its plans for a new engineering degree program in "sustainable design
engineering" yesterday. It will focus on efficiency, renewable
energy, and aerospace design. The Province is giving about $16 million,
and about $6 million is coming from ACOA. (Currently, students start here
and can get a diploma and then complete their studies at Dalhousie or
University of New Brunswick.) The money is for a new engineering building
(which would have facilities to meet accreditation standards, I think) and for
developing the program. The new engineering building looks like it will be
placed on part of a current parking lot on the Confederation Trail side of
campus, so I do hope there are plans to encourage public transport (from
outside of town where there are few options) and ridesharing to reduce the
number of cars on campus.
(I think the artist's concept -- with those two recessed eye-like lights -- looks a little like something from the Star Wars trailer....)
A note on social media a few days ago from the Institute for Bioregional Studies director Phil Ferraro:
Congratulations to students and faculty at Concordia University <in Montreal> -- first university in Canada to divest from investments in oil. With climate change looming as the greatest threat to human existence, how can any institution rationalize offering degrees in environmental sciences or sustainability while maintaining investments in oil and coal? When will UPEI and HC <Holland College> join Concordia and reinvest their funds in a sustainable future?
Universities and actions about funding recently:
News Release from Concordia announcing divestment
News Release on Dalhousie deciding not to divest
Political Panel from CBC Radio Friday morning (17 minutes):
Compass TV news from last night with the first article on Wade MacLauchlan's entry into the P.E.I. Liberal leader's race (lead story):
Regarding the Liberal Caucus roll call, Speaker Carolyn Bertram, Minister Valerie Docherty, and MLA Robert Mitchell (and Premier Ghiz) were not up on stage with Mr. MacLauchlan.
Events this weekend:
Saturday, November 29th, Christmas Craft Fair with door proceeds ($2 admission) to Anderson House, APM Centre, 10AM to 8PM
Complete listing of vendors here.
Saturday, November 29th, NDP Leader's Brunch with Mike Redmond, 11:30AM to 1PM, Murphy's Community Centre. $80 members, $150 non-members. More info:
The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open today from 9AM to 2PM,
and tomorrow is the first of two consecutive Sunday "Artisans' Market", 10AM to 3PM, Belvedere Avenue in Charlottetown.
Sunday, November 30th, Bonshaw Ceilidh, 7PM, Bonshaw Hall. More info:
are some random thoughts on the Fall sitting of the Legislature, my own
Published on November 25th, 2014Deputy Premier George Webster seems to think they might have to have an early election since their party has to pick a new leader and he will not have a mandate to govern. Mr. Webster should know that the general public does not elect the premier of the province. They elect individual members who represent political parties. Party members elect the leader.
The Liberal party was given a mandate to govern this province and there should not be an election until this mandate runs out. It is not our problem that their party leader chose not to complete the mandate.
As for a new leader not having a mandate, I would like to remind Mr. Webster they did not have a mandate to implement the HST tax or to desecrate the hills of Bonshaw, or even to build Plan B, which now looks like something you would see in the backwoods of Maine.
But if the Liberal party feels it is no longer capable of governing this province they could all resign and let the lieutenant-governor appoint an executive council of about 12 people who could easily run this province and save us all a lot of money.
Reginald F. Walsh, Nine Mile Creek
I must admit the 12 member council idea sounds intriguing.
The Legislature is likely
to close soon, at least according to experienced watchers.
The cosmetic pesticide legislation is likely to be one of the few bills passed.
A decision about screening the documentary Last Call at the Oasis, which is scheduled for tonight at 7PM at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown, will be made early this afternoon, based on the weather forecast.
The Provincial Legislature sits this afternoon only, from 2-5PM.
Some thoughts on Government Priorities:
From Teresa Wright's Guardian article on Friday, November 21st:
He (Sheridan) said he will table expense details of the London trip in the legislature today, but maintains there was nothing untoward about the government’s exploration of online gaming.
Sheridan said no further work has been done on this file, as Canadian lottery corporations are now looking at these kinds of projects. But he has justified his actions, saying we could fund hospitals, schools and transportation by means of this gambling. (Funny, Alan McIsaac justified HST last year by repeated referring to those three words: Hospitals, Schools and Transportation -- he was also defending Plan B at the same.)
If this is the only way our government can think of to fund hospitals, schools and transportation, we need to reevaluate our spending, period. And we should all ask any political people, when they come knocking, how they want to get the money for those things.....
Related is TC Media columnist Russell Wangersky's recent article:
Online gambling: waiting for the pitch - The Guardian article by Russell Wang
It’s coming. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon. And the argument will be a familiar one.
The proponents will use the same arguments that were made to introduce video lottery terminals to the Atlantic region. Something along the lines that “something has to be done to protect Atlantic Canadians from shady ‘grey-market’ offshore gambling sites.” Plus, there’s all that money to be made. The proponents in question, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC), will fight hard to be seen as the white knights in a nasty business.
How do you know it’s coming? Well, a couple of ways. Ontario’s lottery corporation is right in the midst of rolling out Internet gambling to its 53,000 Winner’s Circle members, a group that’s probably ready to kick the online gambling site’s tires. The “we’re going to be the good guys” argument was used in Ontario as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) prepared to launch its much-broader online gambling website.
OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said this to the Windsor Star: “We want to make sure that $500 million stays in Ontario. … That money is going offshore with no assurances people will get paid — and many of these websites have gone under and money was lost. … We did market research and the trust factor is a big thing. People have faith this will be a regulated site and if they win, they will get paid.”
Perhaps that’s why the ALC fledgling online gambling site boasts the slogan “Safe. Secure. Proudly Atlantic Canadian.” (You can play online now with the ALC, but not full Internet gambling. More on that in a future column.)
That’s also why this year’s ALC annual report echoed Ontario’s, saying, “Atlantic Canadians are spending millions of dollars annually on these gambling sites that operate outside of any regulations established by our governments. Unlike Atlantic Lottery, those sites’ profits don’t stay in the region to support our communities.”
The report suggested “a safe and regulated alternative would advance player protection in Atlantic Canada. … We think it is time for the discussion.” There’s a lot to that discussion — if it ever goes further that the ALC and its shareholders.
Robert Murray with the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario spelled out the issues with that approach pretty well, also to the Windsor Star: “They are making gambling accessible 24/7 on any screen size — laptop, smartphone, tablet. You will be able to gamble in the middle of the night in your jammies with a case of beer beside you. There are risks to this.”
The risks are bigger even than with VLTs — and VLTs have more than their fair share of problems. Anyone who covers court in the Atlantic provinces knows how often VLTs and gambling addiction come up in fraud and theft cases, and no one ever does an analysis to see whether the costs of VLTs might be outweighing their single benefit: cash for governments.
But VLTs, as successful as they are at separating cash from suckers, aren’t catching enough young people or enough action. Even though a St. John’s Telegram investigation showed single machines pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash a year (and other evidence shows average profits of roughly $63,000 per machine per year), the machines are seen as losing their lustre. That’s because younger players are moving to faster online offerings, and people gambling from the security of their home computers have less immediate stigma to worry about and more available cash — it’s only a credit card number away.
Just watch: the argument is going to be
framed as “the gambling’s going on already, so we should have a regulated slice
of the pie.”
is the start of another week of this Fall Sitting of the Legislature.
Presumably there will be lots of commotion, and lots of skating around
established protocols as there was last week, as in tabling the Capital Budget
without the usually heads-up to the Opposition or the media. Independent
Progressive Conservative MLA Olive Crane says she has a big announcement to
make in the House tomorrow, and the Liberals have set their leadership convention
date for Friday and Saturday, February 20-21st, 2015, at the Convention Centre.
the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry
recommended the moratorium on high-capacity wells be kept and a comprehensive Water
Act developed, and the Province has prudently is announced the same plan,
yesterday's lead editorial in The Guardian and today's article about
Agriculture Minister George Webster's comments to the P.E.I. Potato Board at
the AGM a few days ago are in their own sync, evidently:
Recommendation to Retain 12-year Moratorium Fails to Provide Answers for Growers, Processors - The Guardian Editorial
Published on November 24th, 2014, in The GuardianIt was the answer everyone expected and it didn’t fail in disappointing P.E.I. potato growers and Cavendish Farms. The legislative committee which held lengthy hearings on the issue of deep-water wells has recommended the current 12-year moratorium should remain in place — for now. The committee quietly tabled its report to the legislature on Wednesday, perhaps hoping its failure to make a long-term decision might fly below the radar screen.
