catch-up on the most recent commentaries on CETA:
Published on June 24thOne of the European Community’s (EU) highest priorities in the Canada and European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations is to extend its scope to provincial and municipal levels. This will hinder federal and provincial government rights to protect universal Medicare and expand and create new public health services.
As the EU negotiators seek to weaken Canada’s protection for health care, the federal and the provincial governments need to respond by better protecting our public health care from European and U.S. corporations wanting to exploit it for profit. Our governments can do this by insisting on a strong and comprehensive reservation that protects health and social services.
The Harper government has already made a serious mistake with CETA by agreeing to extend patents for European Pharmaceutical companies by up to two years. Pharmaceuticals will be more expensive and will make Canada’s pharmaceutical patents the longest in the world. Medication costs will increase by between $850 million and 1.6 billion annually ($3-4.5 million in PEI). Canadian taxpayers, especially low income earners and seniors will pay these increased costs even if the federal government compensates the provinces.
If CETA proceeds without a strong protective reservation for health, the provinces will be required to negotiate exemptions or rely exclusively on the inadequate Annex II reservation. We only have sketchy information on what the provinces are actually carving out. As far as we can determine, no province or territory requested reservations to exempt health or other public services.
The current Annex II would protect income security, social welfare, public education, public training, health and child care, only to the extent that these are social services established or maintained for a public purpose. Unfortunately, a few provinces are allowing some private health care delivery and some services are a mix of public and private, making it difficult to distinguish public from private services and difficult for Canada to claim it is maintaining the system purely for public purposes.
The NAFTA blueprint on which CETA is based, initially gave no protection to health and social services except for the flawed Annex II. Thanks to public pressure, enhanced protection for health care known as Annex I was added. The combination of annexes I and II gave stronger but not complete protection to Canada’s health and social services.
Now the EU is demanding that Canada abandon Annex 1 and rely solely on the limited Annex 11, a move that would weaken the current protection for health care. The public health system would have to compete with private interests seeking profits. This situation could lead to a two-tier system allowing the wealthy to jump queues and waiting lists thereby denying access to those least able to pay.
Canada needs to safeguard Medicare by negotiating a new exemption stipulating that “nothing in the CETA shall be construed to apply to measures adopted or maintained by a party with respect to our ability to expand coverage of public health care or public health insurance.” This would allow the space to create new services such as Universal Pharmacare and home care without fear of trade challenges.
Wherever two-tier systems exist in health care, the public system is diminished. Trained health-care workers are drained into the private system leaving the public system more stressed. Waiting lists become longer, especially for low-income earners and people on fixed pensions. The more complicated and costly procedures are left to the public system as private companies, wanting to profit from people’s illnesses, enhance their profit margins by performing the quickest and less costly procedures. CETA will allow these private companies to compete with the public system.
It is clear that there are commercial interests behind the European Union’s demand to include health care in CETA. This is against Canadian values because in Canada, health care is delivered solely on the criterion of patients’ needs without regard for their ability to pay. Our public system needs to be strengthened and improved not undermined by the restrictive CETA. Left on its own the Annex 11 reservation leaves federal and provincial governments vulnerable to private Investor lawsuits under the Investment Protection Chapter.
Worse still, the final ruling in a dispute about whether something qualifies as health for a public purpose as outlined in Annex 11 would be made by a biased trade or investment dispute panel — usually three individuals — outside of Canada and out of our control. The huge pharmaceutical company, EIi Lilly is currently trying to sue Canada for half a billion dollars for making generics from two drugs whose patents expired two years ago.
CETA and similar trade and investment liberalization agreements are undemocratic and designed to shrink government. They encourage the spread of new competitive markets where they don’t presently exist such as public health and other public services.
We don’t need corporations controlling and chipping away at public services that make society more democratic and equal. We don’t need private interests exploiting the sick by introducing profit-making in public health-care systems. We want fair trade, not CETA.
Mary Boyd is Chair, P.E.I. Health Coalition
And the immediate response (I wonder if there are fill-in-the-blank responses all ready to go for any earnest opposing letters published)
Published on June 26th, 2104
I wish to respond to the article published on June 23 with regard to the historic Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA).
With CETA, Canadian businesses will have preferred access to the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc, with more than 500 million consumers and an economy with over $17 trillion of economic activity each year. We will be the only nation with preferred access to both the EU, the 300 million affluent consumers in the United States, and the over 118 million people in Mexico. In Canada, one in five jobs is dependent on exports, and more than 60 per cent of our annual GDP comes from trade.
As our government has stated, Canada trades on products, services and expertise, but we maintain direct control over our regulations and government powers.
The concerns raised by Ms. Boyd are the same spurious claims that were made by those opposed to free trade with the United States over 20 years ago. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed, Canada’s annual GDP has risen by nearly $1.2 trillion, 4.7 million jobs have been created in Canada and the country’s trilateral trade in goods with the United States and Mexico has more than tripled.
CETA excludes health, public education and other social services. In addition, nothing in CETA can force governments to privatize, contract out, or to deregulate public services. Policy makers here guide these decisions in Canada. The suggestions made by Ms. Boyd are without merit and are designed to promote an anti-trade agenda.
Our government worked with provinces and territories at the negotiating table from the very beginning. In fact, there has been direct outreach on CETA to ensure it benefits Canadians in all provinces. The Canada-EU Trade Agreement is a good deal for Canadians, a good deal for Prince Edward Islanders and a good deal for jobs and long-term prosperity in Canada.
days to be outside, but here's a little bit to read and contemplate these two
recent letters from The Guardian. A great time for discussion
would be next Thursday, July 3rd, at 7PM at t the Haviland Club (2 Haviland
Street), at the next Connect Meeting on Thursday, July 3, at 7:00PM.
Connect is the effort of FairVote Canada and Leadnow.ca to "make 2015 the
last unfair election".
Published on June 24, 2014
On the last night of the Roman year, two men kept vigil on the Capitoline Hill, watching the skies for omens. They were the Consuls, the two chief magistrates of the Roman Republic. They would take office on the first day of January, would have one year in which to effect any political programs, and would retire from office on the last day of December a year away.
Think of it. How wonderful it would have been if we could have gotten rid of Bobby Ghiz in 2008 — having given him and his band of merry men and women only one year to wreak damage on the economy, the landscape and the morale of Islanders.
Well, of course, a one-year term of office may not be workable in our complex society. But limited terms, that is, terms which are actually limited — not just fixed election dates in which the same gang of clowns can be returned to office — would be an excellent idea. And the reason for that is the following: long-term occupation of office can bring notions of entitlement and delusions of superiority, if not grandeur.
One of the wisest statements that has ever been written is Lord Acton’s, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Now there is a issue with the word “corrupt.” We tend to think of it as meaning “morally evil,” but Acton probably meant something more political, given the context, since he would see political corruption rooted in the continued exercise of power over long periods of time, in the sense of entitlement and the delusions of superiority that come with the comfort of long tenure.
Corruption, in a political sense, involves the illusion that the office holder is right, while any opposing voices are clearly wrong. In our system, where ministers are generally not knowledgeable in the subject matters of their ministry, this illusion is shared with civil servants — especially senior civil servants — whose tenure of office is even longer than their minister’s.
Likewise, entitlement and delusions of superiority among ministerial advisers could, for example, produce the following kind of assessment of hundreds of letters to the editor opposing a remarkably stupid government highway policy: “After all, it’s only the same five or six people ... and they’re all ‘tree huggers.’”
What, of course is fascinating about this particular statement, and would confirm the “political corruption” — i.e. entitlement and delusions of superiority — of the speaker, is the lack of knowledge of the legal principle in Armadale Publishers. That decision required that editors must be able to identify each letter writer.
“Political corruption” — entitlement and delusions of superiority — can also drive misguided expenditures of public monies. Where common sense would dictate restraint, “political corruption” by ministers and advisers will dictate “living large.”
For years, I defended our higher taxes in the face of criticism by American friends and relatives. I pointed to our universal medical care, our far less expensive post-secondary education as examples of things supported by our justifiably higher taxes. But in recent years, I have come to accept that tax dollars also go to fund out-and-out stupidity on the part of ministers and their advisers, and frankly I am tired of handing money over to the un-bright and entitled.
So, I return to a theme I have set out before. We will have no say as long as our system remains as it is. The opinion pages of this newspaper are filled with letters and commentaries which take the government to task for this action or that inaction, but, in reality, such expressions of opinion are exercises in futility.
To all those who write and comment on a variety of specific issues: what we really need are three things, namely, “initiative,” “recall” and “term limits.” Initiative will give us the right to originate legislation and have it voted on by the entire population. Recall will allow us to unseat members of the legislature and force them to run again. Term limits will end long-service and the sense of entitlement that accompanies it. As long as we do not have those things, complaints are simply sounding on the deaf ears of the entitled and those who imagine themselves superior.
To those who write and criticize the government, this advice: band together, circulate a petition addressed to the Lieutenant-Governor demanding that he withhold Royal Assent for all legislation — legally this is his prerogative — until such time as he is presented with bills establishing initiative and referendum, recall of members and term limits. Then we will have broken Absolute Power and the “corruption” that attends it.
David M. Bulger is a retired adjunct professor of political science at UPEI.
Published on June 27
Sure, the Liberals look secure now, particularly with the PCs in such a mess. But what is going to inevitably happen is that one election, if not the next one, the one after that, the Liberals are going to lose, and the PCs are going to take every seat. Then we’ll have another 10-year one-party state, and so it goes, back and forth. Just like the present Liberal dynasty, they won’t take 100 per cent of the vote, but they’ll take virtually 100 per cent of the seats.
The idea is that under PR, the seats in the house would look more like the actual percentage of the vote the parties got in the election. I’m not proposing we copy a notoriously unstable model, like Italy, but something with a better reputation for stable, effective government, like New Zealand or Germany.
P.E.I. has a reputation for being slow to embrace change, but then again, we got used to single-member ridings, and we got used to roundabouts. I think we could get used to PR, too.
Stephen DeGrace, Stratford
Markets open this morning - Victoria opens for the season, Summerside,
Charlottetown, Montague, Cardigan -- and where else? I can't find a good
list on the Department of Agriculture's website. I think the PEI Flavours
map is included with today's Guardian.
And in the Fun Category, a group at the website http://www.shd.ca/ realized the URL for the term "economic action plan" wasn't taken, so they got it and made some scathing commercials (lower screen shot) lampooing the Action Plan signs (a local one, below) and commercials.Signs in Bonshaw put up in January of 2013.
temporarily unable to upload :( Please check the facebook page for photos.
Screenshot of lampoon of Economic Action Plan
website, from http://www.economicactionplan.ca/
with more commercials.
published June 26th, 2014
He somehow considers maintaining the moratorium on high-capacity wells for agricultural irrigation and developing a comprehensive water act as evidence of these perceived flaws.
He goes on to present Robert Irving’s recent demands as some form of progress, and that we should bolster Cavendish Farms’ market share in the french fry industry.
Islanders do have long memories. Shipbuilding, fox ranching, and tobacco farming were once primary industries in the Island economy of the day. Changing markets and the march of time made them obsolete. Fortunes were made and lost. Islanders adapted to the collapse of these industries and new enterprises emerged to take their place.
