September 2014


  1. 1 September 30, 2014
  2. 2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    1. 2.1 Pesticide Guidelines Unacceptable - The Guardian Editorial
    2. 2.2 Making Some Sense of the Schwarcz Lecture - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 September 29, 2014
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 3.2 Suzuki’s last tour promises to be a good one - The Journal Pioneer article by Brett Poirier
  4. 4 Blue Dot Tour stops in Summerside Monday
  5. 5 September 28, 2014
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  6. 6 September 27, 2014
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  7. 7 September 26, 2014
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  8. 8 September 25, 2014
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  9. 9 September 24, 2014
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 9.2 Pesticide Free P.E.I. Deserves Support - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  10. 10 September 23, 2014
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 10.2 Fair comment on pesticide story - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 September 22, 2014
    1. 11.1 Cindy Richards Environmental Report
    2. 11.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    3. 11.3 A walk in the right direction - The Guardian article by Maureen Coulter
  12. 12 September 21, 2014
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  13. 13 September 20, 2014
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 13.2 Dr. Schwarcz delivers balanced, fair presentation on nutrition - The Guardian Guest Opinion by John Jamieson
    3. 13.3 Slate' Criticizes the 'Home-Cooked Family Dinner': Joel Salatin Responds - Mother Earth News article by Joel Salatin
  14. 14 September 19, 2014
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  15. 15 September 18, 2014
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 15.2 Leaving to experts got us in this mess - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  16. 16 September 17, 2014
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  17. 17 September 16, 2014
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 17.2 Gasoline prices a big tax rip-off - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 September 15, 2014
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 September 14, 2014
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 19.2 What will be the 2014 legacy for P.E.I.? - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
    3. 19.3 The Souris bridge says a lot about us - The Guardian column by Alan Holman
  20. 20 September 13, 2014
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  21. 21 September 12, 2014
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  22. 22 September 11, 2014
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 22.2 Local Fisherman Express(es) Concern Montrose Water Quality Unacceptable - The West Prince Graphic article by Cathy Chant
    3. 22.3 The Party is Over and the Foundation is Crumbling - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
    4. 22.4 Doug Sobey to Give Public talk on Early Forests - The Guardian article
  23. 23 September 10, 2014
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 23.2 CABINET TOUR HIGHLIGHTS POTATO INDUSTRY - Press Release from the PEI Premier's Office
  24. 24 September 9, 2014.02
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 24.2 Charlottetown mayor calls for ban on cosmetic pesticides in city - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
    3. 24.3 Math Out of Sync for This Province - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  25. 25 September 8, 2014
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 25.2 Potato Farming Not Only Industry - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 25.3 Criticism Follows Fracking Decision - The Guardian Lead Editorial
  26. 26 September 7, 2014
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 26.2 The price of cheap shrimp - Island Tides article by Elizabeth May
  27. 27 September 6, 2014
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 27.2 Montrose water unacceptable - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  28. 28 September 5, 2014
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 28.2 Announcement by Andrew Younger, Energy Minister - The Chronicle Herald
    3. 28.3 No Energy Leadership in NS Fracking Fumble - The Chronicle Herald Editorial
  29. 29 September 4, 2014
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  30. 30 September 3, 2014
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  31. 31 September 2, 2014
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  32. 32 September 1, 2014
    1. 32.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 32.2 Fish Kills in 2013 Remain a Mystery - The Guardian Letter of the Day by Mike Redmond

September 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of a name adjustment -- we are not stopping "Stop Plan B", but smoothing out the title of this daily(ish) mailing.    If you are new to the list, welcome! 
At any time if you wish to unsubscribe, just let me know.

David Suzuki and Friends was lots of fun last night in Summerside, wonderful people attending, and sending a powerful message -- if enough people want environmental rights constitutionally protected, we can do that.  When you think about it, it's the only way to go forward.  We all, locally and nationally, are still figuring out the better ways to go about this.There will be lots of ways to get involved!  For now, please keep our first AGM, special speaker Todd MacLean, and a "Plan Beyond" Social date in mind, Saturday, October 11th, 7PM, at the Farm Centre.

CBC Maritime TV news at 11 did an interview featuring the Blue Dot Tour, starting about 8:15 into the program:

and CBC Island Morning will play Robyn Miller's interview with David Suzuki in the 8AM half-hour.  Already I can sense a bit of "That's a tough sell.  Sounds like a lot of work to enshrine something in the Charter."  (subtext that it might not be good for business, either)  But hearing Suzuki and all the positive changes we have made in our human society and environment and in our Charter, it's worth it.  "We have no greater need than for clean air, clean water, and clean food." 

I have a lot of thoughts about the evening that will bubble up in the next few weeks :-)
Lots of background information at

Some news items from yesterday's Guardian  regarding pesticides: Lead editorial

Pesticide Guidelines Unacceptable - The Guardian Editorial

Published on September 29th, 2014

Province needs urgent strategy to rid water supply of any trace toxin amounts

“Based on Health Canada guidelines” was a phrase used repeatedly by P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry last week in her arguments that the province’s drinking water is safe from pesticide contamination. She used those benchmarks to say that detected pesticide levels range from 10 to more than 100 times lower than the Health Canada drinking water guidelines.

The data was contained in the most recent pesticide monitoring program conducted across the province.

Ms. Sherry says the department monitors pesticide levels in groundwater on a regular basis and makes the results available to the public. That is partly correct. The results are made available on an irregular basis and apparently only when data appears favourable.

Testing has been carried out annually for the past 10 years with some 100 groundwater samples collected from private wells, seniors’ housing facilities, municipal systems and schools. Yet this is just the first time since 2008 that such complete results have been released.

There is good news and bad news in the data. Ms. Sherry noted that no pesticides were detected in groundwater from the majority of wells across the province. And it’s reassuring the department is doing regular testing at a large number of private and public institutions. But those results should be released each year. There is no reason to wait six years until the next group of statistics are released. Withholding annual data suggests just one obvious conclusion — bad news.

While no pesticides were detected in a majority of wells, it means that toxins were detected in a minority of wells, including persistent positive tests at Cardigan Consolidated and L’Ecole Evangeline.

The centre of the argument depends on whether we can accept Health Canada guidelines as reliable. To hear the federal agency say that low amounts of pesticides are acceptable in our drinking water is just not very reassuring.

This would not be the first time we got such assurances which later turned out to be vast mistakes. So Ms. Sherry and Health Canada will have to accept the fact that Islanders will be a little skeptical to take those assurances at face value.  

Obviously, no one wants to see any pesticides in any wells. But that is a remote dream, especially for schools and other facilities in rural areas of this largely agricultural province. Anyone familiar with Cardigan school is well aware it’s surrounded by fields under cultivation, including potatoes.

Ms. Sherry cannot be satisfied and presume that all is well. To suggest that her department is content to solely monitor water quality and be satisfied if it remains below the guidelines is disappointing.

Her department should be working hard to eliminate any pesticide amounts from the water supply, especially in schools.

Pesticides are deadly synthetic toxins designed to kill insects, fungus and weeds. They are not designed to break down easily in soil, air and water and it’s inevitable they will enter the drinking water system.

Health Canada is expected to produce guidelines that set out basic requirements for every water system to achieve in order to provide the cleanest, safest and most reliable drinking water possible, explains Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer. She also seems willing to accept Health Canada assurances that any detectable levels of pesticides are well below guidance levels.

Dr. Morrison and Ms. Sherry should join forces and tell Islanders that while pesticide levels are below benchmark guidelines, they won’t be content until all traces are eliminated from our water supply and that a strategy is urgently needed to accomplish that goal. It won’t be achievable right away and maybe not for many years, but it should be a permanent guideline and ultimate goal for P.E.I.

And a great letter:

Making Some Sense of the Schwarcz Lecture - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published September 29th, 2014

I attended Dr. Joe Schwarcz’s Science, Sense and Non-sense public lecture hosted by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture. Ironically, in his quest to quell myths, I was left mystified from what appeared to be conflicting statements concerning synthetic pesticides. I disagree with his statement that he has no conflict of interest. He is a chemist who does not seem to adequately remove this bias consistently from his evaluations.

As I recall, he said buy organic food if it is the same price as conventional. If it costs more, buy conventional. Plants absorb pesticides. Organic produce has lower levels of pesticide residues. Nutrients are dependent on seed quality, weather, and soil fertility. Farming organic uses natural occurring pesticides, versus conventional which uses synthetic. The major concern with using synthetic is the environmental harm they cause such as poorer soil fertility, killing of fish and other vital life/plants, and they produce more pollutants. While he stated major concern for food grown by these pesticides in developing countries and their improper use by migrant workers in the US, he indicated no real safety concern for those approved and used in Canada.

He failed to acknowledge our government does not provide a guarantee of safety. Synthetic Pesticides DDT, Alachlor, and Fenitrothion, not to mention lead, mercury, PCBs, and asbestos, are only a few of the chemicals which received government approval in the past, only to be banned because of severe health problems, as well as, tremendous ecosystem damage. Many additional hazardous synthetic pesticides are banned in numerous other countries but not in Canada. Increasingly, findings from scientific studies indicate their significant harmful effects to human health and our ecosystem. Conversely, he did state the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who is responsible for monitoring pesticide levels in all the food we buy, cannot possibly test everything, which results in allowable levels being exceeded.

It makes sense to buy organic food, regardless if it costs more. The true cost of food is not necessarily the price listed on the grocery receipt. If we have to pay more, it is a small price to pay for food that is overall safer and healthier for us, and our precious ecosystem.

Maria Eisenhauer, Charlottetown

September 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight David Suzuki, with Catherine MacLellan, Paper Lions, and poet Shane Koyczan, will be at Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside for the PEI stop on the Blue Dot Tour.  If you are going from Charlottetown, or another location, consider using social media to carpool with friends.  (We tried to charter a small bus for the drive to and from Charlottetoen, but unfortunately didn't hear back from the bus company.) 

The event is sold out, I think, but a young volunteer with the Citizens' Alliance has gotten the green light to record David Suzuki's speech to be able to show later to environmental groups, community organizations, WI groups, etc., to help send out information about environmental rights, straight from what he said in PEI.  So stay tuned for that if it all works out.

Suzuki’s last tour promises to be a good one - The Journal Pioneer article by Brett Poirier

Published on-line on September 28th, 2014

Blue Dot Tour stops in Summerside Monday

SUMMERSIDE — Even David Suzuki says it won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge he’s ready to face.

David Suzuki talks to a sold out crowd in St. John's, N.L. during his Blue Dot tour.  Suzuki recently began a 20-stop Canadian tour encouraging everyday citizens to demand clean air and water from government.

In an exclusive interview with the Journal Pioneer, the environmentalist said his last tour is a meaningful one. “We have to get out of the old way of thinking and realize how dependent we are on nature for our air, water and soil,” said Suzuki.

Organized by members of the David Suzuki Foundation, the seven-week trek began in St. John’s, N.L., and wraps up in Vancouver, B.C. The sold-out Blue Dot Tour stops at Summerside’s Harbourfront Theatre Monday night.

Suzuki will give the audience a simple message: take action.  “We need grassroots involvement at the municipal level, then provincial and finally federal support.”  The goal is to amend the Canadian Constitution so it includes a standard for residents to live in a healthy environment. But that’s not an easy feat, said Suzuki.

To make a change, the House of Commons and the Senate would need to approve. That’s not all. Two-thirds of the provinces would have to agree with the revision.  If the campaign is successful, it could mean harsher penalties for people who spray harmful pesticides, for example.

But, said Suzuki, this tour isn’t just about the environment.  “We’re looking for a future that is truly sustainable, and I believe that comes from clean air and clean water. Social justice is just as important to us as the environment.”

Suzuki, now 78, has tackled dozens of environmental and political issues in the past. However, the award-winning author and broadcaster doesn’t think any of his previous projects measure up to the importance of this one.  “If you don’t have air for three minutes you’re dead, and if you don’t have clean air you’re sick. If you don’t have water for three days you’re dead and if you don’t have clean water you’re sick.”  At any given moment there are more than 1,000 boil-water advisories in Canada, and nearly half of the country is living within limits of unsafe air pollution, according to Suzuki’s foundation.

“Canadians really think we live in this great place,” said the environmentalist. “Canada is really failing in many ways to protect these important things.”  Taking a step away from the harsh reality, Suzuki is making the best of his last tour. While in Halifax he was spotted by locals swimming in the harbour.

Realizing he’s not as young as he once was, Suzuki now finds humour out of his age.  “All old people feel like young men and women but every time I look in the mirror I go ‘Jesus Suzuki you’re an old man’,” he laughed.

Suzuki wanted to make clear, this isn’t the last Canadians will see of him.  “As long as I’m still healthy I’m not going to pull away from everything. I’ll be around.”

Suzuki takes centre stage at the Harbourfront Theatre at 7 p.m.  Special guests include Shane Koyczan, Danny Michel, Jeremy Fisher, Paper Lions, and Catherine MacLellan.
Nova Scotia environmentalist Silver Donald Cameron will be the emcee, and I think Mary Boyd, who has worked tirelessly to bring out positive change will be speaking, and I will be making a short hello, too.

David Suzuki may also be interviewed on CBC Radio today, likely during Mainstreet, but I am not sure.

Tuesday, September 30, 7-9PM, Greenhouse Building Workshop, Farm Centre.
"Do you want to get involved in the design, building and management of a community greenhouse in the Legacy Garden? Join this workshop to learn more about greenhouse design and management. Lessons will be applicable to greenhouses in general, but will focus on our efforts to build a community greenhouse in the Legacy Garden. What do you want from a communal greenhouse?! Speakers include Darcie Lanthier and Phil Ferraro. Optional potluck at 6pm."

