May 2014


  1. 1 May 31, 2014
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 1.2 Science Requires On-going Monitoring of PEI's Water Supply - The Guardian Commentary by Dr. Jim Randall
  2. 2 May 30, 2014
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  3. 3 May 29, 2014
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  4. 4 from and tabled in the PEI Legislature this Spring.
  5. 5 May 28, 2014
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 5.2 Physical consequences of drilling into aquifer - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 5.3 89,000 acres of potatoes + 680,551.09 kgs of pesticides = trouble - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  6. 6 A Reader's View
  7. 7 May 27, 2014
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 7.2 Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water offers recommendations to government - The Guardian Commentary by Catherine O'Brien
  8. 8 May 26, 2014
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  9. 9 May 25, 2014
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 9.2 PEI Women's Institute Resolutions - by Darcie Lanthier
    3. 9.3 P.E.I. Group Says "No Monsanto" - The Guardian online article by Mitch MacDonald
  10. 10 May 24, 2014
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 10.2 The pesticide issue and our failing democracy - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David MacKay
  11. 11 May 23, 2014
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  12. 12 May 22, 2014
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 12.2 Lethargic Session Just What Ghiz Wants - The Eastern Graphic Editorial by Paul MacNeil
  13. 13 May 21, 2014
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  14. 14 May 20, 2014
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 14.2 Chris O's Letter on Behalf of Citizens' Alliance of Prince Edward Island
  15. 15 May 19, 2014
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 15.2 Green Washing of Bonshaw Highway - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  16. 16 May 18, 2014
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 16.2 Robert Irving urges grads to seek careers in Atlantic Canada - The Guardian article by Jim Day
    3. 16.3 Address to Grads from Hypocrite? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 16.4 Island Water Symposium at UPEI - facebook event page
  17. 17 May 17, 2014
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 17.2 Prince being used to green wash Plan B - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 May 16, 2014
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 May 15, 2014
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 19.2 SPRING SESSION OF LEGISLATURE COMES TO END - Ocean 100 website (feat. Chris O)
  20. 20 May 14, 2014
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  21. 21 May 13, 2014
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 21.2 Amend the legislation on cosmetic pesticides - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 21.3 Potential risks not worth it for cosmetic benefits alone - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Lori Barker
    4. 21.4 Apply pesticides at your own risk - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  22. 22 May 12, 2014
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 22.2 Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan
  23. 23 May 11, 2014
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 23.2 Public deserves more facts about CETA - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 23.3 Island representatives must educate themselves about CETA - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan MacPhee
  24. 24 May 10, 2014
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  25. 25 May 9, 2014
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  26. 26 May 8, 2014
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 26.2 Charlottetown protest highlights pesticide controversy - The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong
    3. 26.3 Sherry refusing to release advisory council opinion on deep-water wells - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  27. 27 May 7, 2014
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  28. 28 May 6, 2014
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  29. 29 May 5, 2014
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  30. 30 May 4, 2014
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 30.2 The New Abolitionism - The Nation magazine article by Christopher Hayes
  31. 31 May 3, 2014
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 31.2 Too much government? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 31.3 Just say no to cosmetic pesticides - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Roger Gordon
  32. 32 May 2, 2014
    1. 32.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 32.2 It would be great if we could make a Sacred Fire, for when the Prince Tours the Trail in the Bonshaw Hills.
  33. 33 May 1, 2014
    1. 33.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 33.2 P.E.I. politicians see Hamptons's (sic) mystery development, residents don't - The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong

May 31, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Sorry, I had the location for the Community Sharing Day wrong -- it is today at the Civic Centre (Eastlink Centre)! It is for two hours only - -10AM to 12noon.

And today is walk in Macphail Woods, 10AM, Kate MacQuarrie and native plants, meeting towards the nursery area.

And gardening and seed-saving events for all levels of experience at the Farm Centre from 10AM to 3PM. I think there is also a yard sale form 9AM to 4PM with proceeds going to the Singing Strings musical ensemble. Busy place!

And Farmers' Markets are open today and there are likely lots of greens and rhubarb, in addition to the usual finds.


Yesterday, The Guardian printed a commentary from Professor Jim Randall at UPEI about the water forum a week ago sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies.

The Guardian, out of purpose or ignorance, chose a skewed PEI Potato Board graphic on water use to illustrate the on-line story. That's misleading.

It's a thorough, very positive wrap-up of the event.

Science Requires On-going Monitoring of PEI's Water Supply - The Guardian Commentary by Dr. Jim Randall

Assessing impacts requires arm’s length from vested interests, including agricultural sector, industry, municipalities

In the first public event following the uncertainty regarding its future last year, the Institute of Island Studies hosted a public symposium May 20 entitled Island Water Futures: Assessing the Science. This watershed event was planned specifically to reinforce what is viewed as one of the most important roles of the institute - to serve as an honest broker in raising and discussing issues topical to P.E.I. and the Atlantic region. On P.E.I. in 2014 you would be hard pressed to find an issue that is more topical than water.

Three university researchers made presentations: Dr. Ryan O’Connor, an environmental historian; Dr. Cathryn Ryan, a professor in the Department of Geoscience and B.Sc. Environmental Science Program at the University of Calgary; and Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, the Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity at UPEI.

I served as rapporteur to summarize the main themes that emerged during the event. This was not a one-way transmission of scientific knowledge by a small group of experts to an uninformed audience. The depth and breadth of wisdom and research expertise among the audience of over 150 was as valuable and thought-provoking as the research findings conveyed by the panelists. All scientists are members of communities and they cannot disassociate themselves from their experiences and perceptions as members of these communities.

I encouraged the audience to take the time to read Dr. O’Connor’s background paper on the research completed on P.E.I.’s groundwater supply where he summarizes 31 reports, theses, articles and conference papers. They fall roughly into two major areas, those that have examined saltwater intrusion and those that have looked at nitrate contamination. In both areas, the agricultural sector and climate change have occupied a prominent place in the research.

Dr. Ryan reminded us that P.E.I. has an incredibly productive aquifer and is the only province that relies on groundwater exclusively. On the efficacy of drilling deep water wells, she said that the impacts on the supply of surrounding shallow water really depend on a variety of factors, including whether the well shafts are encased and how far down the well this casing extends, and the distance of the wells to existing surface water. She noted that effective public policy regarding water use requires both communication and co-operation.

Dr. van den Heuvel, said that in his view, water will be the most important global issue of the next 100 years. He reminded the audience of Garrett Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons,’ wherein individuals, acting rationally and in their own self-interest, can engage in behaviours that are contrary to the interests of the larger community, including ultimately depleting a shared resource.

He provided evidence that supported the direct relationship between potato production and the presence of nitrates in the water and the relationship between the intensity of rainfall and fish kills. He showed the links between the loss of eel grass, the growth of sea lettuce, the anoxia on rivers when the sea lettuce rots, and the reduction in salmon spawning sites. He noted that, despite increased regulation of the agricultural sector, the frequency of fish kills in P.E.I. has not declined over the past 15 years.

Since this event was intended to assess the science of P.E.I.’s water, I have to comment on what appears to be both an unrealistic and simplistic understanding of the role of science as portrayed in the media and by some members of the public. Science outcomes are often seen as being definitive, as in, when we get more science, we will be able to answer some of these questions. The results of scientific research depend on many factors. Science can sometimes lead to what at first may appear to be contradictory results. What we study and how we study it is connected to the values and priorities established by society that are often then reflected in public policy.

My interpretation of the panelists’ remarks suggest that there has to be ongoing monitoring of the water supply and impacts on P.E.I. and that this monitoring must be done at arm’s length from those who have a vested interest in the outcomes, including the agricultural sector, industry and municipalities. This independence means that the science not only has to be transparent and objective, but it has to be seen to be objective by all stakeholders. There appears to be a polarization of views on the future of P.E.I.’s water supply and use and a deterioration in trust among the groups involved in the discussion. Trust can only be rebuilt when, in Dr. Ryan’s words, we are very smart and we focus on communication and co-operation.

Dr. Jim Randall is co-ordinator, Master of Arts Island Studies Program, UPEI and a member of the IIS Executive Committee.

May 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some reminders for tomorrow, if you can be in a couple of places at once; the Food Exchange PEI is hosting two workshops tomorrow -- one about planning your garden with Karen Murchison at 10AM, and one for more experienced gardens about planning to save your own seed at 2PM with Josie Baker. The workshops are at the Farm Centre on University Avenue. You can pop out back and see the Legacy Gardens taking shape and find out how you can help.

Also, at 10AM at Macphail Woods will be a walk highlighting native plants with biologist Kate MacQuarrie, meeting at the nursery (which is by the interpretive centre, "left" of the Homestead.

Two used stuff events: a yard sale starting at 9AM at the Farm Centre, and the Community Sharing Day at the Murphy Centre (corner of Richmond and Prince Streets, downtown Charlottetown).


Island Morning (in a few minutes) is talking about the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee's plans for the land acquired but not used for Plan B. Everyone is glad to see what is left protected, but no one outside the new implementation committee has seen any plans. Public relations would go more smoothly if they stopped using the silly term "wilderness park", they consulted with local residents and interested islanders on their plans, they stopped bringing special guests like hooded falcons through the area, and they returned *now* the picnic tables and barbecues and a swingset they removed earlier for the big plaque unveiling, instead of indicating there are no plans to replace

*anything* for residents and travelers for this year.

The only thing new on the TIR website for the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee website is Minister Vessey's statement in the Legislature the day it closed, conveniently left in big print to be read standing up in the House.

Last night was a interesting but a bit dispiriting forum on cosmetic pesticides at the Rodd Charlottetown.

Since I cannot make my notes tidy anytime very soon, I will say great things about the organizers: a gracious and welcoming setting showing the organization by Maureen Kerr and Roger Gordon, and a good crowd (I think about 80 people) came out, despite it being the first pleasantly warm night in a while. (And a Canadiens' playoff game starting, too.)

More in a day or two.

May 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

As you know, journalist Jack MacAndrew died last week, and his funeral service was yesterday.

Many, many people knew him for decades and have favourite stories; some of us got to know him in the past few years. when he wrote column after column about what a misguided decision Plan B was.

One tiny snippet of him is after the RCMP were called in to remove the people camping in Hemlock Grove so tree-choppers could move in, Jack, the conscience of the Island, spoke to a filmmaker the next morning at the rally (October 13th, 2012).

About 2:15 into the video.

The Premier shuffled his Cabinet after the last election, and stacked Environment, Labour and Justice together.  It is like mashing together Lego and Mega Bloks; it just doesn't fit very well.  Add to the Minister of that odd combination the job of Attorney General (to the MLA  who had proven loyalty by hooting the loudest during Question Period in the Legislature) and you have another poor decision by Premier Ghiz.

Minister Sherry dutifully approved Plan B with conditions intended to impress but not all be taken seriously, as we guessed then and know now.  What advice was she given by the Environmental Advisory Council or her staff regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment on Plan B?  We will never know, since it was advice; but history seems to be repeating itself with the high capacity well issue.

Many people in her department are good, hard working civil servants, who are dedicated and look out for the environment, despite missing a valuable natural component to the department -- the divisions of Forestry and Fish and Wildlife.  Obviously, there are administrative issues, and a Minister almost set-up to make erroneous or ridiculous statements.

Here are two:

This winter Minister Sherry bubbled that the P.E.I. Potato Board should "educate" Islanders on why high capacity wells were OK.  But the Potato Board was under the impression the moratorium being lifted was a done deal, as evidenced by their newsletter from January of this year (left hand column and part of right column):

from and tabled in the PEI Legislature this Spring.

The Potato Board is looking for (if you can read the copy), responsible, clear communication from government. Indeed.


Then came the Glenda the Good impression two weeks ago, when Minister Sherry said municipalities had the right all along to pass legislation for issues like banning cosmetic pesticides.  But last week when attention was on the Royal Visit, word came that, no, actually, they didn't.  It was like some nameless, green-clad bureaucrat in Emerald City telling Dorothy and her pals they couldn't see the Wizard after all.

Responsible, clear communication from government. 


The authority regarding municipalities and by-laws will be one of the issues likely to be discussed tonight at the cosmetic pesticide forum, Rodd Charlottetown, 7PM, featuring some very capable and concerned people:

Bill Whelan from the PEI division of the Canadian Cancer Society,

Roger Gordon, former Dean of Science at UPEI, who can decode the whitewashing done by the chemical company representatives,

Erin Taylor, Manage of Climate Change and Air Quality at the Department of Environment,

Jamie Simpson, from East Coast Environmental Law Association.

Catherine O'Brien is moderating the session.  Lots of good discussion, I am sure!  And let's hope Mr. Simpson can shed some light on the legal issues.

There is no cost to attend but if possible, bring some money for a donation for expenses of room rental and the off-province panelist.

Another very interesting event tonight is the Upton Farmlands AGM at West Royalty Community Centre., 7PM, with a discussion of the Master Plan.

From Maureen Kerr: At the rally to ban cosmetic pesticides almost two weeks ago,

Environment Minister Janice Sherry told me to my face that Stratford could have a pesticide ban if we wanted. My MLA asked her in legislature and she stood up and said YES. Sara Fraser from CBC sent me this tweet on Twitter on May 13 @moekerr "Any municpality who wishes to place a ban on pesticide use is well within their municipal rights to do so." Sherry quote fr intvw.

But on Friday, Minister Sherry CHANGED HER MIND and took it all back and is now saying municipalities can't ban cosmetic pesticides which make us the only place in Canada to not be able to do so. I'm interested in hearing the reason tomorrow morning on CBC. Ecojustice.

Even more reason to come to our event on May 29th and listen to the East Coast Environmental Law Association talk about our rights. 7pm at the Rodd Charlottetown. The Cancer Society will be presenting and on the panel, as well as scientist, Roger Gordon, who will be speaking about the effects of cosmetic pesticides on health.

May 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some well-researched letters from the past week in The Guardian:

Physical consequences of drilling into aquifer - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 23, 2014

Editor: In 1856 Henry Darcy described a series of experiments with flows of water through sand whereby he established the equation KH=Q; K times H equals Q; K is hydraulic conductivity, H is hydraulic gradient potential, Q is water flow current.

If we make K=1 then we have H=Q; a field of force equals a field of flow. And that’s what Darcy’s law is, a relationship between impressed force vector H and flow vector Q. A vector is a quantity which has a magnitude (a number), and a direction in space. Note: H and Q always point in the same direction.

Embedded in conductivity K are the properties of water and the sandstone matrix. K is a scalar quantity, just a number, with units such that force vector H is compatible with flow vector Q. Isaac Newton says: "An impressed Force is an Action exercised upon a Body, in order to change its state of Rest or uniform Motion in a straight Line."

Vector H is composed of two vectors: (1) gravity G pointing straight down, and (2) the pressure gradient vector P which points from higher pressure towards lower pressure. Not mentioned in P is a fluid density term, which makes the units of H, G, and P the same, force per unit, mass. Newton tells us how to combine G and P to get H: "If a Body be acted upon by two Forces, it will describe the Diagonal of a Parallelogram by both the Forces together, in the same Time that it will describe the Sides by those Forces separately."

Thus, for a native confined aquifer (CA), G points down, the sense of P will be towards the surface and H will point towards the surface and Q will have an upward sense, hence exfiltration.

When you pump water from a CA you lower the pressure, P eventually does not cancel G but adds to it and H and Q have a downward sense, hence infiltration. As long as the Winter River well fields pump water from the CA, problems will persist on the North Shore.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart

89,000 acres of potatoes + 680,551.09 kgs of pesticides = trouble - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 20, 2014

A Reader's View

Editor: In response to Andrew Thompson’s letter dated May 13, stating that P.E.I. is a relatively healthy place to live, I would say that is a matter of opinion, and my opinion is the opposite of Mr. Thompson’s.

Mr. Thompson takes a limited view in that he discusses only the cancer statistics for newly reported cases. He also suggests  it is only human health we should be concerned about.

I won’t get into quoting too many statistics, but do feel it is relevant to note that in 2013, 89,000 acres of potatoes were planted in our soil.

The most up-to-date published numbers on pesticide sales in P.E.I. (2008), state the following:

Insecticides 27,778.90 kg; herbicides 96,003.63 kg; fungicides; 556,768.56 kg Total = 680,551.09 kg annually.

Many of the above chemicals are well known as environmental endocrine disruptors, the effects of which include: male infertility, abnormal sexual development and cancer; female reproduction defects, breast cancer and endometriosis; immune system damage; goiters, and hyperactivity, learning and attention problems in children.

Further, these chemicals can bio-accumulate in fat tissues, staying dormant until they are metabolized. This means that an embryo can be damaged by chemicals the mother was exposed to either weeks, or even years prior to conception. These facts are well documented in myriad scientific research studies..

I am no mathematician, nor am I a scientist, but, as they say, this is not rocket science. When you do the math, it is overwhelming to think about the massive quantities of toxins we continue to dump, pour and spray into our soil, water and air, every summer.