If Mr. Holman considers placing corporate profit above the creation of an enforceable and inclusive water policy, it appears to me that he is unable to embrace any change that disturbs the status quo.
Boyd Allen, Pownal
Shirley Gallant's in The Journal-Pioneer (and today's
Guardian, I think):
Why is it okay to dump highly toxic chemicals on our land without proper studies being done? I don't consider it a proper study when the chemical companies themselves have their own scientists give the, "okey dokey" on the results.
Multi-billion dollar companies can afford to buy science, so the results are in their favour. Remember the tobacco industry? These highly toxic chemicals are marketed as being safe and everyone believes it, because convincing people is what marketing is all about. Years later we end up with revelations like those of DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs, rBGH, nocotine, and many other chemicals that were never properly studied.
It doesn't make sense to continue to use these products first and then have independent studies done. I suggest the studies be done first. I also suggest we enact policies locally to protect our Island.
The Pesticide Control Act needs to be amended to ensure that independent studies conclude that what is being sprayed is safe for humans and wildlife. We can't afford to risk losing the bee population while we wait for industry, science, and politicians to duke it out over whether or not neonicotinoids are destroying the bees.
We need to have the Act amended now to protect Islanders, our soil, water, and wildlife from the products produced by chemical companies who are concerned for nothing more than profits.
Recently a California study found that pesticides exposure during pregnancy increases the likelihood of autism in children. Particularly for mothers who live near farm fields. Another five-year study done by a European task force on systemic pesticides, (neonicotinoids), concluded that these chemicals are harming bees and other pollinators like Humming Birds and butterflies. (We kind of need them if we don't want a steady diet of porridge.) At minimum we should at least get started by banning cosmetic pesticides. Can we really afford to continue saturating the earth with these, known to be dangerous, chemicals?
David Suzuki Foundation request
Many friendly but concerned
faces in the public gallery of the meeting Wednesday afternoon of the Standing
Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry. It
reminds the committee that the public is interested in the issue and paying
attention to what they do about it.
Yesterday, CBC reported on
a large study that points the finger causing kill-off in bees squarely to
agricultural use of certain neurotoxin pesticides, the neonicotinoids,.
This article is very good and is from The (other) Guardian:
but deeply-felt victories, or at least changes in the wind:
The decision to test the chemical follows an application by Alberton-based Westech Agriculture to use chloropicrin on its strawberry fields in place of the fumigant methyl bromide (MB), which, in accordance with the Montreal Protocol, has been prohibited in Canada under the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, since 2005.
An Environment Canada official said, because of no technically and economically feasible alternatives to MB for growers, Canada requested an exemption under the Montreal Protocol, yet remains committed to phasing it out.
Reached at the farm Friday, Westech Agriculture owner, Nora Dorgan, said the farm simply made application to use chloropicrin, that the actual testing is being conducted by Environment Canada.
The provincial Department of Environment is permitting the federal department to test the product on a small plot of strawberry plants.“We saw that it is used in other parts of Canada, so we put an application in,” Dorgan said of the farm’s application to use chloropicrin. “What the powers that be decide beyond that is beyond my control.”
According to Environment Canada, the application of chloropicrin will be done in accordance with the product label. The area to be fumigated during the test will not exceed five acres.
Monitoring wells and lysimeters will be installed in order to collect groundwater and surface water samples, respectively, and samples will be tested by accredited laboratories in accordance with approved testing standards, an Environment Canada official confirmed.
The official indicated chloropicrin has been used in combination with other active ingredients since at least 2005.
Westech Agriculture did have an incident involving the use of a fumigant in 2001. Water testing by the P.E.I. Department of Environment at that time found four wells to be contaminated with dichloropropene, an active ingredient in the fumigant Telone C-17. The Province subsequently covered the cost of installing a small water system to supply five homes in town.
Mayor Michael Murphy expressed surprise that no one from either Environment departments contacted the town with regard to testing of chloropicrin, indicating he learned about it through a newspaper story.“We are waiting for more information on when it’s going to happen, where it’s going to happen, but we will be voicing our concerns and asking questions about it,” he said.
He questioned the common sense in putting a fumigant in the ground to see if it will go into the water table.
“If it does go into the water table, what steps are they going to take to keep it from going any farther, and how are they going to get it back out of the water table?” he wondered.
Wayne MacKinnon with the P.E.I. Department of Environment pointed out the test will not be taking place anywhere near Alberton.
“It’s on Westech land that is away, quite far, from any residences,” he said.
And an interesting development yesterday:
Statement of claim alleges Charter violations over lack of public consultation, calls for moratorium
Published June 23rd, 2014
The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance and three citizens are suing the provincial government over plans to develop the industry in New Brunswick.
The alliance, which represents 22 community organizations, and the three other plaintiffs, filed a notice of action and statement of claim with the Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John on Monday, alleging Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations.
They are calling for a moratorium on the development of "unconventional oil and gas exploration" until the government can establish "beyond a reasonable doubt and with scientific certainty … that it will not contribute to climate change, nor to the contamination of the water, air and land use which causes harm to the health of the plaintiffs and their future generations."
Meanwhile, they contend the government should divert the social, political and economic resources currently at its disposal for unconventional oil and gas development into an energy supply system that is based upon renewable energy sources instead.
The provincial government has 20 days to respond.
The group hinted during a news conference in Moncton on Monday that additional lawsuits against the province by other groups may on the horizon, but declined to elaborate.
The documents filed with the court cite concerns about hydraulic fracturing, alleging the process causes "serious harm to both the environment and human health," including "permanently contaminating and depleting finite clean water and air supplies for both present and future generations."
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro-fracking, involves injecting a mixture of water, air and chemicals into the earth under high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas trapped within the rock formations.
Opponents of the shale gas industry have long argued the hydro-fracking process can cause water and air pollution.
"All life, including human, animal and plant life is impossible without clean uncontaminated water and air," the alliance, James David Emberger, of Taymouth, Roy L. Ries, of Harvey, and Carol Ann Ring, of Rothesay, state.
The 16-page statement of claim also outlines concerns about leaks, spills, illegal dumping of waste water, and a disruption to rural life.
"The cumulative, negative effects on rural people's mental health, due to increased stress, anxiety, fear and depression, leads to physical health problems," the document states.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Lawsuit last resort
Emberger says the group has tried everything to get the attention of the provincial government, including petitions, demonstrations, debates and meetings.
But the Alward government has rejected repeated calls for a moratorium on shale gas, he said.
The group has now raised $100,000 through individual donors and hopes to prove to the province that shale gas extraction can cause cancer, birth defects and respiratory problems.
Larry Kowalchuk, who represents the group, says the government has violated the Charter rights of New Brunswickers to life, liberty and security by moving forward with shale gas exploration without consulting citizens.
"This is a free and democratic society. The Charter is important. These topics are critical now," he said.
SWN Resources Canada intends to drill four exploratory wells next year in the next phase of its exploration program for potential shale gas development in New Brunswick.
Two of the exploratory wells are planned for Kent County, in Saint-Charles and Galloway. The other two are planned for Queens County, in the vicinity of Bronston Settlement Road and the Pangburn area.
Last month, a report by 14 international experts, commissioned by Environment Canada, concluded "data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive."The prospect of shale gas development in New Brunswick has sparked protests across the province.
A protest along Highway 11 near Rexton on Oct. 17 ended in a violent clash with police. Six RCMP vehicles were set on fire and about 40 protesters were arrested.
Published on June 21, 2014I have been following the growing movement to ban cosmetic pesticides on P.E.I. and I would like to weigh-in from afar. As a former full time resident of St. Georges, and someone who has family and friends living on P.E.I., I am alarmed and dismayed that the spraying of herbicides and pesticides is still rampant and seemingly out of control. The scientific evidence that these toxins are causing higher than normal cancer rates in children, is overwhelming and cannot be ignored any longer.
This is not the 1950s, when people didn’t know any better and the truth about the harm that these substances do was hard to find. Ask yourselves this: Do you believe the scientists and the parents of children with cancer, or do you believe the industry and government who profit from this ecocide? P.E.I. is at crossroads, indeed the planet is at crossroads and it is time to challenge the status quo and shift toward a healthier future. You do want that for your children, don’t you?
Mae Moore, Pender Island, B.C.
It is a rant, of course, but interesting,
A quote from Ed MacDonald's 2000 book, If You're Stronghearted: Prince Edward Island in the 20th Century, is used at the beginning of Report of the Task Force on Land Use Policy:
Task Force on Land Use Policy page 2
"Edward MacDonald captured the essence of the Task Force assignment: 'On a small island, it bears repeating, land is a finite and fragile resource. Most of us have yet to concede just how fragile. Whether it is labelled environmentalism, sustainable development, or stewardship, the need to protect the land and the waters that surround it can only grow in importance. In the process, it will pose difficult choices between freedom and regulation, employment and preservation, private gain and the public good. In many ways, those choices are already upon us.' "
many interesting columns and letters in yesterday's Guardian. Three
related to Robert Irving's demand regarding the moratorium on high capacity
well, with my highlighting some words in bold and comments afterwards.
Living just 10 minutes from Cavendish Farms, I see every day the economic impact this processing giant has on P.E.I.Many of my neighbours and some family members depend on the plant for their livelihoods, either by working year-round in New Annan or by working with farmers who grow potatoes for the french fry production line.
Everyone wants Cavendish Farms to succeed, but not at any cost. When the company announced it was laying off 60 people from a workforce of 700 last November, it was front-page news. A company official said it was responding to increased production from competitors in North America and Europe. Three months later, for the same reason, 23 more workers were let go.
So when company president Robert Irving appeared before a legislative standing committee on agriculture last week, it wasn’t surprising that he would argue in favour of a measure he believes will help Cavendish Farms keep pace with its competitors. He urged the committee to recommend lifting a 12-year moratorium on high capacity agricultural wells in P.E.I. The move, he said, would enable its potato growers to stay competitive and the plant to send a high-quality product to market.
But Irving went farther, much farther. He pointed out Cavendish Farms is the largest private employer in P.E.I. with an economic impact of over $1 billion. It purchases more than half of all raw potatoes grown on P.E.I., he said. But because those potatoes are not meeting consistency and quality demands of the french fry market, Irving warned it might have to reduce its investment here and start growing elsewhere.
Unless, of course, government lifts the moratorium on deep-water wells and allows agricultural irrigation. That, he said, would enable growers to consistently produce the quality product the market demands.
The legislative committee must now sort through Irving’s presentation and determine what’s useful and what’s not.
Cavendish Farms, along with the P.E.I. Potato Board, offered its own scientific evidence that lifting the moratorium won’t jeopardize the province’s only source of drinking water. That’s useful. Irving’s ultimatum is not, and it should be set aside in the debate.
When then-Environment Minister Chester Gillan put the moratorium in place in 2002, he said it needed further study to determine deep-water wells’ impact on water levels. Many feared it would pose a serious threat to groundwater. Twelve years later, there seems to be plenty of science on all sides of the debate.
But now, there are increasing calls for this science to be peer-reviewed, not only from a coalition of groups and activists opposing the deep water wells, but also from farm organizations who want the moratorium lifted. I find it encouraging that Gary Linkletter of the P.E.I. Potato Board agreed after last week’s presentation that a third party should review the province’s scientific data.
