November 2014


  1. 1 November 29, 2014
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  2. 2 November 28, 2014
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 2.2 Party leader fails to finish mandate - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 November 27, 2014
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  4. 4 November 26, 2014
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 4.2 Online gambling: waiting for the pitch - The Guardian article by Russell WangPrinted on November 8th, 2014
  5. 5 November 25, 2014
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 5.2 Recommendation to Retain 12-year Moratorium Fails to Provide Answers for Growers, Processors - The Guardian Editorial
    3. 5.3 George Webster Says P.E.I. Should Entertain Deep-Water Wells - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt
  6. 6 November 24, 2014
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 6.2 Environmental group wants concerns turned into voting issue - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross
  7. 7 November 23, 2014
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  8. 8 November 22, 2014
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  9. 9 November 21, 2014
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 9.2 Paul Maines, CMT not part of P.E.I. gambling file, says Wes Sheridan - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  10. 10 November 20, 2014
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 10.2 Potato board adds cancer presentation to AGM - The Guardian article
  11. 11 November 19, 2014
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 11.2 Timing of Ghiz Resignation the Real Surprise - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  12. 12 November 18, 2014
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  13. 13 November 17, 2014
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 13.2 Pipeline Politics - by Elizabeth May, Federal Green Party Leader
  14. 14 November 16, 2014
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  15. 15 November 15, 2014
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 15.2 House Approves Keystone XL Pipeline, Senate to Vote on Tuesday - Ecowatch article
  16. 16 November 14, 2014
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 16.2 Stop muddying Island waters - The Journal Pioneer Letter tot the Editor
  17. 17 November 13, 2014
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  18. 18 November 12, 2014
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 November 11, 2014
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  20. 20 November 10, 2014
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 20.2 Maritimers Too Timid for Their Own Good - The Guardian column by Alan Holman
  21. 21 November 9, 2014
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 21.2 This crusty activist gave up on playing by the rules. What are they gonna do, arrest him? -  article by Heather Smith
  22. 22 November 8, 2014
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 22.2 Parents calling for safer road access to child care centre - CBC news article by by Angela Walker
  23. 23 November 7, 2014
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 23.2 Fracking: Not Without a Fight - The Guardian article by Russel Wangersky
    3. 23.3 Fracking Bans Pass in Denton, Texas, Two California Counties and One Ohio Town - EcoWatch article by Anastasia Pantsios
  24. 24 November 6, 2014
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  25. 25 November 5, 2014
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 25.2 Fishermen share concerns over deep-water wells - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  26. 26 November 4, 2014
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  27. 27 November 3, 2014
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  28. 28 November 2, 2014
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  29. 29 November 1, 2014
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update

November 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Mixed notes:

Kinder Morgan has been ordered to stop working by December 1st on its TransMountain pipeline near Burnaby, B.C.,  for the time being. (Those scary "KM Faces" must have worked.)
 Also, the civil contempt charges issued to protestors are all invalid, since the GPS coordinates for the security zone were incorrect.   Now the company is talking loudly about the cost of extra policing, which many of us opposed to Plan B remember as being a government public relations tactic used here. More on the pipeline story:

UPEI unveiled 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.

More from CBC's webstory here or on Compass, about 6 minutes in, here.

(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:

November 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here are some random thoughts on the Fall sitting of the Legislature, my own opinions:

The Legislature *did* close yesterday afternoon, as the insiders predicted.  First a "normal" Question Period, with the indefatigable Steven Myers taking the lead, and then, as Thursday afternoon is Opposition Afternoon, the Opposition presented and discussed motions they wanted.  One that passed unanimously regarded mental health -- Environment Minister Janice Sherry was quite touching describing her work with Canadian Mental Health Society.  (If she "needed" to be a part of Cabinet, her skills would have been much better served in Community Services and Seniors, than the unwieldy mismatched Environment, Labour and Justice AND Attorney General.  A very poor decision to use her that way.)

A discussion on education and an Opposition motion on improving education was next.  This is when the best line of the sitting was spoken by House Opposition Leader James Aylward::

Just because we are a small province doesn't mean we have to be small-minded.

And then the government  (conducted by Wes Sheridan) went into speedy-mode, granting leave that five bills and the capital budget get third reading and then royal assent, and the Lieutenant Governor was on his way.  Before the very end, Colin LaVie, Opposition MLA from Souris-Elmira and a fisherman (among other roles), made some impassioned statements regarding the Act to Amend the Fisheries Act, regarding the lobster levy.   I gather he felt debate was rushed through during the second reading, and he didn't get his questions answered; and he was rightly furious.  He was only supposed to speak to the Bill, but he pretty much pointed at Ron MacKinley as a horrible out-of-touch Fisheries Minister.  Another poor Cabinet choice.

The Premier wasn't even there, on the (probable) last day of his government in that grand old building.

The pathetic sitting is a result, of course, of yet another poor decision of Robert Ghiz.  His virtual walking away from his job the day after an ambitious Throne Speech left a rudderless ship and an abandoned crew of loyal sailors, folks used to several years of operating under the mantra, "We do what we think will make Robert happy."   Well, they were not able to.

Now what?  It seems that "Wade-fever" is here, with an announcement from Mr. MacLauchlan later this morning.  The Tories will choose a leader the week after the Liberals do, February 28th; and the Green Party and NDP have leaders in place (both of whom have been discussing actual issues affecting Islanders all this time).

Party leader fails to finish mandate - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on November 25th, 2014

Deputy 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.

Next Tuesday, December 2nd, three very interesting events are all piled up, all starting at 7PM:

NaturePEI will feature Chuck Gallison as their guest speaker,talking about Whales of P.E.I. at Beaconsfield Carriage House.

The Land Use Policy Forum has been storm-dated to that night, UPEI.

And there is public meeting on "Climate Jobs: How to Make the Shift to a Green Economic Future to Overcome the Triple "E" Crisis of Environment, the Economy, and Energy?" with Tony Clarke, founder of the Polaris Institute, at Murphy Community Centre, Room 207.

November 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Legislature is likely to close soon, at least according to experienced watchers.

From a tweet from Kerry Campbell at CBC Radio yesterday:
"And govt is in a big hurry to finish up this sitting. Pass the capital budget and a handful of bills and this will be over." 