The issue has dominated debate across the province for the past two years since the P.E.I. Potato Board and Cavendish Farms approached government to lift the moratorium and allow for supplemental irrigation of potatoes. That would allow for more consistent size and quality of potatoes for processing. Cavendish Farms, which purchases or contracts more than 60 per cent of the P.E.I. crop, hinted last June it may look elsewhere for more suitable spuds to produce french fries.
Cavendish Farms suggested it could be forced to downsize its operations and investments in P.E.I. if the government does not lift its moratorium. The reaction was immediate and widespread that the Irvings were threatening government and browbeating its contract growers.
Other provinces don’t have the issue with deep-water wells that has environmentalists, residents and government so concerned on P.E.I. Those provinces are not solely dependent on groundwater encased in a sensitive, sandstone aquifer as its sole source of drinking water. It’s also the reason why fracking is seen as a much more serious threat on P.E.I.
The board says it just wants an answer — yes or no — so growers can make a decision on what to do. The committee failed them. Most observers expected the committee to procrastinate and suggest that more science is needed to make a balanced decision. But science has already been provided and just how much more is needed? But no matter what evidence is brought forward, it will never be sufficient or enough.
Municipal residents, who have no problem draining watershed systems with deep-water wells to supply an ever-growing demand for residential water needs, also have no problem digging more such wells to establish new well fields.
Some long-established growers have already made a decision. They have grown tired of waiting for approval for deep-water wells, are fed up with the high cost of fertilizers and pesticides, the increasing public opposition to applying them, increasing restrictions on land use and the increasing threat from wireworms. They have said enough is enough and have stopped growing potatoes. Instead they are retiring from agriculture or switching to soybeans, blueberries or other crops that don’t have the hassle that potato growers face.
The legislative committee delivered eight recommendations but few dealt with the urgent issue facing potato growers. Instead they offer advice on how the government’s promised water act should be developed and stressing careful examination of proven scientific data when making decisions that affect P.E.I.’s groundwater.
So the committee essentially moved the controversial wells question to the background and will now wait for a water act to solve its dilemma and provide answers and direction. The committee feels more information is needed in the use of our water resource but just what remains to be said or argued?
Farmers and processors had asked for an answer. Instead the committee has left the conversation dangling and no one is clear what the future holds. The committee also shifted its emphasis towards a pending water act and left deep-water wells as an issue which may or may not be definitely addressed in the pending legislation.
It was an effective juggling act.
George Webster Says P.E.I. Should Entertain Deep-Water Wells - The Guardian article by Steve SharrattPublished on November 25th, 2014
Agriculture minister calls for 'careful' expansion of irrigation levels during P.E.I. Potato Board meeting
Agriculture Minister George Webster says he’s all for the “careful expansion” of irrigation needs for the province’s potato crop.
The admission came during Webster’s luncheon address to potato growers during the annual meeting of the P.E.I. Potato Board Friday.
Farmers have been requesting the current moratorium on deep-water wells be lifted to allow for greater irrigation opportunities. Last week, government announced it would not lift the deep-water well moratorium until a provincial water act is in place.
“I believe we can carefully expand the current level of irrigation and I will be promoting that position,” said Webster.
“It makes sense for our production to have irrigation available for a portion of crop . . . not all of the potato production needs irrigation, but the needs of our customers require that we supply the quality and quantity of potatoes they are accustomed to.”
The minister said the government will proceed with public discussions leading to the development of a water act with one goal being the opportunity for some farmers to access deep-water wells for irrigation purposes.
“Protecting the quality and quantity of water available is a priority and as farmers we know all too well the importance of adequate supplies of water for a quality crop.”
Potato Board chair Gary Linkletter said farmers wish the government had started work on a water act two years ago, but are pleased steps are now underway.
“We feel the moratorium is not necessary but we welcome a water act,’’ he said. “But in reality, a good subdivision will take more water than a potato field. Golf courses and potato fields use about the same amount and no one complains about golf courses and there’s no crisis over a water shortage.”
Linkletter also said water for potatoes is concentrated during July and August while a residential subdivision is accessing water on a year-round basis.
Webster said he will also promote efforts to review environmental regulations facing farmers and especially issues with the Crop Rotation Act since farm groups have sought changes. The minister said the billion-dollar potato industry faces an image problem and steps were taken in June to host a media tour to boost the profile to farming activities.
“We had a successful media tour resulting in positive news stories about P.E.I. agriculture and it showed that Islanders support farming. We’ve also had great collaboration with watershed groups to save such places as Barclay Brook.”
The government purchased the land around Barclay Brook in western P.E.I. this year to stop farming and the consequences of heavy erosion.
Tonight is the Farm Centre (420 University Avenue) gathering to discuss
Islanders and food systems, starting at 6PM.
event events this week and next:
from November 22, 2014 in print
Published November 22, 2014
If people want politicians to act on environmental concerns they need to make it a voting issue, say representatives of a new environmental group. Three members of the group Cassandra held a news conference Friday morning in Charlottetown to lay out some of their concerns about agricultural practices in P.E.I.
Mike Vanden Heuvel, a UPEI professor, was one of the members and said he doesn’t think any politician will be dismissive of concerns if they think the public will vote based on the issue. “All we can do is try and spread the word and try and present the best information,” he said.
About 10 people gathered to hear Vanden Heuvel, Ian MacQuarrie and biologist Daryl Guignion talk about concerns over the direction the agricultural industry is headed in P.E.I. Agriculture has a big impact on the environment and the economy, with little done over the years to protect either, the group said.
To prove their point the men laid out decades worth of government-commissioned reports they said show a lot of studies have been done over the years with very few changes. Vanden Heuvel said people who aren’t involved in agriculture need to think about the industry’s impact on the Island. He also encouraged people to contact their MLAs to voice concerns and said the group doesn’t want the message going out to the same people who are always involved in the environmental movement. “We’re trying to find a way to get this message to all Islanders.”
Guignion said Cassandra members aren’t antifarmer, but there has been a lot of degradation of the environment. “I think we have to change the model of agriculture that we have,” he said.
MacQuarrie said the first goal is to get people in P.E.I. to admit there is a problem. “I think what we’re going to try and do is influence other people to look at the problem and see what they can suggest as answers,” he said.
has published the text of Stephen Lewis's speech on-line from
What is happening in British Columbia near Burnaby:
As a special event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Andrew Macphail’s birth, on Nov. 24th, and also to mark the centenary of the beginning of World War I, the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead is inaugurating a new annual lecture series on Sunday, Nov. 23rd. This is the Sir Andrew Macphail Lecture, dedicated to topics of particular interest to Macphail, or commemorating aspects of his life.
For the first of these, Dr. Ron Stewart will present a talk entitled “Fallen Soldier: The Reality of Sir Andrew’s War.” Macphail spent some 20 months at the Front as a member of the Canadian field ambulance service, 1915-17. Thus, he saw the horrors of that conflagration up close, and in writing about it later, he relived its death and destruction. Dr. Stewart’s talk will focus on the experience of one particular “fallen soldier” – his wounding, treatment and eventual death – in an attempt to understand better “Sir Andrew’s war”. In particular, he will explain how the suffering and death of millions on the battlefield left a medical legacy which we enjoy today, and which Sir Andrew could never have imagined.
Dr. Ron Stewart is a distinguished Canadian medical practitioner, Professor, and humanitarian. He is a former Minister of Health for Nova Scotia, as well as an international authority on the practice and history of Emergency Medicine. His many official honours include the Orders of Canada and Nova Scotia.
Dr. Stewart’s lecture will be co-sponsored by the Prince Edward Island History of Medicine Society.
On Nov. 23rd,
the evening will start at 6:00 with a cash bar reception, and the lecture will
begin at 7:00. Everyone is welcome and reservations in advance are recommended.
There is an admission charge of $10 per person.