“Get someone credible, probably from another province who’s got a good record, who has knowledge of these things . . . . to review the Department of Environment’s data, do other research as needed and get a definitive answer — will this hurt P.E.I.’s environment? If it won’t, then continue on.”
Like most Islanders and certainly like the politicians who will have to make the final decision, I don’t have the expertise to definitively say yes or no to lifting the moratorium. Opinion isn’t fact, and rhetoric does little to advance the debate on an issue as important as our water quality and supply. Only when all necessary scientific data has been gathered, independently reviewed and proven accurate can a final decision on the deep-water well moratorium be made.
In the meantime, developing a comprehensive water management policy may help. Environment Minister Janice Sherry promises to consult widely with Islanders and experts in coming up with the new water act. Skeptics say it will take too long, probably until after the next election when it will be easier for government to lift the moratorium.
We’ve waited 12 years and can surely wait a few more, if necessary, to get a new water act in place — one that ensures our precious water resources are sustainable for today and future generations, and for an assurance that a decision on deep-water wells will be supported by the best peer-reviewed science available.
As important as Cavendish Farms is to the Island’s economy, its demands can and must be trumped by a safe and sustainable water supply.
We want the jobs, yes, but we want the water more. The final decision on the moratorium must be based on good peer-reviewed science — not ultimatums from huge corporations.
Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.----------
This was likely submitted and the layout done before Minister Sherry made her announcement about forming a water act and presumably keeping the moratorium in place; and Mr. Young is perhaps putting a bit too much faith that there is one, single solitary answer to the question. Sadly, the government could easily sway the peer-review process by picking a sympathetic reviewer or selecting only parts of the review to release to the public.
the other side of the page, the column by Alan Holman ("The Meddler")
column was a head-shaker.
If Prince Edward Island were a Canadian city, rather than a province, it would be about the 22nd or 23rd largest by population; approximately the same size as Kelowna, B.C. or Sherbrooke, Que.. In other words, not very big.But, The Island is not a city, and as a province we have powers that are not possessed by Toronto, Montreal or any of the large metropolises of the country. The Island has the jurisdiction to make its own laws and set its own standards, and as a province we can influence, and in some instances even veto constitutional change in the country.
Except in the area of land ownership The Island hasn’t really exercised its jurisdictional rights, it has rarely flexed its jurisdictional muscle.
Quebec recently used its jurisdictional prerogative and brought in a law that allows physicians to assist terminally ill patients who are suffering, allowing them to die with dignity. Another example of progressive programs that make Quebec unique. In the United States, Oregon, Washington and Vermont also have similar laws, but with different criteria. And, of course, Colorado, recently used its jurisdictional rights to allow for the legal consumption and sale of marijuana.
Some might suggest that P.E.I. has used its jurisdiction to ban abortions in the province, but, it hasn’t passed any laws making abortions illegal. It has just made them very difficult and unnecessarily expensive to obtain.
When statistics show that there are 22 people in the job market for every job that is available on The Island, one wonders why someone hasn’t come up with a way to use its jurisdiction to encourage economic development.
Collectively, Islanders tend to be very conservative. As a people, Islanders are very resistant to change. With the possible exception of consumer goods, Islanders are not generally open to new ideas or concepts.
The government, all Island governments regardless of their political persuasion, find they have to walk a fine line between this resistance to change and the demands for economic development and the jobs that often ensue.
This week the Ghiz government chose to bring in new legislation governing the province’s water resources. As an exercise this is expected to take a number of weeks. It is an exercise that will further delay a decision on a request to lift the moratorium on pumping water from deep wells to irrigate potatoes being grown for Cavendish Farms. For the proponents of deep water wells, the issue is not about job creation, it about job preservation.
Robert Irving makes money by providing his customers with products they want. Recently he pointed out that irrigation is needed to produce potatoes of the size and quality required to create the french fries his customers demand. And, he added, if he can’t provide the french fries from The Island, he’ll produce them somewhere else. For his honesty he’s been labeled a bully.
Based on the reportage of the issue, letters to the editor and anecdotal stories, the opposition to the lifting of the moratorium seems to be based on a fear of the unknown, coupled with a inherent distrust and dislike of both big corporations and government.
This inherent fear and distrust also extends to the issue of the fracking process being used in the recovery of oil and gas. Islanders have already held demonstrations and protests against fracking even though there hasn’t been a proposal to use fracking on the Island, or in the waters around the province.
But, Islanders, by the thousands, go to the west to reap the economic rewards that come from oil and gas development.
Opposition to progress is part of our history. A hundred and fifty years ago, when the idea of forming a new country by uniting the colonies of British North America was being discussed it was deemed too radical a concept for Islanders. We took a pass. At the turn of the century the introduction of the automobile was strongly resisted. For years there were a lot of silly regulations before the motor car was fully accepted. More recently during the 1990s there was a lot of wild and ridiculous rhetoric heard before the Confederation Bridge was finally built. Since its completion the hordes of evil have, generally, remained on the mainland.
Perhaps students of political science or psychology at UPEI could conduct some research to see if it’s because The Island is geographically small and demographically insignificant that this somehow leads Islanders to be afraid of progress and averse to risk.
Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living
in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The changes we are afraid of, because they will be hard and they are scary, are converting to renewable, less carbon-based fuels, and converting (back) to more diversified farming. But I think we are brave enough to do this for our children and grandchildren.
My sentiments are expressed much more clearly by Ellie
Published on June 21st, 2014
Letter of the Day
As reported in The Guardian on June 12, 2014, Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving, appearing before a provincial legislative standing committee, said the company might reduce its investment in P.E.I. and start growing elsewhere if the P.E.I. government does not lift its moratorium on deep-water wells. He also said Cavendish Farms would likely not enter into contracts with growers without irrigation if the moratorium were lifted. Installing irrigation equipment on a farm is estimated to cost $200,000.
Why does Cavendish Farms insist on irrigation? To meet the “stringent consistency and quality demands of the french fry market.” So Islanders are expected to put our water supply at risk and our farmers are expected to go further into debt to meet the onerous demands of Cavendish Farms, all to provide French fries for McDonalds.
Studies conducted by Environment Canada in 2006 found extremely high levels of airborne pesticide and fungicide readings in the Kensington area and found the presence of fungicides “likely to be ubiquitous throughout the atmosphere of P.E.I. during the potato-growing season.” A Globe and Mail article that year focused on the very high rates of unusual cancers among children in western P.E.I. and concern among physicians and parents about the link between these cancers and heavy pesticide use by potato growers.
Will P.E.I. continue on its current path of industrial agriculture with heavy pesticide and water usage in order to satisfy the demands of the french fry market or will we seek an alternate future with smaller, diversified family farms? A decision to start on a new path is not easily made - transition is difficult - but our quality of life and the lives and futures of our children and grandchildren depend on it.
Ellie Reddin, Cornwall
If you have about ten minutes, this week's CBC Radio political panel (the last one until September), was very interesting. It features Jordan Brown, Wayne Collins (former PC MLA and former Island Morning Radio host), and publisher Paul McNeill.
Island morning political panel
There will be a wonderfully damp walk through Macphail Woods
looking at native plants this morning, starting at 10AM.
temporarily unable to upload :( Please check the facebook page for photos.
The Task Force, from the just-received Report of the Task Force on Land
Task Force on Land Use Policy 19
SECTION 1: Protect the Natural and Built Landscape
Water is one of our most valuable public resources - the basis of all life, food, communities and industry. Groundwater is of critical importance on Prince Edward Island, as it is the only source of drinking water.
Goal 1: Protect the quality and quantity of the Island’s water and ensure it is healthyand sustainable for current and future generations
1.1 Ensure policies, development proposals and projects improve or maintain the quality or quantity of groundwater and surface water; the capacity of the ecosystem must not be exceeded;
1.2 Ensure the natural recharge areas are preserved in development projects;
1.3 Establish targets for percentage forest cover in watersheds to meet water quality goals, recognizing that different watersheds have different needs: incorporate watershed management plans when available;
1.4 Identify well-head protection areas; develop sites and protection plans for future municipal water sources;
1.5 Identify high nitrate areas, where national standards for safe drinking water and healthy aquatic systems have been compromised, and implement appropriate corrective actions.
It is in the Provincial Interest to protect the quality and quantity of the Island’s water and ensure it is healthy and sustainable for current and future generations.
Just a few of the good letters in The Guardian recently
on the high capacity well issue and Robert Irving's presentation to the
Standing Committee, and tomorrow's native plants and trees walk at Macphail
Published June 19, 2014
I do not accept that you think you have the right to appear at a legislative committee on deep-water wells and make threats to reconsider your investing here. Lots of people have a lot invested here. This is our home. The difference is we have manners.
You will publicly apologize for being a bully to the standing committee. If you don’t like it then feel free to come to my farm and you and I will chat about manners. Blaine MacPherson knows where to find me.
The Irvings are clearly trying to bully Islanders on deep-water wells . . . time for them to move on. They’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars off our tortured soil, while Islanders suffer from the highest levels of cancer in Canada and rates of asthma in Canadian and U.S. children. Our health-care system has paid the bills while they continue to gobble up more and more ownership and control of our lands — now that the P.E.I. Potato Board has recently and successfully helped them hack up our Lands Protection Act.
And now they are threatening us to bow down to their demands for more deep-water wells to support their increased holdings and control of farm acreage or they will leave the Island. I see a far better vision for P.E.I. without the presence of their relentless and enormous greed on our small Island, which has seen more than 50 fish kills since Cavendish Farms opened. We need a new vision for the Island. The Irvings and more deep-water wells, and tons more pesticides poisoning our air and entering our lungs are not it.
John Hopkins, Breadalbane
Published on June 18th, 2014
There seems to be no end to the quest for larger and bigger produce. It is starting to affect everything in the produce aisle. Do all these oversized hybrid products still have the same nutritional value like the original variety?
Notwithstanding all the criticism, I think that Irving basically is a good company. Yet, they too are caught up in this frenzy of bigger, but not necessarily better. Worldwide there is already a huge shortage of potable water. Eventually the wells will run dry everywhere or get contaminated from all the fracking. It is time to stop this madness. Perhaps the Irvings, already being one of the corporate leaders in our area, could become our corporate leaders to reverse this trend before it is too late?
Annet Tol, Cornwall
And something that has to be considered:
Published on June 18th, 2014
I don’t pretend to represent all the workers of Cavendish Farms, upper or lower management, or even Mr. Irving. But in my opinion it’s a bit distressing to be reading people basically saying, “buzz off” to Cavendish Farms. Last week we had a writer suggest banning fries (which I guess she surmised would only affect Mr. Irving; and that fries are the be/end all of bad foods) and in the paper June 16 we’ve yet another member of the P.E.I. community basically telling Irving where he can put his money.
All I can think is, gee, it must be nice not to depend on the money Mr. Irving invests in P.E.I. annually. And how lovely it must be to not work in a sector or live in a province that would be affected by Cavendish Farms closing. Personally, I can’t wait to fight for my EI cheque and live off of less money than I’m currently making while looking for something that will pay me enough to feed myself and allow me to spend money on crazy things like child support, rent, and car payments if Cavendish Farms closes.