September 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Farm Day in the City is today, 11AM to 5PM, along Queen Street by the Confederation Centre area.
How the PEI Department of Transportation packages their communications:

From the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee webpage, updated last week:
On Crosby "Road" (now a ravine), which used to go from the old TCH near the go-cart place to the footbridge, and is now bisected by Plan B:

The local watershed group and some TIR staff worked really hard on installing measures to reduce sediment flow.
It is apparent the department's communication people worked really hard on packaging the message they want to send on Plan B, and on their unwillingness to address underlying effects of transportation and infrastructure decisions on our waterways. 

from Michael Redmond, leader of the NDP-PEI
The only thing worse than the minister's response is his ignorance (or complete incompetence) when it comes to the environment. Mr. Vessey, a sign of poor water and soil management is indicative when rivers run red. Just because it happens "all over the island" does not mean that it is normal. In fact, it is a sign of poor soil management practices, such is the case with the Plan B site.
On the two pedestrian bridges that just got tendered in the Plan B area, from the Department's website:   

Work picked up on replacing the footbridge that crossed the Bonshaw (West) River by Green Road and where Crosby Road used to be. The old footbridge was lost in the big melt around the middle of April of this year. Though replacing the footbridge is mentioned in the department's horn-tooting posting, they don't mention that the project will  be done in two stages, with two bridges.  But the first bridge is not for mere residents, unless you are Authorized.

unable to upload :( Please check our facebook page for photo.

Temp bridge on right, pad for new bridge starting at left and center.  Bonshaw River at Green Road and Crosby ravine.  September 27th, 2014

unable to upload :( Please check our facebook page for photo.

Sturdy-enough, but off limits: the sign says, "Notice: Authorized Personal Only" 
Work will begin on the walkway under the TCH West River bridge sometime soon, but not sure of any plans regarding new parks.

And another thing the province is moving ahead on -- the provincial garage project.  Some Islanders wonder at the costs when there are other needs, and wondering about clearing the space of the old garage on Riverside for a new arena with (wait for it) 2017 Celebration monies.

Hope you enjoy your Sunday,

September 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Many Farmers' Markets are open today, and it's a good time to get extra to save for winter.

There is a free canning demonstration and workshop, funded by Bernardin canning supplies company, at 2PM at the Culinary Institute in Charlottetown.
Facebook link here.

"Come join Executive Chef Emerie Brine from Bernardin, Canada's leading provider in home canning products for over 100 years, for the ultimate demo. Emerie will demonstrate the simplicities of making the perfect pickles and an apple pie in a jar! Sample some and bring a free jar home!
FREE WORKSHOP (First-come, First-Serve)
Located at the Culinary Institute of Canada @ 4 Sydney St, Charlottetown."

and tomorrow is Farm Day in the City.
11AM to 5PM, Queen Street from Grafton to Sydney and around Victoria Row.
"Farm Day in the City is back and it's bigger than ever. This year join farmers, producers, artisans and a great line-up of entertainment for some old fashioned fun. Farm Day 2014 will take you back to everyones favourite blue ribbon fair, with heritage demonstrations, reenactments, and home-style cooking. This free open air market takes place on Queen Street."

Sunday evening is also the Bonshaw monthly ceilidh, from 7-9PM at the Bonshaw Hall.  Proceeds going to the Arthritis Society.  Facebook info here.

More regarding Transportation Minister Vessey's assertion Thursday, in a news article about Plan B sediment, that "You're gonna have water running red anywhere in our province." (from  this CBC on-line article yesterday )

(Is that like, some schools' drinking water always have a little pesticide in it?)

These are just the normal price to pay for how we use our land?   Hmm.

A very observant Islander wrote:

I think what he meant to say was that they (rivers) always run red after we cut down old growth Acadian forest, bulldoze down a hill to fill in a valley, build a 30 million dollar, 6 km hwy that was for "safety reasons", and ignore all environmental studies that would contradict our own regarding how to protect the lands and waters we have damaged forever. I am pretty sure CBC probably edited down to just the 10 second sound bite. :|
--Mitch MacKinnon

Our sense of humour and perspective prevails.  :-)  

September 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Compass TV news last night --
Starts with released report of where pesticides have turned up in drinking water (which I cannot find on the Department of Environment's website), then a story on attempts to reduce sediment running into the Bonshaw River from Plan B. 
It shows structures that the watershed group, assisted by the province, has installed to filter the (now copious) runoff from Plan B and trap the sediment. 

Minister Vessey, standing but spinning, says the area had issues with runoff from the road before Plan B.  Perhaps small grown-in-old-clay-road issues, but Plan B made it a big issue.

A printed article:

CBC Radio is conducting a short interview with me sometime around 8:15 about the Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki Monday.  In an odd bit of timing, they gave away the pair of free tickets in the first hour, instead of at the end of the interview.  I heard from the David Suzuki crew (now setting up for Halifax Saturday night) that they had some tickets on hold for "tour purposes" for Summerside, and have released them for sale to people on the waiting list. 

Here is a four minute film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, made to inspire the United Nation leaders to move on climate change:

September 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

David Suzuki's Tour started in St. John's last night, the first of about thirty stops.

Here is a seven minute video that pretty encompasses the whole idea of The Blue Dot Tour -- that is it time for the people of Canada to have the right to live in a healthy environment, that getting this into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is doable, and that it would start (ironically) from the bottom up with Canadians talking to each other and at their local government levels.
It's very beautiful and poignant.

Even though Summerside's Harbourfront Theatre is sold out for Monday's David Suzuki and Friends, the Citizens' Alliance gets a free pair (or two, still finding out details) for being the community host.  We will be talking to CBC Radio Island Morning likely on Friday and they can give away the pair, and I will pass on any information about any tickets that become available. 
The Island Nature Trust AGM is tonight at 7PM at Beaconsfield Carriage House, with very interesting reports on their projects and guest speaker Gary Schneider talking about forest renewal.  All are welcome!

The Master's Wife performances on the road

This is the production that was at Orwell this summer.
To purchase tickets, please call (902) 651-8515/651-2789 at Orwell Corner, or at the Homestead at (902) 651-2789. 
Thursday, Sept. 25th, Orwell Hall
Friday, Sept. 26th, Cotton Centre, Stratford.
Saturday, Sept 27th, Courthouse Theatre, St. Peter’s Bay
Sunday, Sept. 28th, Presbyterian Church, Summerside
Thursday, Oct. 9th, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Charlottetown.
Friday, Oct. 10th, Britannia Hall, Tyne Valley.
Saturday, Oct. 11th, Bonshaw Hall, Bonshaw

The last date is the same night as  our Citizens' Alliance first AGM at the Farm Centre, if that helps you plan your dates.

September 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Pesticide Free P.E.I. is meeting tonight at the Sobey's in Summerside, and those in Charlottetown wishing to carpool are meeting at the Sobey's on Allen Street at 5:30PM. More info here.

Karlo Hengst's thoughtful letter in yesterday's Guardian:

Pesticide Free P.E.I. Deserves Support - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on September 23rd, 2014

My concern is the extensive, unnecessary and avoidable pesticide applications — lawn and potato field — on this not any longer so gentle island. I have no flashy credentials, nor am I connected to, or have financial gain from, industries connected to GMO, agriculture or pesticide production/distribution, like some opposing contributors have. While I am no expert, I did hear some scientific facts, and I do see illness and fish kills and governmental unwillingness.

I have a strong desire to protect the health of my own and all fellow men — of air, water, soil, crop and each and every creature and plant on Mother Earth. In my conviction and desire it is I alone who is the expert.

P.E.I. is being contaminated by pesticide and pesticide-contamination-related illnesses here exceed the national average.

I cannot expect any help from the provincial government, for their Health Department is silent re the obvious correlation between excessive spraying on P.E.I. and excessive illness on P.E.I. — the Environment Department appears equally indifferent. No surprise, their agenda is not serving the people, but re-election.

Health Canada’s wisdom on pesticide safety is questionable since they once decided that DDT was safe.

I cannot trust the good stewardship of struggling farmers, who seek desired contracts with the large grower/pesticide industry, including stringent demands for spraying. These farmers are also victims, not culprits.

I cannot expect understanding of my concerns from the growing and pesticide industry, for their agenda is profit, not compassion.

I cannot trust some residents, who proudly sport an immaculate lawn, but in the process contaminate the soil and groundwater and air around their (and neighbours’) houses.

I trust the self-help groups like “Pesticide-Free P.E.I.” and “Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I.” and others, and I applaud Joan Diamond for her quick and up-front outspokenness. Obviously, she has no favours from the above-mentioned industries to lose.

Health exceeds economy as a value basis for all reasoning! Un-contaminate P.E.I.! The upcoming lecture by Dr. David Suzuki will provide great clarification for us all.

Karl Hengst, Summerside

P.S. Also, the Kimchi workshop is tonight at 6:30PM at the Farm Centre.

September 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Despite all the electronic voting glitches, it does appear that David Alward has been defeated in the New Brunswick provincial election.  He billed the election as a vote on fracking.
New Brunswickers elected NB Green Party Leader David Coon as MLA for Fredericton South.   The rest of the districts seemed nearly split, and therefore the vote will appear skewed, something which proportional representation of some kind would diminish.
In today's Guardian are a couple of letters from note, including a very thoughtful one from Karl Hengst. 

More comments on comments, but elucidating:
From yesterday's

Fair comment on pesticide story - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on September 22, 2014

In response to John Jamieson’s letter to the editor: A shill, by definition, is one who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization. A search of ‘Dr. Joe Schwarcz and Monsanto’ brings up plenty of articles citing that the The Council for Biotechnology Information has funded McGill University’s Office for Chemistry. Who, one might ask, is on this council?  BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. As such, it isn’t hard to understand why anyone would assume him biased. In reality, his department is funded by far more biotech companies that just Monsanto.

There are innumerable studies on the harm caused to humans by pesticide use. There are as many scientists who will argue against their safety as there is who will argue for it. The Canadian Cancer Society states that ‘If chemical spraying is needed, people must be warned about the risks and helped to protect vulnerable family members such as infants, elderly people and people with weak immune systems.’ And that ‘Widespread chemical spraying should be used only as a last option to protect human health and safety.’ The Society believes that when pesticides are needed to protect our health, safety or food supply, they should be part of a plan that includes pest prevention, using pesticides in the lowest amounts possible and using safer choices.

To be fair, Ms. Diamond was commenting on an article The Guardian has published. I see no reason that anyone needs to attend an event to do so. Unless he feels the article unfairly represented the speaker he brought in, (in which case, his issue is with the paper, not Ms. Diamond) I’m not sure what his objection is. Incredulously, John Jamieson followed up a personal attack on her with the line ‘When people do not like the message and can’t come up with a scientifically based response, they attack the creditability of the messenger.’ I find this incredibly pharisaical, and I suspect I am not the only one.

Lynne Lund, Clinton

Wednesday night, September 24th, has the Pesticide Free PEI meeting in Summerside, 7PM, at the Sobeys, in their community room.
Our bi-weekly meeting will be held in The City of Summerside, next Wednesday evening. Items up for discussion are: strategies on how to eliminate cosmetic pesticides, educating the general public on the harmful effects of pesticides and alternatives to chemical pesticides.

Pesticide Free PEI is also starting an Indiegogo crowd-sourcing funding for future projects:

Also, in Charlottetown, on Wednesday evening, a Kimchi workshop:
In this workshop we will review the basics of fermenting vegetables, learn how to make different kinds of kimchi to suit your taste and discuss how you can use kimchi in your everyday meals.
The kimchi we are making is suitable for vegans.
Sometimes called Korean saurkraut, kimchi is finding its way into the American diet as we become more aware of the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that aid in maintaining the balance of microorganisms in our body's intestinal tract.
There are hundreds of different varieties of kimchi using various combinations of vegetables and other foods. The most common kimchis are based on napa cabbage, radish, or cucumber, with a pasty sauce of crushed chili pepper, garlic, and salt.
Sharon Labchuk, a self sufficient homesteader who has fermented food for many years, has volunteered to show us how to make kimchi. Sharon facilitated the very popular “Introduction to Fermenting Vegetables” in 2013 and we are honoured she is returning to share more of her knowledge.

This is a hands on workshop so bring any of the items listed below that you can so you can make your own:
sharp knife
cutting board
1 litre wide mouth glass jar (to take your share home)
2 litre mixing bowl (any material - glass, plastic...)
scissors (to cut green onions)
vegetable peeler (for ginger and carrots)
rubber gloves (your hands will get messy mixing the paste with the veg).

You are invited to bring along samples of any ferments you have made to share or get advice.
There is no charge for this workshop, donations are gratefully accepted to help ensure we can continue providing food skills workshops.
If there is any extra Kimchi, you may take some home for a donation. (So bring some cash if you might like to have this option).
The workshop is co-hosted with the PEI Farm Centre. We thank the Legacy Garden farmers for providing the produce for this workshop.
The Food Exchange is a grassroots food security initiative that seeks to enhance local food systems and improve access to fresh produce with dignity.
For more information about the Food Exchange log onto and join the facebook group Food Exchange PEI for current happenings.

Thursday, September 25th, is Island Nature Trust's AGM, at 7PM at Beaconsfield Carriage House.

