international environmental treaties. Thousands of new environmental laws. The emergence of a new human right – to live in a healthy environment – now endorsed by 90 per cent of the world’s nations. This right is protected in over 100 constitutions, indicating it is among our most deeply cherished values and aspirations.
Some environmental laws are like hibernating polar bears, not yet active, but many are already fulfilling their goals. Safe drinking water has been extended to billions of people around the world. CFCs and other chemicals threatening to destroy the Earth’s protective ozone layer have been virtually eliminated. The most deadly persistent organic pollutants are globally banned. Endangered species including grey whales, bald eagles and sea otters recovered from the brink of extinction. Levels of some air pollutants are down 90 per cent.
Humanity still faces monumental environmental challenges. But our track record of successes provides a powerful elixir of hope. We can reboot society to flourish on 100 per cent renewable energy from sun, wind and water. We can create a circular economy without waste and pollution. We can grow delicious and nutritious food locally. We can build bright, green cities where everyone lives within a five-minute walk of green spaces – parks, community gardens and orchards. Walking, cycling and public transit will be more convenient and economical than driving. Buildings will produce more energy than they consume. From Vancouver to Stockholm, these visions are becoming reality.
Western cultures are recovering the indigenous wisdom that we depend on Nature for health, well-being and prosperity. We must treat this wonderful planet, our home, with the respect and reverence it richly deserves. Within the geologically infinitesimal span of one or two generations – ours and our children’s – we can ensure a cleaner, greener, healthier and happier future for all of Earth’s inhabitants.
— David R. Boyd
October 8, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Clare Delaney (Global Chorus essay writer for October 8th, see below) outlines quite extensively four areas where people can make a positive impact, in a booklet available on her website (link below). They can be summarized:
select alternatives to bottled water
eat less meat (keeping in mind special occasions like Thanksgiving)
use purchasing power to choose less packaging, etc., buy more locally
travel more wisely (reducing air travel and making smarter choices)
Delaney is an environmentalist, sustainable living writer and speaker. Her website is here: http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/
We live on the most perfect planet. Our “pale blue dot” to quote Carl Sagan. It is perfectly positioned in space to give us everything we need to sustain diverse life. Similar perfection is hard to find.
Despite this, we extract, transport and burn fossil fuels at an unprecedented rate. We don’t account for the external costs (pollution and its associated health problems, disposal and waste) that go into producing energy, products and “growth” as we currently define it. Our centralized food production system doesn’t consider the environmental cost of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, animal welfare and habitat destruction.
Collective suicide is not factored into annual profit reports.
Large corporations are by no means the only problem. We know that we must reduce carbon emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. Yet the biggest emitters – China, USA, Russia, India, Japan – will not meet those requirements. Japan will actually increase emissions, as will Australia and Canada.
Most countries are run by politicians who are frequently tied to and dependent on corporate capitalism. By necessity, politicians think short-term (the next election). A decision that is good for the planet but may cost them votes, is political suicide.
And then there’s the general populace. You and me. We’re concerned with jobs and money. We also think short-term. Sure, save the planet, but don’t inconvenience me or make me pay more.
Rampant capitalism, powerful corporations, politicians dependent on votes, and a predominantly uncaring population. It’s a deadly combination. Said Albert Einstein bluntly: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
Even with so many passionately showing us the error of our ways, do we have sufficient commitment to make the necessary radical changes to save our beautiful – and fragile – pale blue dot?
Are we “fiddling while Rome burns”?
It’s time to recognize that dramatic change is, quite simply, essential for our survival.
We have a small window of opportunity to mend our ways before it is too late.
Join the global chorus for action.
Because the alternative – the destruction of our perfect planet, our dot in infinity – is just too final to contemplate.
— Clare Delaney
Astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) reads his "Pale Blue Dot" essay (about 4 minutes), reflecting on the photo taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990 which was turned to see the Earth before leaving the Solar System (6 billion km from Earth), at his request. Recorded in 1994, this to me is a beautiful Thanksgiving Essay. Gazing at the photo of our fragile-looking, tiny pale blue dot, he concludes:
"To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we have ever known." -- Carl Sagan
Pale Blue Dot, read by Carl Sagan:
David Suzuki also chose "Blue Dot" to name his movement for environmental rights.