The lecture will be held at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell, located at 271 Macphail Park Road, just two kilometers from the Trans-Canada Highway. For more information, please call the Macphail Homestead 902-651-2789 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
had the good fortune of attending the Symons Lecture, an annual event at the
Confederation Centre, a "platform for a distinguished Canadian to discuss
the current state and future prospects of Confederation." In this
year of top hats and lots o' parties, it was good to see such a earnest,
thoughtful and forthright Canadian as Stephen Lewis (receive the
lunch-plate-sized medal and) give an electrifying speech.
did not write a prescription for that, but one place to look for encouragement
and ideas is Leadnow.
This is a great synopsis of the speech in this short
interview (but I don't know why the camera person was bobbling around so) by
Bruce Rainne on Compass with Stephen Lewis. (13:45)
CassandraPEI held a news conference (Guardian article in print but not on-line), and behind it are three smart and caring people, Ian MacQuarrie, Mike vanderHeuval, and Darryl Guignion. More soon, I hope. Search for their postings on Facebook (I think it is open, even if you are not "on" Facebook.
from Michael Stanley's pottery studio:
Come out to our pretty little Country Craft Fair and Cafe, Saturday Nov. 22 from 10-3, at the Breadalbane Library and Community Centre!
Pottery, Weaving, Stained Glass, Maple syrup, Handmade Soap, Organic skin care, Photography, Art, Sewing, Food, Baking, Coffee, Tea… Beautiful drive up the Dixon Road, Rt#246.
And there is a Seedy Saturday from 2-4PM at the Cenfederation Centre Library. Even if you have no seeds to share, come by anyway. Packet envelopes will be available to pack up seeds.
the Provincial Legislature yesterday,:
has some interesting stories last night:
Paul Maines, CMT not part of P.E.I. gambling file, says Wes Sheridan - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
Published on November 21, 2014Maines says he is filing defamation suit in connection with Ghiz government's plans to enter online gaming regulation © Guardian file photo
Allegations contained in a private investigator’s report on the Ghiz government’s involvement in a plan to enter the world of online gaming regulation are trumped up and false, says Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.
The report, completed by RB Mac Investigations Ltd., was tabled in the legislature Thursday.
In it, the author states he was hired by the board of directors of the firm Capital Markets Technologies (CMT) to investigate the company’s activities in P.E.I. after the P.E.I. Department of Justice and Finance Minister Wes Sheridan suggested CMT was not doing any actual business in P.E.I.
His report contains a number of email exchanges between Sheridan and other individuals, offered as proof that CMT and company director Paul Maines were actively involved in the “P.E.I. gaming file.”
“I believe that it can be unequivocally established that the government of P.E.I. and Mr. Wes Sheridan, Minister of Finance for P.E.I., had a significant and detailed relationship with CMT/Simplex with respect to the development of the GTP, which included the P.E.I. gaming file,” the private investigator’s report states.
The GTP refers to a proposal explored by the P.E.I. government in 2011/2012 to use financial services technology as a platform to support online gaming regulation in P.E.I.
Simplex, a U.K.-based firm, completed a report for government in September 2011 suggesting Prince Edward Island could make upwards of $85 million per year in tax and licensing revenues from Canadian gamers through this project.
But when questioned by reporters on the private investigator’s report at the legislature Thursday, Sheridan said Capital Markets Technologies had no dealings with government on E-gaming.
“This is all supposition from a party that had nothing to do with any of our plans with regard to online gaming in Prince Edward Island,” Sheridan said.
“Capital Markets Technologies had no role with any of the work we were doing with online gaming here in Prince Edward Island.”
Maines told The Guardian later in an interview he was very much involved. He says there are 2,000 pages of documents that show direct involvement, which he says will be part of a defamation suit to be filed soon in court.
“The 2,000 pages will completely show a different story,” Maines said. “The findings are disturbing.”
Another item mentioned in the private investigator’s report mentions a trip Sheridan took to London, England, in January 2012 to attend an international gaming conference.
During question period Thursday, Opposition Leader Steven Myers asked why Sheridan has never disclosed this trip in his ministerial disclosure statements. He also asked who paid for the trip and why a freedom of information request looking for details was denied.
“The reason given for not releasing these records of your London gaming junket was trade secrets,” Myers said.
“What trade secrets would be exposed if you released the records for your London gaming junket?”
Sheridan says the trip was part of a project funded by the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.
Sheridan has long stated the entire proposal to get involved in online gaming was spearheaded by the Confederacy.
He said he will table expense details of the London trip in the legislature today, but maintains there was nothing untoward about the government’s exploration of online gaming.
Sheridan said no further work has been done on this file, as Canadian lottery corporations are now looking at these kinds of projects.
He also pointed out CMT was sanctioned by the P.E.I. Securities Commission last year for allegedly trading in securities without issuing receipts for a prospectus.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Securities Commission issued a reciprocal order based on P.E.I.’s sanctions.
Some assorted notes:
Fracking visualized: This is a very well done seven minute video, in French,
prepared for juries (I think) explaining the risks associated in fracking, with
English descriptions. (The animation and titles are all you need.)
the P.E.I. Potato Board is having an annual meeting at the Delta Prince Edward,
and a main speaker will be Dr. Joe Schwartz, from McGill University, dispelling
myths. He made a presentation a few months ago, sponsored by the P.E.I.
Federation of Agriculture.
Two presentations on the science surrounding pesticides and the rate of Island cancer issues will highlight the annual meeting of the P.E.I. Potato Board slated for Friday at the Delta Prince Edward.
The day-long annual meeting features a luncheon address by Dr. Joe Schwarcz of McGill University, known as a “myth dispeller” when it comes to pesticides and GMOs, followed by an afternoon presentation on cancer issues from the executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society, Lori Barker. However, that presentation has nothing to do with possible links between cancer and pesticide applications or drinking water contamination. The society has been asked to focus on farmers and the risk of melanoma when it comes to working outdoors. Barker will address growers on “What You Need to Know” when it comes to cancer at a 1:30 p.m. presentation. Those who work outdoors, like farmers, are considered at a high risk.
lot of bits of news:
Other events were listed in yesterday's CAN: Pesticide Free PEI meeting at 7 at the Haviland Club, Feeding Birds in Winter at the Confed Library, etc.
Yesterday, the United States Senate, by one vote, defeated a motion to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (one connecting Alberta's tar sands oil with ports in Louisiana). This is the "old" Senate, and the one that got elected two weeks ago likely will revisit it.
Teresa Wright, The Guardian's political reporter, wrote a blog entry
about Premier Ghiz's retirement:
Published on November 17th, 2014, in The Guardian
The suddenness of it. The fact it came one day after a throne speech that didn’t have to happen.
Let me explain.
Anyone who has been paying close enough attention to politics in Prince Edward Island could easily have seen Ghiz was no longer interested in governing the province.
He has been virtually invisible for the last several months. No glad-handing, no politicking, no vote seeking. He does not attend every wake, funeral, 90th birthday party and fundraising ceilidh – as all hungry politicians do on the Island.
Sure, he has been around for the big, high-profile events – the Royal Tour with Prince Charles and Camilla; the Council of the Federation meetings with the country's premiers in the summer; announcements of big business expansions with lots of jobs.
But aside from these, he has been conspicuously absent. Even in the legislature, where he is apt to sparkle, he has appeared bored for some time.
That’s why I have been expecting him to make the announcement he made last week.
But I wasn’t expecting it on that day. One day after his seventh speech from the throne and just one hour before the first question period of the fall session of the legislature.
That part was a surprise.
On Sept. 9, an executive council order was issued, proroguing the legislative session that began with a throne speech in November 2013.
I found the timing of this prorogation unusual, because we were between sessions. By a lot. The spring session closed in mid May and we were still two months away from the fall session.
For clarity – prorogation is like a reset button. It ends the existing session of the legislature and begins a new one. Everything left on the order paper dies (which was almost nothing in this case). It also triggers a speech from the throne when the next session begins.
So, when I saw that a prorogation was ordered, I asked the premier's press secretary why. He said simply this was normal procedure, that they always do a throne speech in the fall. Not true. There have been a few instances where Ghiz has done a throne speech in April. In 2012 he did one in November AND one in April. But since we have had one in November for the last few years, I left it alone.
Then a few weeks ago, we received word Ghiz's former director of communications and key adviser, Geoff Townsend, was returning to work in the P.E.I. premier's office. Townsend left the Island last year to work for then-newly elected Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
On the same day, we learned Ghiz’s press secretary, Guy Gallant, was leaving P.E.I. to work for the newly-elected Liberal premier in New Brunswick, Brian Gallant.