So while some of the citizens of P.E.I. are looking to so eagerly say goodbye to a business that helps bolster the economy of P.E.I., I’m fairly confident that the employees of Cavendish Farms, other businesses that work in close relation to C.F., and the farmers would rather not see their livelihood go elsewhere. Especially in a province with (I’m fairly certain) double-digit unemployment. Before we kick all of that money out of the province, my question is what’s the back up plan for when a couple thousand more people are drawing pogey?
Josh Hirtle, Summerside
Published on June 18th, 2014
Prince Edward Island may well be at a very important crossroads over the issue of the deep wells demanded by Cavendish Farms/Irving.
For too long this Island has relied on wealthy, powerful outsiders to ‘do economic development’ by providing a greater or lesser number of jobs for Islanders — only for as long as government largesse keeps coming in and the wealthy can take large profits out of the Island economy.
The deep wells issue, however, seems to be a bit of a turning point. For once, there are a significant number of Islanders who are decidedly uncomfortable with giving up more of our precious water for a big company’s profit. Today’s (June 16, 2014) Editorial mirrors this discomfort.
Meanwhile local initiatives — small companies like Belfast Mini-Mills and the Landmark Café which were recently profiled in your newspaper, Chef Michael’s very successful culinary enterprise, the Festival of Small Halls as well as last fall’s Georgetown Conference — are showing the way to a new direction. This is, I believe, the direction in which this Island needs to move.
We have a deep reserve of expertise here — both locally grown and imported. We have an environment and community spirit that is very easy to fall in love with and an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to ‘git ’er done’. What we need is for government to give up on the old pattern of supporting and inviting the offshore wealthy to come in for their own profit in exchange for a few tenuous jobs.
Supporting locally grown enterprise will not be simple. There will be mistakes, missteps and embarrassments, but in the long run we all know that it is the way to do it.
So if the Irvings et. al. feel they can make more money elsewhere, let them go. Put our tax money into supporting our local entrepreneurs, be they farmers, fishers, tourism operators, artists and artisans, chefs or whoever. That is the way our Island economy will grow and prosper.
Jane Dunphy, Annandale
Saturday, June 21st, 10AM, Walk at MacPhail Woods: Learning About Native Trees and Shrubs
The public is invited to a workshop on native trees and shrubs at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell on Saturday, June 21. Led by staff of the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project, the workshop begins at 10am at the nursery and will focus on all things related to native trees and shrubs.
Some plants, such as the American fly honeysuckle and red maple, naturally awaken early from their winter sleep. Bluebead lilies, trilliums and starflowers are now in full bloom after a long spring. The migrant songbirds have returned to the woodlands as well.
This is an ideal opportunity to learn how to identify native plants, attract wildlife and restore forests. Participants will learn easy tips for distinguishing a wide variety of species throughout the year and their value to Island wildlife. The nursery and arboretum offer a close look at different types of maples, dogwoods, elders, pines and many species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns. Many larger specimens of our native trees can be found along the woodland trails.
There is no admission and everyone is welcome. Please be sure to bring clothes suitable to weather conditions.
The workshop is part of an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods, a project of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island. For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please check out our web site (macphailwoods.org), contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, or check out our Facebook page.
are many things to bring up, but it'll be briefly as it rained yesterday:
Sediment flowing into West River by former footbridge near Green Road, Bonshaw, June 18, 2014.
temporarily unable to upload :( Please check the facebook page for photos.
Sediment pond with breached lip (not in photo), uphill from the river, in
Bonshaw, Plan B up and to right, June 18, 2014.
temporarily unable to upload :( Please check the facebook page for photos.
One view of area across new highway with the cause of runoff, between Plan B
and McManus Road, Bonshaw, June 18, 2014, which flows under a culvert and in
that sediment pond, and down into the river (above photos).
Sediment from Plan B ditch getting into Crawford's Brook, Churchill,
June 18, 2014.
Enbridge's pipeline being approved by the Federal Cabinet, and these two articles about our current power system....a lot to think about regarding future choices and directions for power generation.
from yesterday's Guardian:
Published June 17, 2014
Canada - Newfoundland Labrador board OKs oil exploration, drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence
It’s very surprising there has been little in the way of “official” reaction thus far to an April report that gives the green light to exploration and drilling for oil and gas off the western coast of Newfoundland. The report, commissioned by the Canada - Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, says there are significant environmental risks but those are insufficient to halt drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Apart from a number of environmental groups trying to draw attention to this announcement, reaction has been muted from Atlantic governments or major municipalities. There were attempts to get the issue on the agenda when Atlantic premiers met recently in New Brunswick — to no avail. There was hope the matter might at least be discussed informally but there was no apparent mention in any communiqués.
The CNLOPB report got scant coverage in regional media. It’s almost as if few people are taking the report seriously. The Newfoundland and Labrador government is already heavily engaged in deep ocean drilling — much to its immense economic benefit - and perhaps doesn’t see the big concern with drilling in the shallower and more contained Gulf off its west coast.
It’s that containment which should be striking fear and concern into provinces bordering the Gulf. An oil spill will have nowhere to go except onto our shores and beaches and into our harbours. It might not seem like a big deal for the N. L. government but it should be a very big deal for Quebec ( Iles- de- laMadeleine), P. E. I., N. B. and N. S. should there be a major spill.
It’s even more surprising how the Canada - N. L. board could make such a critically important decision without input from provinces which will be directly affected by any oil spills. One only has to look at what happened recently when a single oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing a number of workers and devastating shorelines, habitats and livelihoods for a number of Gulf coast states.
Atlantic governments are certainly cash- strapped and P. E. I. is the most resource poor province in the country. Are we taking a wait and see attitude with western N. L. drilling? Is this province hoping that drilling there proves to be safe, successful and lucrative — and that perhaps we could cash in on some revenue- generating wells close to P. E. I.? Are we hoping to reap some economic benefits that might come with drilling by our neighbour just to the north?
We are all aware of how fragile and important the Gulf is as a habitat for fish stocks and incredible numbers of marine life. It should not be up to any federal or provincial board to put our province at risk. Can you imagine what would happen if a major spill found its way to our north shore beaches? Tourism would be effectively ended for years to come. Older Islanders can still remember the panic in September 1970 when the Irving Whale barge sank off the north shore of P. E. I. with 4,200 tons of Bunker C oil aboard. It went down just over 30 miles from North Cape and remained a constant environmental threat until a salvage operation in 1996 safely raised the Whale to the immense relief of all.
Environmental groups, First Nations communities and fishery representatives from five Canadian provinces are pushing for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They argue that one well blowout could destroy the Gulf ‘s ecosystem. They’re right. Where are our provincial and municipal politicians on this matter? Is anyone listening?
Why does government pay for new power cable to mainland? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David A. McGregor
Printed on June 17, 2014
In what seems to be an annual spring event, there is renewed talk of running a new power cable to the mainland ( New Brunswick). We are told about how old and deteriorated the present two existing lines are, how they are nearing the end of their lives, how much it will cost to run a new submarine cable and how this will improve energy security for the Island. Yet as every year passes, it never gets done.
Maritime Electric used to be a locally owned and controlled corporation, until Fortis, which according to its website is “the largest investor- owned gas and electric distribution utility in Canada with total assets of approximately $ 18 billion and fiscal 2013 revenue exceeding $ 4 billion,” purchased the struggling firm in 1994. This led me to ask the following question: If Maritime Electric is owned and operated by a private, for- profit company, why is it the government’s responsibility to pay for the new power line to New Brunswick?
In my quest to find the answer, I decided to read the P. E. I. Energy Accord and the P. E. I. Energy Commission Report, which was completed in 2012. They were very informative to say the least. They also enlightened me as to what the government gave Fortis in exchange for our 14 per cent rate decrease for two years.
Maritime Electric generates only one per cent of our power. The rest is acquired primarily from New Brunswick through a PPA contract ( Purchase Power Agreement), which is commercially confidential and government helped negotiate.
After Fortis bought Maritime Electric, it started to complain that it couldn’t make a profit. So, in 2004, the government enacted the Electric Power Act to help guarantee the company a profit ( 9.75 per cent of equity).
However, in the Commission’s report, it opined “Under N. B. Powerplus10, ( if N. B charges $ 1, ME charges $ 1.10) Maritime Electric paid marketbased prices for electricity. In theory, this approach should have enabled Maritime Electric to continue operating in a financially sustainable manner…”
I guess corporations are not allowed to lose money anymore, just the people living on pensions.
The government accepted over $ 100 million of Maritime Electric’s debt and, according to premier Ghiz ( State of Province address, YouTube) financed it at four per cent for our “14 per cent rate decrease.”
The cost of the third power cable to the mainland is roughly $ 80 million. And while Maritime Electric is a private corporation, there is no discussion about it taking on this expenditure. Furthermore, Maritime Electric has a lease agreement with the province to use the current cables and will have another when the new cable is completed.
For 2011, on total revenue of $ 165.4 million, Maritime Electric paid $ 6 million ( 3.65 per cent) in taxes. Furthermore, it had total earnings, after taxes, of $ 23.5 million. And remember: This was during our “14 per cent rate decrease.”
The Energy Accord now completed, M. E. / Fortis is no longer obligated to spend a penny on renewable energy creation on P. E. I. At the same time, it is only contractually obligated to use 30 per cent of its power from the farms, at a cost of $ 78 per hour ( The provincially-owned wind farms operate at a profit).
If we are taking on and financing Fortis’ debts, helping them negotiate contracts, accepting the cost of a new mainland cable, the responsibility for renewable energy ( wind) and changing laws to guarantee it a profit ( 9.75 per cent of equity), why did the government sell Maritime Electric in the first place?
The Summerside utility is municipally owned, turns a profit and had none of the above benefits given to Fortis. However, government is forcing its customers to foot the bill for Maritime Electric.
I say get rid of the middleman and take back what should never
have been sold to begin with.
Tonight, something for everyone:
Charlottetown, 7PM, Climate Change presentation by Joce Plourde, Farm Centre, 520 University Avenue, admission by donation ($5 suggested).
He writes: "I will be giving a talk about climate change - what it is, how it works, how it affects us, what we can do...."
Summerside, 7:30PM, The Crisis in Democracy, a video presentation of Elizabeth May's Mallory Lecture, Silver Fox Curling Club (110 Water Street ), followed by a panel discussion iwith Rick Marleau from the NDP Egmont Riding Association, Green Party PEI leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and Leo Cheverie for CUPE. Sponsored by Leadnow.ca
"Both Fair Vote Canada and Lead Now have called for changes to the electoral system in order to better reflect the views and needs of Canadians and prevent parties that achieve a minority of the general vote from attaining a majority of the power. The event is free and all are welcome. Call 902-836-4745 or email email@example.com for further information."
Monday's lead editorial in The Guardian:
Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving, left, and Blaine MacPherson, company vice president of agricultural affairs, speak before a committee of MLAs probing the issue of high capacity wells. Irving says his company may be forced to look for potatoes elsewhere if P.E.I. does not lift the current moratorium on deep-water wells. (Guardian photo)
Cavendish Farms threatens cutbacks unless government ends moratorium
If Prince Edward Islanders and its government had any doubts beforehand, they were erased Thursday inside the Coles Building. In the shadow of historic Province House in the heart of urban Charlottetown, a blunt warning was issued that could have dramatic ramifications across rural P.E.I.