From the 30 bills discussed at the beginning, only five will likely see it through.
The listing of bills and their progress is here:

No, this is not responsible government.  Not counting the day of the Speech from the Throne, the Legislature has worked for eight days so far since May.  Opposition Leader Steve Myer has spent days of Question Periods going after Wes Sheridan's loosy-goosey travel and entertainment plans in pursuit of the internet gambling file (Teresa Wright has a lead feature in today's Guardian with the whole story, finally).  Concrete questions have been asked (as before) while the MLAs are sitting around as a "Committee of the Whole House" going over the budget figures, the Capital Budget, in this case.  Yesterday, James Aylward pursued the money trail of Plan B, and I think I heard the treasurer say it was in under budget*, and Minister Vessey tried to explain the exceptional frost heaving the road went through this spring.  He assured Aylward that his engineers assured him it won't be as bad this coming spring.  Nobddy though to ask if the TCH recurvement in Tryon, having been given the first asphalt coat in November, will also show excessive bumpiness this spring.

*Steven Myers continues to show his punchy comebacks, as he exclaimed about the on-line gambling admissions from the Finance Minister, "Pinocchio would blush!"  I thought the same thing about anyone saying Plan B was under budget. 

The cosmetic pesticide legislation is likely to be one of the few bills passed.
It's narrow, narrow, narrow in scope, just as the Minister Sheridan promised. It will only allow the three municipalities (Charlottetown, Summerside, Cornwall) and the municipalities that are incorporated to  pass by-laws to ban cosmetic pesticides for lawn use.  It clearly states that golf courses, agricultural uses, household pests uses, etc. are not included in this.  It's a cheap gift, but it is something.
Here is the text of the bill:
Richard Raiswell's political commentary on CBC Radio's Mainstreet, from Monday, November 24th:

Take care today,
Chris O.,
Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I.

P.S. We postponed showing the documentary Last Call at the Oasis until January.  Sorry for the slip-up in not sending an e-mail notice.  Presumably I got distracted waiting for Olive Crane's big announcement.  ;-) 

November 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

Printed on November 8th, 2014

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.”
What it won’t be is whether, ethically, provincial governments should be in the game at all. If they do decide to play online, the damage done by VLTs will look like a drop in the bucket.

Russell Wangersky is TC Media’s Atlantic Regional columnist. He can be reached at; his column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and ­Saturdays in TC Media’s daily papers.

November 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today 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.

Richard Raiswell made some interesting comments on yesterday's CBC Radio Mainstreet political commentary, about the new Liberal leader (who would be Premier) NOT needing a new mandate when there are only a few months left in the term.  We do know who most of the people who have been suggested are and the level of decision-making they undertook when as the current government.  The political column link will be shared as soon as it is available.

Today's Legislature proceedings can be watched here from 2-5PM and from 7-9PM:

While 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:

Guardian main editorial, Monday, November 24th, 2014 -- bold is mine.

Recommendation to Retain 12-year Moratorium Fails to Provide Answers for Growers, Processors - The Guardian Editorial

Published on November 24th, 2014, in The Guardian

It 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.

In today's local news section:

George Webster Says P.E.I. Should Entertain Deep-Water Wells - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt

Published 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.

November 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Events event events this week and next:

Tuesday, November 25th, 6PM, Farm Centre (420 University Avenue, Charlottetown): Waves of Change - Sustainable Food System for PEI.  The PEI Food Security Network, Farm Centre and Legacy Garden, and Food Exchange will host an evening of reflection and discussion leading from the Food Secure Canada Assembly.  There will be coffee and tea available, and you are welcome to bring some sort of snack/finger food to share with others.

Wednesday, November 26th, 7PM, Farm Centre: Movie Last Call at the Oasis,
admission by donation.  A 105-minute documentary about water issues, followed by a discussion of water issues. Sponsored by the Citizens' Alliance of P.E.I. (that's all of us!) and Cinema Politica. All welcome!

Thursday, November 27th, 7PM, UPEI -- Duffy Centre: Nature Conservancy "Nature Nerds" talk. from the press release:
The first night is an opportunity for residents and businesses to gather informally over coffee. The goal is to help people learn more about nature, Prince Edward Island’s natural habitats, the importance of conserving land as well as the science behind the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s work across the island.


Thursday, November 27th, 7PM, UPEI -- McDougall Hall, Room 242: Forum Land Use Policy at an Impasse?, free, from the Facebook event:
Islanders who are concerned about issues surrounding the use and abuse of Island land are urged to attend. The Symposium will begin with presentations by two veteran observers of Island public life over the past 30 years, Jean-Paul Arsenault and Ian Petrie.

and from land and environment to political events next week:

Saturday, November 29th, 11:30AM, Murphy's Community Centre: NDP PEI Leader's Brunch with Mike Redmond,
$80 (members)/ $150 (non-members), from the Facebook event listing:
Come and join us in celebrating another wonderful year for the NDP PEI. We continue to fight for social justice issues and holding government to account. Great food, entertainment and an address from the Leader of the NDP Mike fiddling entertainment by Sheila Fitzpatrick, lots of things to chat about.

Friday and Saturday, December 5th, 7PM, Bites Cafe, Hampton, 19566 TCH: Big Green Social, $20.  from the Facebook event listing:

We'll meet Bruce Hyer, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada - Parti vert du Canada. Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the PEI Greens will host. Meet the nomination contestants for the Federal ridings of Charlottetown and Malpeque.
Admission is $20 and that will include two glasses of locally sourced wine and some delicious Artisan Bread & Cheese. There will also be a pay-as-you-go Oyster Bar and Vegetarian Sushi. Then we dance! Music provided by Jon Rehder and company.

Three of the members presenting the public face of CassandraPEI spoke to some media people on Friday:
from November 22, 2014 in print

Environmental group wants concerns turned into voting issue - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross

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.

November 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Guardian has published the text of Stephen Lewis's speech on-line from Friday:
(Paul Martin's speech from last year has been printed up and the Confederation Centre gift shop had it for sale.)
If you can't access the link for the speech, let me know and I could likely send it as an e-mail attachment.