To be honest, when I learned Townsend was returning and that a speech from the throne was forthcoming, I thought this signaled Ghiz had changed his mind and would seek one more term. Or at least he would do one more election, try to win a third majority for his party, step down and take a job in Ottawa or in the private sector.
His throne speech last week convinced me of this even further – it contained few new measures, but was a long list of his many achievements since taking office in 2007. It read like a stump speech, only missing the election goodies. Those would come when the campaign was finally launched, I thought.
Then the bombshell announcement came - Ghiz will resign early in the new year. He has given no concrete reason why, except that he has three kids under six, that he has been leader for 12 years, that he wanted to leave the party in a good position.
But none of this explains the timing of his announcement. He has admitted he decided he would resign in conversation with his wife sometime in the summer.
So why prorogue the session in September? Why bother with a throne speech – which is meant to detail a premier’s plans for governing over the next year?He doesn’t plan to stick around for a year. So why did he go through the motions last week with a throne speech, knowing all along he planned to tell everyone the very next day he’s quitting?
And the timing of his departure also makes me curious. Why not leave right away or stay long enough for the party to plan a full convention? As it stands, the party is left scrambling to put together a leadership convention, which is no small affair. Anyone interested in running for leadership has to decide and announce right away, because they must build support, and do it before the 30-day cutoff the Liberal party constitution decrees for new members’ voting privileges at a convention.
There are a lot of missing pieces to this puzzle. Hopefully, the answers will come sooner rather than later.
Certainly there will be no shortage of political intrigue over the coming year-and-a-half with a Liberal leadership convention in February, a Progressive Conservative leadership convention in May, a federal election in October and a provincial election in April 2016.
Teresa Wright is The Guardian's senior political writer.
The Legislative Assembly sits from 2-5PM today, with no evening session. Tuesday's Question Period focussed on questions to the Education Minister about standardized testing, and to the Justice Minister about privacy breaches when derelict buildings housing old medical records were broken into. Apparently during the last few minutes, Deputy Premier George Webster tabled a motion saying that taking the political circumstances into account, the Legislature should be dissolved. More details, I am sure, to come about this motion's purpose and timing.
to business today for the P.E.I. Legislature, with the House sitting today from
2-5PM in the afternoon, and 7-9PM this evening. The public is always
welcome to watch proceedings from the Gallery. Consider heading over
there sometime during this sitting, as planned renovations to the building will
mean the Legislature will sit at the Coles Building (in the same room as the
Standing Committee meetings are head -- with all the furniture rearranged) for
the Spring 2015 sitting for an undetermined amount of time.
"These are the last few days of our crowd funding campaign. Keep an eye on it as it could get exciting towards the end (or it may not): https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pesticide-free-pei/x/423646And Health PEI is having their annual general meeting, 6:30PM, Murchison Centre, Pius X Avenue, Charlottetown. You can also watch via the internet. more details here:
I am sure there are many other interesting things going on!
This is a good explanation of the process (bold is mine): from: http://elizabethmaymp.ca/pipeline-politics
Published on Friday, November 14th, 2014
As the debate rages south of the border about the Keystone pipeline, there are some key facts to bear in mind. Every pipeline currently being promoted – whether Alberta to the Pacific (Enbridge and Kinder-Morgan) or Alberta to the Atlantic (Energy East) or Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico (Keystone) – are all about one thing: getting raw, unprocessed bitumen to tidewater. All of them.
That’s why the Harper Conservatives are pushing all of them. The idea of shipping unprocessed bitumen out of Canada was not on the table before the 2008 financial crisis. At that point, the plan was to upgrade solid bitumen into synthetic crude. Upgraders in Alberta dropped out following the economic melt-down, as they did with planned tar/oil sands expansion. When the financial situation improved, the expansion plans came back. But the upgraders were replaced with pipeline plans. Taking solid bitumen and stirring in fossil fuel condensate (called diluents) to make the bitumen flowable became all the rage. The combined mix of bitumen and diluent, called dilbit, has proven to be impossible to clean up in case of a spill. We have Enbridge to thank for proving this through their “culture of negligence” (as described by the US Transportation Authority), when thousands of barrels of dilbit was pumped into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan through a broken pipe. It`s now clear that dilbit has proven impossible to clean up.
Shipping dilbit also requires a two-way flow of toxic material. Most of the diluents are being shipped to Alberta by rail. The train cars hanging precariously over the Bow River in the Calgary flood were loaded with toxic diluents, essentially naptha with cancer-causing benzene and butane added. A recent fiery derailment in Saskatchewan was also of diluents headed to Alberta. Enbridge plans a twinned pipeline with tankers pulling into Kitimat to off-load toxic diluents to run to Alberta, to be mixed with bitumen to flow back to Kitimat and be loaded into different and much larger tankers. The whole scheme is madness.
The Canadian union representing the oil sands workers, UNIFOR, opposes the pipelines. Every pipeline carrying dilbit to be refined in other countries means tens of thousands of Canadian jobs are exported with it.
And every pipeline allows for expansion of the oil sands. Currently production levels hover just below 2 million barrels of bitumen a day. Harper’s goal is 6 million barrels of bitumen a day. Keeping the bitumen in Alberta for upgrading and refining will produce far more jobs in Canada than pipelines and rapidly expanding bitumen production. And, of course, rapidly expanding oil sands production is completely incompatible with the required transition off fossil fuels.
The Green Party is the only party opposing any and all current pipeline plans. We will oppose any and all pipeline proposals committed to shipping raw bitumen out of Canada. We must move to a national energy policy with a strong climate plan. We need to ensure that by 2100 Canada’s bitumen production is going to petrochemical products, not fuel. We need to recognise that as a resource it is both too valuable and too dangerous to burn.
This is all do-able. But it cannot happen if dilbit pipelines are approved. Any of them.
are some interesting events going on in the next week or two in the way of
lectures, documentaries, meetings, and such.
Sunday, November 23rd, Lecture at Macphail Homestead on
Macphail's experiences in World War I, 6PM reception, lecture at
7PM, admission $10.
For the first of
these, Dr. Ron Stewart will present a talk entitled “Fallen Soldier: The Reality
of Sir Andrew’s War.” Macphail spent
some 20 months at the Front as a member of the Canadian field ambulance
service, 1915-17. Thus, he saw the horrors of that conflagration up close, and
in writing about it later, he relived its death and destruction. Dr. Stewart’s talk will focus on the
experience of one particular “fallen soldier” – his wounding, treatment and
eventual death – in an attempt to understand better “Sir Andrew’s war”. In
particular, he will explain how the suffering and death of millions on the
battlefield left a medical legacy which we enjoy today, and which Sir Andrew
could never have imagined.
Dr. Ron Stewart is a distinguished Canadian medical practitioner, Professor, and humanitarian. He is a former Minister of Health for Nova Scotia, as well as an international authority on the practice and history of Emergency Medicine. His many official honours include the Orders of Canada and Nova Scotia. Dr. Stewart’s lecture will be co-sponsored by the Prince Edward Island History of Medicine Society.
Nov. 23rd, the evening will start at 6:00 with a cash bar reception, and the
lecture will begin at 7:00. Everyone is welcome and reservations in advance are
recommended. There is an admission charge of $10 per person.
The lecture will be held at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell, located at 271 Macphail Park Road, just two kilometers from the Trans-Canada Highway. For more information, please call the Macphail Homestead 902-651-2789 or email, email@example.com
And a subsequent two-evening double-feature of water and land issues the next
Thursday, November 27th, Forum: "Land Use Policy at an Impasse?",
7PM, The Big Auditorium in the Business Building at UPEI, free.
(MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242, McDougall Building.
peek south of the border:
Updated Nov. 14 at 3:50 p.m.: Today, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives approved the Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. Senate will vote on the bill on Tuesday. This morning, President Obama strongly suggested that if the Senate also approves the Keystone XL pipeline, the legislation won’t get past his desk.