As many previous letters have pointed out, there are healthier ways to grow a potato or create a beautiful lawn.

Rachel Carson, well known author of the book Silent Spring, said, “A Who’s Who of pesticides is of concern to us all. If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals, eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones —we had better know something about their nature and their power.”

In my opinion, it is high time Islanders started to learn more about our addiction to pesticides and how that addiction affects not only our health, but that of our entire ecosystem.

Joan Diamond, Fairview

May 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Catherine O'Brien's letter on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water:

Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water offers recommendations to government - The Guardian Commentary by Catherine O'Brien

Published on May 26, 2014

The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water was established recently, due to concern over the high capacity well issue. When the P.E.I. Potato Board and Cavendish Farms requested the moratorium on high capacity wells be lifted, there was an immediate outcry from farmers, fishers and residents all across P.E.I.

Letters to the editor of all the newspapers poured in with passionate and intelligent responses to the request for more water extraction. The potential for higher nitrates, rivers running dry, and fish kills and anoxic events were just too much for Islanders to accept. We know we live on a very vulnerable island and that water is a precious resource.  

People from all walks of life took up the cause to ask our government to please keep the moratorium in place.

Several groups addressed the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, including the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water. An unprecedented number of people attended each of the presentations, hopeful that the Standing Committee would recommend the moratorium stay in place.  

The Standing Committee, in their April 2014 report to the P.E.I. Legislature, did recommend the moratorium stay in place, for now. It may allow more presentations from concerned groups in the future, but we do not know when or who may be allowed to make a presentation.

Even if it does allow more presentations, we do not consider that alone to be public consultation, where all of the public can attend and ask questions. The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water continues to urge the Government of P.E.I. to conduct proper public consultations province-wide and respect the opinions and advice given.

We have learned that Minister Sherry has had a recommendation from the Environmental Advisory Council but she won’t share that information with the public. This lack of transparency is troubling. The protection of water is a priority for all Islanders.

We do not know as yet how many wells are in existence; where they are; what they are being used for; how much water is being extracted annually and if they are being properly monitored. We have asked for that information but so far have not received it.

If farmers were to have permission to dig high capacity wells, how many would actually do it? Those who could afford it may be pressured to dig high capacity wells in order to obtain contracts with the large potato processors. Others just can’t afford it.

Many say it is not necessary if proper farming practices are in place, including crop rotations, buffers, hedgerows and healthy organic matter in the soil.  

The lifting of the moratorium is a decision that presents high risks for all and limited benefits for few.

The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water recommends:

• That a proper peer-reviewed, multi- disciplinary scientific study be conducted over a length of time to ensure that any lifting of the moratorium is completely safe and will not harm the environment.

• That the Government of Prince Edward Island establishes a transparent and public consultation process that allows all Islanders to give their input on high capacity wells.

• That the P.E.I. Government works with due diligence and transparency, to develop a comprehensive integrated water policy for P.E.I. Such a policy must include and address the impact of climate change.

The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water is an umbrella group, with members from all walks of life. We will keep working toward the protection of P.E.I. water and a sustainable Water Act on P.E.I. We encourage you to contact us and stay informed about upcoming forums, workshops and events.  

Members include: Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I., Cooper Institute, Cornwall Area Watershed Group, Council of Canadians, Don’t Frack P.E.I., Environmental Coalition of P.E.I., Friends of Covehead Brackley Bay Watershed, Green Party of P.E.I., National Farmers Union District 1 Region 1, New Democratic Party of P.E.I., Pesticide Free P.E.I., Save Our Seas and Shores P.E.I., Sierra Club P.E.I., Winter River – Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, and over 200 individual members.

Catherine O’Brien is Chair, The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water.

Today would have been American environmentalist and writer Rachel Carson's 107th birthday. 
The "doodle" for the search engine Google today commemorates her, and here is some background on the doodle.

Tonight is the Cinema Politica movie The Crisis of Civilization, at 7PM at the Murphy Centre in Charlottetown:

May 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Catherine O'Brien's letter to the editor on behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is printed in today's Guardian, wrapping up why the Coalition came together, what has happened so far, and the Province needs to do.

If you can't find a print copy today, I will be reprint it tomorrow.
"How to Save the Planet" sounds a bit trite, but this is a practical, inspiring little article, from Bill Moyers' website.
The forum on cosmetic pesticides in this Thursday, May 29th, 7PM, at Rodd's Charlottetown. 

The Upton Trust (Upton Farmlands) is having their AGM at the same time, at West Royalty Community Centre

May 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

At the PEI Women's Institute annual convention yesterday in Charlottetown:

With thanks to Darcie Lanthier, for the wholesale lifting of her Facebook post from yesterday:

PEI Women's Institute Resolutions - by Darcie Lanthier

Darcie writes:

I am so very proud to say that the PEI Women's Institute unanimously passed three resolutions today! I'll skip the 'Whereas's' and get right to the 'Therefore's'.

1 - Therefore be it resolved Prince Edward Island Women's Institute supports and urges the development of a comprehensive water policy for Prince Edward Island that will manage and monitor our water on behalf of our present and future generations.

2 - Therefore be it resolved Prince Edward Island Women's Institute urges the government of Prince Edward Island to maintain the current moratorium on deep water irrigation wells until such time as unbiased, transparent, peer reviewed, proven scientific evidence is available to support the lifting of the moratorium.

3 - Therefore be it resolved that the government of Prince Edward Island establish a moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing in Prince Edward Island, for now and future generations.

I am incredibly proud, too.  It was democracy in action -- slow, messy, requiring patience and clear communication -- but the system worked.  The resolutions were read and discussed: a representative from the PEI Potato Board popped up to speak for water in general and lifting the moratorium in particular, using the exact same arguments and treating the skimpy scientific references in the 2013 Department of Environment Water Extraction Policy as The Gold Standard; amended (strengthened or clarified) versions of the motions were considered; excellent counterpoints regarding the wells were by Darcie; clarifications and setting things straight by Edith Ling; absolute pearls of wisdom by former Lieutenant Governor Marion Reid; organization on the parliamentary parts by former MLA Marion Murphy were among the highlights.

WI on PEI has the goal: "Women being the voice, taking action, and creating change in PEI communities", and one of its main points as: "We always strive to protect the environment." 

The WI gets funding from the Department of Agriculture, and the Minister always attends part of the convention (I was only there for the first part, so I must have missed him); it's great to see WI being a voice this Island needs.

The two Marions I mentioned:

Former MLA Marion Murphy

Former MLA and Lieutenant Governor Marion Reid

both of those biographies are from the treasure trove at the PEI Legislative Documents On-line:

There weren't maps of former electoral districts, but I am sure they are on-line somewhere.


Yesterday at noon was the March Against Monsanto, for their creation and promotion of GMO in seed (and our food):

P.E.I. Group Says "No Monsanto" - The Guardian online article by Mitch MacDonald

Published Saturday, May 24th, 2014

A group of Islanders voiced their opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and, in particular, multi-national company Monsanto during a march Saturday afternoon.

More than 50 individuals waved signs as they marched down University Avenue protesting the company, which is well known as a leading producer of genetically engineered seeds.

Placards reading “Monsanto poisons our food” and “seeds belong in the hands of the people” were just some of the messages the group shared along the route, which included stops at Agriculture Canada and Sobeys on Allen Street.

Georgina Markov, one of the event’s organizers, said much of the cause behind the protest is the American-based company’s controversial seed patenting model, which has been described by critics as a threat to food security.

"So they would have the ownership to them (the world’s seeds),” said Markov. “They’re bad people to say the least.”

The criticism of Monsanto wasn’t limited to P.E.I. on Saturday.

The day was the second March Against Monsanto held globally.

While it’s unclear how many participated in the march last year, organizers said protests were held in 436 cities in 52 countries.

In addition to genetically engineered seed, Monsanto was among the first to genetically modify plant cells and conduct field research of genetically modified crops, both of which occurred in the 1980s.

It is also a leading producer of herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, and has previously manufactured the bovine growth hormone, DDT and Agent Orange.

Markov said as of last month, there was no march planned for P.E.I.

“We got together at a GMO meeting and got this started, we just went from there,” she said.

Markov said she felt the day was successful, with many individuals who she talked to having not heard of Monsanto before.

She said spreading awareness of the company to those individuals was the main goal of the march.

“I think in P.E.I., essentially they just shut their eyes and pretend we’re not being affected by pesticides, insecticides and GMOs,” said Markov. “We do need to open the eyes of the people in Prince Edward Island and get them (GMOs) off the Island and make P.E.I. the real green island of Canada.”

May 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is David MacKay's excellent letter yesterday, connecting the dots:

The pesticide issue and our failing democracy - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David MacKay

Published on May 23, 2014

The present connection between politics and the chemical pesticide issue is reflected in the old saying; “you may not be interested in politics but politics is interested in you.” This statement reminds citizens they cannot avoid the consequences of the present government’s willful blindness to the dangers of chemical pesticides.

The enormous amount of chemical pesticides that will be sprayed on Island fields over the next 5 to 6 months and the correlation to rising cancer rates and increasing health costs to treat such chronic diseases need to be addressed. Yet the response by successive provincial governments to the demands, protests and petitions by numerous community and environmental-health coalitions has been delaying tactics (e.g. another commission), green washing and half-hearted efforts at best. The real answers to our pesticide problem are commonly known: a strong regulatory and enforcement system to significantly reduce and eliminate chemical pesticides in the short term and a 10- to 12-year, government-led and financed, organic agricultural conversion program.

The failure by our governments to act reflects the priority of short-term profit and backroom power over Islanders’ health. This failure calls into question the function and legitimacy of our present political system and its major players, the two main political parties.

It also calls into question the role of citizens, every four years, as ballot markers in what some have called, “a faux democracy popularity contest”.

Major reforms to our democratic system and new political leadership are sorely needed if we, as a community, are to deal with both the pesticide issue and the broader issue of environmental degradation. Reforms such as proportional representation and community policy agendas that have real political power and impact are long overdue.

The soon-to-begin annual chemical pesticide season, with its lethal impact on Islanders’ health and well-being, is a reminder that politics is too important to be left up to just the political parties. The situation requires genuine citizen participation and power. Yet people cannot effectively participate in a political system which is archaic, top down and unresponsive to the critical health and economic needs of the vast majority of Islanders.

The time has come to significantly reform our democracy, open it up to meaningful public engagement and for we, as Island citizens, to finally take a degree of responsibility for our failing democracy. Our future and the future of our children and grandchildren depend upon this democratic renewal.

David MacKay, Charlottetown, is an agri-food business consultant working both internationally and in the Atlantic region.

What can you do? One thing David suggests is check out

If you are heading to the Charlottetown Farmers' market for some local food, around noon people are gathering in the parking lot for a "March Against Monsanto", and I think also mid-day or later there is some apple tree-planting to take place behind the Farm Centre.

May 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A synopsis of the 'Island Water Futures: Assessing the Science"  water forum at UPEI from Tuesday night:

I think what many people came for was an assessment of the current science regarding the Department of the Environment's original indications that the ban on new high capacity wells should be lifted. Government and some other organizations have said basically if the science supports lifting the ban, then government will, too.  It's not a simple one question/one answer, though.   In the end, the two research scientists who presented answered some very specific questions, but one could certainly NOT say the the science supported lifting the ban. 

Before the hydrogeologist and the biologist spoke, here is a brief summary of what the first speaker said:
Ryan O'Connor, PhD, is a historian, a young man with an interest in the ageless Islanders' struggles of land and the control of land, spoke about the scientific research from the past 50 years.  

The major concerns were saltwater intrusion into fresh water domestic wells, and nitrate contamination, and findings included:
Potatoes/hay/grain rotated land is more likely than blueberry land to have contamination.

There are more nitrates in water in winter due to less plant material in soil absorbing nitrogen.  

And there has been an 11-17% increase in nitrates in private wells attributable to Climate Change causing less groundwater recharge; 25-32% in another study.

It is only going to continue to rise.  The groundwater provides surface water, so contaminated groundwater will result in contaminated surface water.   It affects all of us.


Lots of interesting information -- things you didn't want to know -- about Monsanto, here:

And a great quote from David Suzuki making the rounds:

Now there are some things in the world we can`t change - gravity, entropy, the speed of light, the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and well being. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die.
Other things, like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them. They are not immutable and we can change them. It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere, for example.

This quote is from a speech he gave right before the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change in 2009 when he received the Right Livelihood Award.  He chastised our Prime Minister for not doing the right thing about Climate Change.

Now, five years later, Bill McKibben from the organization is trying to organize people, lots of people, Islanders too, to come to New York City on September 20 and 21st:

Here is an excerpt (the "us" being the US, of course):

My guess is people will come by the tens of thousands, and it will be the largest demonstration yet of human resolve in the face of climate change. Sure, some of it will be exciting – who doesn't like the chance to march and sing and carry a clever sign through the canyons of Manhattan? But this is dead-serious business, a signal moment in the gathering fight of human beings to do something about global warming before it's too late to do anything but watch. You'll tell your grandchildren, assuming we win. So circle September 20th and 21st on your calendar, and then I'll explain.

Since Ban Ki-moon runs the United Nations, he's altogether aware that we're making no progress as a planet on slowing climate change. He presided over the collapse of global-climate talks at Copenhagen in 2009, and he knows the prospects are not much better for the "next Copenhagen" in Paris in December 2015. In order to spur those talks along, he's invited the world's leaders to New York in late September for a climate summit.

But the "world's leaders" haven't been leaders on climate change – at least not leaders enough. Like many of us, they've attended to the easy stuff, but they haven't set the world on a fundamentally new course. Barack Obama is the perfect example: Sure, he's imposed new mileage standards for cars, but he's also opened vast swaths of territory to oil drilling and coal mining, which will take us past Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's biggest petro producer.

If you see a Guardian today, look for the *excellent* essay on the lower right hand page by David MacKay on democracy and environmental issues on PEI.    I'll have the on-line version tomorrow. 

May 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of a roundup; forgive the pun:

Saturday, there are world-wide protests against Monsanto (the giant chemical company and maker of Round-Up and GMO Round-up Ready seeds, etc., etc. )
May 24th, 12noon, Farmers' Market
Facebook event notice for March Against Monsanto

When you have a lot of time, here is the YouTube link for a very interesting documentary from French journalist Marie-Monique Robin from 2008 called The World According to Monsanto

A forum on cosmetic pesticides is next Thursday, May 29th, 7PM, at the Rodd Charlottetown:
Richard Raiswell's final political column of this Spring Sitting of the Legislature, from Tuesday's Mainstreet:
CBC Radio player of Tuesday, May 20th's political column by Richard Raiswell

Paul MacNeil just lays it out on the table regarding the Ghiz government in his column in The Eastern Graphic this week:
"To say the still youthful premier is squandering his mandate is a massive understatement...."
full test below, too
Congratulations to Bonshaw resident Harry Baglole, who received the Pioneer Award at the Atlantic Book Awards last night for his work with Island publishing for most of his adult life.  Harry started Ragweed Press, and has been instrumental in a few other projects here and there, including (but not limited to) rescuing and rejuvenating the Bonshaw Hall, nurturing the Macphail Homestead, starting the Vinland Society of PEI, and of course keeping the spirit of Cornelius Howatt alive.  And there was that little idea of starting the Institute of Island Studies.  He collaborates with wonderful people like David Weale and Deirdre Kessler, and inspires us all.

Lethargic Session Just What Ghiz Wants - The Eastern Graphic Editorial by Paul MacNeil

Published Wednesday, May 21, 2014

While Robert Ghiz contented himself with fluff during the spring session of the Legislature, Prince Edward Island’s ship of state bobbed inexorably toward collapse.

To say the still youthful premier is squandering his mandate is a massive understatement. The underpinnings of the Prince Edward Island economy are eroding and the premier refuses to do a damn thing about it. He would rather squander precious resources helping friends of government than ensure our children have a future here. He would rather raise taxes, jack fees and increase the price of liquor at private liquor stores by five per cent because as the Minister of Tourism explains, it is fair based on the ‘premise of convenience.’


Robbie Henderson’s justification is typical of what is wrong with the Liberals. They put sustaining patronage ahead of taxpayers. Competition and putting the customer (taxpayers and visitors) first are concepts lost on the Ghiz regime.

So too is the concept of growing our communities and offering our children a world-class education.

The predictable but inane slashing of the Reading Recovery program in elementary schools with fewer than 20 children that could benefit is symbolic of a government oblivious to the issues impacting our province. Nine rural schools will see this vital frontline service cut, but Reading Recovery is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because the cut made headlines the superintendent of the PEI English Language School Board says she will now meet with the Department of Education to discuss a new way of allocating teachers and resources.

The question is why in the hell did it take so long? Maybe the board is too busy. It has, after all, spent three quarters of the past year, no doubt holding an insufferable number of meetings, on the ‘vital’ task of drafting a new mission statement.