What is happening in British Columbia near Burnaby:

After slapping a suit on residents who oppose the pipeline, and alleging scary faces of protestors could be considered assault, Texas-based fossil-fuel energy company Kinder-Morgan has compelled the RCMP to be their personal security force against opponents of the TransMountain pipeline in the Burnaby, B.C. region these past few days.  The opponents and several municipalities have been working on legal means to halt to the project, but police have secured off an area and are issuing civil contempt charges to those who cross it.  So far I think the number has been under twenty.  Many, many people have been coming up and standing in a "designated protest area" to show their support.

A short film about Friday, November 21st is found here, made by a group called Beyond Boarding:

Tamo Campos was one of the people arrested.  He is co-founder of Beyond Boarding, which describes itself as:
Beyond Boarding is an organization dedicated to spreading interest in humanitarian and environmental work within the snowboarding community. Our goal is to encourage snowboarders to channel the positive energy inherent to our sport in ways that genuinely help the people in our world.
Which is cool in itself; Tamo is also David Suzuki's grandson.
Hereis what Tamo said to the media the next day:

David Suzuki wrote this letter to his grandson:
and afterward Simon Fraser University microbiology professor, who was named in the suit and was mentioned last week about the suit filed by Kinder-Morgan (Lynne Quarmby), spoke to the media and went across the safety / security fence (tape in this case)  and was also charged with civil contempt.  Kinder Morgan is moving in its equipment to drill some survey holes for the pipeline.

More pipelines:
Since I don't know the media source well, I am not sure if there is an axe to grind behind the tone of this story, but this article links a former NDP staffer with a new PR campaign for the Energy East pipeline.
the last line of the article:
"Today’s revelations shine a light on an NDP energy policy that sees the party vehemently oppose the nearly dead Northern Gateway and Keystone XL proposals, skirt the question of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and enthusiastically support the Energy East project."
And for a smile, The Onion reports that "Desperate GOP spotted in South Dakota trying to build Keystone pipeline themselves.",37499/
(The Onion is a satirical American-based publication; "GOP" is the nickname for members of the Republican Party  -- the Grand Old Party -- in the States.)

Events Tonight:
Macphail Homestead talk on Andrew Macphail's experiences during World War I.
talk starts at 7PM, Homestead open at 6PM.
from the press release: (again):

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,

November 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

I 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.

from the Confederation Centre of the Arts website:
The Symons Medal and Lecture honours Professor Thomas H.B. Symons, a supporter of Confederation Centre for many years and also a Board Governor. Professor Symons, the founding President of Trent University, is widely recognized for his work in the field of Canadian Studies, in particular in the areas of public policy, heritage, and education.

Professor Symons, who is 85 now, travelled to be there, watching from the wheelchair accessible section, and apparently enjoying it all.  I met him a few years back, and he is a very interesting to chat with. A very caring and giving man, as is his family; they make this whole thing possible.

The speaker is usually announced in early Fall, along with the date the tickets will be available.  The lecture is free, general seating tickets required.  One has to contact the box office or reserve on-line the day they go on sale, usually with a limit of four tickets per household.

Past medal recipients have been Paul Martin (2013, on the state of Aboriginal Canada -- excellent, funny, engaging), David Suzuki (2012, this was a few weeks after Hemlock Grove was razed, and Suzuki called out, "Plan B! All I hear about here is Plan B.  Premier Ghiz! Premier Ghiz! This is *your* problem!"); Ivan Fellegi, Canada's Chief Statistician Emeritus, who in 2011 sent sparks flying from the stage in his sizzling criticism of the Harper government cutting the long-form census; Governor General David Johnstone (2010, a bit of generic stock-speech, frankly); and in 2009, Mary Simon from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, giving us a peek into our North.  Excellent people before that, but I wasn't paying attention enough to go.
Prince Charles, without much prior public announcement, was given the medal and gave a private speech when he was here in May 2014; that's a bit loosey-goosey  for an annual award for a distinguished Canadian...and since it wasn't made public (that I know of), most of us have no idea what he talked about.
But we heard Stephen Lewis, humanitarian, NDP provincial opposition leader and member of the Ontario Legislature (1970s and 80s), United Nations Canadian Ambassador (late 1980s), and Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the 2000s.

Some highlights of the speech that I recall, sorry for any confusion:

Lewis said in his speech, "A Socialist Takes Stock" (which was the name his father, an MP, titled a speech he gave many years ago) that we are at the "nadir of indignity", in an atmosphere of "mindless atavistic hostility".

Five areas where this is noticeable:

1) Lack of respect and civility in our Parliamentary Democracy
Parliament can have a collegeal environment with intense ideological dispute; but respect, not ridicule.  He sees this condoned and nurtured by the current government.

2) Suppression of dissent -- marginalizing and all the way down to demonizing groups that don't agree with government, e.g., calling environmentalists "radical ideological environmentalists"
Most notable is the Canadian Revenue Agency by auditing and threatening to remove charitable status of groups that criticize the government or don't share its vision.

3) Dealings with First Nations -- the government may have said they were sorry for all the bad things that happened, but not many actions to right conditions.

4) Climate Change -- a "religious devotion to the tar sands" that needs to be stopped.  He cited five patterns that have good effects:
1. there are new environmentalism
2. there is more discussion for indigenous rights
3. there is an oversupply of oil in the states
4. renewables are ready
5. drop in price of oil makes an expansion no good

He spoke categorically that bitumen expansion should not happen -- it's at "our mortal peril" and we need to, simply,
"Leave it in the ground." 
It would be a Herculean task to leave it and to get on renewables, but it is doable and it is time.

5) He things Canada looks bad on the world stage for it's foreign policy, shunning peacekeeping over military engagement, its picking of sides, etc. 

But it's not irreversible, since we are known for our equality and respect, policy respected and not demonized, but we need a new humility.  We just need to vote differently.

He 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.

November 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Events notes:
The Don't Frack PEI annual general meeting scheduled for next Thursday, November 27th, has been postponed until the New Year.  This will free up the evening for people to attend the forum on Land Use Policy issues which is to be held at UPEI's McDougall Hall, starting at 7PM. :-)

There is a Seedy Saturday event at the Confederation Centre Library tomorrow from 2-4PM.  All welcome!