The article is here:
West: in the absurdity of a land without people having any environmental
rights, protestors of the proposed western "Trans Mountain" pipeline
in British Columbia have been told they may be charged with assault by Kinder
Morgan for making threatening faces. Somebody had the brilliant
twist to start posting their "KM face" expressing their disapproval
of the pipeline. Glad they found the humour of the situation:
Gordan, retired UPEI dean of science and professor of biology, and brilliant
and eloquent ground floor member of Pesticide Free PEI, has written his memoir,
Starting to Frame. Weather-dependent, the launch starts at 6:30PM
tonight at the Haviland Club, corner of Water and Haviland Streets in
Charlottetown. A decision to postpone due to the weather will be made
to tangible issues:
Published on November 03, 2014By refusing to acknowledge synthetic pesticides are causing the majority, if not all, the fish kills in our rivers, brooks, and ponds, the Ghiz government and the Irvings choose to muddy the water by failing to address the issue altogether.
Their solution to stop fish kills is to take land out of agriculture use by buying it, beginning with Barclay Brook area. However, this is a Band-Aid solution which will not address the significant root cause.
They would do well to heed the following two documents. First is, ‘A Compiled History of P.E.I. Fish Kills,’ which indicates the first reported fish kill was August 4, 1962. Pesticides were recently invented by 1962. It didn’t take long for pesticides to find Island waters. Second is P.E.I. government’s, ‘1962 to 2011: Island Fish Kill Summary Report,’ which identifies numerous pesticides as the only probable cause in most fish kill instances from 1962 to 2007.
No further information on probable causes was officially released since July 22, 2007, which coincides with Robert Ghiz being sworn into power on June 12, 2007. Yet Environment Canada confirmed it found traces of a pesticide with the three rivers identified in 2011. And although yearly major fish kills occurred since 2011, where pesticides were suspected and/or found, P.E.I. government withholds an up-to-date public record.
This is not rocket science. Pesticides kill far more than intended targets. Buying all the agriculture land adjacent to our rivers, brooks, and ponds might alleviate the catastrophic fish kills. But the killing will continue. Vital living organisms required for a healthy sustainable environment will continue to weaken and die.
The real lethal threat is the deliberate cover-up and inaction to refrain from synthetic pesticide use. Not heavy rains. Not low land. Not the soil. Not the position we are doing what we can. It is imperative to stop muddying the water by truly committing to farming sustainably.
Maria Eisenhauer, Charlottetown
Surprising News Indicates Problem - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
Published on November 4th, 2014
In response to the opinion piece (main editorial, found here) in Saturday’s Guardian on the charges laid for the North River fish kill in August, I would like to make a few points. The article seems to imply that the writer feels it unfair to have charged this farmer, admittedly a reputable one, because he may have made a mistake. What the writer doesn’t seem to realize is that all mistakes have consequences. One consequence of this unfortunate mistake was a fish kill that in most recent accounts killed as many as 10,000 fish.
Furthermore, mistakes can and should be the impetus for change. And we need change in our farming practices here on P.E.I. That is why environmentalists and opposition have pressuring government, not to “paint all farmers with the same brush,” as the author suggests, but to make sure that when mistakes are made, consequences follow. My hat is off to Judge Jeff Lantz for imposing fines last week to a farmer who made mistakes. Up to now, most fish kills have gone with little to no consequences. In a well-documented case study of fish kills since 1962 (the year we started using pesticides in farming), an incident with 40,000 fish being killed resulted in a $200 fine. If we could put a cost on the damage done from fish kills, surely this is far off the mark.
The truth is that most people I talk to have a great deal of respect for the Dykerman family, even more since Eddy Dykerman admits that he may have made a mistake. So let’s learn from this mistake. How can we better protect our environment and the health of Islanders? The answers are not easy, but they are obvious. If our government needs to clarify regulations, let’s lobby them to do that. Pesticide regulations are neither strong enough nor enforced well enough.
If, as the author states, it was a surprise that charges were laid for the August fish kill, that clearly indicates the problem. Charges should always be laid. There should always be consequences. It is the only way we can learn and evolve.
Joan Diamond, Fairview
In addition to coverage of the Speech from the Throne, last
night's Compass TV news had a story by Steve Bruce about the opening of the
TransCanada Highway realignment in Tryon. There was a quick mention of
the concerns parents whose children attend the nearby daycare have (they will
have to continue to get on and off the highway directly, when other nearby
properties will be connected to a side road). No parent was interviewed.
Chief Engineer Steven Yeo was given a lengthy amount of time to point at a map,
and say the speed limit will be posted, and it's an enforcement issue.
That buck has been passed around a lot.
Often during the Plan B opposition, when asked why were we
so persistent, what was our driving force, and many of us said something like,
"It's our children. We couldn't *not* do something, even if the result is
not what we wanted."
At the end of that film, you should get choices of other short pieces, including Harrison Ford as The Ocean. Water is narrated by Penelope Cruz, Ed Norton is The Soil, and there are several others.
from the article:
Julia Roberts: “I’ve always been an environmentalist, but my life changed the day I had children,” Roberts shared on the CI website. “I realized that I wasn’t doing enough to protect the planet. People need nature and of course I want my children to have the best possible opportunity in life. I also realized how important it was for me to raise them to be conscientious people that are aware of their impact on the Earth.”
Today is the Opening Day of the Fall Sitting of the
P.E.I. Legislature. It's not a "regular" day, as the main
thing that will happen will be the reading of the Speech from the Throne by the
Lieutenant Governor, Frank Lewis after 2PM. He will sit in (or stand in
front of) what is usually the Speaker's Chair and read from a portfolio, with a
whole lot of people, apparently invited guests, sitting in additional chairs
set up on the floor of the Legislature.
Richard Raiswell, a history professor at UPEI, resumed his CBC Mainstreet
political commentaries this week with the three worst moments of elected
officials of the summer (or between the Spring Sitting and now).
Environment Minister Janice Sherry, and her handling of just about everything
related to Environment, was number two.
Rainbow Valley + Island Green
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 9:10pm
The Davison family opened Rainbow Valley in 1969 with the goal of providing Island families with an oasis of affordable family fun. 36 years later it closed with very little warning, leaving a hole in PEI’s landscape and in its heart. This film explores what the amusement park meant to Islanders and what it means to them almost a decade after its closure.
This short documentary takes a look at the changing face of PEI's agricultural industry. Rather than dwelling on PEI’s worrisome monocropping practices, Island Green dares to ask: What if PEI went entirely organic?
said Mr. Weasley, flabbergasted. "Haven't I taught you anything?
What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if
you can't see where it keeps its brain?”
screenshot from the Facebook page of
CassandraPEI, from earlier this week.
“Islanders are not only subsidizing industrial agriculture with our air, land and water but also with significant amounts of taxpayer money”, says the group. “We suggest this public subsidy actually exceeds the direct financial contributions of the sector to PEI.”
For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit us on Facebook: Cassandra PEI
Whatever the source, these discussions all contribute to what is going on and what we really want the Island to be in the future. There is room in this discussion for everyone.
and we are moving the Plan B page over to the Citizens' Alliance page on Facebook, thanks to Cindy Richards
Friday's Guardian, the forthright, steadfast writing of Betty Howatt of
Willowshade Farm in Tryon was good to remember while reading Alan Holman's
column "The Meddler" Saturday. Betty reminded us of the ending
of the Girl Guide prayer (and Women's Institute Collect) which ends with the
line, "...let us not forget to be kind." Good words, indeed.
Published on November 8th, 2014
Allan Gregg of Toronto, was one of the original participants in the CBC ‘At Issue Panel’. He is a leading Canadian pollster and social commentator. Gregg was honoured recently in his home province of Alberta. In his acceptance speech he talked about what it is to be a Westerner and the West’s allure for other people in Canada, and from around the world.
“I don’t believe that they came here for economic opportunity alone. I believe they came for the allure of being part of something – of becoming a Westerner,” he said. “. . . to be a Westerner is not just about place. To be a Westerner is to be a partner in an idea … an idea that opportunity – and the pursuit of opportunity - is a right… and that with industry and integrity, opportunity is within the individual’s reach and grasp. Partners in an idea that believe – based on merit and hard work – you should be able to be pretty much anything you want to be.”
“To some,” Gregg said, “this might seem to be little more than a hollow cliché or, at the very least, hopelessly naive. But I believe the very fact that Westerners take this cliché seriously and embrace the future with a sense of endless optimism and confidence is what gives the West its dynamism and vitality and propels this particular region ahead of all others.”