Annual General Meeting

The Island Nature Trust’s Annual General Meeting will take place on September 25th at 7:00 PM at the Carriage House behind Beaconsfield at the corner of Kent and West Streets.  Gary Schneider of Macphail Woods will speak on “Bringing Back Our Native Forests”.  The presentation of the Hon. J. Angus MacLean Natural Areas Award will also take place.  Everyone is welcome to attend!

September 22, 2014

Cindy Richards Environmental Report

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Many people came out on a gorgeous, windy day to yesterday's PEI International Day of Peace and Climate Change Walk:

unable to upload :(  Please check our facebook page for photo. 
Jordan MacPhee, part of the future that's giving all of us hope for the future, speaking at the rally, Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quoted from the article (below):

Jordan MacPhee turned 24-year-old Sunday and he said there was no place he would rather be than at the Climate Justice March.
MacPhee said he comes from the generation that is going to inherit the consequences of the environmental destruction that has happened over the past few generations.
“Stay active, stay involved stay political and transform yourself into the kind of individual that the world needs.”
MacPhee addressed the crowd in hopes of reaching to people his age and younger.
“I think we just need to recognize that it’s a fallacy to believe that we are powerless. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our future generations to heal some of the damage that has been done.”

Other great comments (from Facebook):

from primary organizer, Kathleen Romans:
Thank you all so much for gathering today in the spirit of peace and commitment. It was really wonderful to be with you and my thanks to our speakers Eliza Knockwood, Jordan MacPhee (happy birthday!), Nouhad Mourad, Leo Cheverie, Sharon Labchuk, Ann Gillis and Leo Broderick. Special thanks to Teresa Doyle for the Water Song and Chant. And very special thanks to Ron Kelly for sharing a song with me, arranging the sound system and being so supportive. I so appreciate all of these caring, community minded 'wonders' who put so much heart into this province.

To which
Ron Kelly made the best comment:
Congratulations, Kathleen, on the success of your event and on such a positive outcome from your initiative. Kudos, too, to Leo Broderick and the other organizers of the Climate Change March. Nice to see the Global Peace Meditation and Climate Change March combine efforts -- world peace and a healthy environment are inextricably linked so it makes sense that both efforts should combine resources wherever possible.

While the crowd was somewhere between 50 and 100, and the one in New York City swelled to 310,000.  The parade of students, just students, was 10 blocks (over 2km) long.

What happens now?  The week has the United Nations Climate Summit, the one Barack Obama but not Stephen Harper is going to. has a petition for anyone to sign to send a message:

The recap of yesterday's event in today's

A walk in the right direction - The Guardian article by Maureen Coulter

Published online Sunday, in print September 22nd, 2014

A Climate Justice March was held at Province House in Charlottetown Sunday giving Islanders a chance to join in solidarity and to voice their concerns of climate change.

Sunday was International Peace Day and across the world several peace walks took place with the biggest one in New York City.

The march on P.E.I. was put on by The Council of Canadians, the Island Peace Committee and Earth Action.

Eliza Starchild Knockwood of Abegweit First Nations said individuals have a huge responsibility in this lifetime to be at peace with what’s going to happen in the future.

“Walk with peace within ourselves and to know that our Mother Earth is here to provide everything we need to survive.”

The march started off with a 10 minute meditation followed by Knockwood playing her drum and singing a Mother Earth song.

Jordan MacPhee turned 24-year-old Sunday and he said there was no place he would rather be than at the Climate Justice March.

MacPhee said he comes from the generation that is going to inherit the consequences of the environmental destruction that has happened over the past few generations.

“Stay active, stay involved stay political and transform yourself into the kind of individual that the world needs.”

MacPhee addressed the crowd in hopes of reaching to people his age and younger.

“I think we just need to recognize that it’s a fallacy to believe that we are powerless. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our future generations to heal some of the damage that has been done.”

Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians said he believes climate change is the issue of the century.

“We need renewable energy and we need to stop giving billions of dollars to the oil and gas industry in this country and concentrate on renewable.”

Broderick said it can be done because the technology is there.

“I think today is an extremely significant day around the world. It does indicate that people are very concerned about the climate change issue.”

After several people take the microphone to talk about climate change a sheet with lyrics with Imagine and Get Together was handed out. At the end, the group walked around the block for their march.


With all the coverage of the Scottish referendum and such, the New Brunswick election coverage has not been too overwhelming.  It's turning into a jobs vs. the environment referendum, many have said.

Tonight is journalist's Gwyn Dyer talk on World War I, at 7PM at the MacDougall Business Building at UPEI.  Parking may be a bit of challenge, but there are visitor spaces off the University Avenue entrance nearest the business building.

September 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A big thing today is the PEI climate gathering at about noon, on the Grafton Street side of Province House.  This is in solidarity with the big climate change gathering in New York City.  If you have any amount of time, head over to it.

Event link from the site:
or from Facebook:

Here is a wonderful quote from a young woman who is tweeting from the Climate March this weekend:

unable to upload :(  Please check our facebook page for photo. 

If you are not able to get to town, due to transportation, responsibilities, or mobility issues, or just want to see what is happening in New York City, EcoWatch is live-streaming from New York, starting at 11:30AM our time, here.  (I hope the link works!)
Also, today has Farm and Forest:
Open Farm Day, over 20 farms participating, sponsored by the PEI Agriculture Sector Council, which is a rather diverse lot.  Farms and maps here:

and Macphail Woods, 2PM, Autumn Forest Walk (you can go to the Climate March in Charlottetown on your way to Macphail) or look us up on Facebook.


Sunday afternoon is the first of three performances of Fading Away, tickets to benefit the Alzheimers's Society on PEI
An Afternoon of Music & Drama in Victoria, 3PM

September 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Please bear with these definitions:

The noun "shill" does not necessary imply a monetary relationship:

shill (noun)
:  one who acts as a decoy (as for a pitchman or gambler)

b :  one who makes a sales pitch or serves as a promoter

Ad hominem is "new" Latin for "to the person" and usually means attacking the traits of a person arguing something in order to discredit him or her.
also from 
ad hominem (adjective)

1:  appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect

2:  marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

While Ms. Joan Diamond in her letter to The Guardian earlier this week did discredit arguments made by Joe Schwarcz and called him a "shill for Monsanto", my memory is that she did not attack him as a person.
Friday's Guardian contained this:

Dr. Schwarcz delivers balanced, fair presentation on nutrition - The Guardian Guest Opinion by John Jamieson

Guest opinion by John Jamieson, executive director of the Federation of Agriculture
Published Friday, September 19, 2014
It is not often that I feel compelled to respond to a Letter to the Editor but Joan Diamond’s letter on September 17th attacking the credibility of Dr. Joe Schwarcz has changed my mind. Ms. Diamond’s reference to Dr. Schwarcz as a “so-called expert” and “well-known shill for Monsanto” is completely false. Dr. Schwarcz has impeccable credentials. He has a PhD in chemistry and is the only non-American ever to win the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Grady-Stack Award for demystifying science.

He also won Canada’s premier prize for lifetime achievement contributions to chemistry in Canada. Dr. Schwarcz has taught at McGill University for many years and currently teaches, among other courses, nutrition to McGill medical students. In the spring of 2014 his group at McGill offered an online university course on food that saw 32,000 people from around the globe take it. Dr. Schwarcz has authored many best-selling books and his current project is a collaboration on a healthy eating cookbook with the proceeds from the book being donated to cancer research in Canada.

As far as being a “well-known shill for Monsanto”, Dr. Schwarcz has not received any funding or payment from Monsanto and if Ms. Diamond has evidence of this I challenge her to produce it.

Had Ms. Diamond bothered to actually attend Dr. Schwarcz’s public lecture at UPEI she would have heard a very balanced and fair presentation on nutrition that did indeed dispel many myths on fad diets, cleanses, and miracle cures.

When asked about pesticides, Dr. Schwarcz noted that both organic and conventional farmers use pesticides that are approved by Health Canada through rigorous processes. This is the same organization that approves the medications Canadians take every day. He noted that all pesticides are dangerous but when properly and legally used do no pose a threat to humans.

There is no doubt that P.E.I. has environmental challenges that relate to farming but farmers and the industry continue to improve practices. Ms. Diamond would have you think that organic and conventional farmers spray for fun in an effort to make people sick. An absolutely ridiculous assertion. All Islanders have an impact on the environment and we all need to make improvements in our environmental stewardship.

If anyone’s credibility needs to be questioned it is Ms. Diamond’s. This is a lady who claims to be afraid of pesticides and was on the front page of the Guardian complaining about her farm neighbour. Her neighbours are sixth-generation family farmers who call her every time they apply a spray. She had no problem trespassing onto the farmer’s field for a photo op. And guess what, she brought her daughter with her and allowed her daughter to walk in the supposedly pesticide-laden potato field with shorts and flip flops. Does this sound like someone who is credible?

When people do not like the message but can’t come up with a scientifically based response they attack the credibility of the messenger. This is exactly what Ms. Joan Diamond did when she attacked the credibility of award-winning Canadian scientist Dr. Joseph Schwarcz.

John Jamieson is Executive Director, P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture

I did not go to the talk last week.  I do appreciate someone who can break down complex concepts into easier-to-understand parts, which is why I enjoy listening to Dr. Peter Lin's weekly health chat on CBC Radio Island Morning.  Saturdays are for farmers' markets, getting local food or learning what more to do with it, enjoying sitting outside if possible and chatting with bright people who don't need to tell me they are the smartest person in the room.

But I did read these two articles on food, which are not as acrimonious as they sound, perhaps.  We are all trying to feed our families, and most of us have some choices about how we go about doing that in relation to everything else.

The first was by blogger Amanda Marcotte and published online in Slate:
full article:
The researchers quote food writer Mark Bittman, who says that the goal should be “to get people to see cooking as a joy rather than a burden.” But while cooking “is at times joyful,” they argue, the main reason that people see cooking mostly as a burden is because it is a burden. It's expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food anyway. If we want women—or gosh, men, too—to see cooking as fun, then these obstacles need to be fixed first. And whatever burden is left needs to be shared.

Joel Salatin, a farmer from Virginia, writes what he feels, in his earnest, opinionated way.

Slate' Criticizes the 'Home-Cooked Family Dinner': Joel Salatin Responds - Mother Earth News article by Joel Salatin

Victimhood escalates to stratospheric whining with Amanda Marcotte's recent Slate post titled "Let's Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner."

The piece concluded more often than not family members (especially the male ones) were ingrates and, generally, home-cooked meals were too stressful, expensive, time-consuming, and utensil-dependent to be worthy of the trouble.

Marcotte's indictment of what she considers a romanticized cultural icon certainly speaks volumes about where our cultural mainstream food values reside. Indeed, the average American is probably far more interested and knowledgeable about the latest belly-button piercing in Hollywood celebrity culture than what will become flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone at 6 p.m.

In the circles I run in and market to, the home-cooked meal is revered as the ultimate expression of food integrity. The home-cooked meal indicates a reverence for our bodies' fuel, a respect for biology, and a committed remedial spirit toward all the shenanigans in our industrial, pathogen-laden, nutrient-deficient food-and-farming system.

I would imagine most of the ungrateful males in these families watch TV or see a lot of food ads on their computers. You won't find integrity food advertised on TV or pop-culture web sites. It'll be a steady brainwash of junk food, convenience, highly processed food-like materials. That we can physically chew and swallow the stuff does not make it desirable for our bodies.

Further, since when are women the only ones who are supposed to shoulder the burden for integrity food? Why doesn't Marcotte, rather than whining about unappreciated women, write instead about families who seem to think sports leagues and biggest-screen TVs are more important than health? Who think pharmaceutical companies are responsible for wellness?  Who think no difference exists between factory chickens and pastured chickens?

Here's the question I would like to ask these families: "Are you spending time or money on anything unnecessary?" Cigarettes, alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, lottery tickets, People Magazine, TV, cell phone, soccer games, potato chips . . . ?  Show me the household devoid of any of these luxuries, then let's talk. Otherwise, you're just unwilling to do what's more important, which is provide for the health of your family and your environment. That's a personal choice, and one that's entirely within your control.

I'm amazed at the difficult situations I hear about in which people do indeed rise to the occasion. Whether it's sprouting mung beans or alfalfa seeds in a quart jar on the windowsill or buying grain by the bushel, resourceful, can-do people committed to changing their situation figure out a way to do it.

For Marcotte to accept irresponsibility this easily underscores a profound courage deficiency. Turn off the TV, get out of the car, get off the phone and get in the kitchen — men, women and children. The most expensive potatoes in the nation are cheaper by the pound than the cheapest potato chips. Ditto healthful ground beef from pastured cattle versus fast-food burgers.  

With slow cookers, indoor plumbing, timed-bake and refrigerators, today's techno-enabled kitchens allow busy people to cook from scratch and eat with integrity far easier than during Great Grandma's time. She had to fetch water from the spring, split stove wood, start a fire and churn the butter and she still managed to feed a large family very well. If our generation can't do at least as well with our 40-hour work week and kitchen tech, then we deserve to eat adulterated pseudo food that sends us to an early grave. I don't know that anyone's children deserve this, however.

While extreme hardship does certainly exist — and my heart breaks for impoverished people who truly have no resources — let's not excuse the other 98 percent from their responsibility on that account. If everyone who could do something would do it, perhaps we would all have enough left over to help the egregious hardship cases. Soccer moms driving their kiddos half a day one way to a tournament, stopping at the drive-by for "chicken" nuggets, and then dismissing the kitchen as "too stressful" is an upside-down value system. And how many of the men whining about not liking what they're being fed spend their Saturdays on the riding mower managing a monoculture, fertilized ecological-dead-zone of a suburban lawn, rather than using their resources to grow something nutritious for their families and wholesome for the planet? When do we start talking about them? Hmmmmm?