Two senior executives for Cavendish Farms told a
legislative committee that the company may downsize its operations in P.E.I. if
the government does not lift a moratorium on deep-water wells. It has taken a
while for the company to finally lay its cards on the table, but there they
were last Thursday for all to see.
For those of you who know your old movies:
Henry F. Potter, "the richest man in Bedford Falls", from It's A Wonderful Life, 1946
George Bailey to Henry F. Potter: "I don't need 24 hours. I don't have to talk to anybody. I know right now, and the answer's no. No! Doggone it! You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money! Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter! In the, in the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider! And... [turning to his aide] And that goes for you, too!"
From someone who can see through the fog, hype, smoke and
mirrors better than most of us:
Irving bases everything on making money.
We base everything of keeping our drinking water plentiful and uncontaminated.
Our government is basically uneducated and doesn’t know what to do. They base everything on re-election.
We are all not discussing the same thing, since there are three different agendas.
Carlo Hengst, Summerside
Movie: "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hackivists", 7PM, WhYLoft#1, 252 Prince Street, Charlottetown, admission by donation.
"(The film) takes us inside the complex culture and history of Anonymous. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, and then moves to Anonymous’ own raucous and unruly beginnings on the website 4Chan."
Tuesday night there are two fantastic events; luckily, each is in a different city, so at least that could help people choose:
The Crisis in Democracy, a video presentation of Elizabeth May's Mallory Lecture, 7:30pm, Summerside, Silver Fox Curling Club, 110 Water Street (beyond the intersection at Harbour Drive and Epteck Centre). The video will be followed by a panel discussion including Rick Marleau, NDP Riding Association President for Egmont; Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party PEI; and Leo Cheverie for CUPE. Sponsored by Leadnow.ca
"Both Fair Vote Canada and Lead Now have called for changes to the electoral system in order to better reflect the views and needs of Canadians and prevent parties that achieve a minority of the general vote from attaining a majority of the power. The event is free and all are welcome. Call 902-836-4745 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information."
Climate Change presentation by Joce Plourde,7PM, Charlottetown, Farm Centre, 520 University Avenue, admission by donation ($5 suggested).
He write: "I will be giving a talk about climate change - what it is, how it works, how it affects us, what we can do...."
Wednesday, June 18th:
Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, corner of Water and Haviland Streets, Charlottetown.
Some news stories and a letter you might find interesting:
Scary, but we knew it:
Natural Gas (via fracking) was touted as the Bridge to Cleaner Energy.
But it is the Bridge to Nowhere and we're getting there fast:
" 'Carbon dioxide is only one greenhouse gas and the public tends to focus on it, and scientists as well,' (Cornell University professor Robert) Howarth told Boulder Weekly. 'Methane is also a potent greenhouse gas. The latest information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in the last seven or eight months, says that global methane emissions from human-caused sources now equal carbon dioxide in their effect on global warming.'
Howarth’s study arose from his examination of about 60 studies published since
2011. He spent so much time analyzing because he had heard natural gas
propaganda for much of the previous two years, praising it as a bridge to a
cleaner energy with a path away from foreign oil dependence. After teaming
with Anthony Ingraffea and Renee Santoro, also of Cornell, he realized
that natural gas actually a bridge to nowhere. His latest research drives that
Really scary, but we knew it:
Silly, but sadly true:
Published on Thursday, June 12th
What the heck, forget education; school is almost out for the summer. It’s party time on Prince Edward Island. I can’t understand why people keep complaining about my government, we are throwing a huge party for islanders. No expense spared. We are spending millions of dollars we actually don’t have just to make Islanders happy. Does this really prove that the Ghiz government thinks we Islanders are all dumb?
Has anyone taken a good hard look at the education system on P. E. I. lately? Two years ago we lost an organization called Volunteers for Literacy, more recently we have lost 200 Island teaching positions. In the last election a Liberal promise to build a K- 12 school in Souris never happened. We have government friends and relatives holding jobs in the premier’s office, the English Language board offices, and a principal’s office in an Island school.
The minister of education assures us the system is working. Strangely, many parents do not agree. I guess the plan to party through 2014 is not working, Mr. Ghiz. Sadly this is only the tip of the education iceberg.
We have a president of the teachers’ federation more interested in seeking the Liberal nomination for the upcoming federal election than education. Would it be wrong to question his judgment? Would it be wrong to think this was the reason he was so quiet when 200 teaching positions were slashed? Would it be wrong to ask why this man has not stepped down in view of his political ambitions?If you think this is the worst, just wait a minute, there is more. Now the Island group for literacy has had its funding cut, rural P. E. I. is alive with rumours of more school closures. We have the lowest education rating in the entire country. But hey, no worries, Ghiz is throwing a party. Unfortunately this only reminds me of the Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.
F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village
A couple of nice events:
Today is the Hillsborough River's Eagle Festival in Mount Stewart. You may be able to catch up with the early bird walkers on their way back....
morning bird walk on Sunday June 15th from 6 am to ~8:30 am. Meet at the
Hillsborough River Eco-centre in Mount Stewart at 5:50 am. The restaurants will
be open at for those who wish to get a breakfast.
Also, this afternoon biologist Bob Bancroft will be speaking at Macphail Woods, in Orwell, starting at 2PM at the Nature Centre.Take care, Happy Father's Day,
A bit of a round-up of letters:
From a resilient woman:
Published on June 13, 2014
Editor: There have been many letters in The Guardian over the past few months regarding the spraying of harmful chemicals for cosmetic purposes. Many of these letters have called for Islanders to say enough is enough. Well, I would like to lend my voice to this cause. Enough is enough.
I am a cancer survivor, and I am very concerned about the poisonous chemicals that are being used in my neighbourhood and surrounding community. I am tired of receiving notices on my doorstep, telling me that my neighbours will be spraying carcinogenic chemicals on their lawns — all for the sake of a few dandelions.
What I find especially disconcerting is that my neighbours in question (they know who they are) know that I have had cancer, and know that I lost a young daughter to cancer. They also know that our other neighbour across the street lost her husband to cancer and that another surrounding neighbour was diagnosed with pre-cancers. I cannot fathom how someone could disregard this information and continue on in such a callous way.
I believe my fellow concerned citizens are correct — the Government of Prince Edward Island must better protect the citizens of this province by banning all lawn poisons. In the long run, such a ban would likely save our hospitals and palliative care unit a lot of money (and many families a lot of heartache).
Perhaps those who insist on using these poisons will think twice about spraying cancer-causing chemicals on their lawn when one of their loved ones or close friend is stricken with this terrible disease. Those dandelions won’t matter at all as you watch your loved one endure pure hell during chemo treatments, or when you are sitting at a funeral home greeting their friends because they lost their battle with cancer.
Wake up people — while you still have a chance. Being a good neighbour is about making good choices, caring about each other and having some respect for your fellow human beings and environment.
Nancy Zahavich, Winsloe
Regarding Cavendish Farms presentation to the Standing Committee on Thursday:http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-13/article-3762886/Threatening-government%3F/1
Published on-line June 13, 2014, and in today's print
edition (June 14, 2014) of The Guardian
this current government is seeking an opportunity to reset the economic
future of our Island, the Cavendish Farms appearance before the
Provincial Legislative Standing Committee (PLSC) on Thursday presented
an ideal catalyst. There are two very strong messages contained within
the Guardian’s Friday report. It is clear that Cavendish Farms’ strategy
against the moratorium on irrigation wells is to threaten and bully our
government. It is also clear that our current economic dependence upon
the management of Cavendish Farms must be reduced. If the farming of
potatoes is to be a partnership between the growers, the processors and
the Island representatives, how can such a partnership survive if one
partner attempts to dictate and pursue its self interest?
And this commentary from
P.E.I. Potato Board chairperson, Gary Linkletter, in Thursday's paper here
brought the commentary below it:
Potato growers diligent with responsible pesticide use on P.E.I. - The Guardian Commentary by Gary LinkletterPublished on June 12, 2014, in The Guardian
There have been a number of letters to the editor in recent weeks which express concern regarding the application of pesticides in Prince Edward Island, including pesticide use by P.E.I. potato growers. I would like to take this opportunity to try and dispel some of the myths relating to agricultural pesticides as well as to ensure that Islanders have accurate information on how pesticides are responsibly used. Pesticides are generally defined as a natural or synthetic product used to control fungal diseases (fungicide), insects (insecticide), or weeds (herbicide).
Readers have no doubt seen large agricultural sprayers in Island fields or on the highways. Many of these sprayers hold up to 4,000 litres of water, enough to spray 40 acres of land, or the equivalent of 30 football fields. At first glance, that may appear to be a lot of pesticides going on fields; however, it is important to note that for a routine fungicide application (the most common pesticide used on P.E.I.), less than 1 kg of actual pesticide is applied to each acre of land, diluted in a large tank of water. This is roughly equivalent to spreading a 1 kg bag of sugar over an entire football field. For most herbicides and insecticides, the levels of active ingredient per application are much lower, with some products being measured in grams per acre.
The majority of pesticides used on Prince Edward
Island potato fields are contact fungicides which protect potato plants from
contracting late blight, the same potato disease that caused the Irish potato
famine in the 19th century and led to many of our ancestors to immigrate to
Canada. Potatoes grown in wetter climates like P.E.I. are susceptible to
infection by the fungus causing late blight, so all commercially-grown potatoes
in P.E.I. (both conventional and organic) use protectant fungicides to prevent
infection. There is no cure once a plant is infected, so if potato growers did
nothing to address late blight, our potatoes would rot in the field or in
storage and our province would not have a potato industry. Additionally, it is
important to add that these contact fungicides are not absorbed by the plant
itself and do not make contact with the potato tubers growing under the ground.
Farmers are very careful with their use of pesticides and only apply them when necessary. Most farmers practice what is called integrated pest management (IPM). This means they make use of a variety of preventative practices to avoid pest issues and when pest problems arise they make use of all available pest management tools, including mechanical, biological and cultural controls as well as pesticides. As well, crop scouting is routinely used by the majority of farmers to determine whether pest levels warrant application of control methods.
Island potato growers don’t spray pesticides simply out of habit. Pesticides are a major expense in potato production and reducing the amount of pesticides required to grow a crop of potatoes is a goal of everyone in the industry.
Nonetheless, using pesticides to control diverse pests such as late blight, wireworm, and Colorado potato beetle is necessary to grow high quality potatoes for consumers.
Advances are being made continuously to make pesticides more targeted in effectiveness while reducing impacts on the environment and on humans. The broad-spectrum pesticides of yesteryear have largely been discontinued, with pesticides of today being designed to target only the pests that are impacting the crop.
In addition, many potato growers are embracing new technologies such as GPS and band spraying to ensure that only the required amount of pesticides are being applied only in the right place. All agricultural pesticide applicators in Prince Edward Island must be licensed by the province after receiving training on the proper use and handling of pesticides and passing a subsequent exam. These licenses must be renewed every five years.
The potato industry makes up almost half of the agricultural cash receipts each year and is worth over $1 billion to the Island economy annually. Regulated and safe application of pesticides, which have be reviewed and approved by Health Canada, is an integral tool in producing only the best quality potatoes for Islanders as well as our customers around the world.