He also touched on the importance of natural resources as part of the Western mentality. Few would challenge Gregg’s characterization of what a Westerner is. However to ask what an ‘Easterner’ is, depends a lot on where the question is asked.
If it was asked in western Canada, the response would likely be about what we would call Central Canada and involve lot of anti-Toronto rhetoric, much of which we in our region would endorse.
But, who, or what, is a Maritimer?
In many ways the characteristics of a Maritimer are the antithesis of Gregg’s Westerner.
Rather than the belief that an individual can pretty well be what ever he sets his mind to, Maritimers tend to take a more cautious approach. They are more inclined to look to government to share in any risk that might be involved.
Maritimers have a great sense of place and are deeply rooted in their communities. We take pride in them. We exalt in the success of our neighbours and rally round them if trouble strikes.
We also have a great sense of history and pride in our ancestry. We are aware that our region was once a much more important component of the national fabric than it now is. That, in the good old days, we were the ones that generated the wealth and provided the capital for the development of the country. Now, too often, we spend more time revelling in our past than we do in preparing for the challenges in our future.
Maritimers were once among the leading politicians of the country and instrumental in the creation of many our national institutions. Today, we know that our influence in Ottawa is waning as our percentage of the national population shrinks and the political and economic clout of the West increases. We are becoming marginalized to a degree we never were in the past.
We are hypocrites when it comes to the oil industry. We favour pipelines that will bring oil from the West to Saint John to be refined, and we don’t care how it is produced. We don’t object when ten of thousands of Maritimers, some 5,000 from P.E.I. alone, go west to work in the oil fields and bring their inflated wages home and spend them here.
But, when it is suggested we could develop our own oil industry in the region we are quick to oppose. We are especially opposed to ‘fracking’, a process that most of us have little or no knowledge of. We watch with some envy the development of the off-shore oil industry of Newfoundland and Labrador, but are reluctant to see a similar development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Without any hard evidence we assume such developments will destroy our environment. We’d rather oppose them than put in place regulations to protect our oceans and streams. As a region we have become risk adverse.
Gregg says that Westerners “embrace the future with a sense of endless optimism.” Maritimers approach the future tentatively. We don’t expect much to change and we hope we can hang on to what we already have.
Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: email@example.com----------
I am really not sure where this vitriol comes from, this finger-pointing at all of us, friends, townies and countrymen. A column a few months ago had the same premise -- we are all a bunch of losers who fear change, albeit ones who like history and community. He sounds sick and tired of his home and native land, and I do suggest in all kindness he should consider going out west. He could do some freelance journalism on conditions for people around Fort McMurray, what the land and communities look like. Or stay here and come chat with Islanders working on positive change: Plant trees with Gary Schneider and some schoolkids. Take a course and see the fun at Seniors' College or Community Schools. Talk to the new people who ran for municipal seats last week. Go to the Legacy Gardens and help put the garden plots to bed for the winter. Talk to some shellfishers. Stop in at a Farmers' Market and sit at a table and ask people if they really know what fracking entails. (They probably do. And they do standing in line at the Co-op in Tignish and in the coffeeshops in Souris.)
We do care how that tar sands oil (or oil sands tar) is produced, and we know families where someone is out there. There are a lot of reasons to go. But those still here are not afraid of change; we want careful thought in making those changes, not just done for political expediency or patronage reasons. We want the right changes, the ones right for our land and for our rural and urban communities; the ones fearful people trying to stay in the ruling classes have been giving the back of their hands to.
Betty Howatt's letter:
is all the rage for the federal government to support pipeline growth in nearly
every direction, to get that tar sands oil (or is it oil sands tar?) to ports
for a small amount of refining for domestic use, but mostly export. The
sense of urgency may be cloaked in a false patriotism that digging the tar
sands makes us a better country, but barely covers up the smell of fear that
the stuff is more and more costly (in many ways) and worth less and less.
crusty activist gave up on playing by the rules. What are they gonna do, arrest
him? - Grist.org article by Heather Smith
Published on-line at grist.org on July 18, 2014
It’s been over a year since Alec Johnson was
arrested for locking himself to an excavator sitting on a pipeline easement in
Atoka, Oklahoma. He’s still waiting to go to trial. Rural Oklahoma communities
only hold jury trials once or twice a year, and every time a new court date
comes up, Johnson gets bumped – priority goes to anyone charged with a felony
or presently cooling their heels in jail, which Johnson is not.
Johnson could have pled guilty and paid a fine in this case, too. Instead, he’s hoping that a jury trial could result in a useful precedent. There’s an argument known as the “necessity defense” – basically, that you committed the crime you were arrested for out of necessity, to prevent a larger crime from happening. While it is a defense often used by activists, is is not one that often works. Johnson plans to combine the necessity defense with a heavy dose of public trust doctrine. A ruling in his favor could set a precedent that would help other climate activists down the line.
On the other hand, a ruling against Johnson could land him in jail for a year or two, which is not a fun prospect for anyone, let alone a 62-year-old. “I can’t say that I’m particularly looking forward to going to jail,” says Johnson. “My lady love wouldn’t like it either. But I’m the father to two daughters and I truly take this seriously. It shouldn’t be this hard to protect the environment.”
And then there is Energy East. There was a public meeting in Fredericton on Tuesday of this past week, but I don't recall hearing much in the media.
The National Wildlife Federation filmed an aging tar sands pipeline that is
set on the ground in the waters near Macinaw Island, in the Great Lakes near
Michigan. About five minutes long with some amazing footage.
feeling their concerns have been totally brushed off, again.
Parents ask province to reconsider its position
Posted Nov 07, 2014 3:37 PM AT Last Updated: Nov 07, 2014 3:56 PM AT
Some parents are circulating a petition to convince the P.E.I. Department of Transportation to create a safer access point to the Merry Pop-Ins Child Care Centre in Tryon.Parents are worried the Trans Canada highway realignment in the area will make it dangerous to get in and out of the centre from the highway, because some drivers may be tempted to go faster.
Emily Smith, a spokeswoman for the parents' group collecting names for the petition, said they want a cul-de-sac which is being put in for residents to be extended to the daycare.
"We'd just like to see them extend that cul-de-sac to the entrance to Merry Pop-Ins Child care centre so that all parents, staff, children, service people, can access safely the childcare centre," said Smith. "We have been told that it's simply not possible under their current plans. So we are asking them to take another look."
According to Stephen Yeo, the chief engineer for the province, the cul-de-sac is being created by closing off an existing side road.
"There's two properties in between where we are building the cul-de-sac and the Merry Pop-Ins centre," said Yeo. "So we can't use public money to acquire the land to build a driveway for a commercial business."
Yeo said he doesn't know why anyone would think there would be safety concerns with the improvements being made to the highway. He notes the edge of the pavement will actually be further away from the early years centre by about two feet.
Yeo said the new stretch of highway could be open as early as next week.
business people and Plan B related notes:
A couple of
Saturdays ago, I was in Dieppe and wandered into their Farmers' Market.
It was the same, yet different, than what we have here: tight parking,
coffee, dampness, music at the door, sausage smells, people greeting and
blocking the walkways, all sorts of foods for every occasion; bakers, local
vegetables, artisans, prepared meals. It was larger than our markets, but
not unfamiliar. An egg farmer said things were good, people
figuring out local food was worth shifting priorities with the food
budget. Hope you can find a market today.
Wangersky is a recent edition to The Guardian's regular columnists,
discussing issues affecting the Atlantic Provinces; perhaps in an attempt to
make it special, the P.E.I. paper places his column on the right side of page
A2 -- in the "gutter" of the left hand page, a fairly unappealingly
place visually. This is too bad, since after a couple of so-so
columns, the piece yesterday was very interesting:
Published on November 6th, 2014, in The Guardian (bold is mine):
Not every house, by any means. But plenty.
And they tick away at you like a metronome as they shake in the wind, again and again and again, giving you something to think about as you kick your way north along routes like the 215 or the 311, smaller rural highways bound in by trees and occasional houses.
Not election signs — not “for sale” signs, though there were more than a few of those, too.
No, these were red “No Fracking” signs, property owners making it clear that oil companies seeking to use hydraulic fracturing to find gas reserves simply weren’t welcome.
And it’s worked, to a point.