October 7, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Some Saturday Farmers' Markets are still open today, though it may be the last week for some of the seasonal ones. Charlottetown's is 9AM-2PM and Summerside's is 9AM-1PM.
Voting begins in the Saturday advance polls for the PC Tory leadership race:
Saturdays, October 7th and 14th, 10AM-3PM:
Location is based on current MLA Districts:
District 1 and 2: Fortune Community Centre
District 3 and 4: Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre
Districts 5-18: Murchison Centre, 17 St, Pius X Ave, Charlottetown
Districts 19-24: Credit Union Place, Summerside
Districts 25-27: Bloomfield Legion
Public workshop reading of "Floor 27", a madcap musical being worked on by Catherine O'Brien and others, 2-4PM, The Guild theatre, admission by donation.
The benefit fund account for Cindy Richards will be closed after the Thanksgiving holiday. If you wish to contribute, you can stop by any Island Credit Union today, or send an e-transfer to <firstname.lastname@example.org> or cheque to Citizens' Alliance, c/o VRC, 81 Prince Street, Ch'town, C1A 4R3.
Some people have noticed fewer bugsmears on their vehicle windshields this summer. We tend not to notice the changes in the number of "noncharismatic" species. But insects are insects. David Suzuki and staff write this week:http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2017/10/bye-bye-bug-splatter-is-this-the-new-silent-spring/
Bye-bye, bug splatter: Is this the new silent spring? - David Suzuki.org article
Published on Thursday, October 5th, 2017
By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway Project Manager Jode Roberts.
Masses of monarch butterflies fluttering across Toronto's waterfront. Painted ladies (often mistaken for monarchs) descending on Montreal. Combined with the hottest September ever recorded in the Great Lakes region, it's been a strange time in Eastern Canada. We should savour the joys of these captivating critters while we can, because their future — and that of insects generally — is uncertain.
Many Ontarians noticed this year's unexpected monarch bounty. It's difficult to determine population size during migration, but after two decades of fewer and fewer sightings, the number of monarchs this summer has been astounding. Hundreds of thousands are now flitting to Point Pelee, where they congregate, before heading across Lake Ontario to begin their 4,000-kilometre journey back to the alpine Mexican forests, where their great-great-great grandparents began in March.
Why have monarchs had such a stellar summer? For the past few years, they've faced a number of climate-related calamities, from winter storms in Mexico to scorching heat in their breeding grounds in Texas, the U.S. Midwest and Southern Canada. Widespread herbicide and pesticide use has been linked to dramatic declines in monarchs and the milkweed host plants they depend on.
This year they've had great conditions throughout their journey. Even the weirdly wet summer that put Toronto Island and many beaches underwater appeared to be a boon, as it ensured wildflowers were in full bloom, providing plentiful nectar to fuel their return trip.
The painted ladies stopover story is different, though also related to strange summer weather. Scientists believe shifting weather patterns and winds pushed the thousands of butterflies that descended on the Montreal area to the ground by as they migrated from the northern boreal region to the southern United States.
The unexpected appearance of charming critters like monarchs and painted ladies could cloud a greater issue: the dramatic loss of less alluring insect species, such as moths, fireflies, beetles and hover flies. Monarchs and honeybees have increasingly been in the media spotlight, but as University of New Brunswick ecologist Joe Nocera noted in a recent Science magazine article, "We have a pretty good track record of ignoring most noncharismatic species."
In the article, writer Gretchen Vogel describes what entomologists call "the windscreen phenomenon." Many people recall having to clean bugs from car windshields during drives through farmland and countryside. Today, it seems drivers everywhere are spending less time scrubbing and scraping.
Although bug splatter reduction is anecdotal, a growing body of research shows many once-common insects are declining. A study published in Science found most known invertebrate populations have dropped by 45 per cent over the past four decades. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reports the U.K. has seen a 59 per cent decline in insects since 1970. Global estimates point to a 40 per cent reduction of all pollinating insects.
As reporter Tom Spears asks in an Ottawa Citizen article, "So, who cares about bugs?" It's a fair question. Many of us were raised to disdain, or even fear, critters. Numerous species remain unloved or fly below our radar.