In the Provincial Legislature yesterday,:

Colin LaVie read from The Elections Act last night in the Provincial Legislature during his time commenting on the government motion which reiterated that the Legislature could be dissolved at any time.  I think he was trying to keep the motion from coming to a vote, where it would very likely pass.

In the afternoon session during Question Period, Opposition Leader Steven Myers zeroed in on a trip Finance Minister made to London for an on-line gaming conference (!) two years ago and who paid for it, and then to a report submitted last week (which the Finance Minister said he had handed to the Justice Department to review) which apparently documents that the P.E.I. government was actively looking into on-line gambling.  Myers' last questions seem to ask if there was a relationship between this private investigator's report and big political shifts (meaning the Premier's announcement of his resignation, I think), to which Sheridan got quite huffy and commented about Dignity of This House and such.  I couldn't figure out what was so scandalous; the report was tabled and the efficient Legislative Assembly website folk had in on the website yesterday  here.
The video archives for yesterday is here: and the exchange about the trip starts after ten minutes or so and the testy bit is about 30 minutes.
Teresa Wright summarized the story in the morning's Guardian here. very well, pasted below.

Compass has some interesting stories last night:

One of the first stories is about Question Period and the London trip, then the next story is (critical) reaction from the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture and the Potato Board Chair about the decision to keep the moratorium on high capacity wells in place for now.  Megan Harris from the Central Queens Wildlife Federation/West River Watershed expresses her relief in the decision, echoing what many others feel.

At 6minutes -- the Environmental Impact meeting for the Souris fish research station, including the comment that at this point there are no plans for developing genetically modified organisms (like the fish at the Aquabounty facility) at this point, but they have great bio-security planned, and there may be a market for using genetic manipulation for various characteristics  (feed efficiency, for instance).

At about 19 minutes, there is a report on the Guardians of Confederation's delegates visit to the Legislature, where they watched most of Question Period from the Gallery.  This conference, funded by 2014 money, welcomes two kids ages 14-17 from each province and territory in Canada, and about an equal number of Island kids, to learn about Confederation and talk about Canada's future.  Tucked in among the delegates are two of my kids; at least, I saw themon Compass. Today among other items, the delegates are going to the Symons Lecture and later having some time with Stephen Lewis and later this evening with historian and author David Weale.  Lucky kids!

Paul Maines, CMT not part of P.E.I. gambling file, says Wes Sheridan - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on November 21, 2014

Maines 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.

November 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some assorted notes:

High capacity wells:
MLA and Committee Chair Paula Bigger tabled the report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry yesterday in the Provincial Legislature.  They advised that the research used to measure the effects of the wells be expanded and then peer-reviewed, the moratorium stay in place, more monitoring of existing wells, and the  "inclusive, extensive and transparent" development of a water act.  Many of their recommendations came from Islanders who spoke at the meetings or wrote submissions, and the Committee communicates those concerns and recommendations.  The Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water spoke early on back in late winter, and the Citizens' Alliance toward the end of the meetings with recommendations about developing a water act.  Good for the committee to have welcomed input and listened to it. 
The links to the announcement in the Legislature and the document itself will be posted in the next few days.  the Environment Minister said things will stay as they are until the water act is developed, and she is going to announce that process soon.

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.)

Friday, 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.
from the article in today's Guardian, which may have been a press release sent by the Potato Board:

Potato board adds cancer presentation to AGM - The Guardian article

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.

November 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A lot of bits of news:

Tonight (6-9PM) is the Open House and Public Information Session as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment for a facility in Souris in the former Ocean Choice International building, for aquaculture research and development.  This hasn't had much press, but the Environmental Impact Statement is here and there will be a comment period where the public could submit questions and comments. The Open House is at the Eastern Kings Sportsplex in Souris.
Another event tonight is a radon information session starting at 7PM at the Culinary Institute, Charlottetown.  It is sponsored by the PEI Lung Association.
General information on radon:   P.E.I. Lung Association contact info: (902) 892-5957 or

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:

Timing of Ghiz Resignation the Real Surprise - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

Published on November 17th, 2014, in The Guardian

Premier Robert Ghiz’s announcement last week that he will resign in the new year did not surprise me, but the timing did.

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.  

Here’s why.  

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.

November 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Back 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.
You can watch the proceedings from Eastlink TV or on-line here, following the Watch Live links:

The Act 4 Global Change deadline is today (may possibly be extended for a day or two).  It is a program sponsored by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) that recruits youth ambassadors, and are seeking applicants from P.E.I.  It's for Grade 11 students.  More details here:

Wednesday (tomorrow, November 19th) is one of those days that everything is happening, so there is a lot to choose from:

Forum: "Grow Your Own Agri-Enterprise", noon to 4PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown, sponsored by ADAPT PEI. An entrepreneurship forum, promoting collaboration and networking, and communication of programs and opportunities.  All welcome, there is no charge, call (902) 892-3419, or
More details here

Seminar on Wind Energy, 12:30PM, Regis and Joan Duffy Research Centre (that's the NRC Building on the Confederation Trail side of the UPEI Campus), Room 212, free.  from the press release:
 Dr. Marianne Rodgers, Wind Energy Institute of Canada will present a seminar... entitled 'Wind Energy Institute of Canada Research Program.'

CBC Annual Public Meeting, 1PM our time.  It is in Montreal, but will be broadcast over the web, and anyone can attend.  It sounds like there will be some way of communicating questions or concerns before hand.  Information on this page:

The P.E.I. Legislature does not sit on Wednesday evenings, which is good, as so much else is going on:

Talk: Feeding Birds in Winter, 7PM, Confederation Centre Public Library, free, with Island Nature Trust Executive Director Jackie Waddell.

Pesticide Free PEI meeting is having its bi-weekly meeting, 7-9PM, Haviland Club, corner of Water and Haviland Streets. Lots of issues to discuss! from their notice:

"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):

And 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!

November 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This is a good explanation of the process (bold is mine): from: 

Pipeline Politics - by Elizabeth May, Federal Green Party Leader

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.

Focusing close to home on the Island's future, the Cassandra PEI group has published (via Facebook) some conclusions and suggestions for what concerned Islanders can do (apologies if this link does not work for everyone):

November 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

There are some interesting events going on in the next week or two in the way of lectures, documentaries, meetings, and such. 

