Ongoing Updates from Chris O.
the End of an Era, Part 1:
End of an Era, Part 2:
<snip> "And the future? Our 'gift of jurisdiction' remains with us, although somewhat squandered by lack of creative use. In 1973, we wrote about 'the Island way of life', whereas now we refer more often to 'the Island quality of life', as environmental concerns have come to the fore. Then, we faced the threat of Maritime Union; today our Legislative Assembly is confronted by a more insidious, internal challenge, and must summon the wisdom and will to protect the Island's precious reserves of soil and water."
Quote from the Introduction (2014 edition), End of an Era, by Harry Baglole and David Weale
The book is a fantastic read -- brief, very well-written, very enlightening and entertaining on how the Island evolved in its first hundred years, and the circumstances leading to joining Confederation in 1873. It is available at local bookstores like The Bookmark and Indigo, and it sounds like there could be a volume discount from the publisher. (Drop me a line and I could make a list to gauge that option.)
End of an Era, Part 3: Today is the last day to give to federal political parties for a tax receipt for this year, in case you have not already been hounded by any parties you many associate with. Some program of funding from the federal government ends this year, and with an election in 2015, the pitch is high.
CassandraPEI's 18th posting:
Pointing out yet another problem, but in a clear, let's-address-this-and-move-on way.
Have a great New Year's Eve!
the end of the year very close, one thing to consider is giving, especially if
you are hoping for a tax receipt for your donation.
Good points -- we need to keep this discussion going into 2015.
essay, published recently in the Journal of New Brunswick Studies, was
sent my way, and is really worth the time to work through the 22 paragraphs
(and they are so kindly numbered, too). Substitute P.E.I. for New
Brunswick, and our agricultural model for forestry model, and much pertains to
us; especially the language that will be used as we apparently move toward a
provincial election this year. I put in bold a couple of the more brilliant
comments, but it is all very interesting.
What the New Liberal Government Should Know About One-Term Governments and the Cultivation of Backwardness in New Brunswick - Journal of New Brunswick Studies article by Tony Tremblay
by Tony Tremblay, St. Thomas University, published in the annual Journal of New Brunswick Studies, Volume 5 (2014)
country begins to die when people think life is elsewhere and begin to leave.
It begins to die when order disintegrates, when people cease to trust their
fellow citizens or their government. In a country that is truly alive, the laws
hold us in obedience, not just through fear of punishment but also through
attachment to the values and traditions the laws protect. If this attachment
wanes, if obedience is reduced to fear, either chaos or tyranny beckons.
1 New Brunswickers have long been accused of being resistant to change. It’s in our DNA, we are told. Provincial historian Ernie Forbes found evidence of this view in Maclean’s magazine as far back as 1926. The Maritime citizenry, wrote the Maclean’s columnist he uncovered, was “like a housewife who having married for money which failed to materialize ‘neglected her housework, went down to the seashore…watched the ships go by and pouted’” (qtd. in Forbes 59). Today’s conventional wisdom trades on that old myth. It holds that New Brunswickers want nothing: no shale gas, no forestry, no pipelines, and no energy sector. All they want, implies the myth, is the status quo, which they will fight for with a tenacity better directed to more practical ends.
2 New Brunswick’s former Conservative Minister of Energy Craig Leonard summoned this myth when criticizing opponents to his government’s recent forestry policy. “I would like to hear from any of those individuals what the alternative is,” said Leonard. “Give us a solution that allows for a vibrant forest industry to take place in the province. They haven’t done that. All they want is the status quo” (“Irving Clout with Government Challenged”).
3 Quite apart from the fact that his government (and the previous one) functioned unilaterally on the forestry file to stifle input from stakeholders, Minister Leonard’s response was recklessly rhetorical. It placed policy responsibility where it does not belong (on the shoulders of those who have much less responsibility than he does for being stewards of the public trust) and then it blamed citizens, once they had been disenfranchised, for a lack of solutions.
4 The Alward government’s other two most senior ministers took a similar rhetorical position in a commentary they co-authored in May 2014. Finance Minister Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Ted Flemming opened their commentary with the heavily freighted sentence, “It’s time for New Brunswickers to realize the next election is really about the next generation” (Higgs and Flemming). “It’s time for New Brunswickers to realize” suggests that, for decades, citizens have been indifferent to the demands of their society. “It’s time for New Brunswickers to realize” is another way of saying that citizens only want the status quo—and that anything other than the status quo they are vehemently against.