As we learn in elementary school, honeybees and wild bees pollinate much of our food. We are now coming to grips with the alarming consequences of losing pollinators, even if it's been difficult to diagnose the multiple causes. Insects also provide a host of other essential services, from making soil healthy and controlling pests to being a nutritious food source for birds. A 2006 study suggests wild insects provide ecological services worth $57 billion annually.
Beyond any economic value, these species are irreplaceable parts of the natural world. We must acknowledge and remedy their quiet decline before we experience the next "silent spring," a term popularized by scientist Rachel Carson, who noticed in the 1960s that widespread pesticide use was killing songbirds.
As we move into fall, I encourage you to take note of the bugs in your life. Many are now flitting to warmer climates or crawling into crevices and burrows to wait out the winter. Given the rapidly changing climate, we don't know what impact the next hurricane, Arctic vortex or 35 C September day will have on charismatic and not-quite-as-appealing insects. So, savour the moment, monarch lovers. And let's redouble our efforts to make our communities more green and resilient.
Paul Beckwith is a part-time professor of climatology at University of Ottawa. He writes the October 7th Global Chorus essay. Beckwith has a really good and frequently updated blog here: https://paulbeckwith.net/
Abrupt climate change. It is happening today, big time. We have changed the chemistry of our atmosphere with fossil fuel emissions. Climate system statistics are now different. Rates of change have surpassed tipping points. Extreme weather events are skyrocketing in frequency, intensity and duration. Societal and economic costs are already substantial and are rapidly accelerating. Oceans are acidifying. Global food supplies are threatened. We are still at very early stages. Climate change is just getting warmed up.
Powerful feedbacks have caused enormous Arctic temperature amplification with exponential collapse of sea ice and snow cover. Thawing terrestrial and subsea permafrost is releasing ever-increasing amounts of powerful climate-warming methane. Atmospheric circulation patterns without guidance from stable jet streams are water vapour turbocharged from increased evaporation. Regions unlucky in our new climate casino are inundated by torrential rainfall and becoming water-worlds. Or baked from persistent heat waves and drought and fires exploding in size, frequency and severity. Or buried by snow and ice storms. Lives are in turmoil. Infrastructure like houses, roads, train tracks and pipelines are being hammered.
What next? There is no new normal. Far from it. We have lost our stable familiar climate. Likely permanently. Rates of change greatly exceed anything recorded in paleo-records. By at least 10 to 30 times. Greenland and Antarctic ice caps are melting and calving at unprecedented and accelerating rates. Large chunks will soon slide into the ocean causing tsunamis and abrupt sea level rise, swamping coastlines. We are heading to a much warmer world. Abruptly. Within decades. The transition will be brutal for civilization. Global flora and fauna face a sixth mass extinction.
There is hope. Knowledge of this climate threat is spreading widely to our society that has been brainwashed into inaction by fossil fuel corporations and their subservient governments who maintain the status quo. More and more people see trees dying in their backyards. Devastation to their houses, roads and cities from extreme weather events is awakening them to the grave dangers. Soon a threshold will be crossed and a tipping point reached in human behaviour. A wisdom reached on the reality of the risks that we face. And finally global concerted action. To slash emissions and embrace renewable energies. And change our ways. And retool our economies and reset our priorities. And not take our life on this planet for granted.
— Paul Beckwith
October 6, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Coming up in a couple of weeks:
Thursday, October 26th:
Panel Discussion, "The Island as a Carbon-Neutral Province? Making the Case", 7PM, UPEI, McDougall Hall Room 142. Sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies, free.
from the University events page, edited for length:
With so much in the news these days about monster hurricanes and other unusually severe weather events, people are becoming more and more concerned about the long-term impact of climate change. Living on a small, low land-mass as we do, Islanders feel immediately vulnerable to sea-level rise. And so we ask ourselves what can be done about it; and also, how can we, on our own island, provide a model of positive action for elsewhere?
One possibility would be for us to make a concerted attempt to set an example for others – in Canada and beyond – by becoming Canada’s first carbon-neutral province. How this might be done will be the topic of a public symposium. This event is sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services and the UPEI Climate Lab.