Gary Linkletter is chairman of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board and is a potato grower in Linkletter----------
Published on June 13, 2014
I have no doubt that Mr. Linkletter is a good person who cares about his land and his produce. He has to be in order to live the life he does and suffer endless hectoring by people like me. However, as befits the chairman of any large industry board, his commentary piece is a fine and classic example of deflection and obfuscation.
Note the use of a whopping 4,000 litres of water, 30 huge football fields and a mere 1 kg of pesticide in the same paragraph to give the illusion that these numbers are related. Throw in the comparison to a kg bag of safe, harmless sugar and suddenly it all seems too silly to worry about; a technique used by marketers and politicians since the dawn of time.
By his numbers, the 4,000 litres covers 40 acres and so will require 40 kg of actual pesticide which is a pretty hefty sack compared to a little 1-kg bag of sugar. This works o
ut to 100 litres and 1 kg of pesticide/sugar per acre at 10 g per litre. Pour a bag of sugar in your gas tank or go mix a tablespoon of sugar into a water bottle; pretty sweet and not at all as weak and dilute as suggested particularly when dealing with toxicity levels in parts per million.
Add the fact that the article only talks about fungicides without which “... (we) would not have a potato industry” and would have to relive the Irish potato famine. Fine hyperbole but no mention of herbicides for weed control, fertilizer or Reglone sprayed at the end of the season to kill all the above ground growth to ease harvest and make the potatoes pretty; all of which leach into the waterways and cause no end of problems.
There is the good news, though, that the soil faeries won’t let anything nasty sprayed on the ground get washed down to the tubers in the next rain. Perhaps they could fight fungus in their off hours.
Owen Stephenson, Morell
Media coverage from the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy, and Forestry:
"Join us Friday June 13, at noon in the Legacy Garden (of the Farm Centre) for a bring your own lunch and conversation with Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Missouri. (He) will be the keynote speaker at the Farm Centre’s dinner in honour of the PEI Agriculture Hall of Fame on Friday evening. This opportunity to have a conversation with John in the garden is a unique opportunity to meet this pioneer of a new economics of sustainability and public advocate for a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and economically viable food system." -- from Phil Ferraro
Sounds like a great time! CBC Radio is interviewing Dr. Ikerd this morning.
Tomorrow, 2PM, Farm Centre: A free square-foot gardening workshop
"FoodShare PEI is
hosting a Meet and Greet FREE Raised Bed Gardening Workshop with Gordon and Pat
Hubbard at the Farm Centre 420 University Ave Charlottetown on June 14th at
Sunday, 2PM, Macphail Woods Nature Centre, Bob Bancroft talk, free
Bob is a noted biologist, a wonderful, straight-talking naturalist you may know from Maritime Noon's phone-in. It's sure to be a wonderful talk!
Here is a reminder about two events today that you may be interested in:
The first is the meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry today, starting at 1PM. This is the first meeting since the Spring Sitting of the Legislature ended, and they will be finding out more about the high capacity well issue, among some other things.
Specifically, presenters will include representatives from the P.E.I. Potato Board and Cavendish Farms, and from the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club and from the Institute for Bioregional Studies. Also, Adam Fenech from the UPEI Climate Lab will be presenting on climate change.
If you can drop in for any part of the afternoon, please do. It's important for these committee member MLAs to be reminded this issue is important to Islanders.
The meeting may run until 4:30 or 5PM. It is in the Pope Room of the Coles Building, which is the red brick building next to Province House towards Church Street and St. Paul's Church. Seats for the public are off to the side, and you are expected to treat it like the Gallery of the Legislature -- quiet, no cell phones on, no photography. But you can come and go at will, and there is often coffee and tea for the spectators, too.
(The chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board has a well-timed letter in today's Guardian explaining their pesticide use. I will be able to reprint it tomorrow if you don't see it today. I am reminded that the definition of apologist is "a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial".)
And at 7PM tonight is a free lecture given by Joanna Kerr, the executive director of Greenpeace Canada. It's titled "How to be Courageous on a Planet in Crisis," which certainly sounds timely. ;-)
The lecture is at the MacDougall Hall on UPEI's campus, Room 242, same as the water forum was a couple of weeks ago. A campus map is available here:
Parking should be available and free in most lots.
A letter from a woman who has always shown courage:Published on June 10, 2014
What do you do when you see someone breaking the law?
On May 15, we witnessed a crime when a farmer planted potatoes where he had grown potatoes two years ago. The Crop Rotation Act is a provincial law. It regulates when potatoes can be grown. Currently there is a three-year rotation policy. After several calls we reached a conservation officer who started an investigation after discovering this farmer has no environment plan on this leased property. Sadly, the farmer did not cease when he was informed he would be investigated for breaking the law.
The Potato Marketing Board advised us not to let one bad apple spoil all 250 potato farmers’ reputation. Wrong metaphor — this rotten potato is spoiling the reputation of hard-working Island farmers.
The Island needs stronger legislation, monitoring and enforcement. We need established mechanisms that block such irresponsible, illegal activity.
On June 12, there will be a presentation at UPEI entitled How to be Courageous on a Planet in Crisis. Islanders must stand up, speak out and say enough.
Enough deaths from rare cancers.
Enough dead fish from run offs.
Enough soil erosion in ditches and streams.
Enough loopholes in weak legislation.
Enough greed by the Irvings and McCains.
Marian White, Tracadie
This week includes International Oceans Day, a good time to reflect on our relationship with out salty globe.
Monday's Guardian had this front page story:
Group calls for moratorium on drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence - The Guardian article by Mitch MacDonald
Published on June 09, 2014
A newly released report has united a group of fishermen, environmentalists, First Nations and others in calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.The report, which also recommends an arm’s-length review and public consultations, was released by the St. Lawrence Coalition Sunday during what is considered International Oceans Week.
(Note: It is called Gulf 101: Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts,
Myths and Future Outlook)
Jean-Patrick Toussaint, one of the report’s three authors and science project manager with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Quebec office, said the report is the end product of several years of documenting the gulf and offshore drilling.
It also highlights a number of unknown factors, questions and myths involved in exploring the complex ecosystem.
“There is a need to have a gulf-wide vision and make sure all provinces are involved in the decision,” he said. “Any spill in the gulf would directly impact many coastal communities.”
The gulf touches five provinces and draws millions to it every year, including the National Park beaches on P.E.I., and also supports a number of endangered species and fishing industries.
Ellie Reddin, of the P.E.I. chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores, said the gulf needs to be treated as a whole rather than divided into provincial jurisdictions. “Even a routine spill could have quite an impact on the gulf,” said Reddin. “There are only two openings and they’re not all that wide.”
Part of the gulf’s sensitivity lies in the fact that it’s a semi-enclosed sea, with only six per cent of it opening into the Atlantic Ocean. That means a major difference between drilling in the gulf and the Atlantic, which Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are both now doing. “If there are any leakages or spills (in the Atlantic), it’s still not good but it’s kind of lost at sea,” said Toussaint. “Whereas in the gulf, it’s hitting the coastline.”
There is one main area in the gulf where seismic testing has revealed oil. While the area, known as “Old Harry,” overlaps the Newfoundland and Quebec borders, it is located in the centre of the gulf and could pose risks for all five communities if anything went wrong. Quebec is the only province to have a moratorium on gas exploration in the gulf, while Newfoundland has been in talks with the federal government on the possibility of exploring the area.
Toussaint said while there are unknowns in the environmental effects, there are also some “legal gaps” within the regulations now in place. One is any company drilling in the gulf can be liable for up to $30 million in the case of a spill. While that amount is under review to be increased to $1 billion, Toussaint said that is still a small amount when compared to the possible risk. He pointed to the costs surrounding the cleanup of the 2010 British Petroleum oil disaster, which has been estimated at $42 billion. That spill also occurred during the exploratory process, noted Toussaint.
The report calls for a moratorium until more is
discovered about exploring the gulf and if it is possible to do without
devastating the environment.
Yesterday there was an excellent letter by Colin Jeffrey:
However, Canadians have more to lose from petroleum development in the Gulf than outside it. With its warm, shallow waters this inland sea acts as a vital feeding and spawning ground for most of our commercially valuable marine species and contains the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic. In 1973, an interdisciplinary panel report led by Dr. Loutfi of McGill University described the Gulf as “biologically, the most productive Canadian marine region” and concluded that offshore development posed too great a risk to an ecosystem of such biological diversity.
Since then the health of our Gulf has deteriorated, with overfishing, land-based pollution and climate change driven impacts all playing a role in its decline. Fish stocks that once created thousands of jobs in the region are now managed with the utmost care in the hopes that they will one day increase. Given the current fragile state of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, do we really want to add the known impacts of offshore drilling to the mix?
Most worrying of all is the lack of environmental protection proposed by those overseeing oil and gas development in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Currently, planned development is concentrated along Newfoundland’s West coast. Like many parts of the Gulf, this area has an unusual abundance of fish and provides critical feeding, spawning and wintering habitat for several groundfish and pelagic fish species as well as threatened whale species.
For this and other reasons, it has been designated an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. One would think that such high biodiversity would persuade the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) to at least place areas of vital marine habitat off limits to future petroleum development, but this has not happened.
In May the CNLOPB released an update of their Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Newfoundland’s Western offshore, a document that is supposed to provide strategic planning for future offshore development and ensure environmental protection on a regional scale. This it does not do. Using the flimsy excuse that specific protection measures cannot be implemented before actual projects have been proposed, the CNLOPB makes no effort to place critical marine habitat off limits to oil and gas exploration and development.
The SEA Update area also includes the “Old Harry” prospect which is expected to be approved for exploratory drilling this summer. Located in water six times deeper than the Hibernia site and surrounded by biologically significant areas, proceeding with drilling here is as likely as anywhere in the Gulf to cause real harm.
As Atlantic Canadians, we have relatively little to gain and everything to lose from allowing oil and gas development to proceed in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The economic benefits of these industries are often touted, but increased energy efficiency and renewable energy production offer more substantial economic benefits.
According to a comprehensive study titled Putting Renewables and Energy Efficiency to Work published in the journal Energy Policy in 2010, “all renewable energy sources generate more jobs than the fossil fuel sector per unit of energy delivered.”
Further fossil fuel production will also increase the severity of climate change, creating substantial negative impacts on our economies and our lives in the coming decades.
When you add in anticipated negative impacts to our Eastern Canadian fisheries, which contribute $3 billion a year to Atlantic economies, one really has to question if offshore drilling in the Gulf is our best option for energy development in Atlantic Canada.
Colin Jeffrey, York, is a member of
Save Our Seas and Shores, P.E.I. chapter.
Please keep in mind the talk tomorrow, Thursday night, June 12, 7PM. UPEI MacDougall Hall, Room 242, "How to be Courageous on a Planet in Crisis," from Joanna Kerr from Greenpeace Canada. (And the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental, Energy and Forestry is at 1PM that afternoon in the Coles Building, next to Province House, including the high capacity well issue.)
We need our provincial government to show strong leadership on protecting our Island's water and land; as citizens and neighbours we have our part, too. Our property lines may be distinct, but they don't stop everything.