No mission statement is necessary if the system collapses.

We have known for years that a demographic tsunami is barrelling toward rural PEI, yet our government has done nothing to counteract it. The minister supposedly in charge of rural development would rather pick personal fights in the legislature that include bragging about how much lobster an opposition MLA has caught. The English Language School Board has done nothing about it. The superintendent talks about offering equal programming to all schools but couches this promise with phrases like ‘within our limited budget’.

Both the board and Department of Education are asleep at the switch and because of it we see a greater chasm between have and have-not schools. The broad effect is this lack of educational leadership impacts the ability of communities to attract new residents and keep those already there. This is about the survival of rural PEI. And if any bureaucrat thinks Charlottetown’s bureaucratic laden economy can survive with a rural collapse they are dead wrong.

Robert Ghiz is a sound-bite premier.

There is no vision for sustainable communities.

There is no vision to wean PEI off our addiction to employment insurance and seasonal work, which remains a vital, but ineffective, one-two combination to our economy.

There is no vision for attracting and retaining immigrants, especially in rural communities.

There is no vision to lure Islanders back home from western Canada.

There is no vision to rethink the massive provincial bureaucracy.

There is no vision to ensure our fiscal autonomy.

There is no vision to engage Islanders to a higher level of debate.
Instead, the premier has driven PEI’s debt up by $1 billion in just seven years and is forcing future generations to pay for the abuses of his administration.

It is not too late for Robert Ghiz to salvage his place in Island history but to achieve anything of significance will require courage, vision and determination. He has the power to rethink government, focus our limited resources on true priorities and demand the education bureaucracy create a plan to make PEI’s education system the best in the country and beyond.
Robert Ghiz has the power to effect change but first he must change himself.

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at

May 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

I am glad (despite the subtle subterfuge regarding Plan B), that the Prince did get to see my neck of the woods, the part that looks away from the road.

Off the River Trail in Bonshaw, last week, a messy overgrown area of old trees and young brambles, of a soggy river bank and a bit of peace.  My wish for Prince Charles was that he could look beyond the Royal Groupies pandering, the sod and woodchips spread and plaques sprung up, to get a glimpse of this.

Now that the Royal Visit is over, the media bonanza is spent, and all that's left is for marketing to make lots and lots of re-election flyers of candidates with the Prince in the shots.

But to reminisce a bit more:
CBC on-line story of Prince Charles's visit to Bonshaw Provincial Park

An excerpt:

The visit to the park was tinged with controversy. The new park is based in part on land acquired for the realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway through the area. The P.E.I. Citizens' Alliance protested the project for months.
The group sent a letter to the Prince of Wales asking that he reconsider visiting the park. The alliance says the realignment of the highway was unnecessary and environmentally damaging.
Provincial Tourism Department spokeswoman Brenda Gallant said the prince's office was informed of the highway and the controversy surrounding it.

To which volunteer environmental monitor Cindy Richards responds best:

"Perhaps, although the government did inform the Prince's people that there was 'some' controversy surrounding the highway, so what story his people were told was from government perspective and we all know how that can be...out of touch."

Compass at 7:10 into the broadcast to see the lovely Bonshaw River area and the pleased-as-Punch politicians

And, of course, the Prince's office also approved of the script for the Queen lampoon skit, which the Prince himself didn't appear to approve of.

from the government's website:
From the co-chair of the BHPLC, Brian Thompson of the Transportation Land and Environment section: “The story of how these trails were created – and His Royal Highness being here to help name them – will be retold by future generations of Islanders...."  Yes, that's likely.

But future generations were also on Prince Charles mind:

Quote from Prince Charles making a speech after getting the Symons medal:
"These are environmental, economic and social issues all tied together,” he said.
“It is all our grandchildren who will have to live with the very serious consequences of us believing today that we can simply carry on with business as usual as if nothing has changed.”

Frankly, I think if the Prince is getting the lunch plate-sized medal (but no Order of PEI?), his speech should have been at the Confed Centre and open to the public, like other Symons Medal recipients, honorary or annual.  But the irony of his comments about the next generations having to deal with bad decisions from governments "carrying on with business as usual" certainly button-holes our current admintration.

My letter to the editor not getting printed yesterday was my fault -- they finished the editorial page on Friday and my e-mail got there Saturday.  (On other holidays they have worked the weekend or holiday Monday getting the page layout done; but it's time to move on.)  Did you notice in Tuesday's Guardian they took a stand, a fierce stand, on the government setting prices higher in agency stores citing a customer should pay for convenience, when the editorial writers cite the very long waiting to buy their liquor? I am glad they can take a tough stand on tough issues!! ;-)

Last night was also the Institute for Island Studies Water Forum on: "Island Water Futures: Assessing the Science"

Hats off to Harry Baglole and his team for organizing it.  There was a crowd of over 200 people, very concerned, interested people in the audience. I think the bottom line is that science will provide information and answers, but the questions have to be carefully asked and clear about who's paying for the work.  But nothing will replace people's common sense and involvement in issues.
Good to see MLA Colin LaVie and Kathleen Casey and Sean Casey, and perhaps others who are making decisions about our shared resources.
More commentary and information from the event tomorrow.

Some events today:

UPEI says thanks to Irene Novaczek for ninety minutes this afternoon:

The Office of the Vice-President Academic invites you to a
Celebration of Island Studies,
Wednesday, May 21, 2014,
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Faculty Lounge, Main Building

Join us at an informal reception to celebrate Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island that will pay tribute to the work of the Institute of Island Studies and recognize the contributions of its past Director, Irene Novaczek.

And tonight:

The semi-annual meeting of NDP District 17 Association will be held Wednesday, May 21, 7 pm, at the home of J'Nan and Kirk Brown, 188 Clyde River Road (675-3744). The theme will be Land Use, especially as it pertains to District 17 (Kellys Cross-Cumberland), with an eye to developing ways to incorporate this issue into the next provincial election. All welcome. A contribution towards snacks would be appreciated. For more information, contact Daphne Davey, 730-2052.

and if you are in town:

On the Third Wednesday of every month - Green Drinks Charlottetown holds an open, inclusive, non-partisan event where those interested in the Environment can get together with like minded people for drinks. The Old Triangle (starting) at 7:00 p.m., going until about 9PM

May 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight is the water forum at UPEI, 7PM, McDougall Hall.  Even though there are other interesting events on tonight (a "wacky weather on PEI" calendar being launched at Beaconsfield Carriage House), this forum has great speakers and will provide background, context, and future considerations.  For more information: 

Getting anywhere on the campus of a university can be tricky, but here is a map that shows UPEI looking at it from University Avenue.  The talk is in the Don and Marion McDougall Hall ("the business building", with the copper and glass siding), in the lower right (southeast) of the map (No. 12).  You can get there from the University Avenue entrance.  Parking is likely available parallel to the University Avenue entrance (metered parking  "VP"-- but you don't need to pay after hours), or some by the entrance to the CARI complex (metered, not the special token lot by CARI), or Parking Lots A or B, off the Belvedere Entrance (no monitoring for parking tags for evening events),  From Lot B or A you would have to wend you way past the (Irving) chemistry building and towards University Avenue to get to McDougall.
I suspect the only parking off-limits is the "RP" parking, reserved as in for the President and such :-)

It is in Room 242, which will be fairly easy to find once you get to the building.
Here is the letter I sent to The Guardian and Journal-Pioneer,  which ideally would have been printed today (perhaps tomorrow):

Chris O's Letter on Behalf of Citizens' Alliance of Prince Edward Island

Prince Charles has spent his adult life promoting environmental stewardship and respecting the bonds of community and our elders. This is why it was a surprise that his itinerary included a walk along a new trail in Bonshaw in what's called a future "wilderness park" by the Departments of Transportation and of Tourism. The expanded park is to be made up of the bits of land left over from property acquired for the Plan B highway; protecting land and providing parks for people to get outdoors are worthy goals. Few, however, would say the process for Plan B was one of environmental stewardship and respect for communities and elders.

Some of the people opposed to Plan B formed the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I., to create positive change in environmental and democratic issues. At a recent Citizens' Alliance of PEI meeting, the board and members present agreed that while the decision to build the Plan B highway was wrong, we are not going to make it any "wronger" by protesting Prince Charles's visit to the Plan B area. Members of the Citizens' Alliance among others did write to the Prince, both at Clarence House and through e-mail, but things appear to have been planned rather hastily with little time for communication about the complete background on the park.

Like Plan B itself, taking Prince Charles to a newly-sodded park to walk along a newly-cut trail (all within noisy earshot of traffic on the TCH), in an effort to add an illusion of royal assent, is yet another bad decision by the Ghiz government. Much better choices truly in line with his ideals would be a stop at the Farm Centre Legacy Garden, the Confederation Forest at the Upton Woodlands or in Fernwood, or any of the small diversified organic family farms that dot our province. We wish the Prince and Duchess a pleasant time in Canada, but we will be staying away from the Bonshaw sideshow.

Chris Ortenburger,
Citizens' Alliance of PEI

I did just hear on radio that Prince Charles is being given the Symons Medal in during those times when the itinerary is not specified the Confed Centre this morning.  I thought the Symons medal was awarded *annually* to someone who has contributed to *Canada and Confederation.*   (Paul Martin was awarded it in the Fall of 2013 for his work on the Kelowna Accord.) 

from the website

The Symons Medal and Lecture on the State of Canadian Confederation provides a national platform for a distinguished Canadian to discuss the current state and future prospects of Confederation. It provides all Canadians an opportunity to reflect upon their country and its future. The Medal Ceremony and Lecture is held each fall in Charlottetown to mark the meetings of the Fathers of Confederation in 1864.

Maybe I misheard or there is some confusion.  I am assuming he is giving out the Duke of Edinburgh awards, though. He is meeting today at Government House with Canadian Institute of Forestry  ("the voice of forestry professionals")--

May 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Potemkin Park takes shape, that is to say, Bonshaw Provincial Park, prior to Prince Charles's visit to name a new trail "The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Trail."

Sod installed and playground equipment removed -- not sure if it will be returned or newer equipment installed or it's not part of the new plan.

Rolling out the green carpet. Playground equipment, picnic tables, barbecues were all removed.

The little trail that parallels the river (straight) and the new trail going off to the right.

Birdhouses have sprung up like mushrooms on many of the trees and in the green grass part of the park.  Someone joked that maybe there are surveillance cameras inside, or little radios to play birdsongs.

Photos from May 15, 2014.

Island Morning Radio is making a bit story about this today, with lots of coverage from the Tourism Department marketing person Brenda Gallant, a short quote from me, and a walk along the new trail promoting the Tourism aspects from the new Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment Todd Dupuis.  Of course, I should emphasize that most of us have no quarrel with Prince Charles; in fact, I have admiration for his work, but feel he is being co-opted by this poor choice by government to bring him *here*. 

Local resident Tony Reddin comments:

Green Washing of Bonshaw Highway - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Once again we see a flurry of activity along the Trans Canada Highway in Bonshaw — cleaning up some of the visible mess from last year's Plan B-for-boondoggle, and clearing out the undergrowth (and playground) in the so-called  'wilderness' park.

All to pay homage to the royals. What a phony way for the P.E.I. government to try to gloss over their terrible decisions and destruction.

We are not amused.

Tony Reddin, Bonshaw

This is a long but very interesting article about what seems like new tighter regulatory rules regarding fracking in the state of Colorado, but what it really says:

Have a lovely day, and remember the Dandelion Festival is at the Stratford Town Hall from 10-4PM (with an early bird workshop starting at 9:30AM)

May 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of a breakfast buffet table of interesting articles and events:

Chris Vessey (at UPEI, no relation to the Minister) makes two videos that show "the old" TCH.   It takes another angle and one can't help concluding that Plan B was a bad decision, there wasn't much wrong with the old part of the highway, and the old drive was much more beautiful.

(These are on Facebook and I am not sure if they will share.)
First video, the cut at the old TCH by Fairyland, New haven:
Second video, by Bonshaw/CBC Tower/Strathgartney

Here is a Guardian article on Robert Irving's speech to the morning graduates at UPEI last week. Maybe the reporter is applying for a job at the Irving-owned Brunswick News Group.

Robert Irving urges grads to seek careers in Atlantic Canada - The Guardian article by Jim Day

Published on May 17, 2014 

© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

UPEI chancellor Don McDougall, right, and president Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz present Moncton businessman Robert K. Irving with an honorary degree during UPEI's convocation. Irving is co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving Limited.

Canadian industrialist Robert K. Irving urged UPEI graduates to seek work in P.E.I. and other parts of Atlantic Canada.

"We want you, we need you - our brightest and best -- to pursue your dreams right here,'' he told the morning convocation of University of Prince Edward Island graduates last weekend.

"This is where you belong . . . There are many opportunities for you right here.''

Irving, co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving, is responsible for several businesses within the Irving Group of Companies including consumer products in tissue and diapers, frozen food processing, transportation and courier, as well as industrial human resource services.

He says the company has thrived by keeping the home base, well, at home.

"While our markets and our customers are located throughout North America and around the world, this touches home: our businesses and our home for us is here, right here in Atlantic Canada,'' he said.

Irving, who received one of four honorary degrees conferred at the UPEI's two convocation ceremonies, says opportunities exist for the graduates to earn a good living in this region.

"Think about creating your own job or business can make it happen here and we need you to do that,'' he said.

"You are our future.''

Irving told the grads that having passion for what he does has been a key to his success.

"Success comes much more easily if you love what you do,'' he said.

"We all spend so many hours every week and so many years of our lives working it truly must be something you believe in and enjoy doing.''

He says over his 37 years working in the J.D. Irving family business, he has had many different experiences, both challenging and rewarding.

He stressed while sometimes changes can be unpleasant and even painful, companies that don't make necessary shifts usually don't survive.

He pointed to Cavendish Farms finding ways to adapt successfully time and again to many challenges over the years.

"Your education doesn't stop just because you are receiving a degree or diploma today,'' he added.

"Learning is a lifelong activity. You should never stop learning.''

But I'll stick with author and historian David Weale for an accurate assessment of a situation:

Address to Grads from Hypocrite? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published Thursday, May 15th, 2014

I find it ironic that Robert Irving, in his recent comments to graduates at UPEI, should have encouraged them to “Think about creating your own job or business here ... you can make it happen here, and we need you to do that. You are our future.” (The Guardian, May 12, 2014). That from one of the owners of a mega-corporation that has used its muscle to systematically squeeze out dozens, if not hundreds, of small businesses across the Island and the Maritimes. The words sounded hollow and hypocritical to this reader.

David Weale, Charlottetown

By the way, the newest issue of RED:The Island Story Book has been published, I think.

An article from Eco-Watch that identifies the term Greenwashing and five products that may be being marketed to do just that.

More details about the very important Water Forum at UPEI Tuesday evening, May 20th, 7PM, Business Building

Island Water Symposium at UPEI - facebook event page

Charlottetown, PEI (April 28, 2014)—The future of the Island’s water supply will be the subject of an upcoming public symposium at the University of Prince Edward Island. In light of recent concern about increased pressure on our groundwater resources by urban, industrial, and agricultural use, this event is a timely one.

Island Water Futures: Assessing the Science will take place in the Alex H. MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242 of UPEI’s McDougall Hall, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20. The symposium is sponsored by the Institute of Island Studies in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.

This is a public-forum event with presentations by three speakers: Dr. Ryan O’Connor, Dr. Cathy Ryan, and Dr. Michael van den Heuvel.

Dr. O’Connor, a graduate of UPEI, is an environmental historian. His PhD thesis, written at the University of Western Ontario, will be published this year by UBC Press under the title The First Green Wave. His talk will provide a general overview of research done so far relating to the Island’s groundwater resources; he will review the various scientific papers, reports, and theses produced about the Island’s water supply.

Dr. Ryan is a professor cross-appointed to Geoscience and Environmental Sciences at the University of Calgary with a long interest in agricultural impacts on water quality. She leads a team of hydrogeologists working with agricultural scientists to understand groundwater in the fractured sandstone on Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia as part of the Canadian Water Network’s Secure Source Water Network.

Dr. van den Heuvel is the Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity at UPEI. He studies the effects of agriculture and chemical use on freshwater and coastal environments. His focus is the endocrine responses, immunotoxicology, and population health of fish. He is working to develop methods and solutions to best monitor environmental problems and better protect rivers in Prince Edward Island.

The symposium will be chaired by Diane Griffin, long-time councillor for the Town of Stratford and a former deputy minister of the provincial Department of the Environment. Last year, Dr. Griffin was awarded an honorary doctorate by UPEI.

Members of the public are cordially invited to attend this symposium. Admission is free. Following the three presentations, there will be ample time for discussion and questions from the floor.