Friday of this week (November 21st) is the Symons Medal Award and Lecture, 12:30PM, Confed Centre Main Theatre.  Humanitarian Stephen Lewis is the recipient this year. More info at: 

The event is free, and while tickets have been all reserved, some may free up.  The box office may be keeping a waiting list.
(902) 566-1267

Sunday, November 23rd, Lecture at Macphail Homestead on Macphail's experiences in World War I, 6PM reception, lecture at 7PM, admission $10.
from the press release:

Macphail Memorial Lecture – on World War I
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,

And a subsequent two-evening double-feature of water and land issues the next week:
Wednesday, November 26th, documentary, Last Call at the Oasis, 7PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown, sponsored by the Citizens' Alliance and Cinema Politica. Admission by donation. The movie is about the state of the world's water, and after the screening, we'll have a chat about water issues near and far. Hope you can make it!

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.

from the Facebook event notice:
The past and present state of Island land use policy will be the subject of a Public Symposium to be held at UPEI’s MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242, McDougall Hall, on Thursday, November 27th, at 7:00 p.m.
slanders who are concerned about issues surrounding the use and abuse of Island land are urged to attend. The Symposium will begin with presentations by two veteran observers of Island public life over the past 30 years, Jean-Paul Arsenault and Ian Petrie.
This event is sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services.

Ian Petrie has spent three decades with the CBC, in three provinces, covering resource issues, mainly agriculture. He’s lived for 34 years in Iona, eastern Queen’s County. Jean-Paul Arsenault served as Executive Secretary to the Round Table on Resource Land Use and Stewardship and the Commission on Land and Local Governance, and was a member of the team providing support to the Commission on the Lands Protection Act.

Mr. Arsenault’s talk will be entitled “Factors Affecting Land Use Decisions: What Were They Thinking?” He will present three examples of recent property developments in rural Prince County, in the communities of New Annan, Northam and Saint Nicholas, and the impact each has had, favourable or otherwise. Would stricter controls on land use be good for Prince Edward Island, or is the status quo the better option?

Mr. Petrie will address the topic “Why Farmers Fight Regulations.” He has covered agricultural stories on the Island since the late 1970s, during which time he’s seen the bond of understanding between producers and consumers continue to break down. During this period, consumers enjoyed cheap and abundant food, while profit margins on farms continued to shrink. This may help explain the negative response by farmers to proposed new land regulations. Is there a way out of this impasse? Mr. Petrie will propose one.

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

November 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A peek south of the border:
From Ecowatch, Friday, November 14th:

House Approves Keystone XL Pipeline, Senate to Vote on Tuesday - Ecowatch article

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:

background CBC article:

And this editorial cartoon, after the U.S. elections earlier this month, by John Jonik, from:

And 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:

And the photo of the folks in fluorescent vests and hardhats and the folks against the project mingling in the woods in B.C. is a bit reminiscent of Hemlock Grove
except the workers are filming every moment, and some residents have been slapped with a lawsuit for protesting.
“I feel outraged politically that this could happen in a democracy – that a massive foreign company can accuse you of trespassing on a park.  That they can use the courts and their money and influence from barring you from your constitutional right to free speech,” said (Simon Fraser University professor and pipeline protestor David) Collis.

November 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Roger 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 about 11AM.
Facebook events notice here

Yesterday's predictable quiet start to the Legislature was anything but quiet, with the Premier's retirement announcement.  I wish him and his family the very best.

Now there is the always entertaining analysis and speculation.

It's amusing that Graphic editor Paul MacNeill, during the hastily-called Political Panel on CBC Compass (along with instructor Rick MacLean), said of three current Cabinet Ministers who might run for the leadership of the P.E.I. Liberal Party (Doug Currie, Wes Sheridan, and Robert Vessey), "Vessey looks the most competent and has the least baggage." 
This was not a comedy skit.  Perhaps it is a "relatively-speaking" kind of comparison.  Islanders may remember Vessey's at times painfully conformist backing of Plan B, misrepresenting public consultation and wearing the mantle of safety, minimizing the numbers of trees cut, the number of elderly residents parted from their homes, and the total costs.  Currently, he is moving some provincial garages to a huge property in what I believe is his district (on money we really don't have); there is some leftover baggage of those unsigned contracts when he was Tourism Minister, and now some parents in Tryon saying the final plan of the TCH is not what residents were shown, and their concerns are being completely disregarded by his department.  To be fair, Minister Vessey (who does seem like a nice enough person) has likely not authored many of the decisions he has carried out.
This is not what many Islanders want in their democratic representatives, surely not in a leader.

Also entertaining was that a person mentioned by the Compass due who could run for *either* party is businessman and Alex Campbell biographer Wade MacLaughlin; one could add Paul MacNeill to the list. ;-)  The Winter's coffeeshop talk is ready.
full 9 minute interview here: 
and the Radio panel, with Wayne Collins, Jordan Brown and Paul MacNeill, will be on about 7:40AM this morning.

Back to tangible issues:

Here are two letters that fit together.  I have printed the first before when it was in The Journal Pioneer a few weeks ago.

Stop muddying Island waters - The Journal Pioneer Letter tot the Editor

Published on November 03, 2014

By 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

It will be interesting to see what alternatives will be brought forward regarding environmental infractions, as mentioned in Wednesday's Speech from the Throne.

November 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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.
about 9:40 into the broadcast:

I am not at all saying the curve in Tryon and the intersection at Route 10 was fine -- it was rough,uneven, and chronically patched, and the guard rail was close to the sides of the road. 

But these parents have a concern, and feel the Transportation Department and their local MLA (George Webster) have completely dismissed their concerns.