Joel Salatin raises pastured poultry and grass-fed beef at Polyface Farms in Swoope, Va.
Have a good Saturday,
Chris O.,

PS  Zucchini workshop at 1PM at the Farm Centre.

September 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Lots going on tonight and this weekend!

Friday, September 19th, 7PM, Cooper Institute's BIG Concert for Social Justice, Carrefour de I'll-Saint-Jean, 5 Promenade Acadienne, Charlottetown, advance tickets (today!) $10, or $15 at the door
The event is being held as part of a celebration of Cooper Institute’s 30 years history as a community development & education group on the Island, and to honour the memory of one of the group’s founders, Father Andrew Macdonald.  The concert will include performances by some of the Queen’s County Fiddlers, Caroline Bernard, Teresa Doyle & Patrick Bunston, Claire Byrne, the Singing Fathers, Dion Bernard, Louise Arsenault and the Nieces.
Tickets cost $10.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door and are available from Cooper Institute members and at the Voluntary Resource Council, 81 Prince St.
For more information, please call 894-4573, email or contact us on FaceBook. Our website is

Saturday, September 20, 1-4PM, Zucchini Workshop, Farm Centre, free
Join the Legacy Gardeners for an introduction to growing and cooking with zucchini! We will take a walk in the garden, prepare three recipes, and enjoy the fruits of our labour. All of the produce used will be from the production area of the Legacy Garden. Donations will be accepted toward the future of the Legacy Community Garden. Preserves made by Legacy Gardeners will be for sale as an additional fundraiser. Everyone is welcome!

Saturday, September 20, 1-4PM, Cooper's Institute's 1st Annual Social Justice Symposium, Holland College CAST Building, Kent Street, Charlottetown
Cooper Institute will hold its 1st annual Social Justice Symposium in memory of Father Andrew Macdonald on Saturday, September 20th at Holland College, 305 Kent St, in Charlottetown. The invited guest speaker will be Chandra Pasma, an Ottawa-based policy analyst, who will explore Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) and how it might affect work, and democracy. Panellists Marie Burge (Cooper Institute), Marcia Carroll (PEI Council for People with Disabilities) and Jane Ledwell (PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women) will share their perspectives on BIG as well.
Everyone is welcome - and it's free. For more information, or to register please call or email Cooper Institute: 902.894.4573

September 21st, noon, in conjunction with People's Climate March in New York City:
International Day of Peace and Climate Change Walk
noon, Grafton Street side of Province House
People's Climate March & International Day of Peace
Co-sponsored by Council of Canadians, Island Peace Committee, & Earth Action. 
Together we mobilize through the unification of two global movements- World Peace Moment and the Peoples Climate March.
Join us Sunday at noon for globally synchronized meditation, speakers, singing and a unity march!!
"To change everything we need everyone!"

Sunday, 2PM, Macphail Woods, Autumn Walk at Macphail Woods
from their press release:

Woodlands are wonderful places at any time of the year but a forest in autumn is always special.  There are still lots of birds around, the witch hazel is blooming, and many plants are showing their fall colours.  On Sunday, September 21, staff of the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project will be leading an Autumn Woodland Walk through the trails on the Macphail Homestead in Orwell.   

The walk will be an excellent opportunity to learn about the natural history of Prince Edward Island and develop an appreciation for woodland communities.  It begins at the Nature Centre at 2pm.

Over the past years, hundreds of people have taken part in the walks and workshops at Macphail Woods and become more observant of the natural world around them.  Registration is not required and there is no charge for the workshop.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please call 651-2575, check out our web site ( or look us up on Facebook.

Sunday afternoon is the first of three performances of Fading Away, tickets to benefit the Alzheimers's Society on PEI
An Afternoon of Music & Drama in Victoria, 3PM

Sunday, September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day and we are excited to launch the first of our 3 performances of Fading Away and treat you to the magical sounds of Amy & Rachel Beck Music
The Alzheimer Society of PEI in partnership with Dr. John Gillis Memorial Lodge present: Fading Away traces the story of an individual with Alzheimer's disease, the struggles of both the individual and the family as they come to terms with this devastating disease.

And the 11th Annual Organic Harvest Meal is Sunday, 6PM, at the PEI Brewing Company. 
Island Green
will be shown after guest speaker Ian Petrie.
Tickets are available on line at The PEI Fall Flavours Festival, or by contacting the office 894-9999, or

Monday, September 22nd, 7PM
Journalist Gwyn Dyer to speak at room 232 of UPEI Business Building, MacDougall Hall

And in case your planning a walk or bike ride in the Bonshaw Hills this weekend (screenshot from today's Guardian page A2):

unable to upload :(  Please check our facebook page for photo.

Take care this weekend,

September 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Todd MacLean will be on CBC Radio Island Morning around 8:15AM, talking about the recent publication of the book he edited, Global Chorus.  Todd will be the featured speaker at the Citizens' Alliance AGM next month (October 11th).

Joan Diamond's letter in yesterday's Guardian:

Leaving to experts got us in this mess - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I found the article in Monday’s Guardian ‘Pesticide patrols best left to experts,’ to be condescending and dismissive. Dr. Joe Schwarcz, a well-known shill for Monsanto, among others, was brought to the Island by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture to “dispel myths.” I wonder how much Schwarcz knows about the situation here in P.E.I.

For instance, does he know that we have only two officers assigned to deal with pesticide-related issues for the entire Island? Has he been made aware of the serious problem we have with ongoing fish kills? Is he aware of just how many of our island waterways are dying due to an overload of nitrates? Is he aware the eight violations that are being brought up on charges this year are the direct result of citizens calling these very things in, and not the result of citizens turning a blind eye to the problem and ‘leaving it up to the experts?’

In fact, Islanders know the so-called experts have failed us miserably insofar as protecting our land, water and air. Leaving it to the so-called experts is what got us into this mess. I dare say that this year, the amount of violations that would have been prosecuted would be zero had it not been for an informed and educated public.   

He deflects from the issue at hand by comparing our situation with that of people in developing countries, saying, “They have the real issues, not the residues we have here.” In a recent pesticide monitoring study 15 to 33 pesticides were found in almost half the wells tested across P.E.I. Those “residues we have here,” have been responsible for rapidly accelerating nitrate level across the island, for fish kills too numerous to number, and many Islanders long-suffering with a plethora of health issues, all of which have been connected time and time again to pesticide exposure.

So, no, we will not leave it to the experts. We will, instead, do our utmost to work with them to make the environment a priority and in turn protect the health of Islanders.  It is our right and responsibility.

Joan Diamond, Fairview

September 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

David Suzuki is launching his Blue Dot Tour in about a week, stopping in St. John's and Halifax before coming to PEI on Monday, September 29th.

from the website:

The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki and Friends
Be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join David Suzuki, a singularly inspiring speaker, on his last national tour. It’s all in celebration of a simple yet powerful idea, and it starts with you. During this special evening, David Suzuki will share the wisdom of a lifetime full of action as he and other Canadian icons and thought leaders celebrate the capacity of Canadians to protect the people and places they love.
Special guests include: Shane Koyczan, Danny Michel, Jeremy Fisher, Paper Lions, and Catherine MacLellan.
And hosted by Silver Donald Cameron.

The "simple yet powerful idea" is that of environmental rights.

Tickets are still available, mostly towards the back, but as they say about Summerside's Harbourfront Theatre, every seat is great.   Tickets can be purchased through Harbourfront's website or the tour site's.

**There is a contest that the David Suzuki Foundation is putting on for people to win a pair of tickets and backstage passes**:

September 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some climate change updates:

The organization is
"building a global climate movement....The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm."

A quick video illustrating this:

And about the People's Climate March, Sunday, September 21st in New York City (I believe Stephen Harper is skipping the UN Climate meeting).
Some other communities are having events, too.
This news story from EcoWatch is from the spring, but worth a reread:

"A news report shows that nearly all of the 1.1 million barrels a day of crude oil the proposed Energy East pipeline would carry would be exported unrefined. The report, TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline: For Export, Not Domestic Gain, shows eastern Canadian refineries would process only a small amount of crude from Energy East, given that they already rely substantially on two other North American sources, with a third source imminent."
rest of the story:

On interesting letter to the editor from last week on gas tax money:

Gasoline prices a big tax rip-off - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, September 13th, 2014

I often hear people complain about the high cost of gasoline and how the oil companies are ripping us off.  Hold on – there is another culprit here as well – our federal and provincial governments. I’m sure most people have no idea how much the government rakes in every time we put gas in our vehicle. Would you believe 45 per cent?  The dealer base price (the cost per litre delivered to your gas station) of regular unleaded gasoline on August 15th, 2014, with a pump price of 132.9 was 88.0 cents.  How does the price go from 88.0 cents to 132.9?  The federal government imposes an excise tax of 10 cents per litre, while our benevolent and caring provincial government imposes a 13.1-cent levy. The dealer gets a mark-up of 5.5 per cent. After all this is calculated, add the HST of 14 per cent which is added on top of all other taxes.

When I purchased $55.04 in fuel on the weekend, $16.30 was taxes. I’m sure our government officials have no idea and really don’t care how most Islanders struggle on fixed incomes and pensions in order to have a decent living. A vehicle is really a necessity on the Island for work, day-to-day errands and necessary appointments. We don’t have the luxury of government credit cards and perks. Unlike Ron MacKinley, I can’t bill the government for my Tim Hortons or McDonalds purchases. We are also unfortunate to have a premier who has totally lost touch or just doesn’t care about how much most Islanders are struggling financially. I can’t afford to golf at Crowbush or buy Shania Twain tickets and I resent the fact that our premier accepts $450,000 from large corporations to treat his fellow politicians. Let’s speak up Islanders – enough is enough….

Morley LaBelle, Long Creek

September 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From the front page of this morning's Guardian:

"Joe Schwarcz, an award-winning chemist, best-selling author and television personality, spoke on pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) during a public lecture hosted by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture in Charlottetown Sunday."
Actually, I think the talk was Saturday.
Article link and pasted below:

Pesticide patrol on farmers better left to Health Canada, says expert - The Guardian article by Mitch MacDonald

Published on Monday, September 15th

The encouragement and use of social media by the general public to hunt out pesticide infractions by farmers is “utter nonsense,” says the director for McGill University’s Office for Science and Society.

Joe Schwarcz, an award-winning chemist, best-selling author and television personality, spoke on pesticides and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) during a public lecture hosted by the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture in Charlottetown Sunday.

In August, a group called Pesticide Free P.E.I. encouraged Islanders to turn their cellphones on Island farmers and take pictures of chores such as spraying and fertilizing.

Those pictures would then be posted on social media websites to catch farming violations, such as spraying in high winds.

Schwarcz came to the defence of many conventional Island farmers and said while there are some who don’t follow regulations in place, the burden to catch those infractions should not be placed on the general public.

“If you saw someone applying pesticides in a way that shouldn’t be applied, that’s a different story, but how is some passerby going to be able to judge whether or not the farmer is using that pesticide in a proper manner,” said Schwarcz during an interview with The Guardian. “It’s utter nonsense, and it sends the message you shouldn’t be using pesticides.”

Pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were just two topics Schwarcz touched on during the presentation and question and answer session at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Much of the presentation focused on his office’s work with personal nutrition and demystifying claims of fad diets, miracle foods, detoxes, and supplements.

However, the Q&A session saw the focus shift towards pesticides and organic vs. conventional farming, two hot topic issues on P.E.I. as of late.

When asked by an audience member to go over the pros and cons of both types of farming, Schwarcz said it is a complex issue with a lot of misinformation.

Schwarcz said while arguments for environmental concerns are strongly supported,

the main reason people buy organic produce is because they believe there is no pesticide residue, which is not the case.

Farmers are able to spray pesticides on organic produce if it comes from a natural source.

Schwarcz said while there are fewer organic pesticides available than conventional, both are also approved by the same group, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re going to be used organically or conventionally, there’s no such distinction,” he said. “While there may be somewhat more pesticide residue on conventional than organic produce, according to Health Canada it doesn’t’ matter because everything has been approved and the levels are monitored.

“When a pesticide is registered, these things are all examined in excruciating detail.”

Schwarcz also acknowledged that while regulations are in place, problems can be created when some do not follow those regulations.

He also pointed to areas in the developing world, where farmers don’t know how to dilute the pesticides, and even among migrant workers in the United States.

“You see things you don’t want to see… they’re out there with no equipment whatsoever spraying, they go back home to their huts drenched in pesticides and transferring it to their kids,” he said. “Those are real issues, not the residues we have here.”

Today starting at 10AM, tickets for this year's Symons Medal Lecture, on Friday, November 21st, to be given by human rights activist Stephen Lewis, go on reserve at the Confed Centre.  They are free and limited to four per person, but it sounds like phone and website are busy and they recommend going to the box office, which you may or may not be able to do!

Box Office (902) 566-1267
and the website might work from here

Mr. Lewis will actually give a public talk related to Confederation and be given the medal in a public ceremony (as opposed to Prince Charles getting a special giving of the medal in a private ceremony last May).  He seems to have quite an interesting background and sounds like a great public speaker.

Background on the Lecture here

Lewis' daughter-in-law is Naomi Klein, who has written several books on economics and the environment, and has a new book coming out, This Changes Everything

And finally,
Today is International Democracy Day!  In fact:

DEMOCRACY WEEK is September 15 to 20. If you haven't signed onto Fair Vote Canada's Declaration of Voter's Rights, why not celebrate the International Day of Democracy (Monday, September 15) by doing just that! You can sign online at Even better get your friends and family to sign too! Fair Vote is looking to have 100,000 signatures by the time of the 2015 election!