May 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Cindy Richards' accurately appraises the Prince's visit with pointed humour:

from The Guardian's website (notice their caption acknowledges the term "Plan B Highway") (the photo shows the road cut by the old TCH and Fairyland)

Prince being used to green wash Plan B - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 15, 2014

© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
The Trans-Canada Highway through New Haven, known as the Plan B highway

Poor Prince Charles, an award-winning environmentalist, a recognized humanitarian, a long-standing champion of organic gardening and on and on, is being shamelessly used by the Ghiz Government to help green wash the mess at Plan B.

They are cleaning house like an unexpected visit from the in-laws, stuffing it in closets, stashing it under the bed and trying to sweep it under the carpet, carefully plotting a path away from the mess. I wonder if the Prince knew of the pre-Confederation trees, the Acadian forest, pristine valleys and the delicate watercourses which were all bulldozed under for this wilderness park.

If he knew of the environmental damage that has been caused and continues to be caused all around this area but out of his sight. If he knew people felt forced to sell their homes and watched them be leveled for this park. If he knew that so many were opposed to this wasteful, costly destructive highway and arrests were made in lieu of proper public consultation.

If only he knew, he may not be pleased by this dishonourable stunt. If only he knew he may have chosen to see some of the good things P.E.I. has to offer like the new Legacy community gardens at the Farm Centre, or visit one of the wonderful family-run organic farms.

Cindy Richards, Stratford

Some reminders of events for today:
If you are an early bird, there is still time to get to MacPhail Woods this morning for a birding walk.  A complimentary breakfast is being served at the MacPhail Homestead and then the walk commences under the direction of the knowledgeable Fiep de Bie.  Better leave now, though.

Later there is the planting of trees for the Upton Farms Confederation Forest, off Maypoint Road in Charlottetown, 10AM to 3PM -- any time you have.

There is a Bonshaw Market of transplants, herbs, greens and other items at the Bonshaw Community Centre parking area, 9AM to 1PM.  I am not able to be there but it sounds like a great event.

Wheatley River Hall is holding a yard sale this morning, 9AM to noon, Rackham's Lane. But you are on your own for finding your favourite way to get to Wheatley River :-) 
We have many interesting things for sale  -  Barb's pies, home made raisin bread with 'sticky' raisins, riding equipment, cards, soaps, soy candles, knitting, Mary Kay products, household items, some good women's clothing size 12-16 and  kiddies togs and toys. ...This is a fundraiser for the maintenance and renovation of the Wheatley River Hall.

And of course Farmers' markets are open in the Charlottetown and Summerside.
Have a great day enjoying Spring on PEI,

May 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Pallets of sod at Bonshaw Provincial Park, Thursday, May 15th, 2014.

Events in the next couple of days (better deals to follow):
"Murder at the Hollow Room, a Musical Mystery"
Friday, 7:30PM, Cornwall United Church Hall, 9 Cornwall Road. $10 at the door, a fundraiser for the church.
more details

Confederation Forest planting at Upton Farmlands, 10AM - 3PM, 
the location is off Maypoint Road, I think, so check out the map.

Bonshaw Garden Market, Community Centre, Bonshaw, 9AM to 1PM

transplants, greens, more

Fiddlehead Social in Breadalbine, 1PM onward

Dandelion Festival, Monday, May 19th
Stratford Town Hall, 10AM to 4PM

Forum on Water Issues and Science, UPEI Business Building,

May 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Legislature closed yesterday, so they can get back to their real business of talking to Islanders, MLAs said.  Listening to Islanders is good, as is making proper decisions.

Ocean 100's website news had a good short synopsis
, though I am compelled to insert comments.

SPRING SESSION OF LEGISLATURE COMES TO END - Ocean 100 website (feat. Chris O)

The spring session of the PEI Legislature came to a close on Wednesday afternoon after opening on April 2nd. It lasted a total of 23 days. This is a ridiculously short amount of time, when so much time is frittered away with rhetorical questions ("When will this Minister admit that this program is a fail?" --who would take that bait?  Does the Opposition think they might answer, "I do, and I RESIGN!")   Lt. Governor Frank Lewis officially ended the spring session by signing off of several government bills.  He said something frivolous like, "My, you have been busy," when that's really not true. Premier Robert Ghiz says the most important piece of legislation was the passing of the provincial budget which showed a lower deficit and aimed toward getting back to a balanced budget by 2016.  He says some important pieces of legislation were also passed, although there was not a lot of new spending due to the deficit situation. The "most important piece of legislation was the passing of the budget."  Sorry, that's pathetic.  The Premier is proud of a budget that revealed Social Service underspent and yet we hear of desperate people every day, and pretty much just held spending in check?

When the House is in a Committee of the Whole House to go through each department's budget estimates, it seemed to be an opportunity to "Ask The Minister" about stuff on an MLA's mind instead of really analyzing expenditures.  For instance, an MLA asked Transportation Minster Vessey to explain the Restricted Driver License.  Interesting, but what does it have to do with how Minister Vessey spends our tax money?  The discussions go down these rabbit trails, and then the committee chair hustles things along with a bracing "Shall it carry?" about the section and on they go.  Perhaps there needs to be more time allotted to these kinds of questions, but not during the budget estimates.

He points to the legislation relating to the Lands Protection Act, more powers to pharmacies across PEI as far as the distribution of medications is concerned and the new amendments to the PEI Traffic Act to cut down on the number of repeat offenders when it comes to impaired drivers.

Yes, the LPA is great, but Horace Carver and Company did most of the work; yesterday Minister Sheridan did say they would be dealing with the other recommendations for a total of 17 in the Fall.  I really do worry about his numeracy.

The other pieces of legislation tightened up errors or made small improvements; for instance, straightening some aspects of who owns what medical records, which led to a very heartfelt statement by Richard Brown that he doesn't care if the rest of Canada is like this, he does NOT feel medical records from patients whose doctors are in a private practice (and pass away) should have the records remain the property of the estate and possibly end up in non-medical hands.  Doug Currie said, "Point taken."  Not, "I will direct my people to look into this and we should have something here in 2015!"  He was nicknamed the "Minister of Talk" by the Opposition.

Kathleen Casey did ask a hardball question yesterday about what are the chances (one through ten) of getting midwifery established soon, and Currie would not offer a number.  Kudos for Kathleen, as she went on to say she was contacted by the a third party who offered to meet with Currie and get this straightened out. Currie seems genuine about meeting with concerned groups.

Minister Janice Sherry was asked by Opposition House Leader James Aylward if municipalities could make cosmetic pesticide bylaws, to which she responded, "Yes."  This reminds me of Glenda the Good finally telling Dorothy, who has gone through so much, that she *always* had the power to go back to Kansas.  Could Sherry have said this several years ago?

Minister Vessey recognized the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee's subcommittee that is doing the next phase, and tipped the hat to Jackie Waddell of Island Nature Trust for beginning the first efforts to salvage something out of the fragmented wildlife habitats strewn around Plan B. (OK, he didn't put it that way.)

And don't forget another piece of legislation was the change to the Provincial Emblems act (expanding the number of Orders of P.E.I. given each year to at least three and making it able to be given out any old time), passed without any real challenge from the Opposition. 

The Premier also indicated that he was pleased with the work of his ministers, even though some were under fire from the Opposition. He did not hint of any kind of a cabinet shuffle, at least now. 
True, what kind of shuffle would that be?  The backbenchers include two (Richard Brown, Gerald Grennan) who were bumped from Cabinet, and the former speaker (Casey); leaving backbenchers MLAs Buck Watts, Bush Dumville, Charlie McGeoghegan, Robert Mitchell, and new Liberal Hal Perry.  Are there two more sittings or possibly four before the next election? 

OPPOSITION SAYS MORE WAS NEEDED Opposition Leader Steven Myers says the session, at some times very heated, shows the Ghiz government is out of touch with Islanders pointing unsolved problems with gas prices, the lobster fishery, with education and with addictions and mental health plus rising food costs affecting many Islanders on social assistance. 
Island NDP Leader Mike Redmond says Islanders are no better informed or better off after this session. He points to what he calls ministerial incompetence in several departments from community services, health, and fisheries.

Both men are right.  A bit of blame to the Opposition for not cutting to the chase (those during that Question Period when they slowly circled around George Webster regarding the movie and possibly sitting on the remote was entertaining) and asking clear, concise questions.  Independent MLA Olive Crane has, with her tiny allotment of questions orally but ability to pass in written ones, has submitted well over 100, and is trying to get the answers in shape to share with the public.  Often when she would rise and ask a clear direct question, one would be reminded of the kid in the class who is not popular or rich but just wants to get her education among a sea of silliness.  Myers gets points for thinking on his feet (much better than a year or so ago), and in my book for bringing up Plan B as the stupid bulldozing of the Island without consultation or care for waste.  He even made the connection between Plan B and this mysterious development project -- both mystery projects -- that Minister Docherty said is only known to Premier Ghiz and herself.....

But the Pouting Dinosaur Award, if we needed more awards, goes to Alan McIsaac, Minister of IRAC, justifying high gas prices and taxes on gas as due to the Island not having any oil and gas resources of its own.  (Premier Ghiz could have gotten this award last year for pouting about the same thing. Oh, and Innovation Minister Roach.)

He and the Premier said they spend tax dollars efficiently and responsibly, which made me laugh. Time for some real austerity. 

Nobody down there mentioned any sort of serious discussion on energy efficiency, nor for developing renewable energy. Sigh.  (The wind farm in Hermanville leaves such a bad taste when it comes to its lack of public consultation and rushed timeline.)

It will be interesting to hear others' viewpoints on the Sitting.

Have a great day, and thanks for plowing through the amateur political analysis,
Chris O.,

PS  One event tonight is actually a "raised" bed not a "raided" bed workshop (no raccoons invited) at the Farm Centre tonight. :-)

May 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

With an eye on the clock and the specter of having to sit in the Legislature Tuesday while all the Royal Visit hoopla is going on, the government MLAs are suddenly cutting the chitchat and hustling through the dozen or so pieces of legislation strewn about the desks of the Legislature.

Minister Wes Sheridan brought out "An Act to Amend the Prince Edward Island Lands Protection Act" for second reading yesterday in the Legislature.  Disappointingly, the Commissioner wasn't at the Legislature to get a Roman Triumph for his hard accomplishments, but his work crystallized what changes could be made that most Islanders want.

This piece of legislation deals with clarifying the limits of land holdings, counting arable land, not woodlands or wetlands, and simplifies the accounting of holdings (3000 acre limit for corporations, 1000 for individuals); that includes the land a person or corporation has in production, whether you own it or not.  If you lease your land out to someone, that applies to his or her land count for the year, not yours; but you count land you lease to farm. The Minister brought in the Department of Finance and Municipal Affairs Patrick Carroll who assisted Horace Carver during the commission's time, and another Helpful Civil Servant.  James Aylward asked good questions to highlight the changes in terms non-farmers could understand.  It was about 114 minutes in yesterday's session:

The Act passed this second reading.  It deals, for those of us keeping a scorecard, with recommendations 1,2,3,6,12,16,24 and 26. Minister Sheridan said next fall the government will bring forward the other eight.
There were 29 recommendations.....what about the other 13? Oh, dear, this is the fellow who handles the provincial books.  Maybe his copy of the Carver Commission report The Gift of Jurisdiction: Our Island Province had a page or two torn out (the expensive or profound recommendations).  ;-)

If you want to watch what may be the last day of the Spring Sitting, you can follow the "Watch Live" link here:

Tonight, Malpeque Green Party Riding Association AGM, 6PM potluck, meeting and discussion starting at 7PM, Bites Cafe, 19566 TCH, Hampton.  Please RSVP to:
"All Prince Edward Island members of the Green Party of Canada are invited to join us as we prepare for the Federal Election on Monday, October 19, 2015. Please renew your Membership (if lapsed) and bring a Green friend."

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 15th:
Garden: Level One Squarefoot Raided Bed Gardening Workshop, 7-9PM, at the Farm Centre at 420 University Avenue, based on the Gordon Hubbard principles.  Free!
more details

Woods:  Upton Farmlands Public Presentation: Planting Forests for the Future, 7PM, Beaconsfield Carriage House, 3 Kent Street, Charlottetown. Admission by donation.
"Using stunning photographs, the presentation will explore the unique natural history of our native Acadian forests and the many ecological and social benefits of creating natural spaces in Island communities. Macphail Woods has twenty-three years of experience growing and planting native flora and the event will be fun and informative."
They will also be discussing the next Confederation Forest planting, which I think is Saturday.
more details

or for "May Mayhem", with a cast that included the talented and very giving Tony Reddin, "Murder at the Hollow Room, a Musical Mystery"
Thursday and Friday,
7:30PM, Cornwall United Church Hall, 9 Cornwall Road. $10 at the door, a fundraiser for the church.
more details

Ongoing (sorry, forgot to mention the opening yesterday):
Cultivating Art -- show at the Farm Centre:
"Cultivating Art will feature paintings, prints and photographs that explore agricultural landscapes and the harvests that nurture us - body and soul. An opening reception welcoming art and agricultural enthusiasts will be held on May 13 from 7 to 9 pm. The exhibition will remain hanging until July 13th".

Saturday, May 24th, from 6-9PM at the Rodd Charlottetown: Linda McQuaig, journalist, will be the guest speaker at the Hilda Ramsay Fundraising Dinner,  "The Hilda Ramsay Fund raises money to support women candidates who run for the New Democratic Party in the next PEI Provincial Election." Details here:

May 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Two upcoming events to hear and discuss more fully about threats to water and land:

Tuesday, May 20th, 7PM, UPEI, Forum:  Island Water Sources: Assessing the Science
Alex H. MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242 of UPEI’s McDougall Hal (Business Building) more details to follow

Thursday, May 29th, 7-9PM, Rodd Charlottetown: a Forum on Cosmetic Pesticides

Great reading in the letters to the editor of The Guardian,  from yesterday, May 12th.

Amend the legislation on cosmetic pesticides - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

If you were to type the two words pesticides and cancer into the search function of The Guardian newspaper website then you will find 22 pages of results dating back to 2007, presumably when The Guardian started digitally archiving articles on their site.

If you were to go to any corner of P.E.I., you will find people talking about their belief that pesticides are what is causing P.E.I.’s high incidence of cancer and other devastating illnesses. There are entire roads throughout the province, I am told, where every household has someone fighting cancer in it.

P.E.I. not only has the weakest cosmetic pesticide regulations in Canada, but on our tiny little island, municipalities do not have the authority to ban cosmetic pesticides.  Anywhere else in Canada, if the province hasn’t already banned the carcinogenic substances people spray needlessly on their lawns, then the municipality has the authority to ban them. Thousands of them, but not on P.E.I..  

Soon people on P.E.I. will be getting notices in their mailboxes that their neighbours are spraying cosmetic pesticides. Some people in the community I live in are spraying them next to playgrounds, daycares and where children are getting off of buses.  

In our community we have had a number of children who have been fighting cancer and one extremely concerned parent has told me that they will not allow their children to drink the water at school.

My guess is the majority of the population of P.E.I. feels the same as I do, that the government has been willfully blind (which is an actual legal term) to what is going on: pesticides are poisoning the people of P.E.I..

All we need is one minister to step up and propose with conviction amending the pesticide legislation —starting with the cosmetic pesticides. On another unrelated issue that mattered to him (Order of P.E.I.), Premier Ghiz was able to change legislation recently within a few weeks. Let’s get this done.

Maureen Kerr, Stratford

Potential risks not worth it for cosmetic benefits alone - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Lori Barker

I am writing this letter in response to Roger Gordon’s article “Just say no to cosmetic pesticides” printed in The Guardian May 2.

Recognizing that approximately half of cancers can be prevented, the Canadian Cancer Society feels strongly about educating the public about the various ways to reduce your risk of developing cancer. While we often speak of the importance of not smoking, eating healthy and exercising regularly, it is also important to understand the potential risks associated with the use of pesticides.

Studies show there may be a connection between pesticides and cancer in adults and children. That’s why you should reduce — and even eliminate —exposure to pesticides, where possible. It is also why the Canadian Cancer Society fully supports a ban on the use of all cosmetic pesticides, where the only benefit derived from their use is to make lawns, gardens and other green spaces look better.

We recommend all levels of government and individuals follow the precautionary principle on this matter: any potential risk is simply not worth it for cosmetic benefits alone.

Research to date does not provide a definitive link between pesticides and human cancer, but it does suggest an increasingly likely connection with cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (especially among farmers), multiple myeloma, and prostate, kidney and lung cancers. Studies on pesticides and childhood cancer show a possible connection with leukemia, brain tumours and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

 Children are at a greater risk of being exposed to higher levels of pesticides than adults because some activities increase their exposure, such as crawling and playing in grass treated with pesticides. Pesticides can also be absorbed more easily through their skin.  This exposure may do more harm to children because their bodies are still developing and may not be able to deal with these substances.