5 Opposition to that mythical (and, quite frankly, manufactured) status quo also formed the entire platform of the 2014 Tory election campaign. Premier David Alward’s “Say Yes” campaign message was deliberately filtered through constellations of “No’s”—such that it appeared that “saying yes” was a new direction for the province. “Saying yes,” in other words, was the Tory solution to the real problem in New Brunswick, which was clearly shown in campaign ads to be the old provincial habit of “saying no.”
6 What I would like to do in this reflection is test
that supposed truism, for it seems to have infused the political rhetoric of
successive New Brunswick governments. And to do so I pose a simple question: What
are the advantages of concluding that New Brunswickers are against
everything—that their tendency is the habitual “saying no”?
Blaming the Citizen to Obscure the Problem
7 For one thing, that view enables a deflection of the real problem, which is structurally embedded in our political system. One example of such deflection will suffice. For generations in this province, politicians and the political class have worked strenuously to divide people and communities against each other. The political narrative of the town I grew up in, for instance, was strongest in denouncing neighbouring towns for the perceived advantages they received. Provincial politicians invented this game, and citizens gladly played along, often electing the loudest mouthpiece they could in an effort to win the greatest partisan advantage. It was the adversarial Westminster system run amok. Is it any wonder that today’s strategies of rural amalgamation don’t work? That neighbouring communities can’t be brought to see the advantages of cooperation? When conventional wisdom holds that the people are the problem—that they are small-minded, timid, and unwilling to embrace new things—then a fundamental structural problem like the political system itself goes unnoticed.
8 To push the example to its logical conclusion, I would propose a quite reasonable solution: if governments do indeed see merit in wholesale amalgamation, then why not cut the number of MLAs in New Brunswick from 49 to 21 or 15? If the structure of representation changed, then wouldn’t that change also alter the political sociology of the ridings being represented? Of course it would. If Dalhousie and Campbellton, and Newcastle and Chatham, each had one representative, which they now more or less do, then those communities would learn to work together instead of working at odds.
9 To shrink a civil service, add more tax on a
population, and reduce service delivery, while also refusing to address the
essential core of a political system that has not worked well for New
Brunswickers, is to impose change on others while exempting oneself from it.
Why does this persist? Because of the strength of the myth that New
Brunswickers are against everything. If New Brunswickers and other Canadians
can be convinced of the truth of this myth of compulsive opposition, then the
political system that ultimately created and sustains it can go unnoticed and
Infantilizing the Citizen to Empower the State
10 Paternalism has become the new handmaiden of the state. And in New Brunswick, we are not strangers to its claims. The Bricklin was going to save us. Nuclear power was going to save us. Information technology was going to save us. Self-sufficiency was going to save us. Selling NB Power to Hydro Quebec was going to save us. And, now today, shale gas development, an east-west pipeline, and an enhanced energy corridor are going to save us. How these initiatives were (or are) going to save us has been a question of great concern for citizens, who have rallied, in predictable democratic fashion, to debate and sometimes contest these various panaceas for our deliverance from poverty and backwardness. In the process, that democratic reflex has angered and inconvenienced sitting politicians, who have based party identities or corporate allegiances on the success of their curative.
11 From the point of view of a political
body trying to market a particular curative—for example, the Alward
government’s vigorous attempts to normalize the benefits of shale gas
development—citizen opposition is often answered (defensively) as the
reaction of citizens who don’t really know what’s good for them. And if
citizens can be convinced that they don’t know what’s good for them, then that
empowers the state to act on their behalf. If those citizens can be further
characterized as being ideologically, even culturally, averse to change and
innovation (again, wired to be against everything), then their democratic
impulse to question and debate is easily dismissed as disingenuousness, more
like subversion or stubbornness than healthy concern. In the first case,
the myth of compulsive opposition clears the way for the authority of the
state, and in the second, it reduces participatory democracy to what is base,
disruptive, and ignoble. In both instances, the rhetoric of compulsive
opposition plays fast and loose with democratic entitlements, and is thus used
recklessly by officials who live, and also die, by its consequences.