Our team on PEI will be capping off the Democracy Week by having a table at the Charlottetown Farmer's Market this Saturday, September 20 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Come by and see us or if you have a free hour or two, contact me about volunteering. If we can get enough volunteers we'll look at leafletting outside the market with derby hats to commemorate the 150th Charlottetown Accord!

from Brenda Oslawsky, PEI Fair Vote Team,
(902) 303-4278 or Brenda.Oslawsky(at)fairvote(dot)ca

September 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A couple of workers set out to enlarge the sediment pond at Crosby's Ravine and place rocks at the head of the ravine, in order to be ready for the next rain. They worked from late this week and were still working later on Saturday.

unable to upload :(  Please check our facebook page for the photo.

A long-reach excavator and operator rest while an apparent supervisor or kindly gnome checks the work. 

Saturday's Guardian was filled with odds and ends.  Mostly odds.

Here, an apologist (rather than a reporter) writes the lead front-page editorial (rather than a news story); the amount of advertising revenue the paper made on 2014 ads is not mentioned.

What will be the 2014 legacy for P.E.I.? - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014.

While 2014 isn’t going to leave a major piece of infrastructure, people say it raised awareness about P.E.I.’s history and did a lot for Island communities

Whether it was the Celebration Zone or Shania Twain in Charlottetown, or the Rock the Boat concert in Tyne Valley, 2014 will certainly leave Islanders with some lasting memories.

What it won’t leave Islanders with is a major piece of infrastructure, a so-called ‘built legacy’ project.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference cost close to $29 million — $18.5 million from the province and the rest from the federal government, municipal governments and some corporate sponsors.

That’s a lot of money to most people but not nearly enough for a larger scale project, at least on the level of, say, the Confederation Centre of the Arts, a legacy from the 1964 celebrations, or the Eastlink Centre, a legacy from the 1991 Canada Winter Games.

Many have been clamouring for years for a provincial museum but it wasn’t in the cards for 2014.

Premier Robert Ghiz says more opportunities for a built-legacy component lie ahead.

“I think if you’re looking for a building legacy like a museum we’ll probably look to 2017, to be quite frank,’’ Ghiz said, referring to the 150th anniversary of Confederation when the entire country will celebrate.
<< snip>>

And our Premier embarrassing holds out his overturned top hat for more federal taxpayer money for 2017 celebrations to spend.

(the rest of the article is on the link)

Alan Holman criticize our willingness to let our government be unwilling to accept criticism of its goals.

The Souris bridge says a lot about us - The Guardian column by Alan Holman

Published on September 13, 2014.

Now that they have started work on the replacement of the bridge across the Souris River it is another reminder of how complacent we’ve become about provincial expenditures and how bull headed the provincial government is.

The bridge replacement project is budgeted to cost $5.5 million, who knows what the final cost will be. However, on the face of things it seems that the government is going out of its way to make the project as costly as possible.

The main editorial Friday praised the Trans Canada Trail.  An excerpt:
Laureen Harper, the honorary chair of the TCT campaign and wife of our prime minister, will be joined by TCT Foundation co-chair Valerie Pringle, a former well-known broadcaster, Premier Robert Ghiz, the TCT’s first champion premier, and many other trail supporters and community leaders.

In the photo of the story about it Saturday on page A4, footwear choices are diverse - Ms. Pringle and the philanthropist are wearing serious hiking shoes, the Premier is wearing dress shoes and Mrs. Harper is wearing open-toed sandals.  It is not like this was a surprise decision to walk the trail -- it was the reason for Mrs. Harper flying here.

Then there were two ridiculous commentaries closing up the actual lead editorial column Saturday (after the restaurant editorial):

Weekend thoughts

One widely accepted definition which appears on the Canadian Cancer Society website reads: “Cosmetic pesticides are chemical or biological substances used to destroy living things such as: insects (insecticides), plants (herbicides), and fungi (fungicides) for the purpose of enhancing the appearance of a lawn or garden . . .” Charlottetown and Stratford are calling on the province to pass legislation enabling the municipalities to ban all cosmetic pesticides while NDP P.E.I. and Green Party are calling for the province to pass a province-wide ban. If homeowners are expected to accept a less than perfect lawn or garden, how soon before the lobbying becomes deafening that farmers be forced to accept a less than perfect crop in a pesticide-free province?

Great. The Public Service Alliance of Canada wants its members to be able to take off 10 paid grieving days for “aboriginal spirit friends.” A spokesman for the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said he’s never heard the term before. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it is stunned with the request, suggesting the term appears to be a creation of a PSAC committee. The name appears to be a reference to spirit guides that are “commonly considered to be religious spirits or ghosts and can take human or animal form.” One wonders if an inebriated member of that PSAC committee saw a strange halo around the head of Rover while carrying on a two-way conversation with the family pet?

September 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some weekend notes:

Farmers' Markets are open and still have lots of just about everything.  As Stan Carew on CBC Radio just said, "If you can't support a farmers' market, who can you support?"
It sounds like today is Cardigan's Farmers' Market last day (what will they do with all the squash and potatoes that will be in season in a few more weeks??) , 9:30AM to 2PM, with a closing breakfast and the Market:

It is a great time of year to figure out what to get now that you can't get in winter (certain tomatoes, peppers, herbs) and figure out how to preserve some for winter.

Food writer and home economist extraordinaire Margaret Prouse is hosting a preserving workshop this Sunday (1-4PM) at the Farm Centre:
from the Facebook event:

Putting away the harvest has been a way of life for generations. Now it's your turn to preserve foods from your garden or our Island farms.
Home Economist Margaret Prouse will provide hands-on instruction on how to preserve a wide range of produce that can be safely preserved in this home canning workshop.
Pre-registration is requested. Donations to the Legacy Garden Fund are most welcome. Suggested donation $10.
Contact to register.

Finally, sometime in August, this year's Department of Agriculture 2014 "Fresh Products' Directory" got put on-line:

Today at 10AM, chemist and media-persona Joe Schwarcz will be speaking at UPEI in MacDougall Hall, Room 242. 
His visit is sponsored by the Federation of Agriculture, and is free.

from the Facebook event:
Eat salmon. It’s full of good omega-3 fats. Don’t eat salmon. It’s full of PCBs and mercury. Eat more veggies. They’re full of good antioxidants. Don’t eat more veggies. The pesticides will give you cancer.
These are the types of things we hear and read every day and the PEI Federation of Agriculture is hosting a public lecture with one of Canada’s best known scientists Dr. Joe Schwarcz. Dr. Schwarcz will give you the straight goods on the science behind modern food production. Dr. Schwarcz, the expert who’s famous for connecting chemistry to the modern world will be speaking on September 13th, 2014 on the UPEI Campus. The lecture will begin at 10:00am and will be held in MacDougall Hall.
Dr. Scharcz
(sic) is an award winning chemist, best-selling author and Director for McGill University’s Office for Science & Society. “Dr. Joe” has appeared hundreds of times on the Canadian Discovery Channel, TV Ontario, Global Television, CBC-TV, CTV-TV and various radio stations. He hosts the “Dr. Joe Show” on Montreal’s CJAD every Sunday from 3-4 PM. He also hosted “Science To Go,” a series on the Discovery Channel that focused on common foods.


A gorgeous mural with a honeycomb motif will be "unveiled" at the Voluntary Resource Centre, 81 Prince Street, at 2PM today.  It is on the outside wall by their (newly improved!) parking lot.  The artist is Warren Christopher Reeson.
a partial snapshot here:
If you are seedy and near Summerside Sunday from 2-4PM, you can go to a Seed Saving Workshop and Seed Library Creation, at the Summerside Rotary Library.


if you want to think photos (and raindrops) and are near Macphail Woods, 2-4PM, Beth Hoar from Green Thumb Photography is giving a presentation about photographing nature and walk afterward.  Beautiful work.

September 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

please mark your calendar now for next month's

Citizens' Alliance of PEI first Annual General Meeting
and "Plan Beyond" Social

Saturday, October 11th, 2014
Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue,

All are welcome!  Membership in the Citizens' Alliance is free. 

The evening will have a short introductory/business meeting; keynote speaker Todd MacLean, editor of the about-to-be-published Global Chorus; and a social with music and refreshments.  It will be great to get together.

Thanks to Kathleen Romans for the term "Plan Beyond" .

Speaking of planning beyond, here is my entry to a recent CBC contest, asking for Islanders' wish for how Canada will look in 150 years:

My Bold Vision of Canada in 2164 would be:
--a country whose land is healthy and green, with strong rural agrarian communities, smart land use choices, and clean energy for transportation, mechanical work and communications.

    --with our government evolved on all levels to one of much more transparency, and direct citizen-participation in decision-making, with initiatives and measures (like recall) being standard and effective.

    --with good financial stewardship; living within our means on all levels.

        -and a healthy Society having the right mix of personal responsibility, and support when people need it.

Dum spiro, spero.
(While I breath, I hope
paraphrasing Cicero)

It would be great to hear others' thoughts.

September 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Something to read from Paul MacNeill's West Prince Graphic, as his paper took the bait, so to speak, and sent a reporter to talk to fisher Malcolm Pitre about his observations on the local waterways:

Local Fisherman Express(es) Concern Montrose Water Quality Unacceptable - The West Prince Graphic article by Cathy Chant

Published Wednesday September 10th, 2014

Tignish resident and long time shell fisher Malcolm Pitre has a lot of environmental concerns, but one in particular is the water quality at Montrose. “I drove by last week and the colour of the water is of concern to me,” said Mr Pitre. “I fish oysters on the Kildare River, which is connected to Montrose and for that reason I need this government to deal with these issues.”

Mr Pitre has been making a living off the water for the last 14 years by fishing oysters, clams and quahogs. “I’ve seen oyster and clam mortality more and more because of poor water quality. I have fished (or should I say attempted to fish) through blankets of sea lettuce. It is no fun.”

According to Mr Pitre, no one will ever know the amount of money Island shell fishers have lost and will continue to lose because of a government who fails to take this issue seriously. “There have been round table meetings, letters, emails, phone calls, presentations, you name it, but yet the fish kills, anoxic events, rotting sea lettuce, smelly rivers, continue every summer in PEI,” said Mr Pitre. “I am fed up with the attitude.”

Mr Pitre has been concerned since it was said the province will not be removing the sea lettuce which was revealed by the provincial surface water biologist Cindy Crane, at an April 9 Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association’s annual general meeting.

“She says they must cut it off at the source which is the amount of nutrients that are entering our waterways feeding the sea lettuce which in turn causes it to grow at an alarming rate. I told her that will not happen, so let’s remove the sea lettuce,” said Mr Pitre. “She told me I was welcome to go and rent the machine and do it. The province has a responsibility to Islanders and the environment and to deal with these issues, not me. I don’t get paid to harvest sea lettuce.”

Mr Pitre admits he does not have an agricultural background, but wants the province to step up to the plate when it comes to talking to farmers about their farming practices. “I had over 2,000 names on a petition to clean up the rivers and bays in PEI and had it tabled in the legislature...What more do they need to know” They know it’s happening.”

Mr Pitre figured as many as 30 rivers every summer in PEI go anoxic and nothing is being done to prevent it. “Wake up and take care of our environment. Stop for a second and look around and see the condition of our rivers and bays. Listen to someone who cares about what is going on in this province. Do you think it is acceptable for children to be swimming in water with zero oxygen levels?” said Mr Pitre. “My livelihood is at stake here...This is unacceptable...If this is the attention you want, that is what you will get.”

Mr Pitre figures he is doing what he should be doing by contacting the government and expect action to be taken.

Members from the Department of Environment could not be reached by press time for comment.

And something from the publisher, himself: /article_47d54530-3859-11e4-9438-0019bb2963f4.html
By the way, The Graphic website ( allows you seven free articles a month.

The Party is Over and the Foundation is Crumbling - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Published on Wednesday, September 10th, 2014, in The Eastern Graphic

The 2014 party is all but over. Tourists came in modestly larger numbers to be treated to $28 million worth of free concerts, festivals and parties. We played host to premiers and ambassadors.

2014 will be remembered as a big party with a lasting hangover. There is no legacy to commemorate Charlottetown’s role in the creation of the country. Fifty years ago Confederation Centre was built. Fifty years later there is a sign at the foot of Hillsborough Bridge that stands as testament to our visionless political masters.

And as Island life returns to normal the Ghiz government continues to ignore the single greatest issue to our future viability as a province – how do we chart a path forward to attract new residents, build new business, revive rural communities and provide services for a growing number of seniors?

Released in February, The Ivany Report is Nova Scotia’s significant first prong in attacking the very same issues Prince Edward Island faces. In contrast to the Ghiz government, Nova Scotia is following a non-partisan path forward.

Every elected leader, municipal, provincial and federal, on PEI should be forced to read the Ivany Report. It uses stark language and a command of irrefutable data to argue that the Bluenose Province is a mere 10 years away from reaching a tipping point of no return.

The issues, particularly in rural communities, are that severe. Aging and declining population, increased demand for public services, soaring health care costs which leads to centralization of services, global pricing pressure on traditional industries, youth who see a future in large regional centres or in western provinces, over-reliance on government jobs to drive the economy and tiny pockets of power that only serve to benefit those within the countless silos built up over decades.