 Tips to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

- Ask neighbours to tell you if pesticides will be sprayed on their lawn. Keep your family — especially children and pets — away from those areas for at least 48 hours.  

- Stay indoors with family and pets if someone is using pesticides near your home. Keep windows and doors closed.  

- Look for signs posted on green spaces that indicate recent spraying of pesticides. Don’t walk or play in these areas.

- If pest control is needed for your lawn or garden, try safer options. The Canadian Cancer Society has a toolkit outlining many options for dealing with pests, including home recipes. Call 902-566-4007 if you’d like a copy sent to you.

- Pesticides are used during the growing season or to store and transport fresh vegetables and fruit. Sometimes traces of pesticides are left behind. You can reduce and often eliminate pesticide residues on fresh vegetables and fruit by washing all fresh vegetables and fruit thoroughly with lots of running water. Use a small scrub brush to clean the skin of vegetables and fruit if the skin will be eaten — for example, apples, potatoes and cucumbers. Another option is to peel the outer skin and trim outer leaves of leafy vegetables, then wash thoroughly.

Please visit to learn more about this important topic.

 Lori Barker is executive director, Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division

Apply pesticides at your own risk - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Nothing cosmetic about pesticides? Contrary to Ted Menzies’ Letter to the Editor (The Guardian, May 7), there is rarely any other reason to apply pesticides to a lawn. Pesticides are usually applied to achieve a uniform, monoculture expanse of grass on public and private properties. Pesticides “protect public and private properties from insect, weed and disease infestations and control threats to human health, like rats and mosquitoes?” In fact, weeds are not generally harmful and many are beneficial. Unlike pesticides, insects and diseases in lawns are extremely unlikely to pose any health threat. We are not overrun by rats and mosquitoes are an important part of the food chain.

To suggest, as Mr. Menzies does, a link between the use of pesticides and longer human life spans is patently absurd. Here’s a less specious correlation: P.E.I. rates of cancer, asthma and autism are among the highest in the country. The province has the highest proportion of land devoted to agriculture, with the vast majority of that land farmed using conventional (i.e. chemical) farming practices. As Dr. Roger Gordon wrote in a recent letter, many studies have reported links between pesticide use and illness. The U.S. National Cancer Institute reports that “farming communities have higher rates of leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and soft tissue sarcoma, as well as cancers of the skin, lip, stomach, brain, and prostate.”  

Regarding Health Canada standards for pesticide safety: In 2000, the agency’s Pest Management Advisory Council was cited for conflict of interest by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, because it regulates the pesticide industry and also approves industry products. Furthermore, research on pesticide safety is provided to PMAC by the very companies that make the products. How likely is that information to be unbiased?

The Health Canada website cautions: If you choose to apply pesticides on your property, you do so at your own risk. Look into the dangers of pesticides and make an educated decision. How much risk are you willing to accept for your family and the environment?

 Ivy Wigmore, Charlottetown

May 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is an article that I may have sent around before in a slightly different format.  It is interesting to reread it, especially since the most critical remarks about the Environment Department's water extraction policy were made by the person who is now assistant deputy minister.  Let's hope he continues to speak his mind and gets that department -- with its hardworking, caring people -- back to protecting the environment, not just issuing permits.

Water Canada deals with a lot of water stewardship issues across the country. They have one of the recent Guardian articles linked in a tweet to continue the coverage of the story.

Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan

The Prince Edward Island potato industry is lobbying for deep well permits, but not without great resistance.

Posted on March 31, 2014

On the East Coast of Canada, a contentious debate rages on over the Prince Edward Island Potato Board’s request to have a moratorium lifted on deep-well water extraction for irrigation. The board, along with industry giant Cavendish Farms, began a full-scale lobby effort in January 2014 to push for deep-well permits, saying science indicates the Island has a high water-recharge rate. This has been met with significant backlash from environmentalists, citizen’s groups, and political parties that say extracting tonnes of water out of the Island’s deep water aquifer is risky business, especially since Prince Edward Island relies exclusively on groundwater.

“High-volume extraction could mean individual wells could dry up. There aren’t a lot of central water systems here in P.E.I.,” said Todd Dupuis, executive director of regional programs for the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “Often the country folk have their own wells, and if they’re in close proximity to a monster well that’s taking a lot of water out of the ground, it can actually really lower the water table to the point where your well no longer produces water.”

The moratorium, which was initially intended to be in place for a year, has been in place since 2001. In the more than 10 years since the moratorium was put in place, the Prince Edward Island department of environment has studied the Island’s water recharge rate. It released a provincial water extraction policy earlier this year around the same time the potato board began its lobby efforts, sparking claims the province is working in the interest of potato growers. The policy noted the province has “abundant groundwater recharge” of approximately two billion cubic metres a year, contradicting recent reports of a dwindling water supply in the province. (For more on this, see

“The department of environment found that […] less than seven per cent of the P.E. I. groundwater is used by all users,” said Gary Linkletter, chairman of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board. “Of that seven per cent, […] industrial uses about 30 per cent and residential about 60 per cent. Currently, irrigation is hardly even a player in P.E.I. groundwater use.

“If there was a real concern about water use, these other users are the ones where a moratorium would actually make a difference. […] We feel it is only proper and fair that agriculture not be subject to the current, very selective moratorium.”

Prince Edward Island potato growers have said that, without deep-water wells, productivity will decline and lead to the reduction of the province’s $1-billion potato industry. Some growers have expressed concerns over staying competitive, especially since American farmers can sometimes harvest twice the amount of potatoes from one acre.

“We’re not even close to that in Canada because we don’t have the longer growing season or access to irrigation,” Kevin MacIsaac, chair of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told The Guardian.

Dupuis expressed suspicion over the new department of environment policy, especially since he said it came “out of the blue.”

“The new water-withdrawal policy makes a case for irrigation for the potato industry and it was a bit of a surprise to us that the policy came out,” he said. “It was pretty much just one provincial department that put the policy together, and it certainly has fingerprints all over it from the potato industry.”

Along with questions over the ability of the province’s deep-water aquifer to handle high-volume extraction, others have raised concerns over the potential increased contamination of drinking water. Government data already suggests that nearly all of the province’s drinking water is contaminated with nitrates.

“[Growers] add more fertilizer than they need, and that stuff is very water soluble and full of nitrate and phosphate,” Dupuis said. “There’s always stuff left over: it leeches down into the soil, and the soil in P.E.I. is sandstone, so it is very porous. The water up high is latent with fertilizer and percolates down.”

Linkletter said the contamination of aquifers by fertilizers is actually exacerbated by dry conditions. “Proper moisture conditions for the crop to grow would reduce what fertilizer is left in the soil. […] It would be more likely to reduce problems rather than increase them.”

He added that the deep-well extraction for irrigation would only occur for a very limited portion of the year, and that such wells would be monitored to ensure “responsible supplemental irrigation.”

Since the potato industry has made its request to the province to remove the moratorium, there has been an impassioned response from concerned islanders who are attending usually empty committee meetings in droves. A February 26 meeting was attended by 200 Prince Edward Islanders, including biologist Darryl Guignon, who said, “None of us have been asked anything about this. Nor the department of fisheries and oceans, nor the public! It’s our water for heaven’s sakes, and we can’t even have an input in a water policy?”

Environment Minister Janice Sherry has said the provincial government will not make a decision on deep-well irrigation and the moratorium will not be lifted until there is further proof that such practices would not diminish the quantity or quality of Prince Edward Island’s groundwater.  WC

Rachel Phan is Water Canada’s managing editor. This article appears in Water Canada’s March/April 2014 issue.

May 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Not exactly light Sunday reading, but an interesting article and two excellent letters to the editor about the Canada European Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (below).

There was still surprise expressed by Innovation Minister Allen Roach in the provincial legislature last week regarding CETA and a side-deal cut between the federal government and Newfoundland and Labrador last October to give that province $400million for perceived damages to fish processing. As an Opposition member says in the article, each person in the province is basically being given $650 for effects to fish processing for all time.

The first letter was a couple of weeks ago from Kevin Arsenault:

Public deserves more facts about CETA - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 28th, 2014

On Sunday April 13, 2014, the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) conducted a lively workshop titled: Two World Views: CETA and Pope Francis.

Over 20 participants worked in small groups discussing the principles and values driving the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations. These principles and values were then contrasted with statements on the economy made by Pope Francis in his recent document, The Joy of the Gospel.

Participants then identified potential negative effects that CETA may have in P.E.I., as well as possible actions to prevent those negative impacts.

Participants were very concerned the draft CETA agreement continues to be kept under a shroud of secrecy. Although the federal government announced several months ago that an agreement-in-principle had been reached, very little was actually disclosed about the agreement at that time.

Even federal opposition parties have been unable to obtain information; so, not surprisingly, no serious or informed debate on the “pros and cons” of CETA has taken place. This secretive process is completely unacceptable for a democratic country.

Despite the secrecy surrounding CETA, workshop participants discussed elements of the agreement which have been “leaked” which strongly suggest that CETA will weaken P.E.I.ʼs ability to retain control over important areas of economic and social development.

These include: (1) provisions that prevent local governments to hire locally, have “buy-local” campaigns, or implement moratoriums with deep-water wells or fracking; (2) extending patent protection to corporations for brand name drugs by up to two years, estimated to cost Islanders between $3 and $6 million annually; (3) encouraging corporate agriculture and food processing at the expense of local organic food production; and (4) reinforcing the Trade Disputes Mechanism which permits European investors (corporations) to sue Canada whenever they feel that public policies or regulations (originating at all levels of government) interfere with the corporationsʼ profit-making ability.

The dominant world view driving CETA holds that economic well-being increases for everyone when corporations are permitted to gain “comparative advantage” over their competition in an unregulated global marketplace. Governments must therefore allow corporations to pay lower taxes and tariffs, qualify for more government grants and investment incentives, and be allowed to offer lower wages and benefits to workers. Otherwise, corporation will move their operations to other countries with cheaper labour rates and lower taxes.

CETA clearly relies on a dominant economic world view that claims that when the rich are permitted to prosper, economic benefits “trickle down” and lift the standard of living for everyone. Pope Francis, on the other hand, insists that the trickle-down economic theory: “... has never been confirmed by facts, [and] expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.”

He challenges the “absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation,” insisting that “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the worldʼs problems or, for that matter, to any problems.”

Pope Francis is also critical of the mentality behind the corporate world view because it “... rejects the right of states charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.” He goes on to express a prayer that there would be “... more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, [and] the lives of the poor.”

Workshop participants worry that CETA will further weaken our collective right to determine our own economic, social and political future. They were adamant citizens have a right to know what politicians are deciding on our behalf, and insisted there must be meaningful public discussion on what the federal government is prepared to sign into law before that happens.

On behalf of workshop participants and all Islanders, LAMP is asking the provincial government show true leadership on this critically important issue by demanding accountability from the federal government on CETA, insisting on more transparency regarding the contents of the draft CETA agreement, and by holding public consultations on CETA followed by appropriate actions to protect the democratic, economic and political rights of all Islanders.

Kevin J. Arsenault of Fort Augustus is a LAMP workshop co-ordinator.

and one last week was by Jordan MacPhee on behalf of the Environmental Coalition of PEI (emphasis mine).

Island representatives must educate themselves about CETA - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan MacPhee

Published on May 5, 2014

In October of last year, the Harper Government announced an “agreement in principle” with the European Union on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Since then, several Island groups have expressed concern about the agreement, pointing to the secretive way in which it has been negotiated, the lack of information being shared about the details of the agreement, and the absence of public dialogue about it. Without opportunities for informed discussion about the implications of the agreement, there is some concern in the community about the impact that it would have on agriculture and on the people who grow our food.

It came as a surprise to many dairy producers to hear that under the CETA, the Government of Canada will allow the EU to export an extra 17,600 tonnes of fine cheese to Canada, even when European negotiators had only asked for 12,000 tonnes. This will push the new total cheese import market share to nine per cent, while Canada has access to only one per cent of the EU cheese market. The organization Dairy Farmers of Canada estimates that Canadaʼs losses due to the CETA will be $150 million per year. P.E.I.ʼs share of this would be roughly $2.5 million per year; a substantial loss under any circumstances.

European-style cheeses comprise a large part of production at ADL (Amalgamated Dairies Limited) in Summerside, so this kind of competition from foreign cheeses is sure to have an impact, not just on the processor, but any dairy producer who supplies to ADL. The company processes close to 100 million litres of milk each year, and employs more than 250 people. The federal government has already given ADL $600,000 to upgrade its technology to help the company become more efficient, and better able to stand up to European competition.

According to Gail Shea, “Farmers are concerned . . . The federal government has said any losses would be compensated.” It is hard to see the benefits of this kind of pay-out when the bottom line is: farmers lose income, processors risk being edged out of the market, and taxpayers see their own money being used as compensation.

The fact Canada gave up so much of its fine cheese market share — more than it was asked to, in fact — is seen by some as a trade-off of sorts, perhaps for the lowered tariffs on beef and pork. But on closer examination, how much do we actually gain from lowering the tariffs?

In the case of beef, it is doubtful Canadian producers would be able to meet European demands, given their environmental standards prohibiting the use of hormones. And yet increased access to the European market for beef is being touted as one of the major benefits to Canadian farmers. Under CETA, Canadian farmers who use GMO crops would also not have access to markets in the EU.

It is important to note that a) CETA is not so much about eliminating trade barriers — because there just arenʼt that many trade barriers between Europe and Canada, and b) with regards to agriculture the playing field is not level — in that the European Union subsidizes its farmers, to the tune of $50 billion per year, which far exceeds any support Canadian farmers receive through federal risk management programs.

Around the world, dairy production and processing are almost exclusively a domestic industry. The markets have evolved in this way historically due to the freshness cycle of milk. In Canada, we have developed the supply management system in order to match production to demand in the Canadian market. Through a co-operative relationship between government, producers, and processors, we are able to supply a consistent, stable supply of quality milk to processors across the country to be processed into Canadian dairy products.

This system limits expensive overproduction and ensures fair prices for farmers and secures good processing jobs nation-wide.
However, it depends on matching production to supply and the more the market is opened up to foreign imports the more this smart and sustainable system is threatened.

Although the supply management system itself is not, as far as we know, on the table in the CETA, many supporters of the system are concerned that its erosion by the CETA will make it that much easier for Canadian negotiators of the next big trade agreement — the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — to give up this important system that supports not only our dairy industry, but eggs and poultry as well.

Our provincial government has the responsibility to stand up for Island primary producers in trade negotiations led by the federal government. It is crucial for the Islandʼs elected representatives in both the provincial and federal legislatures to educate themselves about the CETA in order to gain a better understanding of what is at stake, and protect what is important to the constituents who voted them into office.

Agriculture is a major part of Prince Edward Islandʼs economy and we should not take it for granted. We must do everything that we can to preserve what we have. If you are concerned about the future of Island communities, our economy, and our environment, you can learn more by looking up the CETA online, and take action by writing to your MLA, your MP, your local newspaper, and by asking your friends and family to do the same.

Jordan MacPhee is a member of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island (ECOPEI) and a student at UPEI.

Have a great Sunday, and Happy Mother's Day, too,

May 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

from CBC on-line this morning:
P.E.I. process potato farmers who grow for McCain Foods have a new contract.
The deal was reached in last-minute negotiations before it actually had to go to arbitration.
"There was a reduction of about three per cent on the base price and then in addition to that, there's changes to some of the language that would amount to right around four percent reduction in price compared to last year," said Greg Donald, P.E.I. Potato Board general manager.

The new contract is similar to a recent deal for Cavendish Farms growers.
---------- is "an independent organization that brings generations of Canadians together to achieve progress through democracy."  They are having displays regarding transitioning to a solar economy at the Summerside Farmers' Market from 9AM to 1PM.
It's Herb Day with related food topics at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown, 10AM-4PM, and it's the WI Roadside Cleanup Day, but you can volunteer anytime in the next week or so.

May 9, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Continuing to monitor what Environment Minister Sherry is saying in the PEI Legislature (being questioned by Opposition House Leader James Aylward) and in the corridors regarding the high capacity well moratorium.  There are issues with transparency, all right, even as she says:

Minister Sherry:
<<snip>>I would also like to reiterate that the issue of high capacity wells is one that’s of great interest and concern to Islanders. We have been totally transparent.

Mr. Aylward:   Far from it.

Ms. Sherry: We have moved forward. We’ve just received the interim report from the standing committee. There has been a request to continue that work. We will make a decision as we move forward and Islanders will very much be informed as to how we proceed, Madam Speaker.

(comments towards the end of Question Period in the PEI Legislature, Thursday, May 8th, 2014, from the nimble folks at the Legislative Assembly who get the transcripts from Question Period out the same day)

Even The Guardian calls for the Minster to release whatever documents she has gotten on this in their small editorial today.

I cannot figure out what Minister Sherry is saying about what her Department is planning, except she is concerned -- not so much about our precious water -- but because Islanders (i.e., voters) are concerned.   And which "we" is making this decision and then so very much informing us Islanders?