Pathologizing the Citizen to Rewrite Federalism
12 Writ larger, an unfortunate consequence of cultivating the myth of compulsive opposition is tacit support for shutting off the various wealth transfer taps that New Brunswick depends on. If New Brunswickers “want nothing,” then, by implication, that means they want a continuance of the status quo: namely, more money from Ottawa and Alberta. That expectation puts them at odds with recent history, which also makes them easy targets for the new federalism to do its work.
13 In a post-Keynesian era of scaling back wealth transfers and changing the practices of distributive federalism, it is both politically convenient and rhetorically effective to upgrade opposition (“New Brunswickers are against everything”) to pathology, thereby, once again, shifting the real problem from the state to the individual. In the current EI debate, for example, the more the focus is on the unwillingness of unemployed New Brunswickers to travel 100 kilometres to find work, the less likely it is that they will ask why this kind of mobility is necessary in the first place. If the behavioural pathology of New Brunswickers becomes the issue (that, again, they are against everything), then perhaps people will not ask why there are no Crown corporations in the province, why there are no defence industries in a province with one of the country’s largest military bases, and why there is such inequity between the tax and utility rates of citizens and corporations. Nurturing the myth that citizens are against everything is a sure way of obscuring the various political motives behind what we are told are amoral shifts in matters of federalism, patterns of trade, and changes in governance. When citizens are purported to be compulsive and unrealistic in their opposition to change and expectations of entitlement—when their crisis-response mechanisms are alleged to be dulled to the point where they have no capacity or willingness to act—then governments are free to redefine and assert trusteeship, acting unilaterally or in consort with special interests on behalf of a supposedly incompetent citizenry. No longer trustees of a public good kept vital in democracy’s sometimes-bloody arenas, these governments use power for self-interest, treating electorates not as bodies to be represented but as groups to be administered.
14 With such change come the consequences that
provincial officials will die by, for that change does the essential work of
affirming for others that New Brunswick’s problems are ultimately the problems
of its citizens; that, in effect, the political class did all it could but the
raw citizen material was not up to the task. This will confirm for many in the
country what the post-Confederation narrative has been saying all along about
malaise in the East, and will further excuse federalist forces from
responsibility to a region and an economy that they configured and
continue to disadvantage.
What We Need is a More Robust Culture of Criticism
15 Our reflex as New Brunswickers is to protect our own when they are down or disparaged—and that extends to open criticism of public officials. While a vocal minority in the province seems to delight in public debate, the greater majority is more often silent, feeling that something hurtful or unfair has happened when criticism is levelled. As a provincial population we have to get over that feeling, for it is carefully inculcated in us, aimed at ensuring our compliance and fear, and, as a result, it is an impediment to our democratic maturity. If recent evidence of engagement and mobilization is any indication, however—witness the public response to the sale of NB Power or the citizen uprisings over the new forestry plan, both ultimately successful in bringing down sitting governments—citizens are starting to acquire that political maturity. Integral to that maturity is a culture of open and vigorous criticism.
16 To criticize is not to condemn, and critics worth their salt always take great care to ensure that their arguments are based on reason, not emotion, and are directed toward ideas, not individual personalities.
17 In the last two election cycles, New Brunswickers have shown a growing intolerance for the swinging-pendulum status quo: the red-party-in, blue-party-out pattern. They have made it clear that that pattern serves only the political class. In unprecedented numbers now, they know this to be true.
18 An informed, respectful, and passionate criticism complements that—a criticism aimed squarely at enhancing our democracy so that backroom deals and secret alliances are no longer part of our political subtext. Only in the presence of vigorous and ethically minded criticism will that be possible. Only if citizens insist on transparency, and publicly condemn its absence, will transparency ever become the norm in New Brunswick.
19 So what should the political class in New Brunswick know about one-term governments? They should know that citizens are better informed about the issues, better equipped to respond to them, and better able to mobilize around them than ever before. Moreover, an independent media of diverse forms is fomenting that has exceptional capacities to not only address all manner of subterfuge, but also to swing public opinion to degrees that were previously thought to be impossible. Because New Brunswick is small and geographically contained, the effect of these citizen actions is greatly amplified.
20 All this is to say that the old paternalism won’t work any longer. New Brunswickers value government and want it to succeed. I am convinced of that. But they want government to succeed for the many, not just the few. To realize this, citizens want their government to work openly and transparently; they no longer want their government to work secretly for what, by some partisan calculation, “is good for them.”