There’s something of a ban in place in Nova Scotia now, though fracking opponents are still on guard.
And on the other side of the debate?
Well, there’s a different kind of Chicken Little announcing that some sort of sky is about to fall.
Shale gas, apparently, is the only thing standing between Nova Scotia and both bankruptcy and total unemployment.
Even associate publishers of large Nova Scotian newspapers are willing to jump on the bandwagon, citing shale gas revenues as a panacea for everything from bad roads to services lacking for cancer patients and calling fracking bans a lost economic opportunity.
Of course, it’s nowhere near that simple.
First, the resource is there whether or not you decide to exploit it.
Leaving it in the ground costs you nothing except immediate returns. It’s money left in the bank, instead of a bank account that’s quickly emptied.
The only way it disappears is when you let companies come in and ship it out — then, it really is gone.
And then, you really are left with whatever it is the companies leave behind, from wastewater to underground surprises.
Here’s the truth: there is no free money.
Oil money makes up a third of Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial revenues.
But there are still bridges and roads that haven’t been fixed, and there are still medical needs not being met.
And there’s still a huge deficit, despite the government raking in billions in petro-dollars.
Here’s another simple truth: people have a right to be concerned about what happens under and next to the places they call home.
And concerned they have been and are.
There have been protests in New Brunswick and a hydraulic fracking ban proposed by the new Liberal government (although apparently not a complete fracking ban), while in Newfoundland and Labrador, the government has announced a ban until an in-depth study is complete — a study that, in all likelihood, won’t be finished until after the next provincial election.
P.E.I. is waiting for someone to actually apply for permission to frack before doing anything, according to their environment minister — the we-don’t-have-anything-to-decide-decision, a kind of political magic.
This is not sleight-of-hand, it’s sleight-of-mind.
Politicians may not fully understand fracking, but they’re not completely stunned.
They can read the signs.
And those red signs, boy — it’s easy to imagine there are hard-core voters, the kind who get out to polling stations no matter the weather, behind every single one.
Russell Wangersky is TC Media’s Atlantic regional columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; his column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in TC Media’s daily papers.
was an issue in United States elections Tuesday:
Bans Pass in Denton, Texas, Two California Counties and One Ohio Town - EcoWatch article by Anastasia Pantsios
Published on November 5, 2014
The biggest victory came in Denton in north
Texas, located atop the lucrative Barnett shale play. After citizens demanded
action from city council on a fracking ban and council punted last July, the
issue went to the ballot where it passed last night.
(Not speaking on behalf of the Citizens' Alliance,
necessarily, on this)
People making a difference:
Thank you all for coming this morning to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism and community and to support the Voluntary Resource Centre. I'm honoured to receive this award for my efforts in a place where it seems that so many people have dedicated so much of their lives to their ideals and the belief in working for a healthy environment and a socially just economy.
When I was invited to receive this award, I was surprised, because, honestly, it doesn't feel as though I accomplish much. And as an individual, I don't suppose I really do accomplish much. I don't think any of the people receiving awards today are committed to the work they do in order to receive praise, but I think it is commendable and indicative of a community's priorities to come together in recognition of the generosity of offering one's time and energy for a greater purpose.
One of my first experiences reaching out to the community was organizing a climate rally in front of Province House when I was 19 years old. It was in solidarity with a 350.org event called "Moving Planet" with marches and rallies taking place all over the world. In my 19 year old naiveness, I thought it would be as easy as going around, putting up a few posters, and then BOOM, 1000 people in front of province house demanding climate justice. I was mistaken.
I showed up 15 minutes early to find Matt McCarville, who had agreed to speak on renewable energy, waiting there for me. A half hour later, we were still waiting. It didn't look as though anyone was going to show, until someone came around from the other side of Province House asking why we were 'behind' the building. Apparently, what I thought was the front of the building was actually the back, and everyone was on the other side waiting for the organizer to show up. So we made our way over to the rally of 1000 people, which actually turned out to be 10 people talking quietly in a circle under a tree to keep out from under the rain.
As is always the case when I attempt to speak in public without a prepared speech, I was impressively less eloquent than I had imagined I would be. But, as is also always the case in this province, everyone was gracious and patient as I nervously stumbled and mumbled my way through explaining why I had organized the event in the first place. Then we went around the circle hearing why each person had come.
While the reality of the situation didn't end up meeting my grand expectations, I wasn't disappointed. Walking into it, I was worried about "leading a rally", but it end up being a conversation that led itself, and I formed relationships with compassionate, intelligent, hardworking, enlightened individuals who I've worked with ever since. So while I didn't accomplish what I had set out to do that day, I walked away with something much more valuable: the knowledge that there exists a family-like network of people in this province that is working on issues that matter, and anyone can be a part of it as long as they are willing to offer their time and energy to doing their share of the work.
Individually, I don't think any of us can really say we accomplish very much, but there are hundreds of events and milestones every year that we can each say we took part in, had a small role in, and collectively, wouldn't have happened at all if no one had made those small contributions. Every time I attend a meeting, a rally, a presentation, a screening, a workshop, a fundraiser, or receive an email, I'm reminded that someone is always working, thinking, and caring, and that inspires me to keep trying and learning.
What I learned from that early experience in front of Province House is to plan for everything like it's the million man march. I learned to accept whatever ends up happening without getting attached to results, so that even if 10 people show up, even two, you appreciate it. And finally, most importantly, I learned that individual heroic accomplishment doesn't really exist in volunteering -- the highest good is building a community. So thanks to all of you for being part of that community.
Jenkins from the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association presented to the Standing
Committee on Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Forestry Tuesday morning,
expressing the concerns of the fishers the organization represents, but seeking
an atmosphere of respect with the agriculture community. He also called
for the work to change things (a Water Act) to be transparent and
involve the public; not seeing much regarding the former at this point.
The Committee will submit a report to the Legislature during the Fall sitting
which starts next week.
Published on-line on November 04, 2014, in print on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
The P.E.I. Fisherman’s Association is adding its voice to the chorus of concerned citizens and groups who want the provincial government to keep in place the moratorium on deep-water wells. Representatives from the PEIFA appeared Tuesday morning before a legislative committee in Charlottetown, which has heard testimony from over 50 organizations, advocacy groups and individuals on the controversial issue of high capacity wells.
Bobby Jenkins, vice president of the PEIFA, said fishermen are concerned over a push by the agriculture industry to lift the current moratorium on any new deep wells for agricultural irrigation. The PEIFA was reluctant to come out against deep-water wells. “We didn’t want to be portrayed as coming out against the agriculture community,” Jenkins explained. “We realize they have a tough job too and they’re trying to make a living the same as fishermen are.”
Fishermen in P.E.I. are concerned about a variety of effects that lifting the moratorium on the wells could have on groundwater and waterways across the Island. Jenkins said these concerns are focused on the potential effects on the Island’s fisheries, but also on the general impacts an influx of new wells could have on all Islanders. “We have lobster larvae right at the mouth some of these estuaries right where the salt and fresh water mix, so we’re concerned on that department, and obviously everybody on P.E.I. is concerned over drinking water.”
Debate over whether to allow farmers to drill deep wells so they can irrigate their crops when the rain doesn’t fall has been brewing on for months in P.E.I. Environmental advocates say they worry the wells could deplete the province’s groundwater levels if used for industrial farming. Groundwater is the province’s only source of drinking water.
Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving told the same legislative committee last June that P.E.I. potatoes are not meeting consistency standards required by the french fry industry. He said Cavendish Farms may be forced to downsize its operations and investments in P.E.I. if the government does not lift its moratorium on deep-waterwells, a move that could have devastating impacts on P.E.I.’s important agriculture sector.
On Tuesday, committee chair Paula Biggar told the PEIFA its concerns would be noted, as will those of the numerous other groups and individuals, in the committee’s report to be presented later this month in the legislature. She also noted the province is currently developing a water act, which could also help to address some of the concerns the fishermen raised.
The Guardian was told an announcement on this upcoming water act would be coming later this month. Public consultations are expected to be part of this new legislation.
Redmond, provincial NDP leader, has raised concerns about statements former
Environment Minister Richard Brown said about the upcoming Water Act:
Tomorrow, Thursday, November 6th, 7PM, documentary: The End of Immigration, Murphy Community Centre, admission by donation.