Most importantly Ivany tackled a largely ignored issue in Atlantic Canada: Attitude. Too many believe we are owed something. Too many believe simply pouring more money at our issues will magically make them disappear. Too many steadfastly refuse to ignore the demographic reality we face.

Premier Robert Ghiz is one of those with his head firmly stuck in the sand.

Since taking office in 2007 our premier has done nothing to position PEI for the future. He has done nothing to tackle the issues outlined in Ivany.

Contrast Ghiz’s do-nothing attitude with new Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, whose follow up to Ivany is as important as the report itself. A non-partisan commission, One Nova Scotia, is charged with driving implementation of the report’s recommendations. It is chaired by the premier, with co-chairs the Conservative Leader of the Opposition as well as the Leader of the NDP, the party in power when Ivany was commissioned. It includes union, business and academic leaders. It is an unprecedented show of political non-partisanship.

Even One Nova Scotia is facing criticism for a lack of urgency in moving forward and it has only been several months since the province created the commission.

Prince Edward Island needs an Ivany-like kick in the butt. We need non-partisan leadership as is being shown in Nova Scotia, a similar economic basket case to PEI but in a much stronger position to move forward given its natural resources, strong post secondary infrastructure, promise of a $30 billion shipbuilding shot in the arm and the fact that Halifax is the Maritime’s largest economic centre.

Robert Ghiz has wasted seven years. He routinely uses catch phrases like ‘evidence based research’ but when confronted with the most pressing issue in our provincial history he ignores all available evidence. We have not even started to do the baseline work necessary to engage Islanders in a real discussion about our path forward. Our premier would rather ignore and hope the federal government miraculously turns on the funding tap to bail the Island out.

It won’t happen.

The only certainty our province faces is future calamity if our leaders - Liberal, Conservative and NDP - continue to play partisan politics while ignoring that the foundation of our provincial economy is on the edge of a cliff.

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

When I read his editorials, I usually want to write in the comments:  Would you just run for the Tory leadership, already? :-)

Two upcoming events, one tonight and one in about ten days:

Doug Sobey to Give Public talk on Early Forests - The Guardian article

Printed today (September 11, 2014)

Doug Sobey, a research associate of the Institute of Island Studies at UPEI and formerly at the University of Ulster, will give an illustrated public talk titled Mapping the Pre-settlement Forests of Prince Edward Island.

It will take place today at 7:30 p.m., in the Wanda Wyatt Lecture Theatre, Room 104, K.C. Irving Chemistry Centre of UPEI. Sobey will report on the results of a study carried out by himself and William Glen ( formerly of the Forestry Division) into the forest descriptions found on historic manuscript maps in the P.E.I. Public Archives.

Sobey notes that the archives houses a collection of more than 4,500 maps, most of which are unique and hand-drawn, and range in date from the late 18th to the 20th century. A small number of these maps, mostly from before 1840, have labels on them describing the type of trees or forest on specific areas, as well as, sometimes, the precise location of a particular tree of a named species that had been blazed during a survey (i.e. cut with an axe), usually to mark the corner-point of a township or the mile-points along a survey-line.

Since almost all of the survey-lines were run through areas that had not been settled, collectively these forest descriptions constitute an important body of information on the composition of the forests of the Island prior to settlement by Europeans.

Over the past several years Sobey has been assembling these descriptions and with the assistance of Glen, has been analyzing them to find out what they reveal about the pre-settlement forest.

At the talk, which also marks the launch of a research report on the subject published by the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division of the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Forestry, he will discuss what the descriptions on the maps reveal about the Island’s forest-types before their destruction by clearance and fire.
And a heads-up about a prolific syndicated columnist Gwynne Dyer coming to PEI on Monday, September 22nd, 7PM, MacDougall Hall (business building), Room 242, UPEI.
"Canadian journalist and author Gwynne Dyer will speak at UPEI on Monday, September 22 as part of his cross-Canada university and college tour. >>"Sponsored by the UPEI Faculty of Arts, Dyer’s lecture is entitled What the First World War Taught Us. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend."

September 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A great day to go to...
Farmers' Markets, which are open in Charlottetown and Stanley Bridge today -- lots of tomatoes, which can be frozen whole for cooking with another time.  Today's Guardian  food columnist Margaret Prouse writes about just this.

On a walk in the woods....
The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, which was formed to meet one of Environment Minister Sherry's 11 conditions for approving Plan B in early October 2012, finished the first part of its work by identifying land it wanted to protect.  The committee was pruned down (to TIR members, conservation, watershed, and trails people listed here) and has continued to meet. 

Brian Thompson, from TIR's Land and Environment Division director, provided this update late last week <are my insertions>:

Jackie Waddell replaced Todd <DuPuis, now Assistant Deputy Minister for Environment> as Co-chair of the Committee, tenders are scheduled to be opened late next week for the contracts for the (a) footbridge <at Green Road and the Crosby ravine, which washed away in the spring melt of April 16, 2014> and (b) pedestrian underpass (under the Bonshaw Highway Bridge).  An application has been submitted to National Trails Coalition to hopefully secure funding for trail construction.  We are committed to trail construction regardless, but these funds would be welcome.  There will be public consultation in some manner associated with the management plans being developed by the committee for the bonshaw hills lands, and the provincial NAPA process for the same includes public consultation.  Please monitor the website <> for additional information and updates.  Hard to control media and others with respect to what they call the park; the committee does not refer to the lands as a wilderness park and promotes others to do the same.  Hope this is helpful>>.

Speaking of that ravine where the footbridge used to cross the Bonshaw River,
Last week the heavy, fast rain caused sediment to flow into the Bonshaw River by the former footbridge.  Cindy Richards, public environmental monitor, documented the discharge and the cause up the hill, and besides on social media, government folks were notified.  Here is what we heard back from Greg Wilson, manager of the Environment Department (ELJ)'s Environmental Land Management section:

ELJ and TIR staff met on site Thursday and have confirmed that the main cause of the siltation events appears to be the accumulated 
clay-silt in the ravine.  A plan has been developed to deal with the issue and TIR hopes to get underway with remedial action next week.

Both Greg Wilson of Environment and Brian Thompson of TIR, have *always* been very communicative in the whole Plan B morass. 

CBC Compass TV from last night discusses cosmetic pesticide ban now supported by all three mayoral candidates in Charlottetown, and a bit about how the City tends its gardens without pesticides.
 It includes a good short interview with Maureen Kerr of Pesticide Free PEI.  The article is about 8 minutes in; at just before (14 minutes) there is an extended interview with Dr. Roger Gordon about his research career and the reasoning for a ban.

The Pesticide Free PEI meeting is tonight at 7:30PM at the Sobey's (University Avenue and Allen Street) Community Room.
Part of what the Premier and Cabinet did Tuesday:

from the Premier's office, though very similar wording to releases from the PEI Potato Board....the bold is mine

September  9, 2014

CABINET TOUR HIGHLIGHTS POTATO INDUSTRY - Press Release from the PEI Premier's Office

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI -- Provincial cabinet members met in Fox Island today with the PEI Potato Board and local potato producers to discuss the industry including opportunities and challenges associated with meeting future consumer needs, says Premier Robert Ghiz.

“Prince Edward Island is the largest potato producing province in Canada and the industry is an extremely important and valued sector,” said Premier Ghiz. “Today’s cabinet tour was a great opportunity to learn more about initiatives of the Island’s potato industry and to explore ways that we can collaborate to move the industry forward.”

There are more than 300 potato farmers in Prince Edward Island and 90,500 acres of potatoes were planted in 2014. The industry accounts for $1 billion in direct and indirect economic activity for the province which is nine per cent of Prince Edward Island’s GDP.

Cabinet met at the Elite Seed Farm in Fox Island, a high generation seed potato production facility owned by potato producers and operated by the PEI Potato Board. The Elite Seed Farm ensures commercial Island growers that a local source of clean seed is available to them. All of the seed produced on the Fox Island Elite Seed Farm is sold within the province. Approximately 20 per cent of the potato acreage grown on P.E.I. is grown to seed certification standards. 

During the meeting, cabinet members received a presentation by the PEI Potato Board on the industry, its impact to the province and the work being done related to environmental sustainability. While in West Prince, cabinet members participated in a tour of the Barclay Brook area to see first-hand the positive work being done in partnership between industry, community and the local watershed group. 

“Our potato producers should be extremely proud of the work that they are doing to produce a high quality crop while staying committed to being good stewards of the land,” said Premier Ghiz. “The Province of Prince Edward Island will continue to work closely with the industry to grow the sector and open new opportunities for Prince Edward Island potatoes while keeping environmental sustainability at the forefront.”

September 9, 2014.02

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Clifford Lee says he is for a cosmetic pesticide ban in the City of Charlottetown, and is calling on the Province to allow his city to be able to do this.  The article doesn't mention that *two* opponents, Phillip Brown and Keith Kennedy, are already clearly in favour of a ban; with this kind of consensus, whoever wins needs to keep this promise.

Charlottetown mayor calls for ban on cosmetic pesticides in city - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on September 08, 2014, on-line, in The Guardian

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says cosmetic pesticides need to be banned in the capital city.
City council passed a resolution at its regular public monthly meeting Monday, asking that the provincial government amend the Charlottetown Area Municipalities Act to enable the city to regulate cosmetic pesticides.
"My position is cosmetic pesticides need to be banned within the city,'' Lee said following the meeting. "If I'm re-elected, regardless of whatever approach we need to take to effectively do that, we'll do.''
In one other significant move at Monday's meeting, Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of the planning committee, said his committee is going to be looking very soon at the possibility of changing the name of University Avenue, from Euston Street to Province House, back to Great George Street. That's what that particular section of street used to be called.
In terms of the pesticide issue, right now municipalities like Charlottetown have no control over the use of pesticides. It's something that has to be dealt with at the provincial level and until the provincial government makes changes in legislation it will stay that way.

The Town of Stratford, for example, recently launched an education campaign on alternatives to cosmetic pesticides and stated that it doesn't use chemicals on its properties.
Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of the planning committee that moved the resolution, said there is always confusion as to who has the power to regulate pesticides.
"People look to the city to make a decision, one way or the other,'' Lantz said. "Tonight we're not talking about judging the issue, we're simply asking the provincial government to make the decision if they so wish to regulate cosmetic pesticides.''

Rob Gallant, who owns Atlantic Graduate Pest Management in Charlottetown, said he isn't surprised to hear the topic is back on the agenda.
"It's an election year,'' Gallant said. "If they're so sincere about the environment, so sincere about the use of cosmetic pesticides then why do they start talking about it two months before an election?'
Gallant said cosmetic pesticides is a heavily regulated industry, with multiple environmental officers out there on a regular basis making sure companies like his are licensed, that the products are being applied properly, that the products are registered, that neighbours are notified before an application and that wind speeds and direction are taken into account before an application.
Gallant said the big risk in an outright ban is that it can create a black market where property owners do it themselves without training or have unlicensed companies taking care of it.

Former city councillor Philip Brown, who is running for mayor, has made a ban of cosmetic pesticides a big part of his campaign, too.
Lee said it should surprise no one that council has opted to go this route.
"I don't think this is an issue that should surprise anybody. Certainly, the citizens of Charlottetown I believe, are asking for this ban, they've been asking for it for quite some time.''
Lee acknowledged that the approach of asking the province to grant the city legislative powers on the issue has not worked in the past.
"Quite frankly, if I'm re-elected as mayor I will be encouraging the next council to come in with a ban of cosmetic pesticides within the boundaries of the city and we will regulate that.''

Lee said he isn't sure how enforcement would work if in fact the province does amend the municipalities act. The city would need the resources to regulate the products.
"I'm certainly not in favour of having a bylaw but not the resources to enforce that bylaw. We could probably have that discussion with the provincial government to see if they have resources available to the municipalities for that enforcement and, if not, then we'll have to look at other options.''
The next step is up to the provincial government but the legislature has to be sitting before any changes can be made.

"That may happen later this fall or it may happen in the spring. That's up to government. The time has come to move on this issue. Let's deal with it and get it done.''

The Pesticide Free PEI meeting is tomorrow, Wednesday, September 10th, at 7:30PM at the Sobeys at Allen and University Avenue.  All are welcome and I am sure there is lots to discuss and to do.  They have brought this issue forward for discussion.

A letter to the editor that brings up some unpleasant truths:

Math Out of Sync for This Province - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, September 8th, 2014

I was saddened, but not surprised by the article I viewed the other day describing how things would be better on P.E.I. if Ottawa gave us larger transfer payments and that voting would save us from this malady of decreasing social funding. This has all the economic rigor of a gambling addict who has lost all his money with his bad bets, then asks for a raise because he says he cannot live on what he makes. That may sound like a harsh criticism, but exactly who is to blame for our atrocious economic governance if not ourselves?

Yes it is always easier and often more convenient to blame others for our faults, but some facts are facts regardless of how inconvenient or unpleasant they may be. We are a province of 140,000 people (a town by others measures), which has a debt of over $3 billion. The majority of which has been acquired in the past 7 to 8 years. In any debt-to-GDP metric, this is an unsustainable debt load to carry and without harsh cost saving measures, will end in bankruptcy. Yes bankruptcy, we think often that is a word not applicable to a province or municipality, but I suspect you could ask the good people of Detroit their opinion of it a year before they filed for it and hear the same.

This province has shown its inability to govern itself time and time again so why should Ottawa give the addict more money until the addict shows that they are attempting to better their wasteful habits? Does it ever do any good to create or through lack of understanding place blame on a false problem.