The principal speaker will be Dr. Catherine Potvin, a professor at McGill University and associate staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In the wake of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference on Confederation, Dr. Potvin was selected as one of 23 women visionaries for the future of Canada. She leads the group Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a voluntary initiative that mobilizes over 80 researchers from every province, with sustainability being at the heart of their research programs. The objective of Sustainable Canada Dialogues is to identify actions designed to have large, viable impacts to help Canadian governments at all levels to make thoughtful and ambitious commitments to greenhouse-gas emission reductions. Though the scale of the global challenge is enormous, more and more individuals, communities, industries and governments are stepping up to the task.
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.
Some other events have been updated on the Citizens' Alliance website calendar:
Today's Global Chorus essay is by former Island Poet Laureate David Helwig, author of over 40 books, including The Names of Things and Sudden and Absolute Stranger. More info: http://davidhelwig.com/
Geography abandons itself to history;
cities afloat on the fires of the infinite
falter in the elisions of our knowing.
Who will whistle the lovely notes of the bobolink,
the meadows lost? Who will warranty
the exactly certain doom of our gardens?
Beneath the wild leaves of metaphor
wind and grass and ocean shallows
seed futures which will come or not come.
Unease kindles beyond the half-life of certainties.
We try to believe our grandchildren will forgive us
if we bless them and abandon thinking.
The inevitable rises like a great flood.
— David Helwig
October 5, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment Meeting, 10AM, Coles Building. Topic:
The committee will receive a briefing on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act from Karen Rose, Information and Privacy Commissioner.
You can watch the livestream here:
Farm Centre Farmers' Market, 4-8PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue.
Health PEI AGM, 6:30-9:30PM, Credit Union Place in Summerside. All welcome. Also to be livestreamed at this website. From the government's notice board: "The Annual General Meeting offers an opportunity for all Islanders to hear updates on the work and performance of Health PEI, to celebrate the presentation of the 2017 Leadership Excellent in Quality and Safety Award, and to participate in an open panel discussion with the Senior Management Group."
This is a complicated read, but very informative on sticky connections, past and present. http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/opinion/2017/10/4/kevin-j--arsenault--premier-exercises-poor-judgment.html
Premier exercises poor judgment - The Guardian by Kevin J. Arsenault
Appointment of deputy minister of finance undermines public confidence in ability to govern
Published on Wednesday, October 4th, 2017
Premier Wade MacLauchlan assured Islanders he would restore public confidence in government by being “open and transparent” and governing with the highest possible ethical standards.
Well, appointing Neil Stewart as deputy minister of finance pretty much puts the kibosh to that promise. Why? Two reasons.
First: When the previous auditor general (Colin Younker) investigated PNP back in 2009, he reported that Neil Stewart, who was the director of Island Investment Development Inc. (IIDI), and running the PNP at the time, “broke rules” and “made up new rules” without first obtaining the required approval of the IIDI board. Younker noted: “A review of the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors confirmed that program changes, policies, and approvals were not discussed or approved at the board level.” Younker later told members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that, “In some cases Neil might make the change. Sometimes instruction might come from the deputy.” The deputy (Neil’s boss) was Brooke MacMillan.
One such change allowed ‘bed and breakfast’ owners to access PNP funds. Brooke happened to own a bed and breakfast, so he immediately applied for (and received) PNP money. After this became public, then-premier Robert Ghiz was forced to insist Brooke repay the money, along with PNP money that his wife received.
As the person in charge of the PNP during the program's most scandalous period, Neil Stewart was clearly complicit in unethical PNP decisions and actions, and acted without proper authorization from his board. Ghiz should have disciplined or dismissed Neil, but he rewarded him by appointing him CEO and chair of the board of IIDI instead.
Secondly: After the e-gaming scandal became public knowledge it was learned that Neil Stewart signed-off on an extremely problematic $950,000 loan to the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. back in 2011, along with Michael Mayne (who replaced Brooke MacMillan as deputy minister) and Doug Clow (an IIDI board member at the time, now vice-chair of IRAC).
The new auditor general, Jane MacAdam, noted in her investigation of e-gaming that although the $950,000 loan had been “guaranteed” by former minister of finance Wes Sheridan, it did not have the required cabinet approval which would have generated an order-in-council, thereby making it a public document. She then felt it necessary to point out that: “It is reasonable to expect that . . . the executive director of IIDI (Neil Stewart) should be familiar with the authorization requirements for guarantees outlined in Treasury Board policy on Loans and Guarantees and the Financial Administration Act.” This loan approval resulted in the loss of nearly $1 million of taxpayer's money: with no loan security, the MacLauchlan government was forced to ‘write off’ the entire amount last year.