(Notice that the slogan of the Robert Ghiz Liberals, "Moving Forward Together", is often cut up and stuck in government members comments.)

Some Events for today and tomorrow, May 9th and 10th:

Tonight and tomorrow are last times to see "Dr. Magnificent's Magical Musical Tour", a production by Young At Heart Theatre.

Wheatley River Hall will be staging Dr. Magnificent's Magical Medicine Show on that date  -  Friday, May 9, 2014 at 7:30.  We'd be so pleased to welcome you to our newly renovated community hall to enjoy this play presented by Young at Heart Musical Theatre for Seniors.  But it's not restricted to seniors, all ages are welcome!  Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.  To reserve, please contact us at 902 621 0718  or at

Tomorrow at 2PM at St. Paul's Hall in Charlottetown, which is the closing performance and reception for all.

Tomorrow, May 10th, is the annual Women's Institute Roadside Cleanup - it is not limited to WI members, not specifically to tomorrow (really anytime between now and towards the end of the month).  If you are near an Access PEI location, you can get some bags to use, or contact a WI member.

Tree-planting in Prince County:
If you want to be outside and planting trees tomorrow in Bedeque (Charlottetown is next Saturday):
Helping plant trees in the first of three Confederation public forests, Fernwood, 10AM to 3PM

It's also Herb Day at the Farm Centre, 10AM to 4PM:

Here is the schedule of events:

10 – 11 am
Small space gardening with Karen Murchison
A presentation on growing the most nutritious plants in small spaces.

11 – 12 noon
Strategies for Sourcing Local Food with Chris Ortenburger
Ideas for obtaining locally grown or sourced food on PEI, such as buying groups and creative exchange.

12 – 1 pm
Growing Herbs with Gail Kern
How to grow common herbs.

1 – 3 pm
Cooking with Herbs with Gail Kern
How to use common herbs in the kitchen.

2 – 3 pm
No dig gardening demo with Adam MacLean
Hands on gardening for all ages – this is a no dig method of gardening using free or low costs materials that is physically possible for most people and it is perfect for converting your grass into a productive food garden.

3 pm – 4 pm
Introduction to Gleaning with Pauline Howard
How individuals and communities can harvest food that would otherwise be wasted .

11:30 am – 4 pm
Plant Sale and Market
Organic herb and veggie plants from Jen and Derek's Organic Farm, food and herbal products for sale. Herb themes food available from the Orange Lunchbox.

11:30 am - 4 pm
Frugal gardening – sowing seeds
Everyone in the family can make their own newspaper pot and plant it with seeds you want to grow in your garden (all material and seeds provided).

I better keep working on the discussion I am leading :-)

May 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Minister Sherry garners three comments today:

The first is the cover story of today's Guardian -- a good job by Teresa Wright catching the significance and further investigating the story -- reporting on her being asked repeatedly by PC MLA James Aylward to release everything, including the opinions of the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), about lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells.  In the end, playing word games, Sherry said the "science" is all on the department's website (it's the same skimpy stuff here), and there is no report on the wells, just the EAC's opinion. The EAC make-up has changed in the past two years (it is, I think, essentially appointed by Executive Council).  The current EAC chair reported on radio this morning that it's a confidential document, and it's in her hands.

Presumably, if the EAC agreed with lifting the moratorium, she would have ballyhooed that.
Full story from today's Guardian about Minister Sherry releasing to release Environmental Advisory Council opinions on high capacity wells
(reprinted below)
The second is the reception to the cosmetic pesticides rally outside Province House -- spreading the banned granular corn gluten being the hook that got the media to focus on the issue -- and Minster Sherry announced that the department would look into lifting the ban on corn gluten as a lawn care product.  The Guardian's second cover story is on this.  While straightening out the corn gluten business is good, she is missing or dodging the issue about protecting the PEI environment and our health.

But the third point is that she told Maureen Kerr, mother, concerned citizen, blogger and a driving force behind PesticideFree PEI ( ) was told by Minster Sherry that of course Stratford could pass a cosmetic pesticide ban.  Well, OK. That is some news, considering the conflicting information from just about everyone else in government who bothers to answer the question on whether a municipality has the right to impose such a ban.

Guardian story on the "pesticide controversy"

Charlottetown protest highlights pesticide controversy - The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong

Published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Sharon Labchuk says the P.E.I. government betrayed its public trust in regard to cosmetic pesticides in the past, and completely missed the point of a protest Wednesday in Charlottetown.

About 20 supporters, plus reporters from all Island media outlets and government staff gathered on the front lawn of Province House to spread granules of corn gluten, a product banned under provincial regulations.

In 2009 PEI introduced cosmetic pesticide legislation for lawn-care products after public pressure, said Labchuk.
There were petitions and presentations to committees and much lobby, she said. "We were very confident," she said. "Then (Environment Minister) Richard Brown completely and utterly betrayed everyone.

"A lot of people that worked very hard felt they had been kicked in the guts and they went home demoralized and exhausted," said Labchuk.

"Government set about to introduce what was absolutely contrary to the will of the people," she said.
The problem was the choice to model the Island regulations after the least-restrictive province, New Brunswick, said Labchuk.

"One chemical is banned," she said. "Ninety-some that Ontario banned are still being sprayed willy-nilly around the province."

The legislation on P.E.I. focused on the physical form of pesticide products, citing those in pellet form and as such ended up banning granular corn gluten.

In other provinces, said Labchuck, corn gluten is promoted by governments as a safe, organic lawn herbicide that will inhibit the germination of weeds in the spring and fall.

The Island also ended up mistakenly banning pellet forms of plain iron that inhibits moss plus banning some forms of fatty acids, or soap-like products that fight insects in an environmentally safe way, she said.

Labchuk wants to revive the cosmetic pesticide lobby. She called on P.E.I. to bring in legislation similar to Ontario which names many individual chemicals for exclusion on lawns. "Lets work this summer to make sure this legislation is introduced in the fall," said Labchuk.

There is no problem, said Janice Sherry, minister of environment, labour and justice who spoke at the protest.
Government staff monitor the safety of lawn care pesticides, comparing evidence from other provinces, the public and the lawn-care industry, plus results from test wells around the province, she said.

"I am pleased to say that no pesticides were detected in the majority of wells province- wide," said Sherry.
Nor any pesticide residue in soil tests, she said later.

She told the protest group that work is underway to remove corn gluten meal from the list of banned lawn supplements.

"I want to thank Earth Action for bringing this to my attention and to the attention of the public," said Sherry.
Labchuk later said that Earth Action has worked for years with government to draw attention to the issue of corn gluten, iron and fatty acids so it is not a sudden surprise. She said the water testing on P.E.I. is poorly done and does not include many chemicals not considered active ingredients but still included in many formulations.

Retired dean of science at UPEI, Roger Gordon said the real point of Earth Action's corn gluten protest Tuesday was to illustrate that in fact, all but one of some 90 proven-harmful pesticides used in lawn care formulations are still permitted for use on the Island.

"They are playing with peoples' health and safety," he said of the P.E.I government.

Sherry refusing to release advisory council opinion on deep-water wells - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Environment Minister Janice Sherry is refusing to release the opinion provided by her environmental advisory committee on the controversial issue of deep-water wells and would also not say what next steps will be taken.

Sherry faced tough questions Wednesday in the legislature on the moratorium currently in place on the drilling of deep wells for irrigation.

Opposition MLA James Aylward asked Sherry over and over to table her advisory councilʼs opinion on the matter, arguing their views would have a great deal of influence over the ministerʼs final decision on whether to lift the moratorium.

“(Islanders) are asking for transparency. They are asking for all of the information that this minister supposedly is studying to make her decision,” Aylward said.

“Theyʼre asking for not only the science that she refuses to have peer-reviewed, theyʼre also asking for the opinions and the advice from her environmental advisory council.”

The issue has sparked intense public interest and heated debate over water use in Prince Edward Island.

It has polarized environmental advocates and the agricultural community over the question of whether P.E.I. has enough groundwater to support industrial irrigation of potato crops.

Sherry was evasive in her answers during question period Wednesday, but later told reporters definitively she will not tell Islanders how her advisory council advised her on the question of whether to lift the moratorium on high capacity wells.
“Iʼm not prepared to release the opinions of my advisory council,” she said.

Sherry explained she merely asked her council members for their individual views, using them as a sounding board after she was first approached on the issue.

Their views were never meant to be part of any official opinion report released to the public.

“I just wanted to get a view from the members of my advisory council just to kind of judge what those eight people might say,” Sherry said.

“Those opinions told me that they had very strong opinions on it.”

According to the P.E.I. Potato Boardʼs January/February publication, the Potato News, the issue was first raised in the fall of 2012, when the Board made a presentation to Sherry and to Agriculture Minister George Webster asking for the moratorium to be lifted for supplemental irrigation of their potato crops.

The Board publication says it received multiple assurances it would get what it was asking for.

“Over the next year, the board was told numerous times by the Department of Environment that studies had been done showing that there as a plentiful supply of groundwater on P.E.I. with a very high recharge rate and that the moratorium would be lifted soon,” states the Potato Board publication.

“This announcement was never forthcoming and the issue has definitely come into prominence in local media in 2014.”
Sherry said Wednesday neither she nor cabinet have yet come to a decision on the matter, nor has her department even determined how it will further proceed.

The standing committee on agriculture, environment, energy and forestry, which held heavily attended public hearings on the issue, has recommended the moratorium remain in place while the issue continues to be explored.

It also strongly recommended government develop a water act to regulate and protect P.E.I.'s groundwater.
Sherry says she will wait until the legislature closes and then will decide how best to proceed.

“I think that we really need to sit down and look at (the standing committee report) and decide where to from here,” Sherry said.
“When we know where to from here, Islanders will be involved in knowing exactly what our next steps are.”

The Potato Board and Cavendish Farms were actively lobbying MLAs earlier this year in the hopes of having the moratorium lifted in time for this growing season.

Sherry said, given the fact planting has already begun, that is out of the question for this season.

May 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some events coming up:
Today at 1:30PM on the lawn of Province House, Earth Action with Sharon Labchuk is going to spread corn gluten on the lawn as part of a protest against pesticides.
Sharon will be on Island Morning radio at 7:40AM to discuss this with an environment regulatory person.

Here is a little background I dug up:

What is corn gluten and how does it work?

But does it work?

Why is it banned on PEI?
That I really don't know.  (Unfortunately, some corn gluten would likely be from GMO varieties that contain Bt to kill corn borers, by the way)
It may be because it's

Pesticides Control Act

Cap. P-4 11


(ii) fertilizer-pesticide blended

products or other combination

pesticide blended products,

Of course, the point isn't corn gluten, it's use of pesticides on PEI and our concerns about out health.

Just a note that in today's Guardian (editorials and letters aren't put on the website until later in the morning so I cannot put the link today), true to form, is a letter from Ted Menzies of CropLife Canada refuting Dr. Roger Gordon's letter from last week, with the usual responses.
Ted Menzies...wait, isn't that the same guy who was an MP from Alberta, and accompanied Gail Shea to Crapaud in June 2012, and told us all why we were so lucky to have Stephen Harper as Prime Minister and how foolish it was for Elizabeth May to slow the passage of that Omnibus Budget bill down?   Well, the needle on my Creep-O-Meter nearly broke that day, swinging so far to the right; my, my, president of President of CropLife Canada.  (Does that help their image?)
Continuing on political commentary, here is the link from Monday's column by Richard Raiswell on government's use of safety as a reason when convenience:
Facebook event info for Bedeque lecture on Confederation Legacy Forests
The first public tree planting takes place this Saturday in Fernwood.

And a quick reminder that also on Saturday:
Saturday, May 10th, 10AM-4PM, Farm Centre, free, Herb Day:
Facebook event info for Saturday's Herb Day at the Farm Centre
from the organizers: "The Food Exchange PEI group is having a Herb Day at the Farm Centre this Saturday in Charlottetown from 10-4. There are lots of interesting workshops going on and we will have lots of lovely organic transplants for your garden including tomatoes, basil, lettuce, kale, cilantro, dill, bok choi, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, cabbage, scallions and more. Hope to see you there."
I will be talking at 11AM about a variety of ways to source local foods.

And don't forget the Symposium on water science on Tuesday, May 20th, 7PM, at UPEI.

May 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Cindy Richards filmed and put together this 3-minute documentary of what the Crawford's Brook area looks like May 3rd, 2014 (it accidentally says Mar. 3rd at the beginning).

The film shows the box culvert by Peter's Road, with its washout of sediment from the box bottom completely filling the sediment pond, the failure of the required watertight box seals (unbelieveable footage of water glooshing in between the joints, at about 44 seconds in), the area where the excess shale is "stored" in the Crawford's former backyard and how it slumped into the wetland, and that old culvert under the (now) old TCH that won't let fish get through.  When promoting Plan B, the box culvert, the arch culvert at Hemlock Grove, and the removal of a "hanging culvert" along Peter's Road were all touted as improving fish habitat....but it doesn't do much good if Transportation refused to address the culvert downstream, and have no plans to do so.

MLA James Alyward did bring this up to Transportation Minister Robert Vessey during budget estimates last week, who said he hadn't heard there was a problem with this culvert (selective memory plagues us all, I suppose), but would look into it. Follow-up from the Tories and others will be required.

The busy map gets more annotated.  Plan B is red, Strathgartney Park in lower left, the box culvert location in Churchill is marked with an X, the old culvert with a yellow circle.
The province realized it's two weeks until they are shuttling Prince Charles to Bonshaw Provincial Park. Two weeks to make the "new trail" and presumably make the "wilderness".  Our Premier channels his inner Potemkin.   ( )

CBC on-line story on cleaning up the Bonshaw Provincial Park for Prince Charles visit
Richard Raiswell's commentary on the convenient use of safety to justify projects was very logical and entertaining on Mainstreet yesterday.  The link should be up today, for those who missed it.  It should be on the CBC website later today under "Must Listen".

The Legislature starts their week at 2PM this afternoon, from 2-5PM, and then 7-9PM.  You can watch or listen to the proceedings at the PEI Legislative Assembly website.  Besides Welcomes, and Question Period, and other business, they are going through each department's budget estimates for the year, and at some point will have the second reading and discussion of the changes to the Lands Protection Act addressed in Bill No. 43.
Tonight is the Nature PEI meeting at 7PM at Beaconsfield Carriage House, with Kate MacQuarrie talking about wildflowers.  I bet there will be beautiful slides.

May 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It's Monday and a little rainy, so forgive the critical tone, but here are a few recent government decisions that Islanders might want to take a second look at:

The bill to amend the Provincial Emblems act, to change the parameters of the Order of P.E.I., has passed Second Reading and essentially debate is over.  Here is what Premier Ghiz said on the floor of the Legislature on Thursday, April 25th, when asked if he would describe the bill:

Premier Ghiz:

Perfect. This is a very minor change. It leaves all of the authority with the council that chooses the Order of PEI recipients. The only thing it does is before it was very limited where it could only be one time a year where there would be three people. What this does is it allows them, now, to name somebody any time of the year, and it can be more than three people, and that’s it.

These are actually a major changes.

And,a minute later, in response to Opposition Leader's question about:

Leader of the Opposition:

Okay. Have you ever thought of creating, like, a Premier’s award and then you could just award it on the fly?

Premier Ghiz:

You could do that, I guess, but this is the highest award we have in the province right now, and this new amendment to the bill will allow it to have more flexibility, similar to what happens in different provinces.

Different provinces have a lot of different legislation in terms of the numbers they can appoint, when they can appoint, when they can do things, and this bill gives the committee more authority to be flexible.

Ontario, with 6 miilion people, gives 25 Orders of Ontario a year, period.  That rate (Order per population) would work out to 1.7 (so round to 2) Orders on PEI annually.  So this Act not just amends but really dilutes the honor; and possibly the Order of PEI Advisory Council will be hopping to process nominees as anyone's request (including any MLA's)  -- at least three a year.

Richard Raiswell discussed this a couple of weeks ago on this weekly political commentary on CBC Radio's Mainstreet (link with the audio file from April 15th):

The Opposition Leader did ask a few questions about it; but in the end agreed with the bland assurances to the contrary.   Premier Ghiz said that the media got the story wrong; it sure sounds like the "Order of PEI" is set to become "The Order of the PEI Premier".

But MLAs have to vote on it in Third Reading, so if you have an opinion you can still tell your MLA.
contact info:

Natalie McMaster, Buffy Saint Marie, Barra McNeils -- all wonderful performers, yes.  But we aren't really getting a free series of concerts. (And there are only 5,000 tickets available for each concert, I think.)
If you divide what all the 2014 grants and parties and administration and more parties are likely adding up to, it's a pretty hefty ticket price for each and every Islander.  Panen and circenses

No criticism here:  CBC Radio Island Morning is featuring Marie Burge reflecting on the Cooper Institute, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and having a gathering Wednesday 7-9PM at Mavor's.