The problem with the math these days is that Ottawa has less then it used to and that our province is fast closing in on insolvency, the bankruptcy mentioned earlier will come after the hand wringing and blame game is over. Too bad we wouldn’t look to our own yard first for solution before it is gone for the next generation.

Armond Naninni, Charlottetown

September 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The lead story in this morning's Guardian  is on the Blue Whale Bash, held yesterday to raise awareness about our vulnerable waterways.
Some interesting thoughts from the editorial page of Saturday's Guardian:

Potato Farming Not Only Industry - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on September 6, 2014

There really is no denying it. Pesticides have been the hot button issue this year. In line at the grocery store, at the coffee shops, even at barbecues, everyone seems to be talking about pesticide bans. People I’ve never heard talking about these issues now are. People I never thought would be in favor of a ban now are. What an amazing shift in public perception in just one year.

One concern that I have heard raised on the topic of pesticide bans is the economy. What will happen to the economy if we do end up banning pesticides? Let’s look at this for a moment. So far, we haven’t banned pesticides and it’s Islander’s tax dollars that are propping up the potato industry, not the potato industry propping up Islanders. McCain’s is closing, Cavendish is threatening to leave and a lot of Islanders are now without jobs or are wondering how secure their jobs are. Even with the pesticides, we don’t have security, that’s for sure.

However, another point that is worth mentioning is that potato farming isn’t our only industry. What about tourism and fishing? These industries are big here, and unfortunately are both being severely damaged in order to maintain this one failing industry. What will we do if we allow the potato industry to destroy our image as a desirable tourist destination, and poison the waterways, and then the potato industry collapses anyway? It seems like we may collectively have been putting all our eggs in the wrong basket.

Amanda Simmons, Summerside

And the lead editorial:

Criticism Follows Fracking Decision - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published on September 6, 2014

How did P.E.I. escape similar attacks?

Public opinion persuaded the Nova Scotia government this week to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracking – a decision that has quickly drawn a lot of criticism. Despite facing a massive deficit, N.S. said it was following direction from citizens who appear strongly against fracking.

The Fraser Institute fired a quick broadside that the N.S. government has voted for higher taxes by curtailing oil and gas exploration. A spokesman for Corporate Research Associates, a Halifax-based polling firm, suggested it was hypocritical of N.S. to accept transfer and equalization payments from fracking provinces while it remains content as a have-not province.

Other criticism accused the N.S. government of trying to influence the New Brunswick election where the governing, pro-business, Conservative government of Premier David Alward has positioned its campaign on a strong, pro-fracking platform.

Polls show the Liberals with a commanding lead in N.B. The opposition party would require more study before allowing fracking, which is what N.S. has done. It appears the majority of citizens in both our sister provinces are not comfortable with fracking.

P.E.I. is in much the same position where fracking is on hold. It begs the question how P.E.I. escaped accusations of shirking its responsibilities since we are the province most dependent on transfer payments.

There seems to be a new feeling afoot that wealthier provinces think poorer ones should plunder their environment, if necessary, to increase tax revenues.

Before fracking could even be considered here, the government first has to make a decision on deep-water wells. Our water table is considered at risk from those wells so fracking is hardly on our radar screen right now.

And someone representing the Fraser Institute, mentioned above, has a letter in today's Guardian criticizing the Nova Scotia decision.

A very tasty dinner and part of Fall Flavours tomorrow night at the Farm Centre, Feast Alfresco, Lobster Tales in the Legacy Garden, 4 to 7PM.  It is a fundraiser for The Farm Centre, tickets $85 plus HST.  Really delicious-sounding dishes by Chef James Oja, folk songs and sea shanties by Teresa Doyle and the Boys and Girls of Bedlam, and stories of the heritage of agricultural and fishing presented by David Weale.

September 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Environmental Rights workshop was a lot of fun yesterday and very eye-opening.  Please note that David Suzuki will explore this topic on his Blue Dot Tour stopping in Summerside on Monday, September 29th, info here, we will touch on this at the Citizens' Alliance AGM and Plan B Social on Saturday night, October 11th.  There are plans for more public events later in fall and over the winter.

The main points are that about 170 countries recognize to some degree the right of humans to live in a healthy country.  Canada, the U.S., and about a dozen other countries don't.  In a country with environmental rights legislation, usually the citizens have these rights and procedures to enforce them.  (This also delves a little into the responsibility of maintaining the healthy environment.)

After an introduction to what the concept it, and where PEI is right now in regard to environmental rights (not far at all), there was a discussion of barriers to getting this kind of legislation going, and the next steps.  More to follow on that, one step being to help explain the concept to others.  The major point is that our environment needs protection and this is one way that can have a lot of impact.

A huge thank-you to Cindy Richards for organizing and facilitating it, and to Jamie Simpson from East Coast Environmental Law for bringing his knowledge of the matter to the Island.

This afternoon, 1-4PM, at the Farm Centre, the Blue Whale Bash, details here.
"Win a lobster, save a whale!" is the theme of the upcoming Blue Whale Bash, being held at the Charlottetown Farm Centre Sunday, Sept 7 from 1pm - 4pm.
Organized by Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club, this event is free to attend and will include a lobster raffle, live music and locally sourced food. There will even be a life sized baby blue whale poster that kids can colour in and write messages on.
Informative displays describing the incredible marine life found in the Gulf of St Lawrence will round out the experience.
All proceeds from this event will go to support the Blue Whale Campaign. To learn more about the Campaign, visit

And finally, an article about what seems to be a staple in the Wednesday Guardian syndicated articles recipes (and I am NOT talking about the wonderful local, seasonal food ideas from Margaret Prouse), the frozen shrimp.  Note that there are graphic descriptions in the article:

The price of cheap shrimp - Island Tides article by Elizabeth May

Published on Thursday, September 4th, 2014 in Island Tides (presumably her local constituency production)

The readership of Island Tides is, in my experience, among the best informed and most conscientious about our collective and individual ecological footprint of any people on the planet. However, I keep encountering a blind spot. We wouldn’t touch farmed salmon but have very little awareness of the monstrous damage done by shrimp aquaculture.

Vandana Shiva, brilliant scientist and campaigner, once told me that she thought of all the industries that had ever come to India—chemical factories, mining, industrial agriculture—shrimp aquaculture was the worst. In fact, thanks to protests and a court challenge, the Indian Supreme Court banned any expansion of shrimp aquaculture.

It has not met with effective opposition elsewhere. Protesters in Bangladesh and Thailand have been murdered. Korunamoyee Sardar, a heroic Bangladeshi woman who fought the industrial shrimp industry, was beheaded in 1990; her head stuck on a pole to warn others.

To explain the multiple levels of human and ecological devastation caused by the industry, we have to start with the mangrove massacre. We have lost nearly one quarter of the mangrove forests of the planet. Mangroves are remarkable habitat for creatures like the endangered proboscis monkey and even the Bengal tiger. In 2010, a collaborative project, involving numerous UN agencies, produced the World Atlas of Mangroves. Its lead author, scientist Mark Spalding, described the multiple benefits to humanity of this unique ecosystem:

‘Mangrove forests are the ultimate illustration of why humans need nature … The trees provide hard, rot-resistant timber and make some of the best charcoal in the world. The waters all around foster some of the greatest productivity of fish and shellfish in any coastal waters. What’s more, mangrove forests help prevent erosion and mitigate natural hazards from cyclones to tsunamis—these are natural coastal defenses whose importance will only grow as sea level rise becomes a reality around the world.’

We are losing mangrove forests to two major developments—coastal tourism and shrimp aquaculture. The intensive shrimp aquaculture in Thailand has essentially appropriated whole coastlines, with fishpen abutting the next fishpen. With the loss of the mangrove forests, salt water intrusion can also devastate local farms. The deforestation of mangroves undercuts the local fishery. Salt water has also contaminated village water supply, leaving them without potable water. The means people once had to feed themselves, both through agriculture and small scale fishing, is destroyed.

The pens are stocked by stretching fine mesh nets at the mouth of the river. Children are often used for this work, pulling the tiny shrimp fry from the net. The rest of the small fish are by-catch, dead and discarded. Once the fry are in the pond, pesticides and antibiotics are routinely added.

The ponds tend to last between 10 to 15 years, and then are left abandoned—a toxic, salty hole where a forest once thrived. And the industry clears more mangroves to build more ponds. All so that we can have ‘all you can eat’ shrimp specials at restaurants and buy cheap party shrimp rings.

This is what I knew about shrimp aquaculture in the 1990s when Sierra Club of Canada worked with small NGOs from India, Honduras, Bangladesh, Ecuador and Thailand to raise awareness about the threat. We organized speaking tours for activists from the global south to share their stories with Canadians. I used to go to international biodiversity meetings equipped with a small red ink pad and a rubber stamp featuring a shrimp in the centre and the words, ‘Stop the Mangrove Massacre’ ringing the shrimp. Inevitably at the cocktail receptions, farmed shrimp was served. I would distribute the cocktail serviettes I swiped from the tables the night before, stamped with the message. I didn’t think there could be a worse example of human greed and stupidity trampling on the rights of people around the world, destroying critical ecosystems.

And then in June of this year it got worse. An exposé appeared in The Guardian: ‘Globalised slavery: how big supermarkets are selling prawns in supply chain fed by slave labour.’

The shrimps in ponds are being fed with fish meal. The fish meal in the Thai prawn industry is caught in a supply chain that starts with stealing men and selling them to trawler companies. The Guardian exposé is not easy to read. It makes your hair stand on end as the authors, Kate Hodel and Chris Kelly, relate the brutality of the life on the trawlers and the reports of routine murders at sea.

The article quotes Steve Trent of the Environmental Justice Foundation: ‘The supermarkets know this is happening,’ he says. ‘Everyone knows this is happening. From the boat to the shelf, the supermarkets have an opportunity to stop this… They are actively supporting slavery by not acting and, conversely, they could be actively working to get rid of it if they really had the desire.’

We are blessed to have a local and sustainable fishery in spot prawns. Small cold-water shrimp from Newfoundland and Quebec are also good options, especially since new technology has reduced the by-catch. But, please, never again buy Thai shrimp and let your supermarket know why they shouldn’t either.

September 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Two people making a difference:

Malcolm Pitre fishes from the western part of the Island and cares deeply about the state of our water, for multiple reasons.  Recently he kept tabs on what passed for communications from the federal and provincial governments about plans to test if chloropicrin, a chemical made basically by mixing bleach with one kind of drag racing fuel (1), could get into groundwater if used for fumigation of young strawberry plants.  His pressure was likely instrumental in having that "pilot study" set aside.

Malcolm has noticed a problem with water in his area and wrote to the newspapers:

Montrose water unacceptable - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on September 05, 2014

I am a shellfisher and also a concerned citizen when it comes to environmental issues. I want to inform you all that the water quality at Montrose is unacceptable. I drove by last week and the colour of the water is of concern to me.  

I fish oysters on the Kildare River which is connected to Montrose and for that reason I need this government to deal with these issues. I also spoke with a few cottage owners who are very concerned about this condition because they have young children who swim in this water. This is a worry to them. Also I spoke with an eel fisherman who said that the first week of the eel season they didn’t open their nets because the eels would be dead by morning.  

The fisher told me that he was told the oxygen levels were zero. This is not acceptable. I think this info needs to be out in the public. Please send someone out to get to the bottom of this.

Malcolm Pitre, Tignish

And let's hope someone gets out there to do a story.

This from Bradley Walters, in New Brunswick, who has been tirelessly sifting through news reports on fracking and passing on many worthwhile articles and news bits on an e-mail list:

Please consider writing to Andrew Younger, congratulating him on his decision to ban fracking for shale gas. He is getting a lot of flack from industry, the media, and the Federal Minister of Natural Resources, and needs to know he made the right decision!

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos.

And if you are interested in the discussion on PEI about environmental rights and being part of the steering committee that comes out of it, you are welcome to attend the workshop with presenter Jamie Simpson, this morning at 9AM, at the Farm Centre on University Avenue in Charlottetown.  It's a topic sure to be discussed this Fall, at David Suzuki's Blue Dot Tour in Summerside September 29th and at our Citizens' Alliance AGM and Plan B Social, Saturday, October 11th.


September 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The first quote in the Wheeler Commission Report (Report of the Nova Scotia Independent Review Panel on Hydraulic Fracturing) is from the Roman statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero:

"The health of the people is the highest law."
Cicero (106 - 43 BC)

A week or so after the Wheeler Commission in Nova Scotia issued its final report recommending that hydraulic fracturing not be allowed in our neighbouring province, Nova Scotia's energy minster, Andrew Younger, announced Wednesday that the Nova Scotia Liberal government "will introduce legislation this fall to prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas projects."

Many people breathed a sigh of relief, for now.

Here is his statement to the press, from the Chroncle-Herald, with the bold as mine, to illustrate that:

  • public comments and participation DO matter
  • his government is not closing the door -- it still appears that they believe fracking can be done safely, or at least technologies developed in the future will make this possible.  He does mention renewable alternatives.

by Andrew Younger, Energy Minister -
The Chronicle Herald

Published September 3, 2014

Since becoming the province’s minister of energy, I’ve read all the letters from Nova Scotians which have reached my office both for and against high volume slick water hydraulic fracturing. I’ve read numerous studies and reports commissioned by various parties, including the Wheeler report, which was recently delivered to our government.

Nova Scotians have indicated that they are concerned about hydraulic fracturing and they do not want it to be part of onshore petroleum development in Nova Scotia at this time. Nova Scotians have put their trust in our government that we will listen to those concerns and not allow a process that most Nova Scotians are clearly not yet comfortable with. As a result, our government will introduce legislation this fall to prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas projects.