Published on Saturday, June 7th, 2014
Editor: I recently attended the cosmetic pesticides forum in Charlottetown.
The information presented by scientists Bill Whelan (Canadian Cancer Society) and Roger Gordon (former dean of science at UPEI) was persuasive. Both cited many studies and recommended making use of the precautionary principle when determining pesticide laws.
However, the Department of Environment’s Erin Taylor was a bit of a disappointment. The last hearing on pesticides saw nearly 170 out of 173 speakers push for a comprehensive ban on cosmetic pesticides, and yet it did not pass.
Taylor reminded us that the outcome was based in politics (CropLife Canada, for example, which represents all manufacturers, distributors and developers of pesticide products, objected to the ban) as opposed to a decision based in science. She offered her personal belief that the regulations are adequate, while citing no studies, research or statistics to counter the profound information previously presented. She advised that she takes her recommendations from the PMRA, who continue to state that 2,4D is safe, and yet, P.E.I. has banned it.
This suggests blind faith hasn’t been our policy concerning the PMRA, so it seems contradictory. However, the statement I found the most concerning from her was ‘The dose makes the poison’.
I could not disguise my shock. This Paracelsus quote dates back to the 1500’s and demonstrated the first early understandings of toxicology. However, more than 500 years later it’s safe to say his findings were rather primitive.
Even if we were to take this ancient observation as fact (which of course it isn’t), it leaves out of the equation the problem of bioaccumulation. And beyond that, we now know that many chemicals are more toxic at small amounts than they are in larger ones.
And that isn’t to speak of breakdown products, chemical degradation and countless other well documented realities to consider when dealing with chemicals. To simply say, ‘The dose makes the poison’ is a dangerous oversimplification, and rather insulting to the intelligence of those in audience.
Lynne Lund, Clinton
Published on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Editor: In many municipalities, a sure sign of spring are the notices on residents’ doors indicating a chemical company intends to spray herbicides on a property within 25 metres.
These herbicides might be MCPA and Mecoprop (commonly called MCPP). Since the provincial government’s “ban” on cosmetic pesticides only extends to products containing 2,4-D, companies are still permitted to spray MCPA and MCPP, despite the fact that:
- The toxicity of MCPA is a topic of current research;
- MCPA has the potential to cause severe eye irritation;
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. is requiring additional testing of the compound with regard to its potential to cause birth defects in two animal species;
- MCPA is moderately toxic to wildfowl;
- MCPA is slightly toxic to freshwater fish;
- MCPA is currently classified as a “restricted use” pesticide in the U.S.;
Regardless of whether a chemical product is “slightly” or “moderately” toxic, there is usually a certain degree of toxicity that is released through lawn spraying. Residents have to wonder whether these products are desirable in their communities, particularly where children are present, simply for the sake of having a greener lawn.
The National Academy of Sciences has reported that 50 per cent of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs in the first five years of a person’s life. Children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and their developing organs are less able to detoxify these chemicals.
In addition, the American Cancer Society has reported an increased risk for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when people are exposed to herbicides like MCPP, and exposure to herbicides for infants and toddlers significantly increases the risk of developing asthma.
It is high time that the provincial Department of the Environment began to better protect Islanders by extending its ban to cover all lawn poisons.
Peter Meggs, Cornwall
Here is a story about a kindly neighbour:
Cornwall resident offering free rides to transit meeting - The Guardian website article by Nigel Armstrong
Council to hear Wednesday if new system will replace T3 bus service
Published on The Guardian's website June 9, 2014
Nancy Riley is offering to help Cornwall residents who depend on transit get to a meeting this week about the future of the bus service.
At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Cornwall council is expected to hear of an alternative system to keep it in the regional public transit grid.
Riley is asking residents to show up in force at the meeting to support the need for transit. She is offering to arrange a ride to and from the meeting for those that need it.
The number to call is 213-1270 to leave a message and from there some arrangement can be worked out, she said.
"It's crucial that we show the town council that we do really need a bus," said Riley.
People depend on transit "either because they don't' have transportation or are somewhat disabled and they can't drive," said Riley.
Cornwall council voted last January to pull out of the T3 Transit system, which required six months notice so comes into effect the end of this month. ----------
Take care of each other,
June is a lovely month!
Two years ago, around this time, this was in Fairyland:
temporarily unable to upload :( check Stop Plan B facebook page for photo
From June 8, 2012, Ladyslipper along paths near surveyor's cut for Plan B, Fairyland, New Haven.
From June 2013: Plan B in Fairyland (looking west).
You know what it looks like now!
5PM tonight, Central Christian Church Hall, 217 Kent Street. Romana Doyle, sustainability coordinator for the City of Charlottetown will be the guest speaker. All welcome. https://www.facebook.com/events/655858951175561/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
and there is a Citizens' Alliance meeting at 6PM at the Bonshaw Community Centre, all welcome to that!
Some Climate Change (or whatever it's called) articles to consider on a Sunday:
A 84-second cartoon on the history of climate change: http://youtu.be/B11kASPfYxY
Here is the text of a riveting speech made by Sandra Steingraber of Seneca Lake in New York State, a beautiful area in the gorgeous (and gorge-ful) Finger Lakes region. She gave it at the New Environmentalism Summit of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, on June 3rd. Worth a few minutes to enjoy her beautiful prose about an ugly problem. Note that the article is three pages long on the website.
From her speech, "A New Environmentalism for an Unfractured Future":
"Fracking is the problem that masquerades as a solution.
"Fracking is the deadly enabler that keeps the whole fossil fuel party going far past the time of its curfew."
This is a graphic of a map from Pennsylvania, just south of New York State, where the state motto, it seems, is "Frack, Baby, Frack" (Frange, Infans, Frange)
It shows areas of "unexpected loose gas" (methane) with accompanying explanations:
Event reminders for today:
Picnic at the beach, Cavendish, preceded by a walk at 10AM, picnic at noon to celebrate International Oceans' Day.
And a little history review tonight:
The re-launch of the book by Harry Baglole and David Weale, The end of an Era: Prince Edward Island's resistance to Confederation
7PM, The Irish Cultural Centre at 582 North River Road, Charlottetown (the old BIS)
Today the Farmers' Markets are open, very likely with lots of greens, rhubarb, transplants of tomatoes and herbs for your garden, and more.
After the Charlottetown's Farmers' Market closes, from 2:30PM to 4PM, there is opening reception and talk regarding artist's Sarah Saunder's exhibit, Salt. The gallery space is in the meeting area by the picnic tables inside, runs until July 19th, and is part of the "this town is small" project. http://thistownissmall.com/small-town-market-gallery/
When not making intriguing art creations, or helping with a myriad of organizations and other endeavors, she was doing things like this:
Sarah Saunders (r) on an early morning in fall 2012 along the then-TCH, protesting Plan B, CO photo.
If you would rather be planting trees, volunteers at the Farm Centre will be doing just that, starting at about 2PM today. Dress for the weather.
Tonight is the Island Peace Committee potluck, 6PM, at 305 North River Road. Details are here:
I have forgotten to mention that next Thursday afternoon, June 12th, starting at 1PM, is a resumption of meetings of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry and will deal with the high capacity well issue, among other things. It is in the Coles Building, next to Province House and those big "1864" numbers.
from the Legislative Assembly website:
"The committee will receive briefings on deep well irrigation from Cavendish Farms, the PEI Potato Board, the Institute for Bioregional Studies, and the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club Canada; and on climate change and PEI's water supply from Dr. Adam Fenech. Other witnesses to be confirmed."
People are invited to be in the public gallery in the chairs in the back of the room. Please see if you could stop in for any part of the afternoon, as it is good for people to continue to show interest in this issue.
That evening at 7PM is PUBLIC LECTURE: at UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242, featuring keynote speaker Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada, followed by an opening night networking event.
More on the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation's conference here in Charlottetown:http://www.acic-caci.org/our-work/acic-symposium-agm-2014.html
Friday afternoon (June 13th) at 3:45PM in Main Building, Room 211, Ms. Kerr is inviting those working on environmental issues to join an informal chat with her.
Contact Leo Cheverie at <email@example.com> if you would like to come.
Ed Show" (that really loud guy with the MSNBC show who is actually more
progressive than he first appears) has environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy,
Jr. on his show to discuss the Obama carbon emissions order.
Badly sealed oil and gas wellbores leak emissions barely monitored, experts find.
full article is here: http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/06/05/Canada-Leaky-Energy-Wells/?utm_source=editor-tweet&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=050614
"Fixing leaking wellbores can be a
financial nightmare for the industry. Plugging a faulty wellbore can cost
$150,000, but in some problematic fields remediation costs can go as high as
$600,000. One remote well in northern British Columbia cost $8 million to fix.
And there is no guarantee of success.
The End of an Era: Prince Edward
Island’s resistance to Confederation
"There will be some informative and thought-provoking talk...some wonderful music from Mary McGillvary...some snacks...an open bar...and a special $10 price on the book for those who show up. Come along...especially you former members of BSCH (that’s the Brothers and Sisters of Cornelius Howatt). Howatt will almost certainly be toasted at some point."Have a nice damp day,
Various news bits and letters:
The logging in Mexico isn't helping, but it's the Roundup Ready crops (and their ilk) that are killing off the monarch butterflies.
(This is apparently due to herbicides killing all the plants -- including milkweed, the main source of food for their beautiful larvae -- but not the genetically modified crop.)
Very good letters in The Guardian yesterday:
A Grandfather's wish:
Published on June 4th, 2014
Now I can have little control over some of my hopes for them; however, the factors surrounding their chances for good health are something that I, and indeed all of our society, have a responsibility to influence in order to ensure their health prospects are not jeopardized.
In particular, they should not be subject to the continued, government-approved poisoning of their local environment. The facts are clear. In Stratford chemical pesticide spraying increased 22 per cent in 2012 and the spraying of these carcinogenic chemicals occurs not only on front lawns, but next to playgrounds, daycares and school bus stops where children are regularly congregating.
For goodness sake, let us take some positive action. We need to follow the lead of other more enlightened municipalities and eliminate the use of cosmetic pesticides. Who really wants a green lawn at the expense of our children’s health?
Sandy Kerr, Gladstone
Printed on June 4th, 2014
Editor: My family and I attended the recent public symposium on water at UPEI.
The raising of public awareness on steps that should be taken to protect the future of our water needs is important, but change needs to be implemented — now. Please, no more passionate discussions, debates or research projects.
We know all we need to know right now, We need to stop jeopardizing our groundwater with the annual barrage of pesticides that are applied to our land across the province.
Pesticides are designed to kill organisms. They are toxic to many life forms and residues accumulate in the food chain.
Pesticides don’t remain on farm fields, lawns and gardens; rather runoff carries them into nearby streams, rivers and groundwater. These water bodies are the source of our drinking water. Children are especially at risk from pesticides and are much more susceptible to these chemicals than adults.
It is time for P.E.I. to implement a comprehensive ‘cosmetic pesticide ban act’ to ban the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides. Many other provinces, such as British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, have lead the way in this legislation.
For example, in Ontario the cosmetic use of 82 pesticide active ingredients is prohibited, along with the sale of 295 products containing these chemicals. The challenge for these provinces now is ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the ban. If Prince Edward Island follows the lead of these provinces it would be much easier to implement and enforce the ban because of the very small size of our province.