A mother writes (reprinted with permission from a Facebook post):

<<snip>> the government has began a highway project very close to the daycare and many parents are concerned.
Three years ago when the highway project was announced the daycare and many homes in the area were bypassed and the road would have become private. At very quietly advertised meeting in August however, it was announced that the realignment project was nothing like first announcment and the curve wasn't being straightened just made less severe and was now closer to the daycare. We as parents have written letter after letter to government representatives and have met with the chief engineer to no avail. Our request is simple, we would like for the daycare to be included in the cul-du-sac which homes in close proxomity will use for access and therefore providing a safe entrance and exit for the 80+ vehicles that come and go a day (including a bus which backs in off the highway).
I have no issues with my children's daycare being beside the highway the staff are wonderful and they have a beautiful fenced in yard, my concern is turning in and out daily on a busy highway which will now likely result in higher traffic speeds with a shallower turn and now because of the close proximity to the daycare it has decreased visibility. Many mornings as I come from the east and have to turn left into daycare I hug the yellow line as cars and transfer trucks go by me on the shoulder and oncoming vehicles fly by me on the other side.
We're extremely disappointed that there was no public consultation, when the daycare owner reached out in June to inquire about the upcoming project, calls were not returned, when we learned of the changes and cried out doors were closed and we feel that the opportunity is here to make an unsafe entrance safe and they should be willing to at least entertain something. We are hoping that some added support from the public may make them listen.
Sorry for the book, thanks for reading and please sign your name and share with others so they can do the same.

Petition numbers do speak.

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." 

In the past couple of years, many of these Plan B people have continued to give to their children and grandchildren, helping them when they need it most, and I am humbled by their devotion and sacrifice.  Welcome back to those who have been out-of-province lending a hand, and a bittersweet goodbye to those leaving to be there for grown children and grandchildren who need them to be close right now.

A slightly different parenting style is seen in Mother Nature, the first of a series of short (under two minutes) films by Conservation International.  She is personified by the voice of actress Julia Roberts, and she clarifies she has no favourites among her earth life forms ;-)  The films are supposed to remind us "Nature doesn't need people.  People need nature."  In the true sense of the word, they are awe-inspiring.
At the end of that film, you should get choices of other short pieces, including Harrison Ford as The OceanWater 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.”

November 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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.

The Lieutenant Governor's Speech, which I don't think he writes, outlines the priorities of Government for the coming year.  The speech will highlight announcements and upcoming legislation to be introduced, and very often items mentioned or announced already: working towards a Water Act, downloading the ability to pass bans on cosmetic pesticides to the municipalities, to name a few.

The accredited media will be in "lock-up" with an advance copy of the speech, so they can read and report on it, and get Opposition and other political party leaders' comments on it, for the afternoon radio news and for Compass TV news. Kerry Campbell of CBC Radio will likely tweet a lot, on Twitter and the Live Feed on CBC's website, and will have a preview this morning about 7:40AM. 

As soon as the speech is over, with clapping and handshakes all around, the official part of the day is over, and then everyone will mosey down to the Murphy Centre for a reception (or at least they have in the past).

Tomorrow the Legislature resumes with a normal Thursday schedule of 2-5PM and 7-9PM, and Friday from 10AM to 1PM.  It is likely they will sit for several weeks but certainly be done before Christmas.

If you want to watch or listen to the proceedings, go here:

The Official Opposition Progressive Conservatives have legislation to introduce also, the most notable being Recall Legislation.  This will be very interesting to discuss!  However, this morning's lead editorial in The Guardian (not on-line yet) has immediately dismissed it. 
Headline: "The Recall Act really not needed in this province" and the first paragraph starts: Memo to members of P.E.I.'s Official Opposition: "We already have recall legislation.  It's called a provincial election."

I am not sure why they felt compelled to pass judgment on it even before the public has seen it, had it explained, or there has been any discussion or debate. 

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.

is a free screening of two Island-made short films,  Island Green by Mille Clark, and Rainbow Valley, about you can guess. But it is the late show -- 9:10PM.  Actually, the ad from Sean Casey in this morning's Guardian says 9PM. 

from the announcement in The Buzz:

Rainbow Valley + Island Green

City Cinema

Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 9:10pm

Rainbow Valley
Dir: Patrick Callbeck/Alexis Bulman, Canada, 2014, 42 min. Free public screening sponsored by Sean Casey, Charlottetown MP

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.

Island Green
Dir: Millefiore Clarkes, Canada, 25 min.

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?

Location Details:

City Cinema
64 King Street

(902) 368-3669

November 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Ginny!" 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?”
--J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

All joking aside, a Facebook page called "Cassandra PEI" has emerged on social media.
Under the "About" section, it states: "Charting a better future for Prince Edward Island."

I don't know if you can see this if you aren't on Facebook, but this group (and I really have no idea who is behind it) posted first in August of this year, and has then posted daily since October 25th.
It has been building the case for what is happening on P.E.I. in respect to industrial agriculture, what has been published, and now where we go. "It's not rocket science," they say.  Lots of graphics and concise analysis.
Cassandra, by the way, in Greek mythology was a Trojan princess who could make prophesies, but was cursed not to be believed.

from the Facebook page:
Cassandra − a group formed to highlight the environmental, social and economic costs of PEI’s industrial agricultural model − today released information on the amount of taxpayer money being used to prop up this sector. “The Potato Board in particular likes to highlight the industry’s economic value to PEI, but presents only one side of the equation”, says the group. “Costs including direct contributions from taxpayers, loans and loan guarantees, and foregone tax revenue need to be considered to get the true picture.” The group says there are additional economic impacts on other industries, municipalities, home owners and property values.

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:
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

November 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

In 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.

For Mr. Holman, freelance journalist, wrote once again about the shortcomings of Maritimers and our fear of change, of our fear embracing resource development, even as we reap the benefits of western resource exploitation.

Maritimers Too Timid for Their Own Good - The Guardian column by Alan Holman

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:

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:

November 9, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It 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. 

This affects us, but not directly, as no pipelines are planned for P.E.I., and there is economic benefit to P.E.I. from oil sands (more on that another day). 

Here is a little bit about two pipelines being met with opposition:

Keystone XL -- this article is from July but still a good read, and things may change due to the elections in the U.S. last week.

This crusty activist gave up on playing by the rules. What are they gonna do, arrest him? -  article by Heather Smith

Published on-line at 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.
A lot has changed in that year. The protest around U.S. energy policy and climate change has shifted fronts – coal terminals, oil-by-rail, divestment, solar, and a massive climate rally planned for this September. Keystone XL South (now renamed the Gulf Coast pipeline) is up and running and being monitored by an ad hoc group of volunteers. Keystone XL is on hold until after the November U.S. elections — possibly for good, though Johnson has his doubts. “In my experience, the ruling class pretty much gets what they want when they want,” he says.