The first onshore petroleum well in Nova Scotia was drilled in 1869. More than 125 wells have been drilled since that first well. Three of those wells were hydraulically fractured in shale formations. Across North America, the Council of Canadian Academies says “several tens of thousands” of shale gas wells are currently in production. The majority of shale based wells are stimulated using high volume slick water hydraulic fracturing, a process where, as its core, water, sand, and chemicals are pushed into the rock formation to help release oil or gas. There are numerous examples of this technique being used safely and without incident. However, there are also examples of things going wrong.

Across North America, the debate over hydraulic fracturing has turned to dueling documentaries, and studies, all claiming to hold the absolute truth about the safety and merits of using hydraulic fracturing. The Council of Canadian Academies in its report for the Government of Canada summed up the reason for such a split in opinions, stating, “Many of the pertinent questions are hard to answer objectively and scientifically, either for lack of data, for lack of publicly available data, or due to divergent interpretations of existing data.”

Nova Scotia is an energy leader. Our decision will not change this. Our government is actively working with the offshore industry to ensure the responsible and sustainable development of those resources in a way that ensures the primary benefit is to Nova Scotians. Onshore, coal bed methane projects in places like Stellarton have received strong community support and show strong promise. We are actively engaged in promoting our renewable energy industries, especially in offshore renewables. We are becoming a world leader in tidal development and will be one of the first to deploy a commercial scale tidal project, harnessing one of our richest natural resources to the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

Nova Scotians have clearly indicated they are not yet ready for the use of hydraulic fracturing in the development of shale reserves. Residents in communities across Nova Scotia will have the time to consider new research and information as it comes available without an artificial deadline. At the same time, new extraction technologies are being developed which will likely minimize or eliminate many risks and concerns.

We have incredible potential for safe, sustainable, and large-scale resource development in our province. Through a strong and fair regulatory environment, our government will pursue resource development that advances our province and local communities. ‎Our government will also respect the clear views of Nova Scotians that hydraulic fracturing not be included at this time as part of the development of our onshore shale reserves.

Andrew Younger is Nova Scotia’s minister of energy.

Nova Scotia to Ban fracking (Halifax Chronicle Herald)

and related:
High-volume fracking to be banned in Nova Scotia (CBC)

Note that in the CBC *Radio* story, I could detect clear judgmental inflection on the reporter's part, implying that the opposition to fracking in N.S. stood in the way of progress and jobs.

Then there was written backlash -- a stinging criticism in an editorial in the ChronicleHerald.

No Energy Leadership in NS Fracking Fumble - The Chronicle Herald Editorial

Published on September 3, 2014

In a very disappointing decision, the Nova Scotia Liberal government has chosen to dump all the Wheeler panel’s carefully balanced recommendations on fracking. Instead, it will simply pass a law to ban the practice.

That’s a funny, even Orwellian, way to be an “energy leader” — the mantle Energy Minister Andrew Younger claimed Wednesday for his government.

By opting to try to make the fracking controversy go away, the Liberal government has chosen peace and quiet over the harder but ultimately more productive path laid by David Wheeler’s panel on hydraulic fracturing of unconventional gas and oil resources in this province.

That report argued large gaps in information around key issues connected to fracking — such as protecting water resources and monitoring impacts to human health — still needed to be answered, but concluded that didn’t mean fracking in Nova Scotia is impossible.

The panel said fracking shouldn’t be allowed for now, but recommended the province move forward — without deadlines — on doing more local research to fill the knowledge gaps while setting up community consent mechanisms to consider such research and make decisions on fracking in their areas.

Instead, the province has chosen to grandstand, moving ahead on none on those recommendations, instead vowing to institute a moratorium — a solution the Wheeler panel specifically did not propose.

There’s no obvious reason to entrench the current policy of not issuing fracking permits into a law that Mr. Younger said would have no mechanism for periodic review.

Mr. Younger has the strange view that leaving out a mechanism for review will take the “heat” out of discussion and avoid “a cycle of controversy.” Rather, it takes the relevance out of any such debate. It’s wishful thinking that resource development can be made free of controversy.

It’s disappointing to see a government choose a “don’t worry, be happy” approach to a complex issue.

The decision sends a discouraging signal to potential investors that Nova Scotia isn’t interested in fostering the kind of open-minded period of learning and active inquiring into impacts and benefits called for by the panel.

In the wake of the Ivany report’s sobering warning that this province must embrace economic opportunities and find ways to build its workforce, the Liberals have chosen to slam the door shut on an industry the Wheeler report estimated, even in a low intensity scenario, could mean billions in royalty revenues for the provincial treasury in coming decades.

Challenged to “now or never” blaze a trail toward balancing public consent, good research and resource development in a province mired in debt and hobbled by a weak economy, the Grits have closed their minds and effectively opted for “never.” It’s a sorry day for Nova Scotia.

September 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Because it's hard to give praise when the work was done so grudgingly, I haven't said much about the times the Plan B mitigations for sediment run-off *have* held with some rains this summer, even after 35mm of rain on Monday.  But yesterday, the sediment pond off Plan B (across from the connection to the original TCH called "McManus Road") going down the hill in Bonshaw was overwhelmed by a small amount falling fast yesterday in addition to Monday's rain.

The result:

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos.

Sediment rich water flowing down Crosby ravine into the Bonshaw River near the old footbridge site along Green Road, Wednesday, September 3rd, about 1PM.  Photo by Cindy Richards.
The photo shows the entry point the best.

Further downstream:

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos.

Bonshaw River, 1PM, Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014, downstream of former footbridge and upstream of TCH bridge. Photo by Cindy Richards.

The breach was recorded to TIR staff, who dismissed it at first until seeing it, and to Department of Environment staff, who knew exactly why it happened. 
Cindy later followed the sediment, which just starts as rainwater coming off all that asphalt along Plan B, going under Plan B through a culvert to the sediment pond, and washing sediment down what was once a pretty little rocky spring thaw ravine (and a long while ago a road), now a thick deep slick of silt.

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos.

Full sediment pond (Plan B uphill), with two images of silty ravine going downhill.  Late afternoon, Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014.  Photos by Cindy Richards.

A TIR person also walked around the silty area, and environment and TIR folks will see the area when they are discussing the footbridge replacement today.

A bit on the fracking moratorium decision tomorrow.

September 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Not close to home, but affecting our home:

Sunday, September 21, all day, New York City, People's Climate March:

from the website:

"This is an invitation to change everything."

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history. We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of extreme climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.
Return Bus tickets from Toronto are $95.

Closer to home:
Thursday, September 4th, 7PM, Haviland Club, Charlottetown
Fair Vote Canada and Leadnow are having their monthly meeting (first Thursday of the month)
"We'll be discussing possible actions for Democracy Week (September 15 to 20) and the big Connect Event later this fall!"

Saturday, September 6th, 9AM to noon, Farm Centre, Charlottetown
Environmental Rights Workshop, sponsored by the Citizens' Alliance and East Coast Environmental Law
This workshop is for people and representatives of organizations interested in being part of a group working on environmental rights in PEI, with public information sessions to follow later this year; anyone interested in being a part of this, contact Cindy Richards <>

Sunday, September 7th, 1-4PM, Farm Centre, Charlottetown
Blue Whale Bash
from the press release:

Blue Whale Bash fundraiser to raise awareness of threats to Gulf’s marine life

A unique fundraiser featuring the endangered blue whale will take place at the Farm Centre, 420 University Ave (beside CBC) in Charlottetown on Sunday, September 7th from 1:00 - 4:00pm.
Organized by Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club and dubbed “The Blue Whale Bash”, the free admission event will include a lobster raffle, live music and locally sourced food, a life sized baby blue whale poster for children to colour in, information, displays and free posters describing the incredible marine life found in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Funds raised from the event will go to a campaign for interprovincial protection of the Gulf’s precious marine resources.

“The idea behind this event is to draw attention to the very real threats that all marine life in the Gulf currently faces from planned oil and gas development, climate change, shipping traffic and land based pollution” according to campaign organizer Colin Jeffrey. "There is little doubt that the rich marine life of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is threatened. Climate change is making the Gulf’s waters warmer and significantly more acidic, putting pressure on shell fish in particular. Historic over fishing has changed the role that species like cod play in the food chain while increases in land based pollution are muddying the once pristine waters of the Gulf. In 1973 a comprehensive panel review of potential impacts of oil drilling in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence led by Dr. Loutfi concluded that such development should not proceed in the Gulf. As environmental conditions in Gulf waters continue to deteriorate, many people believe that a precautionary approach should be taken with offshore drilling remaining outside the Gulf."
“Offshore drilling in this fragile enclosed sea tips the balance in terms of risk to our commercially important marine species,” according to lobster fisherman Ian Forgeron.
Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club are calling for a greater emphasis on renewable energy development in Atlantic Canada and a new interprovincial management strategy that safeguards the valuable renewable resources provided by our Gulf.
For more information please go to the Facebook event page , contact: Colin Jeffrey - Event Coordinator, (902) 213-2349,

September 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A story from away:

A giant fissure a half a mile long has opened up in the desert of northern Mexico:
Eco-watch article on Fissure in Mexico

from the article by David Manthos, reposted in Eco-Watch:

"The chair of the geology department at the University of Sonora, in the northern Mexican state where this “topographic accident” emerged, said that the fissure was likely caused by sucking out groundwater for irrigation to the point the surface collapsed.

“This is no cause for alarm,” Inocente Guadalupe Espinoza Maldonado said. “These are normal manifestations of the destabilization of the ground.”

I’m sorry, no. These are not normal manifestations of natural activity, this the result of human activity run amok. Just because Cthulhu isn’t clambering out of the breach to wreak havoc on humankind does not mean we shouldn’t be alarmed by the fact we’ve sucked so much water out of the ground that the surface of the earth is collapsing."

The article includes a two-minute video taken by a camera drone, I think.
At about a minute you will see the green irrigated fields appear.
There is no audio but it really doesn't need translation.

from the SkyTruth website:

If you can see it, you can change it

Seeing  > Believing  > Caring  > Acting  > Changing

SkyTruth is a nonprofit organization using remote sensing and digital mapping to create stunning images that expose the landscape disruption and habitat degradation caused by mining, oil and gas drilling, deforestation, fishing and other human activities.

Our vision is a world where all people can see and understand the environmental consequences of human activity everywhere on Earth, and are motivated to take action to protect it.

Our mission is to motivate and empower new constituencies for environmental protection through illuminating the issues that impact our planet.

We use scientifically credible satellite images and other visual technologies to create compelling pictures that vividly illustrate environmental impacts, and provide these pictures and supporting data to environmental advocates, policy-makers, the media, and the public.

- See more at:

 "Skytruth is a nonprofit organization using remote sending and digital mapping to create stunning images that expose the landscape disruption and habitat degradation caused by mining, oil and gas drilling, deforestation, fishing and other human activities."

"Skytruth is a nonprofit organization using remote sending and digital mapping to create stunning images that expose the landscape disruption and habitat degradation caused by mining, oil and gas drilling, deforestation, fishing and other human activities."
It first came to notice covering the BP/Deepwater Horizon 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

September 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

With the heavy rain that hit parts of the Island last night, thoughts turn to fish kills.  (And to Plan B mitigations, which likely need checking.)

Macphail Woods Ecological Centre compiled a "History of Fish Kills on PEI" a few years ago.

It's pretty discouraging, and you may need to go for a walk in the soppy woods or pet a golden retriever puppy or eat a grilled (Island) tomato sandwich to right things.  But farmers, conventional or organic, if needing to combat a pest -- especially on this fungus-y little island of ours -- are left with some pretty harsh stuff.  A couple of products the organic people can use like copper sulphate are toxic to aquatic life in certain concentrations, as of course are many products used by non-organic farmers.  However, most information from respected sources indicates that there are major concerns about these other pesticides causing many, many harmful effects.

A few interesting sites on pesticides:

An "Introduction and Toxicology of Fungicides"

Panna (The Pesticide Action Network of North America)

And about the NPIC (National Pesticide Information Center), which is a joint effort of Environmental Protection Agency, and Oregon Stat University::

Mike Redmond's letter from Saturday's Guardian:

Fish Kills in 2013 Remain a Mystery - The Guardian Letter of the Day by Mike Redmond

Published on Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thank you for your excellent editorial on August 26th in which you challenge the terrible record of the provincial Liberal government in regard to the withholding of information concerning water pollution issues.

You mention the absence of a report on the North River fish kill from three weeks ago. You point out that the government will not release the locations of groundwater test sites including those that show increased levels of pesticide contamination.

And, you discuss the failure of the Ghiz Liberals to release the information in the government advisory report on the deep water wells.

Your editorial discusses the cosmetic pesticide problem as a municipal issue but falls short of critiquing the Ghiz Liberals in this respect.

In 2010, with Richard Brown as Environment Minister the Liberal government talked about a ban on cosmetic pesticides and then brought in some of the weakest legislation in the country. In the four years since this act of failed leadership the provincial government has continuously avoided responsibility on the cosmetic pesticide issue.

The biggest omission of the editorial is what must be seen as one of the Island’s great mysteries — what caused the fish kills in the Trout River and Mill River in 2013? Thirteen months later the people of Prince County are no better informed or protected today then the people of Queens County are in regard to the North River fish kill of three weeks ago.

Consistently on this vital question of human health — the pollution of our waterways — the Ghiz government has been an absolute failure.

Mike Redmond, Leader, NDP P.E.I.