Cinema Politica Charlottetown, with Cooper Institute and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) will present the documentary, "The End of Immigration?" on November 6th at 7 p.m. at Murphy's Community Centre. Admission is free, but donations are accepted at the door. After the film there will be time for a discussion about recent changes to the Temporary foreign Worker Program and the impact those changes are having on workers and employers in PEI.
The Citizens' Alliance is co-hosting the next Cinema Politica movie on Wednesday, November 26th, 7PM, at the Farm Centre, called Last Call at the Oasis, on water issues.
was invigorating to see how interested people were in the municipal elections
yesterday in P.E.I., for the most part.
The P.E.I. Legislature opens on Wednesday, November 12th, with the Speech from
the Throne, at 2PM, Province House.
Thursday, November 6th, 7PM, Haviland Club
(whenever that may be!)
The office also oversees and trains returning officers for the municipal elections held in the smaller towns and 63 communities. The next scheduled election will be held on November 3, 2014.
On the same page are links to the four larger municipality info sites, and information about the smaller municipalities.
Communities, in accordance with The Municipalities Act, had to pay (their residents' tax money) to place ads in local papers, at the proper timing before the election. The Guardian alone has had dozens of these. To economize, some communities batched their ads, so the requirements and such are only printed once, and the individual locations listed. A "batched" ad that meets the Act requirements and save the communities a bit of money.
The papers could improve their coverage. They could list ALL the municipal meeting time and locations. The could print better maps of the urban wards. More of a critique after the whole thing is over, so send your observations, too.
City of Charlottetown polling information info here:
and it has been great to see very hardworking people involved in running. I am sure the same is true for other areas.
Have a great day, and hope voting is an easy task today,
Friday afternoon, out of the blue, the preliminary report on the August 2014
North River fishkill was released and posted on-line by the P.E. I.
government. A news release let media outlets know, and CBC posted a story
late Saturday morning.
While I am glad the preliminary report is out, it is perplexing that Minister Sherry's department ignored two letters from the Chair of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water regarding the fishkills, and released the document late on a Friday.
Citizens’ Alliance of PEIMission Statement: Citizens’ Alliance of PEI is a non-partisan, not for profit, group of Islanders dedicated to advancing environmental rights and the democratic process.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says it means: "not supporting one political party or group over another : not partisan; especially : free from party affiliation, bias, or designation"
Using the full definition of the word, we mean that we encourage and support people being engaged in the political system. We don't pick sides or have absolute allegiance to any party, but we will likely comment on the policies of political parties and on the behaviour of politicians.
Since we are involved in promoting environmental and democratic rights, we are commenting (negatively) on the policies of the current federal government; that is not to say we would consistently pan any future federal Conservative government action.
Still, I am sure it was eye-opening for some of us to hear our guest speaker at the Citizens' Alliance make fun of our current Prime Minister. First, the usual disclaimer is that any guest speaker's opinions are his or her own. (These daily CA News updates are really my opinion since I don't run them by the Board beforehand.) Second, we encourage opinion and engagement -- that's why we aren't likely to apply for charitable status -- and want our members (you!) and our Board to feel free to join political parties or not, work for them, etc. if they wish.
It's great to hear everyone's opinion, and you may not agree with what others say, but consider it, and feel welcome to continue to participate.
Here is a decidedly opinionated piece in The Tyree about strategic voting, an interesting read on a rainy Sunday -- not that we endorse it or anything :-)
where credit is due:
Voluntary Resource Centre Honours Volunteers at Annual Breakfast
October 22, 2014 - The Voluntary Resource Centre (VRC) invites the public to attend their annual Fundraiser & Volunteer Awards Breakfast. The event will take place on November 1, 2014 at 8:30 am at Murphy’s Community Centre. Six Outstanding Volunteers from across the province will be honoured for their tireless contribution to their communities.
“The role of the VRC in the PEI community is to provide support and encourage collaboration between voluntary organizations” say Board Member, Josie Baker. “It is such a pleasure to honour just a few of the individuals who stand out for the work they do for their community.”
The voluntary sector provides important services to Islanders that would not otherwise be available. “Everything from support services for vulnerable members of our society, to advocacy, to maintaining active community in rural areas, volunteers and voluntary organizations provide vital services,” says Rosalind Waters, another Board Member.
volunteers will be honoured this year:
Free PEI released
its survey results for candidates in the three major municipal elections.
Great work to them getting that organized! The comments some of
the candidates who did fill out the survey are worth reading.
Sunday, November 2nd:
Tuesday, November 4th, 7:30PM, NaturePEI meeting with guest speaker Gerald
MacDougall, Beaconsfield Carriage House, Kent Street, free.
The speaker at the next meeting of Nature PEI will be Gerald MacDougall on “Best Conservation Officer Stories Ever.” The group meets on Tuesday, November 4th at 7:30 p.m.
Gerald will talk about his experiences as a conservation officer. He had been a game warden in Nova Scotia for two years before moving to PEI in 1980. He became a conservation officer in west Prince County and stayed there until 1990 become moving to Charlottetown to be in charge of issuing permits and doing enforcement in the provincial Department of Environment and in 1998, he became head of the Investigation and Enforcement Section for the department. In 2005 Gerald worked as the provincial Climate Change Coordinator and in 2006 he was appointed the manager for Fish and Wildlife Section until he retired last February.
Mr. MacDougall said “My time in West Prince was when my family was young (so was I) and is special to me. I got to know the people, the wildlife and all the back roads. When I first moved to Charlottetown and people would ask me where I was from, I would say up-west. It really felt like home to me and to this day when I drive there it still feels like I am coming home.”
Gerald will tell about his time there as a conservation officer. “Bringing wildlife enforcement into an area that had little to none was not an easy job. Years after I left, a former poacher approached me and told me how much they hated me when I was there but… how much they wished I was back there now! I took this as a compliment.”
Twenty Third Annual Daniel O’Hanley Memorial Lecture
The Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) of the Diocese of Charlottetown is inviting all Islanders to the twenty-third annual Daniel O’Hanley Memorial lecture. It will take place on Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm at Our Lady of the Assumption Church Hall, Stratford.
The guest presenter is Eliza Starchild Knockwood, a Mi’kmaq woman of the Abegweit First Nation. Her topic is Water as a Sacred Trust: How do we Protect it? This lecture is designed to inspire Islanders to appreciate that water is a gift from Creator and to encourage existing water protection movements. It will challenge all Islanders to accept their responsibility to become active and public as water protectors and nurturers of Mother Earth.
The lecture continues LAMP’s themes of promoting non-violent protest for the protection of natural resources. It also brings out LAMP’s belief in the essential position of Aboriginal peoples in the past, present, and future of the Island, of Canada, and of many other countries.
Eliza Starchild Knockwood is well-known and highly-respected in the Maritimes and across Canada. She is a passionate defender of all aspects of the natural environment. She is especially committed to honouring water as key to the care and protection of Mother Earth. People who attend this lecture will be privileged to share Eliza Starchild’s important connection with the Wisdom of the Elders. Her amazing communication skills and her grounding in deep spiritual convictions are a breath of fresh air to all who hear her.
Island people have made it clear during the past year that they know that water is one of our most precious and fragile resources. Water counts for the natural design of Island communities in and around watersheds. The histories of the Mi’kmaq and of European settlements are intertwined with where the water flows. People know that ground water is our only source of water and that it is a civic and moral duty to protect it from excess extraction and contamination. As part of the afternoon’s session, there will be a short response from a spokesperson for the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water. The Knockwood presentation promises to move people well beyond viewing water as a physical commodity to appreciating that water is alive as well as being a source of life.
Eliza Starchild Knockwood’s lecture is a fitting memorial to Daniel O’Hanley, who worked with landless peasant farmers in Nicaragua for seven years, where he was murdered in a botched robbery attempt on July 3, 1991. Dan and the peasants with whom he worked understood the preciousness of water, a scarce resource in their newly acquired land. Getting access to water was a daily worry for their collective farm. Dan promoted forms of development which respected the land, water, air and wildlife and which valued human self-realization. Each year since Dan’s death, LAMP honours him and all Islanders by presenting the Daniel O’Hanley Memorial Lecture.
All are welcome. Everyone is invited to bring a small jar of water from home in order to take part in a moving water ceremony.
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