PC MLAs and Peter Bevan-Baker unanimously called for senior officials like Neil Stewart to be either “reprimanded” or “suspended” for his part in approving the e-gaming loan, but instead, the premier has given even more control of P.E.I.'s finances to Neil by appointing him deputy minister of finance.
Immediately after MacLauchlan became premier he removed Brooke MacMillan as CEO of the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission and appointed an ethics commissioner saying: “It is in the public interest to maintain and strengthen public confidence that the work of the government is being conducted with integrity and to the highest ethical standards.”
Unfortunately, appointing Neil Stewart as deputy minister of finance renders MacLauchlan’s words completely disingenuous and further undermines public confidence in his ability to govern responsibly.
- Kevin J. Arsenault lives in Ft. Augustus and obtained his Ph.D. in ethics from McGill University.
Gary Hirshberg is the co-founder of organic yogourt producing Stonyﬁeld Farm and chair of the advocacy for labeling GMO foods group Just Label It! campaign. He writes the October 5th Global Chorus essay.
Self-interest. It’s our greatest threat and yet also our greatest hope.
Self-interest has led us to ignore our “externalities” – the direct consequences of our economic behaviours that we then leave off our balance sheets and income statements as if they don’t exist.
The bad news is that most of these outcomes – toxification, depletion of biodiversity and natural resources, climate change, cancer rates – have worsened. And this may be history’s first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.
But therein lies the good news. The very same self-interest that got us into most of these messes is probably the only hope to get ourselves and our planet back to good health. Climate events have displaced millions and cost billions. The President’s Cancer Panel reports that 41 per cent of us will be diagnosed with cancers from exposure to chemicals in our foods, air and water. Disappearing pollinators pose serious risks to farmers and food prices. These are not just statistics. We are all being touched. We feel fear, hardship and pain.
And pain will makes us change. Because it is in our self-interest to do so. I have hope because I have seen that ecology is really long-term economics. That healthy soil sequesters carbon and produces higher yields. And biodiversity controls pests better than chemicals. That the cheapest form of healthcare is not getting sick. And food is better when Nature’s rules are followed.
When it comes to expediting our evolution, pain is a good catalyst.
— Gary Hirshberg
October 4, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Last Wednesday Charlottetown Farmers' Market, 9AM-2PM, Belvedere Avenue.
It'll be less busy than Saturday will be, and lots of great produce, Thanksgiving centerpieces, a place to have a special lunch, etc.
Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development, 1:30PM, Coles Building, all welcome. Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Terry Soloman, Partner with MRSB Group, on proposed federal tax changes for private corporations.
Final Provincial PC Party Leadership Forum, 7PM, Rodds Brudenell, all welcome. The PC Party is broadcasting it on their Facebook page: Watch Livestream on Facebook page
From the news, yesterday:
Psychiatrist Dr. Heather Keizer is being honest about the situation with provincial mental health care, which she spelled out is very much in crisis mode during an extended Standing Committee on Health and Wellness meeting yesterday. It appears P.E.I. is fortunate she has stuck with the province. Note that up until yesterday, Minister Robbie Henderson and some others unequivocally had been saying there was no crisis in mental health care. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/inadequate-care-psychiatric-emergency-room-1.4321142
Dr. Keizer will be interviewed on CBC Radio's Island Morning between 7:30 and 8AM.
Thursday, October 5th:
Health PEI's AGM, 6:30-9:30PM, Credit Union Place in Summerside and live-streamed. Islanders are encouraged to participate. Details here.
From international news:
Catholic church to make record divestment from fossil fuels
by Arthur Neslen, published on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017, on The Guardian (UK)'s website:
More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, on the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi. <snip>
More from The Guardian (United Kingdom): https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/03/catholic-church-to-make-record-divestment-from-fossil-fuels
Norie Huddle is an author, public speaker, consultant, artist, and can be found at the website Butterfly Blessings She writes today's Global Chorus essay, which is really one of the most positive and wonderful in Todd E. MacLean's positive and wonderful anthology.