Enjoy the cold rain!

May 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is a long piece of Sunday reading, thoughtful and definitely worth the time:

"The New Abolitionism" article by Christopher Hayes in The Nation  (or pasted below)
(The Nation is the oldest weekly published in the United States and self-described as "Flagship of the Left.")

The New Abolitionism - The Nation magazine article by Christopher Hayes

Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth.

Published in the May 12, 2014 edition of The Nation (magazines and obstetricians operate under distorted calendars)

Before the cannons fired at Fort Sumter, the Confederates announced their rebellion with lofty rhetoric about “violations of the Constitution of the United States” and “encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States.” But the brute, bloody fact beneath those words was money. So much goddamn money.

The leaders of slave power were fighting a movement of dispossession. The abolitionists told them that the property they owned must be forfeited, that all the wealth stored in the limbs and wombs of their property would be taken from them. Zeroed out. Imagine a modern-day political movement that contended that mutual funds and 401(k)s, stocks and college savings accounts were evil institutions that must be eliminated completely, more or less overnight. This was the fear that approximately 400,000 Southern slaveholders faced on the eve of the Civil War.

Today, we rightly recoil at the thought of tabulating slaves as property. It was precisely this ontological question—property or persons?—that the war was fought over. But suspend that moral revulsion for a moment and look at the numbers: Just how much money were the South’s slaves worth then? A commonly cited figure is $75 billion, which comes from multiplying the average sale price of slaves in 1860 by the number of slaves and then using the Consumer Price Index to adjust for inflation. But as economists Samuel H. Williamson and Louis P. Cain argue, using CPI-adjusted prices over such a long period doesn’t really tell us much: “In the 19th century,” they note, “there were no national surveys to figure out what the average consumer bought.” In fact, the first such survey, in Massachusetts, wasn’t conducted until 1875.

In order to get a true sense of how much wealth the South held in bondage, it makes far more sense to look at slavery in terms of the percentage of total economic value it represented at the time. And by that metric, it was colossal. In 1860, slaves represented about 16 percent of the total household assets—that is, all the wealth—in the entire country, which in today’s terms is a stunning $10 trillion.

Ten trillion dollars is already a number much too large to comprehend, but remember that wealth was intensely geographically focused. According to calculations made by economic historian Gavin Wright, slaves represented nearly half the total wealth of the South on the eve of secession. “In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” civil war historian Eric Foner tells me. “Think what would happen if you liquidated the banks, factories and railroads with no compensation.”

* * *

In 2012, the writer and activist Bill McKibben published a heart-stopping essay in Rolling Stone titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” I’ve read hundreds of thousands of words about climate change over the last decade, but that essay haunts me the most.

The piece walks through a fairly straightforward bit of arithmetic that goes as follows. The scientific consensus is that human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Given that we’ve already warmed the earth about 0.8 degrees Celsius, that means we have 1.2 degrees left—and some of that warming is already in motion. Given the relationship between carbon emissions and global average temperatures, that means we can release about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by mid-century. Total. That’s all we get to emit if we hope to keep inhabiting the planet in a manner that resembles current conditions.

Now here’s the terrifying part. The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a consortium of financial analysts and environmentalists, set out to tally the amount of carbon contained in the proven fossil fuel reserves of the world’s energy companies and major fossil fuel–producing countries. That is, the total amount of carbon we know is in the ground that we can, with present technology, extract, burn and put into the atmosphere. The number that the Carbon Tracker Initiative came up with is… 2,795 gigatons. Which means the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn.

Proceeding from this fact, McKibben leads us inexorably to the staggering conclusion that the work of the climate movement is to find a way to force the powers that be, from the government of Saudi Arabia to the board and shareholders of ExxonMobil, to leave 80 percent of the carbon they have claims on in the ground. That stuff you own, that property you’re counting on and pricing into your stocks? You can’t have it.

Given the fluctuations of fuel prices, it’s a bit tricky to put an exact price tag on how much money all that unexcavated carbon would be worth, but one financial analyst puts the price at somewhere in the ballpark of $20 trillion. So in order to preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world’s most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth. Since all of these numbers are fairly complex estimates, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that we’ve overestimated the total amount of carbon and attendant cost by a factor of 2. Let’s say that it’s just $10 trillion.

The last time in American history that some powerful set of interests relinquished its claim on $10 trillion of wealth was in 1865—and then only after four years and more than 600,000 lives lost in the bloodiest, most horrific war we’ve ever fought.

It is almost always foolish to compare a modern political issue to slavery, because there’s nothing in American history that is slavery’s proper analogue. So before anyone misunderstands my point, let me be clear and state the obvious: there is absolutely no conceivable moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African-Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices. Humans are humans; molecules are molecules. The comparison I’m making is a comparison between the political economy of slavery and the political economy of fossil fuel.

More acutely, when you consider the math that McKibben, the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) all lay out, you must confront the fact that the climate justice movement is demanding that an existing set of political and economic interests be forced to say goodbye to trillions of dollars of wealth. It is impossible to point to any precedent other than abolition.

* * *

The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, nearly all energy to power societies flowed from the natural ecological cascade of sun and food: the farmhands in the fields, the animals under saddle, the burning of wood or grinding of a mill. A life of ceaseless exertion.

Before fossil fuels, the only way out of this drudgery was by getting other human beings to do the bulk of the work that the solar regime required of its participants. This could be done by using accrued money to pay for labor, but more often than not—particularly in societies like the Roman Empire that achieved density and scale—it was achieved through slavery. Slavery opened up for the slave owners vast new vistas of possibility. The grueling mundane exertions demanded of everyone under a solar regime could be cast off, pushed down on the shoulders of the slave.

In this respect, the basic infrastructure of energy distribution and exploitation in the plantation South was not so different from feudal Europe or ancient Egypt. During the first half of the nineteenth century, coal, whale oil, pneumatic power and all manner of mechanization penetrated the more urbanized North, while the South remained largely mired in the pre-industrial age. In 1850, only 14 percent of the nation’s canal mileage and 26 percent of its railroad mileage ran through slave states, and the industrial output of the entire region was only one-third that of Massachusetts alone.

Not only that, but as time marched forward, the South lagged further and further behind. In Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson notes that while in 1850 slave states had 42 percent of the population, they “possessed only 18 percent of the country’s manufacturing capacity, a decline from the 20 percent of 1840.” The same holds true for the South’s percentage of railroad miles, which was declining as the war approached. In 1852, James D.B. DeBow, a vociferous advocate of diversifying the Southern economy, lamented that “the North grows rich, and powerful, and great, whilst we, at best, are stationary.” (This underdevelopment would haunt the South well into the twentieth century: in 1930, only 38 percent of residents of the former Confederate states had electricity, compared with about 85 percent in states that had been free.)

This lagging wasn’t just happenstance: many historians argue that it was, in fact, the availability of the cheap, plentiful energy resource of slavery that meant the South faced less pressure to urbanize, electrify or industrialize. Slavery, and the energy it provided, was a kind of crutch giving the antebellum South its own version of what modern-development economists now call, in a very different context, a “resource curse”—that is, an overreliance on a resource (in this case, enslaved human beings) that stunts economic diversification and development.

Crucially, as slavery became more profitable to the planter class and ever more central to the economic health of the South, the ideas about slavery grew increasingly aggressive, expansionist and reactionary. “Very few people at the time of the Revolution and the Constitution publicly affirmed the desirability of slavery,” Foner observes. “They generally said, ‘We’re stuck with it; there’s nothing we can do.’”

Even in much of the South, slavery was at first seen as a necessary evil, a shameful feature of the American experience that would necessarily be phased out over time. Many slave-owning founders shared in this consensus. Slave owner and Virginian Patrick Henry referred to slavery in a private letter as an “abominable practice…a species of violence and tyranny” that was “repugnant to humanity.” His fellow Virginian Richard Henry Lee called the slave trade an “iniquitous and disgraceful traffic” in 1759 while introducing a bill to try to end it. Thomas Jefferson, at times an ardent defender of slavery and the white supremacy that undergirded it, confessed in 1779 that “the whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.”

When Jefferson wrote those words, slavery had nowhere near the economic grip on the South that it would have during the cotton boom in the first half of the nineteenth century. Between 1805 and 1860, the price per slave grew from about $300 to $750, and the total number of slaves increased from 1 million to 4 million—which meant that the total value of slaves grew a whopping 900 percent in the half-century before the war.

This increase in the price of slaves was due largely to two factors. In 1808, the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves took effect, permanently constraining supply. From then on, all new slaves came as the offspring of existing slaves. And then there was cotton. It’s hard to overestimate the impact that cotton had on the South during the decades leading up to the war. No place on earth produced more cotton, and the world’s demand was insatiable. Economic historian Roger L. Ransom writes that “by the mid-1830s, cotton shipments accounted for more than half the value of all exports from the United States.” So lucrative was the crop that the planter class rushed into it, leaving behind everything else. As McPherson notes, per capita production of the South’s principal food crops actually declined during this period.

All of this led to a heady kind of triumphalism. In 1858, Senator James Henry Hammond, a South Carolina plantation owner, took to the floor of the Senate to inquire mockingly:

What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years? I will not stop to depict what every one can imagine, but this is certain: England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her, save the South. No, you dare not make war on cotton. No power on earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is king.

It is perhaps not surprising that under conditions of stupendous profit and accumulation, the rhetoric of the South’s politicians and planter class changed to a florid celebration of the peculiar institution. “By the 1830s, [John C.] Calhoun and all these guys, some of them go so far as to say, ‘It would be better for white workers if they were slaves,’” Foner tells me. “They have a whole literature on why slavery should be expanded.” Indeed, here’s Calhoun in 1837:

I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good—a positive good.

Here’s Hammond in the same “Cotton is king” speech, playing the same notes:

In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement…. Fortunately for the South, she found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. A race inferior to her own, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for our purpose, and call them slaves.

“Our negroes,” according to Southern social theorist George Fitzhugh, “are not only better off as to physical comfort than free laborers, but their moral condition is better…. [They are] the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world.”

So the basic story looks like this: in the decades before the Civil War, the economic value of slavery explodes. It becomes the central economic institution and source of wealth for a region experiencing a boom that succeeded in raising per capita income and concentrating wealth ever more tightly in the hands of the Southern planter class. During this same period, the rhetoric of the planter class evolves from an ambivalence about slavery to a full-throated, aggressive celebration of it. As slavery becomes more valuable, the slave states find ever more fulsome ways of praising, justifying and celebrating it. Slavery increasingly moves from an economic institution to a cultural one; it becomes a matter of identity, of symbolism—indeed, in the hands of the most monstrously adept apologists, a thing of beauty.

And yet, at the very same time, casting a shadow over it all is the growing power of the abolition movement in the North and the dawning awareness that any day might be slavery’s last. So that, on the eve of the war, slavery had never been more lucrative or more threatened. That also happens to be true of fossil fuel extraction today.

* * *

America is in the grip of a fossil fuel frenzy almost without precedent. By 2015, the United States is projected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil in the world. After sixty years of being a net importer of fuel, we are now a net exporter, and it’s possible that we will break our 1970 record for peak oil production. This comes thanks to both deepwater drilling and shale fields like the Bakken formation in North Dakota, whose previously inaccessible reserves have been unlocked by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, also known as “fracking.”

These same technologies have also produced an unprecedented natural gas surge, as fracking wells are sunk into the soil of ranches and parks and hillsides across the country. Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale alone produces about 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day—the equivalent of more than 2.4 million barrels of oil. Shale extraction has quadrupled in the past four years and now accounts for about 40 percent of the annual natural gas yields in the United States, which recently surpassed Russia as the world’s largest natural gas producer.

At the very same time that extraction has come to play an increasingly dominant role in the US economy, we have seen a dramatic reversal in the politics of fossil fuel and climate change. Whereas high-profile Republicans once expressed ambivalence about our reliance on fossil fuels, viewing it as a kind of necessary evil that would ultimately be phased out, in the last five years the extraction of fossil fuels has become—to steal a phrase—“a positive good.”

During the 1988 vice-presidential debate, Dan Quayle argued that “the greenhouse effect is an important environmental issue. It’s important for us to get the data in, to see what alternatives we have to the fossil fuels…. We need to get on with it, and in a George Bush administration, you can bet that we will.”

That wasn’t quite the case, but in 1989, Newt Gingrich was one of twenty-five Republican co-sponsors of the Global Warming Prevention Act, which held that “the Earth’s atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities, inefficient and wasteful fossil fuel use, and the effects of rapid population growth in many regions” and that “increasing the nation’s and world’s reliance on ecologically sustainable solar and renewable resources…is a significant long-term solution to reducing fossil-generated carbon dioxide and other pollutants.” In 1990, President George H.W. Bush said at an IPCC event, “We all know that human activities are changing the atmosphere in unexpected and in unprecedented ways.”

While his son did little to curb carbon emissions when he took his turn at the presidency, he did at least give it lip service. Speaking ahead of the 2005 G8 Summit, George W. Bush said, “It’s now recognized that the surface of the earth is warmer, and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem.” As part of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, he signed into law minimum efficiency requirements to begin to phase out the use of incandescent bulbs in 2012. (A law that would, in the Obama era, become a top conservative target, as the Tea Party rallied to support the incandescent bulb as if it were a constitutionally enshrined right.)

And in 2008, somewhat miraculously, John McCain’s platform featured support for a cap-and-trade bill that would have effectively put a price on carbon. But even by that year, you could already feel a seismic shift in the rhetoric. I sat in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in 2008 and watched Sarah Palin lead thousands of people in a thunderous chant of “Drill, baby, drill!”

After Obama’s election, things moved quickly: McCain dropped support for his own legislation to regulate carbon pollution. In 2010, Bob Inglis, a conservative congressman from South Carolina, was soundly defeated by a Tea Party challenger in the Republican primary, due chiefly to Inglis’s refusal to deny the science on climate change. A year later, Gingrich called his appearance alongside Nancy Pelosi in a 2008 ad urging action on climate change the “dumbest single thing I’ve done in years,” recanting his acceptance of the science and embracing denialism. He was not alone—in fact, outright denialism is now more or less the official Republican line. In 2011, and again in January of this year, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to block the EPA from regulating carbon emissions and against amendments that would acknowledge that climate change is, in fact, happening.

And it’s not just denialism: extracting and burning carbon is now roundly celebrated by conservative politicians, as if plunging holes into the earth to pull out fossilized peat is a sign of the nation’s potency. In 2012, Mitt Romney said he would build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline himself. Texas Representative Steve Stockman tweeted in March 2013 that “the best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.”

Remember, all of this is happening at the same time that (a) fossil fuel companies are pulling more carbon out of the ground than ever before, and (b) it’s becoming increasingly clear that those companies will have to leave 80 percent of their reserves in the ground if we are to avert a global cataclysm. In the same way that the abolition movement cast a shadow over the cotton boom, so does the movement to put a price on carbon spook the fossil fuel companies, which even at their moment of peak triumph wonder if a radical change is looming around the corner.

Let me pause here once again to be clear about what the point of this extended historical comparison is and is not. Comparisons to slavery are generally considered rhetorically out of bounds, and for good reason. We are walking on treacherous terrain. The point here is not to associate modern fossil fuel companies with the moral bankruptcy of the slaveholders of yore, or the politicians who defended slavery with those who defend fossil fuels today.

In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.

If I’ve done my job so far, you should, right about now, be feeling despair. If, indeed, what we need to save the earth is to forcibly pry trillions of dollars of wealth out of the hands of its owners, and if the only precedent for that is the liberation of the slaves—well, then you wouldn’t be crazy if you concluded that we’re doomed, since that result was achieved only through the most brutal extended war in our nation’s history.

So here is why we’re not doomed. Among many obvious differences between the slave power and the fossil fuel cabal is this definitive one. Slaves were incredibly valuable in large part because they produced huge amounts of value with relatively little capital required. Slave owners merely had to provide food, water and shelter (often wretchedly insufficient) and maintain a system of repression and surveillance to guard against the ever-present threat of rebellion or escape. Compared with many other kinds of investments, unlocking the value of slaves required very little of the plantation owners.

Such is not the case with fossil fuels. Fossil fuel extraction is one of the most capital-intensive industries in the world. While it is immensely, unfathomably profitable, it requires ungodly amounts of money to dig and drill the earth, money to pump and refine and transport the fuel so that it can go from the fossilized plant matter thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface into your Honda. And that constant need for billions of new dollars in investment capital is the industry’s Achilles’ heel.

A variety of forces are now attacking precisely this vulnerability. The movement to stop the Keystone XL pipeline is probably the largest social movement in American history directed at stopping a piece of capital investment, which is what the pipeline is. Because without that pipeline, a lot of the dirty fuel trapped in the Alberta tar sands is too costly to be worth pulling out.