After this small step, the province can then set its sights on the more pressing issue of industrial agriculture and the use of pesticides. A P.E.I. potato destined for the dinner table is subjected to 20 applications of pesticides.
Is it really worth risking the health of our groundwater, rivers, animal and human health so that Irving processing plants can make money selling French fries? This summer, let’s stop talking about these issues and let’s start acting.
Andrea McVean, Charlottetown
Published on June 4th, 2014
Editor: P.E.I. joined Confederation in 1873 because of huge railway debts so they faced commission government or joining Canada as a province.
When Ottawa offered loans to refinance the railway, P.E.I. agreed to join as a province and was saved from bankruptcy.
In 1966, Alex B. Campbell won a close election and discovered the province was broke and faced commission government again. Instead, he negotiated with Ottawa to stay as a province in return for the multi-million-dollar Development Plan.
The plan would upgrade Island systems and upgrade Islanders’ education and business skills. He helped bring Islanders into the 20th and 21st centuries so they learned how to compete in world markets and survive as a province.
Premier Campbell remained in power for 12 years until 1978 and established one university and consolidated more than 100 school boards into five regional school boards, but today there are only two left. The Island school system was so far behind it still hasn’t caught up to the rest of Canada.
Today, Premier Ghiz has been in power for seven years but is still unable to balance the budget due to Ottawa cuts and wasteful Liberal spending. If the government fails to balance the budget soon we may be faced with commission government again, since history does repeat itself.
David Steeves, CharlottetownA very dark cloud:
Tiananmen Square happened 25 years ago.
Photos of the "heartbreakingly young, earnest and happy" protesters, with one distressing one after the crackdown.
I was horrified then, and still am, and find I buy way too much stuff made in China.
is a lot going on in the next couple of weeks, very social almost-summery
"Come sample the cakes, bid on beautiful island art, and hear some great music with Teresa Doyle, Jon Redher and Larque....
Can't attend? Donations and volunteering for the co-op are always appreciated."
starting at 10AM, (Beach walk, picnic starting about noon), Cavendish Beach at
PEI National Park.
Yesterday, U.S. President
Obama ordered cuts in carbon emission, which is something, at
least. The Canadian government's response appeared to be
well-rehearsed about what a fantastic job Canada is already doing.
Fine weather for being outside! It's a nice time for hiking around, despite the blackflies. ;-) Someone asked what happened to the plaque which was dramatically unveiled by our Premier for Prince Charles a couple of weeks ago at the Bonshaw Provincial Park (the newly sodded one). The pedestal is still there.
Thanks to a certain birder who perhaps was also capturing the new swallows' nestbox, Bonshaw Provincial Park, June 1, 2014. (Taken from Facebook.)
Various theories abound, but perhaps the most likely it that is it being kept clean and dry until the rest of the park is ready. The unveiling of the plaque, complete with the gaggle of politicians walking a newly cut muddy trail in their Sunday Best with Royal Guest (Prize?), was just too good a re-election brochure opportunity, even if a bit premature for a trail system unveiling.
The website of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee has been updated:
and includes the information that the new committee of seven from the original group has been working on the recommendations, one of which is the amalgamation of lands for an expanding trail network.
The new subcommittee members are here:
and I got this update recently from co-chair Brian Thompson of TIR:
On 2014-05-07 9:34 AM, Brian Thompson wrote:
Hi Chris. Most recently, members of the subcommittee provided a presentation to Provincial Deputy Ministers on the Report recommendation for NAPA protection of lands, and initial work has been done by subcommittee members on drafting NAPA management plans for the same lands. The bio-inventory work on identified lands is scheduled to begin next week and will continue for the summer; this information will be used in preparation for developing working management plans for each property. Negotiations have been ongoing with the owners of private lands that would be desirable to incorporate into the expanded park, and these discussions will of course remain confidential respecting their privacy. Discussions have been ongoing within the subcommittee and with design engineers on the pedestrian underpass that will be located under the Bonshaw Bridge and will provide the connection for lands located on both sides of the TCH, as well as the replacement footbridge that will cross the river up closer to Crosby's - we are considering options for recovering and reusing Island stone that were part of the original bridge across the river in the to-be-built footbridge. Discussions have been ongoing with Provincial Tourism regarding various aspects of the expanded park concept, as well as the "naturalization" of some areas at the Strathgartney Park property.
We may be installing a link on the TIR webpage that will provide periodic updates on the subcommittee's progress.
(NAPA means Natural Areas Protection Act
And Megan Harris (also on the committee representing the West River Watershed Group) mentioned on CBC Radio Friday morning about public consultations on the proposed park ideas, consultations were in the recommendations (found on the Bonshawhills link above). Yes, area residents and the public would like to see, and of course should see, what is being proposed.
Bringing back picnic tables, barbecues, trash cans, and some playground equipment vacuumed up for the Prince's visit to Bonshaw Provincial Park as soon as possible for this summer would be a move.
Back to the Pesticide Forum from Thursday night:
The short version (with a longer version below):
Panelists Roger Gordon and Bill Whelan understand the irrefutable evidence that exposure to certain chemicals sprayed on lawns to kill dandelions or cinch-bugs causes certain types of cancer in humans. Roger, through the scientist's lens, and Bill, through the work of the Canadian Cancer Society, each described clear links between exposure to what are truly optional lawn care choices and what become optionless, life-altering, fatal disease.
The Department of Environment representative, Erin Taylor, who is listed on the department's website as Manager of Climate Change and Air Quality ,said she has complete faith in the determination of safety by the federal government's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Complete faith. She demurred making any comment on the cancer studies, citing that she is not a health care professional; nor on the Municipalities Act, saying that is not her department.
(The PMRA is not without its conundrums and critiques. A major one is that a lot of the information about a pesticide comes from the manufacturing company. Here is a little more (from a slightly biased source, but the statements made are accurate) about the PMRA: http://www.flora.org/healthyottawa/pmra-fs-6.htm )
The province through the Department of the Environment has the right to regulate buffer zones but declines to do anything about it. They appear to be much more interested in protecting pesticide applicators (which is admirable but also tells you how dangerous the stuff is they are using) than in protecting the general public, including the more vulnerable residents like children and the elderly. Ms. Taylor also said the MPRA guidelines were reviewed regularly (but other reading suggests a very long time line between reviews), and adjusted as necessary.
It appears to be a case of "willful blindness."
Here is a link -- a worthwhile 14:39 minutes, of a TED talk about willful blindness. https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_the_dangers_of_willful_blindness
The last panelist was Jamie Simpson, of the East Coast Environmental Law Association. He knows a great deal about the background on municipalities regarding these kinds of by-laws, and knew there is no clear answer in the law; but felt a test case was always a good way to go.
The longer notes (very haphazard, with my apologies):
Long term effects are most troubling, and now that we have the technology to measure things: these pesticides can impair clotting, reproduction, or the immune system; cause genetic damage and are definitely linked to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of lymphocyte white blood cells, and other cancers.
The "definitely linked" proof (my words) are not just cherry-picked or from biased organizations: Retrospective studies have to be used, since it is (fortunately) considered unethical to experiment on humans (though many feel that is what is happening when our neighbours spray). (Roger described "meta analysis", where many separate but similar studies are combined to look for patterns and check their statistical significance.) These retrospectives show meta analysis of a large number of studies on cancer trends: over 11 years showed non-Hodgkins leukemia other leukemias. Another meta analysis from 2003-2011 showed lower fetal weight and birth defects, and something about a much higher "Odds Ratio" of 1.5or 2-- meaning a person is between 50% or 100% more likelyto get certain cancers.
Roger reminded us that inert ingredients in commercial formulations amplify the potency of the chemical.
Finally, he ended his section with
these "By the way" thoughts:
Catherine O’Brien, the excellent moderator, mentioned
the FAQ page on the Department of Environment website which clearly states that
the province requires no buffer zones next to playgrounds, or any other public
Bill Whelan, a professor at UPEI
specializing in biomedical optics with a
special emphasis on cancer diagnosis, and past president of the Canadian Cancer
Society (CCS), spoke next.
CCS review of current literature focuses on human epidemiological studies. This contrasts to regulatory studies (which focus on animals in testing situations and extrapolation done). CCS looks at occupations, too. Prostate and kidney cancer have associations, but not as strong as links to NHL, malignant melanoma, brain tumours.
Bill also discussed the Precautionary Principle. He reminded us of how health professionals declared no harm from smoking.
Organochlorine pesticides thought safe for a while, until effects determined, and they were finally banned in this country.
He really feels we can’t afford to wait any longer for a ban.
He shared general tips for reducing exposure to pesticides:
Keep children and pets away from lawns for 24 hours.
All individuals stay indoors when spraying
Wash ALL fruits and vegetables.
CCS has tool kit as far as looking at alternatives for healthy lawns -- call their office at 566-4007 .
Bill finished by reminding us that
it takes a while for studies to make links with these chemicals, and in the
meantime a lot of people die.
As the issue last night was the regulation of cosmetic pesticides – 1286 municipalities have brought in by-laws. Jamie talked about the community of Hudson, Quebec, which in the 1990s enacted a bylaw to restrict cosmetic pesticides. Lawn companies took the town to court. In 2001, the Supreme Court said the town *does* have the right. Law is not static, it evolves, so there are no clear cut answers sometimes. A legal opinion is an opinion. And for an opinion one way or another, the judge has to be more than 50% sure of the answer in one direction.
Courts are showing more and more deference to municipalities’ desires and wishes (the voters!).
Mike Redmond was there, Darcie Lantheir from the Green Party. No other politicians. Not even Richard Brown, who was Environment Minister when the provincial ban against 2,4-D was put in place. Some environmental department officials. No media that looked like mainstream media.
Erin Taylor clarified that some BC municipalities have enacted their own by-laws -- she has in her remarks made it look like only a minority of provinces were interested in banning cosmetic pesticides, which Roger Gordon spoke up to clarify. She would not speak on the Municipalities Act but I thought she said, “We support communities that want to ask for a ban.”
Jamie Simpson reminded the audience Squeaky wheel gets the grease,
A municipality could enact a bylaw, it could be challenged. But people do need to ask the province to amend legislation. The wording of the Quebec municipalities act includes the wording that municipalities can make bylaws based on a lot of reasons, including the "health" of residents.
Everyone agreed (well, maybe not the person not able to discuss health concerns) that a cancer epidemiologist would be helpful.
It would seem the Faith on the Bible of PMRA is eroded.
Roger skewered government using the justification of science with other studies for other issues or reasons, and these being political decisions.
Darcie: Risk, risk, risk and no benefit.
Edith Perry: We are not happy with these politics. Real leadership is needed.
A young woman mentioned that the Canadian Association for Physicians for the Environment had met here recently and was all for a ban.
She asked if cancer numbers dropped after pesticide bans in Canada? Bill said there is no hard numbers since bans are so new. In Europe NHL cases decreased after certain pesticides.
That's when he said: It takes decades to get those numbers but in the meantime a lot people die.
Ifo Ikede said that he shouldn’t be part of an experiment without his persmisson. And that we need to follow the money.
So those are the notes that stuck with me. Lots more to discuss and plan on this one.
Take care, enjoy the dandelions,