Yes, we can transform ourselves, all of humanity – and do it very rapidly and enjoyably.
Remember: transformation is not a linear process; it can happen all at once.
To survive and thrive as a species, to heal the Earth and ourselves, we have a big job ahead of us and must come together as never before to support and empower and cheer on one another. How grateful I am for all that you are doing – and how grateful I am for our partnership in the Great Work ahead.
Be connected, be authentic, breathe with awareness, be flexible and open, remember that we’re all students and all teachers, find the perfection in the moment, feel and express gratitude, follow your bliss, be kind, inform yourself, grow in your capacity for love and contribution, collaborate wholeheartedly and cheerfully, create beauty.
Thank you so much for doing your part! Together we can do what no one of us can do alone. Love and Blessings,
— Norie Huddle
October 3, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Silver Donald Cameron's film Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World was a gem to watch, engaging and well done. Thanks to the good crowd that came out, and I hope we can share it with other people soon. Thanks to Silver Donald for making a point to bring his film to P.E.I. on his tour, and it was good to have the Atlantic Credit Union sponsorship to help with funding.
One term he used was hoping Canada becomes more a pluri-nation, a new term for me but clear as what some other countries have evolved to, to include their Indigenous and other groups.
Some events happening in the next weeks:
Tuesday, October 3rd:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 1:30 PM, Meeting # 6, 2016-2026 Mental Health and Addiction Strategy Coles Building, all are welcome to attend any part of these meetings.
"The Secret Life of Bats", Nature PEI monthly meeting, 7:30PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House. All welcome. More details.
Tuesday, October 10th:
Maude Barlow and others talking about water, NAFTA, and more, 7PM, Rodd Charlottetown, free but donations accepted for Council of Canadians.
Wednesday, October 11th
Cannabis town hall, sponsored by Sean Casey, 6PM, Holman Grand Hotel.
Tuesday, October 17th
Climate Change Adaptation plan review, UPEI, Andrews Hall, Room142
The next two nights have consultations in Summerside and Montague at 7PM.
Last day to comment on draft -- Friday, October 20th.
Some details on the Adaption Strategy.
And, of course:
Saturday, November 18th:
Plan B Fifth year Reunion, 7PM, Farm Centre.
Plan on coming to a gathering to look back and look ahead. Plan to come for any part of the night.
Ryan Vandecasteyen is a ﬁlmmaker and environmental advocate. He co-created The Pipedreams Project , and wrote the essay printed for today in the Global Chorus anthology.
I have hope that there is indeed a way past our current global crises.
We’ve reached a critical point in our collective history; all around the world we’re seeing the impacts of our continual need for growth. Governments are favouring big business over the welfare of people and the sustainability of our life systems. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, increased severity of major weather events and desertification.
Resource use is poisoning our land, air and water. We’ve entered the only era in the history of our planet where humans are a leading driver of geophysical and ecological change.
Despite how bleak the picture can be at times, I’m empowered by the thought that we’ve reached a critical turning point, and before us lies an amazing opportunity. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Every day I’m inspired and given hope by stories of groups of people all around the world standing up and demanding to be heard, telling us that business as usual is unacceptable, and taking affirmative action to affect real change.
I found myself being a part of one of these kinds of stories of standing up for change, as two colleagues and I set out to kayak the length of the British Columbian coastline to connect and engage citizens with the risks posed by the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
I’m lucky to live in a place where these kinds of stories are unfolding in my own backyard, where thousands of people from all walks of life are standing up to say no to dirty energy, to protect the places they call home and one of the last truly wild places on Earth.
Change is messy, and it’s not an easy task. For us to survive, we each have to recognize that we all play a role; history is being made right here and now and every one of us is already a part of it. To me the question is, will we be known for our inaction, or for our drive to recognize and act on the world-changing issues with which we’re faced?
— Ryan Vandecasteyen
October 2, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
Silver Donald Cameron's film Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World, 7PM, The Guild, admission by donation. More about Silver Donald's project here. This is a chance to see the movie on a big screen and continue the discussion on this topic. Admission by donation.