The divestment movement is pushing colleges, universities, municipalities, pension funds and others to remove their investment from fossil fuel companies. So far, eighteen foundations, twenty-seven religious institutions, twenty-two cities, and eleven colleges and universities have committed themselves to divestment. Together, they have pledged to divest hundreds of millions of dollars from the fossil fuel companies so far.

Of course, that’s a drop in the global pool of capital. But some of the largest funds in the world are sovereign wealth funds, which are subject to political pressure. The largest such fund belongs to Norway, which is seriously considering divesting from fossil fuels.

Investors, even those unmotivated by stewardship of the planet, have reason to be suspicious of the fossil fuel companies. Right now, they are seeing their investment dollars diverted from paying dividends to doing something downright insane: searching for new reserves. Globally, the industry spends $1.8 billion a day on exploration. As one longtime energy industry insider pointed out to me, fossil fuel companies are spending much more on exploring for new reserves than they are posting in profits.

Think about that for a second: to stay below a 2 degree Celsius rise, we can burn only one-fifth of the total fossil fuel that companies have in their reserves right now. And yet, fossil fuel companies are spending hundreds of billions of dollars looking for new reserves—reserves that would be sold and emitted only in some distant postapocalyptic future in which we’ve already burned enough fossil fuel to warm the planet past even the most horrific projections.

This means that fossil fuel companies are taking their investors’ money and spending it on this extremely expensive suicide mission. Every single day. If investors say, “Stop it—we want that money back as dividends rather than being spent on exploration,” then, according to this industry insider, “what that means is, literally, the oil and gas companies don’t have a viable business model. If all your investors say that, and all the analysts start saying that, they can no longer grow as businesses.”

In fact, in certain climate and investment circles, people have begun to talk about “stranded assets”—that is, the risk that either national or global carbon-pricing regimes will make the extraction of some of the current reserves uneconomical. Recently, shareholders pushed ExxonMobil to start reporting on its exposure to the risk of stranded assets, which was a crucial first step, though the report itself was best summarized by McKibben as saying, basically, “We plan on overheating the planet, we don’t think any government will stop us, we dare you to try.”

That is the current stance of the fossil fuel companies: “It’s our property, and we’re gonna extract, sell and burn all of it. What are you gonna do about it?”

Those people you see getting arrested outside the White House protesting Keystone XL, showing up at shareholder meetings and sitting in on campuses to get their schools to divest are doing something about it. They are attacking the one weak link in the chain of doom that is our fossil fuel economy.

As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” What the climate justice movement is demanding is the ultimate abolition of fossil fuels. And our fates all depend on whether they succeed.

And a related quote by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May:

“Fracked natural gas is not the greenhouse-gas-friendly fossil fuel lite that conventional natural gas is reputed to be,” said Elizabeth May, leader of the Canadian Green Party, said. “You talk about B.C.’s relatively good reputation, but once people pull back the curtain on Christy Clark and look a bit into the carbon intensity of fracked natural gas, that good reputation won’t last.”

So there is Hope

May 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Aubrey Bell asks for the simple idea about trust in our elected officials:

Too much government? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 02, 2014

Sometimes people say thereʼs too much government on Prince Edward Island. Well, tell that to the residents of DeSable and Hampton.

They know somebody is buying up hundreds of acres for a big development, but nobody will tell them what it is. Even their local MLA says she canʼt talk. She canʼt break the developerʼs trust.

Wait a minute! What about the trust the voters placed in the MLA when they gave her their votes?

Living in an unincorporated region is all well and good so long as your neighbours are sensible. By times, however, they do something unexpected, like sell out to a mystery land developer.

When that happens, youʼre on your own. Thereʼs no local government for protection. Not even your local MLA will tell you whatʼs going on.

Aubrey Bell, New London

And from Wednesday's Hampton/DeSable mystery project meeting, a clip of amateur video where we learn there are actually two mystery projects in the works:
(only until about 3:30 min, when it wanders away from the topic)

An excellent letter by Roger Gordon in yesterday's Guardian:

Just say no to cosmetic pesticides - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Roger Gordon

Published on May 02, 2014

So, winter is finally over and spring has arrived. At least, thatʼs the impression I get as I walk around my neighbourhood and see all the homeowners beginning to rake over their lawns. Then, the penny drops. It will soon be time for the lawn spraying companies to get into high gear. Letters in my mail box advising me that a neighbour will be having his or her lawn sprayed with a toxic concoction. Pickup trucks cruising around the streets, drums of pesticides on their flat beds. Vapours in the air that I do not appreciate.

There is no doubt the provincial government caved in to pressure from the industrialized pesticide lobby and left Islanders with one of the worst situations in the country regarding cosmetic pesticides. Only 2-4,D is banned. But not its chemical relatives Mecoprop or MCPA. Health Canada has approved what is being sprayed, so it must be OK. Right? Wrong.

I have a list as long as a yardarm of pesticides once approved by Health Canada that in the light of subsequent knowledge have now been banned. Also, Health Canada only certifies the active ingredient. What is sprayed on a personʼs lawn contains a whole slew of chemicals that magnify the toxic effects.

But, hereʼs the good news. People can just say no to this lawn spraying nonsense. There is abundant evidence to link cosmetic pesticides with several serious human illnesses. In a recent (meta) analysis, published in a peer-reviewed international scientific journal, the authors examined 15 studies within the primary literature and determined that exposure to cosmetic pesticides either pre or post partum increased the chances of a child contracting childhood leukemia by 50 to 100 per cent.

In a broader examination of both cosmetic and agricultural pesticides, another group of scientists found that there was a positive correlation between pesticide exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 12 out of 14 investigations. Even more worrisome is the fact that children are far more susceptible to pesticide exposure than adults.

The naysayers will argue that the evidence against cosmetic pesticides is not iron clad. Itʼs true that some studies have yielded inconclusive results, but thatʼs to be expected. Much like the situation with tobacco smoking back in the 1950s, we have to rely upon after the fact information — sampling populations and examining medical records to look for cause and effect relationships.
Controlled experiments with humans are not possible for obvious ethical reasons. Thus, we rely on the thoroughness of the studies and the robustness of the statistical analyses used to eliminate factors (age, gender, lifestyle, etc.) that might otherwise interfere with the conclusions.

Unlike the tobacco analogy, however, cell and molecular biology is nowadays able to provide insight into what is going on: DNA damage, impairment of blood clotting, immune system suppression, etc. So, this is where common sense kicks in. If you were offered a beverage and told that there was evidence for and against it being a poison, would you drink it? Just say no to cosmetic pesticides.

Roger Gordon of Stratford is a retired biologist and former Dean of Science at UPEI. During his career at several universities he conducted research and published extensively on controlling insect pests using biological, environmentally sound strategies.


The Hillsborough River Association Annual Smelt Festival
"Pre-festival hike" starts at 9AM, Festival at 11AM
Facebook page for Smelt Festival

Wednesday, May 7th
Earth Action is trying a way to bring attention to the almost-farcical cosmetic pesticide legislation:
"Come Break the Law with Earth Action"
Wednesday, May 7th, 1:30PM
Earth Action's event Facebook page

Cooper Institute is celebrating its 30th birthday
Wednesday, May 7th, 7-9PM, at Mavor's restaurant at the Confederation Centre for the Arts
Facebook page for Cooper Institute

Young at Heart Musical Theatre's production of "Dr. Magnificent" has three shows left:
(Harmony House Saturday, May 3rd cancelled,)
North Rustico Lions Club, Tuesday, May 6, 7pm
Wheatley River Hall, Friday, May 9,  7:30pm
St Paul's Anglican Church, Charlottetown, Sunday, May 10,  2pm

Next Saturday, May 10th, another Farm Centre brings farming to the people:
Herb Day at the Farm Centre, starting at 10AM
Facebook event for Herb Day

And it will be the first planting of the Confederation Forests in the Fernwood area:

Have a great day, hope you can go to a local market,

May 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This story about the itinerary for the visit of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla to PEI appeared late last week:

which includes for Tuesday, May 20:

·  From (Cornwall) Charles will travel west for a tour of the province's first wilderness park in the Bonshaw Hills. The park was just announced in November. He will walk a new trail. 3 p.m.     

Saturday morning I saw a friend I saw in town who said, "What!  They are bringing him past that hellhole!!" 
It's likely there will be lots of hydroseeding applied over the mud slumps and rivulets on the hillsides by then.

Views from the sides of the road in the Bonshaw and New Haven this week.  These photos don't really show the height of the road cuts, about 30-40 feet high.

Looks of the the road and jokes of the "wildernessless" park aside, perhaps there are better choices -- go see the Farm Centre plans for the Legacy Garden.  Visit some wonderful local organic farmers.  See what will be part of the just- planted Upton Park/Queen' County Confederation Forest, organized by the MacPhail Woods Ecological Project.  These seem much more fitting for the environmental steward that he is than being led along any sort of Plan B trail.

Well, Prince Charles does have e-mail.

Here is the information on the Confederation Forest Legacy Plantings, and how you can participate:

There will be multiple public plantings on each site, but the main dates will be as follow:
Fernwood (Prince County):
Planting Event: May 10th from 10am – 3pm
Upton Park (Queens County):

Planting Event: May 17th from 10am – 3pm
Bangor (Kings County):

Planting Event: Oct 4th from 10am – 3pm

Yesterday Keptin John Joe Sark posted his opinion on the visit as a on Facebook (and I can't imagine all the issues in addition to Plan B any Royal visit brings).

It would be great if we could make a Sacred Fire, for when the Prince Tours the Trail in the Bonshaw Hills.

Press Release

I read with interest the schedule for Prince Charles visit to PEI In May, as provided by Hon. Premier Robert Ghiz. All major media in PEI carried this story.

I see that he will be travelling to Bonshaw, to tour the province's first wilderness park in the Bonshaw Hills. I trust that the Premier will bring the Royal visitors onto the new stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway I am sure that His Royal Highness, who is well known for his interest in the environment, will be as upset as many Islanders with the terrible environmental damage that has been done to the streams, the West River and to the 250 year old hemlock grove in the Bonshaw area. Many Islanders protested against this project, because they witnessed that harm. Furthermore, it was a sad sight to see the Provincial Government call in the RCMP to stop the protesters by using weapons of war and dragging women from the protest area.

The monarchy of the United Kingdom, had signed treaties with the Mi’kmaq, but those treaties did not surrender any land. And in fact a Royal Proclamation issued in 1763, stated that the Crown had to buy the land from the Mi’kmaq (Indians) before it could be sold to or allotted to settlers. All of our treaties were affirmed and recognized by the Supreme Court Of Canada. However, the Canadian Government has failed to implement these Treaties. The Royal Proclamation is now part of the Constitution of Canada, however it has never been fully implemented either. Our people still feel pain that the British Crown, tried to exterminate the Mi’kmaq People, with barbaric methods justified by at least Four Royal Scalping Proclamation against the Mi’kmaq, at prices per scalp, which ranged from 30-50 pounds English Sterling silver.

It is disgusting to discover that the Royal Family of the United Kingdom, at the expense of hard working Canadians live in luxury, that many of us can only dream of. It appears that this expensive trip to Canada will cost the Federal Government over 1.7 million, and I assume the Province of PEI will have to pay for security and other expenses while their Royal Highnesses are here. Costs are also very high for Canadian’s as they pay out $40 million- $50 Million dollars annually to support the Monarchy of the United Kingdom. According to MacLean’s reporter Katie Engelhard, $40million or $50 million [a year] sure sounds like a lot to me.” The Monarchist League supports that figure, estimating that about $50,147,000 was spent during the 2006-07 year”

I am sure that the majority of Mi’kmaq People as well as the Indigenous Peoples, of Canada and the USA, are resilient warriors, and like us suffered barbaric genocidal holocaust at the hands of the British Crown, and Canadian Government in name of the Crown, this includes apartheid policies that have a detrimental effect on us to this very day. We are happy to announce that despite all of that is happening and has happened to us, we are still here. We live in hope and that soon, with the assistance of the Canadian people, our Governments, both Federal and Provincial as well as the Crown of the United Kingdom will Respect Honor and Implement our Peace and Friendship Treaties made with the British Crown and which have been inherited by Canada.

During their visit, I hope the Royal visitors will pick up the irony of being shown an area of environmental destruction, which the Provincial Government caused by refusing to listen to the people. I hope as well that the Royal visitors will realize and admit that the deafness of the Crown in the18th century, and that of the Federal Government towards the original owners of Canada to this very day is not something to be celebrated.

Yours Sincerely,
Dr. John Joe Sark
Keptin of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council
For the District of Epekwitk (PEI)

May 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Last night was a publicly called information meeting in the Hampton-DeSable area.  People came to find out what is up with rumours about a huge development being planned for their area, but mostly heard how difficult it is for a small unincorporated community to find out what's going on, and to navigate the clunky structure that is stacked in the developer's favour.  They did find out, curiously, that this project is a small part of something much bigger.

The meeting was a bit of everything: enlightening, frustrating, funny, dry, and once again encouraging to see people coming out because they care about this Island.   But people came away with little details about what a few people are planning for the area and some details about options to incorporate, which further revealed how vulnerable small communities are.

A some background on the project and the IRAC decision is here:

Was the meeting worth it?  Yes.

Emcee Elmer MacDonald addresses the packed house, at the Hampton Hall (Bites Cafe) April 30, 2014.  On stage are MLA Valerie Docherty, resident Sandy Foy, and land planner Jean-Paul Arsenault (with standing resident in front of him).

Elmer MacDonald was charming and watchful, and with humour and aplomb kept things going, and gently steered the conversation onward.  Jean-Paul Arsenault was informative, crisp, and annoyed that government has not heeded sensible planning ideas from multiple reports over the last, oh, three decades.
He summarized (and I am summarizing him, so errors are my own):
1) The government and developer need to be transparent.
2) Rules should be the same if your community is incorporated or not.
3) Your neighbours and you shouldn't have to go through such hoops to get information.
4) It will cost money for a small community which gets or is incorporated to establish and maintain a Plan (which would give the municipality some voice in approving or rejecting a development plan which would have to be presented to them).
5) All development is not bad, as far as nurturing a community goes.

Community member, a development officer, and former IRAC commissioner Sandy Foy knows a lot and explained it very well, revealing how much work it is to understand and use the existing legislation and system.  However, most there wanted to hear about the golf-course and skiing hill that might be very close to their front yards.

And District 17 MLA wanted to be able to tell what she knew, and wished she could make everyone happy, and finally, finally, finally, at 9:10PM, said that right now she can't tell what she knows, since the developers told her in a private conversation, and only she and the Premier know what's being proposed:   she said the the DeSable/Hampton project is secondary, and important to the developers; what the Premier is interested in with these developers is a significant proposal for the Charlottetown area.

So that's were the transparency and accountability begins, and listening to what kinds of development Islanders feel is appropriate for P.E.I.  Let's hope the MLA will bring that message to the Premier.

(But by 9:10PM, the Guardian and CBC reporters had left to go to meet their deadlines, so missed that final reveal; but Nigel did a great job summarizing the meeting up to that point.)

Guardian article in today's paper about last night's meeting

P.E.I. politicians see Hamptons's (sic) mystery development, residents don't - The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong

Published on May 1, 2014

A mystery development that some politicians know about but residents don't, drew almost 200 people to a meeting in Hampton Wednesday night.

Along the TransCanada highway just west of the bitter Plan B fight lie the unincorporated communities of DeSable and Hampton.
Residents there started to realize that someone was assembling land and rumours are swirling about what might be planned for waterfront land overlooking the Northumberland Strait.

Area resident Marion Copleston has tried to research what is afoot and told the meeting she figures that some 200 acres and maybe as many as 500 have been bought by a developer.  Development rules are slack to non-existent for areas without a local official plan, the meeting heard.

It has area MLA Valerie Docherty in a tough position, as she explained to the generally polite and attentive crowd.
She said she has seen the proposed development plan, but only on condition that she not reveal details.

There is no official application at government so the project is preliminary, she said. "I have constituents who, they believe, have the right to sell their land," she said. Much of the land in this proposal is agriculture, she said. "Farmers own it. This is their pension," said Docherty.

"I also have constituents that have chosen to live in this area. They are concerned about what is going to happen in their area.
"Then I have a situation where a private developer is putting together a proposal for what could be some very good economic development for this area."

Docherty said her role is to listen and take concerns forward to the different groups.

She told the developer that he should attend this meeting or send a written statement. Neither happened and Docherty said she is disappointed at that, and plans to tell the developer so.

"We have the potential for something good here," she said. "Between errors made by staff in government as well as a developer moving a little bit faster than we would prefer in Prince Edward Island, he has actually started off on the wrong foot.

"Tonight would have been an opportunity for him to try to begin to make amends," said Docherty.

The issue of whether to incorporate the area to create an official development plan was debated at the meeting.

Docherty told the meeting she consistently hears from people who don't want to be told what they can or can't do with their land.