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. 

Some background,
from the Council of Canadians, on this site and through its links:

on suggestions for what you can do.

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.

November 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Islanders feeling their concerns have been totally brushed off, again.
(bold is mine)

Parents calling for safer road access to child care centre - CBC news article by by Angela Walker

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.

People live near these roads, and planners need to take their experience and their voices into account.  Islanders having well-thought-out concerns (and possible solutions) about highway projects are again being totally brushed aside by the Transportation Department officials -- a distressing pattern on PEI.

The parents' petition is here:

Two business people and Plan B related notes:

Darin Foulkes, professional videographer in Charlottetown, received an award recently for his volunteering with the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce.  His business is at:

A couple of years ago, he produced a video to go with Nancy White's "That Road (is a Pretty Good Road)", that she kindly wrote for the Plan B protest.
The sped-up driving scenes could almost justify a safety argument :-)  Actually, it's a beautiful record of what was there.

A big thanks and good luck with the next project to James Oja and his wonderful family, for their hard work and great (locally sources) flavours at The Big Orange Lunchbox, a restaurant down on University Avenue that closed this week.  James gives so much to his community, including just showing up and feeding many of us at the Plan B opposition camp two years ago, and continuing to stay involved with the Farm Centre and Legacy Garden.  He most recently provided the bar for our Citizens' Alliance AGM last month, refusing anything more than covering the expenses.  I hope he enjoys some time off with his young family, and a reinvention is around the corner.

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.

P.S.  Please note that the Citizens' Alliance News and other posts are on Facebook:

November 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Russell 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:

Fracking: Not Without a Fight - The Guardian article by Russel Wangersky

Published on November 6th, 2014, in The Guardian (bold is mine):

The signs were red, set up right at the property line as you drive along Nova Scotia’s summertime rural roads.

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; his column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in TC Media’s daily papers.

Fracking was an issue in United States elections Tuesday:

Fracking Bans Pass in Denton, Texas, Two California Counties and One Ohio Town - EcoWatch article by Anastasia Pantsios

Published on November 5, 2014
With a record number of fracking issues on local ballots in California, Texas and Ohio, the outcome was decidedly mixed. Of the eight measures—three in California, four in Ohio and one in Texas—four passed and four failed.

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.
Rest of article is here:

Last weekend was very full of various community events, and this weekend is quieter (let me know what I am missing). Apparently the Christmas Craft Fair Season is upon us, and tomorrow starts the annual November bird seed sale at Phillips Feed on Exhibition Drive in Charlottetown. Jackie Waddell from Island Nature Trust will be in the store from 8AM until noon this Saturday and next to chat, too.

November 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

(Not speaking on behalf of the Citizens' Alliance, necessarily, on this)

This morning, the promos for CBC Radio's Island Morning are quite sensational, seeming to imply a lack of democracy in that many of P.E.I.'s smaller municipalities acclaimed their chairpersons and councillors, and thus did not have actual voting.
from the CBC Facebook page:

Election by acclamation. The position of mayor or council chair was won by acclamation in at least 62 PEI municipalities this week.
In dozens of communities ENTIRE councils were filled -- without a single vote being cast.
Some say the province should force smaller communities to amalgamate. What do you think?
That story Thursday at 6:50am on CBC RADIO's Island Morning 96.1 FM

I suspect most of us won't do more than smirk at the mountain-out-of-molehill teaser.  There are probably communities that need different members to step forward and help in the community, and there are concerns with interest and engagement.  But very few communities have Boss Tweeds or Huey "Kingfish" Long running the show.  Likely just a volunteer who does an awful lot of other work already, can change fluorescent light bulbs in aging buildings (former schools?) and listen to concerns that come up.

Many small rural communities don't want more government to pay for. People are nominated by their neighbours, and can decline the offer.  Often when enough people step up to the front of the room, they are acclaimed; and then it's time for a chat about concerns, and tea and cookies. People go home and get on with the rest of their lives; folks who didn't come hear about it the next day at the post office and nod, and they show up the next time if they aren't happy.

listings of community election results:

The current system works well enough, and is appealingly frugal.  However, some common sense would go a long way.  For instance, each municipality is required to take out a specifically worded ad in the local paper, twice, in a specific time frame.  The ads for one community can cost about $700.  Could not something be worked out between Municipal Affairs, the local papers, and perhaps the Federation of Municipalities - -perhaps one big ad with the date, community and locations?

A lot of paperwork is offloaded on municipalities without a lot of practical help.  The four year term is a long time -- two or three makes much more sense but Minister Sheridan said he hoped the buzz of all the municipalities, large and small, having elections would enthuse the small communities.  He also said it's a long time, and maybe places like Bedeque that are amalgamating are doing the right thing (CBC Radio, Monday afternoon).  CBC is also floating the idea of amalgamation as the panacea for all rural ills. 

Hmm, sorry to say the Plan B experience has made a lot of us listen more closely, for the "other" reason behind some government decisions.  Rural revival is about more than drawing new boundary lines.

People making a difference:

Maureen Kerr and Jordan MacPhee were among six fantastic persons honoured by the VRC for their outstanding volunteer awards last Saturday.  It was very moving to see people who have give so much, like Maureen Larkin, and relative newcomers like Jordan and Maureen.  (Jordan for  ECO-PEI and Maureen for Pesticide Free PEI)
The Island is fortunate to have so many wonderful people.

This is Jordan's speech, with a bit highlighted, applicable to many instances of our life:

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 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.

November 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Bobby 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.
CBC on-line article:

And from this morning's Guardian (bold is mine):

Fishermen share concerns over deep-water wells - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright

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.

Mike 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.

November 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It was invigorating to see how interested people were in the municipal elections yesterday in P.E.I., for the most part.

In Charlottetown, two candidates (Keith Kennedy for Mayor and Jamie Larkin for Ward 1 Councillor) were both involved in the Plan B opposition.  Keith raised the discourse in the mayoral election to a higher plane by his concerns, and got over 800 votes.  Jamie received nine votes less than his opponent in Ward 1, who likely thought re-election would be a cake walk. 