Standing Committees are meeting this month quite regularly. Here is the week's list (if the links do not work, they should be here):
Tuesday, October 3rd:
Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, 1:30 PM, Meeting # 6, 2016-2026 Mental Health and Addiction Strategy Coles Building,
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the 2016-2026 Mental Health and Addiction Strategy. Presenters include: Hon. Robert Henderson, Minister of Health and Wellness; Dr. Kim Critchley, Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness; Dr. Heather Keizer, Chief, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Health PEI; and Verna Ryan, Chief Administrative Officer, Mental Health and Addictions Services, Health PEI.
Wednesday, October 4th:
Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development,1:30 PM, Meeting # 8, Briefing on proposed federal tax changes, Coles Building.
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing from Terry Soloman, Partner with MRSB Group, on proposed federal tax changes for private corporations.
Thursday, October 5th:
Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment,10:00 AM, Meeting # 7, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Coles Building.
Topic: The committee will receive a briefing on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act from Karen Rose, Information and Privacy Commissioner.
Jennifer J. Brown, PhD, is an author, mother, scientist. She writes the Global Chorus essay for October 2nd.
When I think about our future as a species, I always look back at our history for perspective. The stone age must have seemed like all there was for a while, and then the bronze age too. And at times, the fossil fuel age we are in feels so entrenched that it is something we cannot change, but of course, it will pass, as all other ages have. Our future will shine with the realization of the promises of solar and wind generated energy; that future is blossoming even now. Alternatives to coal, oil and gas are all around us above ground and will sustain our needs with clean renewable energy. Our future is as bright as the sun.
Looking into our future as a species I see a time when life is respected universally, with the rights of people and animals protected around the world. People will continue to turn away from the barbaric practices of the past, embracing the path of vegetarian and vegan diets for a healthier planet. As the demand for animal products fade, the animals, birds and fish will regain a place of honour in the world of Homo sapiens. Their rights will be respected as ours are. We will survive to see a peaceful and natural world, rich in variety.
I have hope, and we have hope, because of the growing awareness among young people who can reach beyond borders as they learn about their world. The Internet and social media continue to connect us to each other in ways that defy nationalism and push us toward a more peaceful planet.
— Jennifer J. Brown
October 1, 2017
Chris Ortenburger's CA News
An event tonight:
Sunday, October 1st:
Development and Peace's 50th Anniversary Concert, 7PM, Our Lady of Assumption Parish Hall, 151 Stratford Road, Stratford. Various performers. Admission by donation.
The Pugwash Conference on climate change and communities is finishing this morning. While nearly all of the participants and some of the materials used as reference are from Nova Scotia, the region shares many concerns and many strengths. More to come.
Rob Sisson is still president of ConservAmerica when he wrote this about three years ago. It does feel a bit dated today, but there should be hope for the future.
ConservAmerica is an American conservation group of Republicans and conservatives who care about environmental protection. For the past two decades, there has not been a lot of reason to be optimistic that we’ll leave behind a sustainable world for future generations.
Today, however, I am extremely optimistic and hopeful for our shared future. We have a moral obligation to lead on major global issues like climate change, clean drinking water and clean air. Ronald Reagan referred to America as “the shining light upon a hill” giving hope to all the world’s citizens. A purposeful failure to answer the present environmental challenges would extinguish that beacon.
My political party is the keystone – currently the missing piece in building the national will to tackle these problems. I’m confident that the Republican Party will soon rediscover its great conservation legacy. The demographic landscape in America will force the party to adapt.
Voters under the age of thirty believe environmental protection should be a priority. Hispanic voters, the fastest growing cohort, strongly support climate action. Pro-life voters, always taken for granted by Republican candidates, are now recognizing that sustaining life after birth is equally important to protecting it before birth. Recent polls even demonstrate rank-and-file Republicans support laws protecting the environment.
It is among faith-based voters, the salt of the conservative movement, where I have greatest hope. There are 70 million Catholics in the United States, and I am one of them. The last two popes – John Paul II and Benedict XVI – spoke eloquently and often about caring for creation. Pope Francis has surpassed his predecessors in the ability to reach into the hearts of Catholics around the world. His focus on environmental protection and justice is awakening the slumbering Church. If – when – he issues a call to U.S. Catholics to rise above politics and self-interest to serve God and humanity, American politicians will race to the front of the legion.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan described our mutual obligation:
We want to protect and conserve the land on which we live – our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.
Thirty years later, I am brimming with hope that we will heed those words.
— Rob Sisson