The elections in the other larger municipalities showed people were engaged in the issues facing their communities.

On a local level, I heard a snippet on the radio with Municipal Affairs Minister Wes Sheridan yesterday afternoon bemoaning the problems small communities are having getting volunteers to be on councils and inferring this could likely be solved by amalgamation.  Let's analyze and discuss that much more before it's just changed by legislation.  In Bonshaw, despite the weather turning quite unpleasant at 7PM, a goodly number of residents showed up, and there was no trouble acclaiming a full slate of councillors.  So not one solution may fit all.

Some results can be found here:

This morning:
Legislative Committee on High Capacity Wells TODAY, 10AM, Pope Room of Coles Building
Today is the eleventh and likely last Standing Committee Meeting on high capacity wells before the Legislature sits, at 10AM,  with the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association presenting.  Sorry for the late notice.  The presentation part is open to the public, and then it sounds like the Committee will go in camera to discuss their report to the Legislature.  The meeting is in the Coles Building, the Pope Room, right next to Province House facing Richmond Street.  If you can make it, they are very interesting presentations, and people being there reminds government how important these issues are to Islanders.

Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry


Meeting #11
Deep well irrigation


The committee will receive a briefing on deep well irrigation from the PEI Fishermen’s Association. If time permits the committee will move in camera to discuss its report to the Legislative Assembly.


Pope Room, Coles Building

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 10:00 AM

The P.E.I. Legislature opens on Wednesday, November 12th, with the Speech from the Throne, at 2PM, Province House.

NaturePEI's monthly meeting is tonight at 7:30PM at Beaconsfield Carriage House, no admission.  The guest speaker is former conservation officer Gerald MacDougall with lots of stories about his career.

Thursday, November 6th, noon, Green Building Design Lunch-and-Learn, Holland College, Room 21C of East Wing of Charlottetown Campus
"This session is open to the public, and is an excellent opportunity for people preparing to build a home to incorporate energy efficient, green technologies into their plans."  People can bring their own lunch, or the Holland College Green Machine will provide pizza.

Thursday, November 6th, 7PM, Haviland Club
from Brenda at Fair Vote Canada:
Fair Vote Canada and Leadnow are having their monthly meeting (first Thursday of the month) - Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the Haviland Club (2 Haviland Street, Charlottetown). We'll be working on events and strategies heading into the next Federal Election in 2015! 

(whenever that may be!)

November 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Vote vote vote.

We do, too.  Thanks to the observant person who sent this to me. 


Municipal Elections
Charlottetown, Summerside, Stratford and Cornwall each have their own Election By-laws and Elections PEI conducts the municipal elections in these communities. The next scheduled election will be held on November 3, 2014.

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.

from The Guardian today:
To find out where you go to vote, go to Elections P.E.I.’s website at and look down the left-hand column under ‘Municipal’ and click on your municipality.
Or call Elections P.E.I. at 902-368-5895 or toll-free at 1-888-234-VOTE.

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,

November 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Late 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.

The report was not easily found (by me, anyway), being on the Department of Agriculture's website, but here is the link to the 12-page document:

In addition to some good maps and a timeline of the investigation, there is an extensive pathology report from the vet school.  Note tissue samples have been sent to be tested for pesticide residues but presumably the results were not obtained by the time the report was released.
My summary of the preliminary report:

  • It rained heavily August 6 and 7th, 2014, and the first were found August 9th. "Soil and water engineers" were sent out - -this was a recommendation of the Action Committee on Sustainable Land Management.
  • The actual estimate of fish killed was likely off by a factor of 10 -- likely 9,000 to 10,000 fish.
  • The AVC did the necropsies, and gross pathology and slides observed lots of food in the stomachs, indicating a rapid death of fish who were eating; but the tissues were pretty much too decomposed to note anything else. 
  • Final report will be out after toxicology studies complete.

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.

The LAMP's annual Don O'Hanley lecture on "Water as a Sacred Trust: How Do We Protect It?", presented by Eliza Knockwood, is this afternoon from 2-4PM at the Assumption Church in Stratford.  Boyd Allen and I will be giving a short response on how people can help protect our water.  All are welcome, and people are encouraged to bring a small vessel of water.

I have been meaning to comment on this since our first Citizens' Alliance annual general meeting last month:

On being "non-partisan" -- it's in the Citizens' Alliance Mission Statement, after all -- and we did carefully look at this word when writing the organizational statements --

Citizens’ Alliance of PEI

Mission 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"

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 :-)

November 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Credit where credit is due:

from Pauline Howard of Food Exchange P.E.I.:
Gary Schneider received the Janice Simmonds award (Tuesday night this week) at the Friends of the Farm AGM for his work in preserving public green space. The Friends of the Farm is a group largely responsible for ensuring the experimental farm was kept as a green space and an important shareholder in the Legacy Garden project. Janice Simmonds was a passionate voice for the organization until her passing in 2012. Gratitude to Gary for sharing his love of nature and for all that he does.
We would need a giant banquet hall  with about a week's worth of food to come close to honouring Gary, but it sure is nice to recognize other wonderful people who make the Island a better place, at the VRC Breakfast this morning:
from the VRC's press release:

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.

Six volunteers will be honoured this year:
Maureen Kerr of Pesticide Free PEI,
Maureen Larkin of Guatemala-Maritimes Breaking the Silence Network,
Hazel MacMillan of Parkinson Society,
Jordan MacPhee of Environmental Coalition of PEI,
Rosemary McGuirk of PEI Council of People with Disabilities and
Danielle Rochon of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The breakfast has probably been set at a certain number, but there are likely a few tickets available at the door.

Pesticide 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.
Global Chorus
book signing today
Today from noon to 3PM, Indigo in Charlottetown

Tomorrow, Sunday, November 2nd:
LAMP (Latin American Mission Project) invites you to attend
THE 23
Eliza Knockwood
Topic: Water as a Sacred Trust: How Do We Protect it?
Date: Sunday, November 2, 2014
Time: 2 PM
Place: Our Lady of Assumption Church
151 Stratford Road, Stratford, PEI
Entertainment and refreshments will follow the lecture.
All are welcome!

(full press release below)

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.