21 What is also clear is that, in wanting success for the many and not just the few, citizens in unprecedented numbers will reject austerity measures that target the already disadvantaged while bypassing the wealthy. And by “wealthy” I mean both the province’s business and corporate classes, those classes treated “lightly” even in comparison with provinces like Nova Scotia and PEI. Exempting those classes on the premise that to tax them equitably is to stifle growth is an old argument that New Brunswickers no longer believe. New Brunswickers have seen too little wealth distributed on the basis of that trickle-down logic. A small number of businesses and individuals have become wealthier while the vast majority has inherited only the massive debt. The days of “privatizing the profits and socializing the debt” must end.
22 Governments that do not understand this or choose to discount it will be condemned to single terms. An eight-year majority reign is the prize for the next government that invites (really invites) citizens to the table as equal partners—and, in so doing, treats the provincial electorate as more than rubes who are easily taxed, uncommonly negative, and temperamentally against everything.
Tony Tremblay is Professor and Canada Research Chair in New Brunswick Studies at St. Thomas University.
And, a satirical bit from last year, before the election, for a very funny, and not frequent enough, The Daily Glove:
Speaking of solid, constructive criticism, today's reposting of CassandraPEI from November 9th, 2014:
Last night at the holiday
party, it was a great time chatting about the past and present, and looking
forward to the New Year! It is going to be an interesting 2015, isn't
and from the next day:
Many of these reports are on-line for the public to access. This leads to two thoughts -- one is that if things are transparent, then they are within sight. But you can have "transparency" and have things such a cluttered mess that people cannot find what they are looking for.
Here is a screenshot from the Department of the Environment's publication page:
screenshot of publications page in Department of Environment's website.
What you are looking for *may* be there. One has to choose on title alone, which may have a date in the title. Often, they also take a long time to load. (Incidentally, this is how documentation for the Environmental Impact Assessment for Plan B was put on-line, and was very confusing until some of us mentioned alternate ways of listing titles.)
The Department of Agriculture website is actually worse due to its cataloging of reports under different topics, so it's very hard to find the titles that the Cassandra PEI showed. There may be another spot where it is easier to find them.
The second thought about is that when you actually find and open one, you see many similar recommendations, but little mechanism for the group selected to make these suggestions to have any follow-up on the implementation. And obviously, what the groups were often suggesting were more than a government really wanted to do.
But, as Cassandra PEI said, the climate is changing, in more ways than one, and more people are aware and ready to push for positive change in what appear to be negative patterns.
Plan B: The Emblem of Poor Government Decision-Making - The Guardian Commentary by Chris OrtenburgerPublished on December 27, 2013
This week The Guardian and CBC will feature friendly year-end interviews with Premier Robert Ghiz. This makes it a good time to remember some “awkward truths” about this government, especially as it’s been exactly two years since the Plan B highway project was announced.
Plan B is not done
The asphalt is down, the guard rails up — it’s not just a “done deal”, as Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said at the onset, but it looks done. Not quite. There are still many steep bare hillsides underneath snow and a bit of mulched hay, which will bear watching when winter rains and the spring melt occur; it is likely to overwhelm the mitigations and allow sediment to enter the West River, as has happened numerous times in the past year.
“It is valuable to continue to bear witness to the environmental impact of Plan B,” said Island ecologist Gary Schneider in November of 2012, after Plan B construction started. Nobody is living in a teepee by the project this winter, but people are watching for the rains, and the long-term health of the remaining trees next to the road.
It Woke Us Up
Why did people get so involved in Plan B? What made us literally wake up and venture from our comfortable homes to stand on the roadside with signs or camp in the woods, be criticized and ridiculed by some government and media people and sever the previously carefree relationships with our elected officials?
Like a majority of Islanders, we were disturbed that government decided to run a highway we can’t afford through land and homes we can’t replace and over people’s rights to be consulted with and desire to be listened to. Plan B was such an egregious example of a bad decision not being recanted that many of us got involved.
The government repeated two justifications for Plan B, which were both proved blatantly false:
1) “It’s all about safety,” as the segment was described as the most dangerous stretch of road, due to design — but only after the Atlantic Gateway money was announced. Hence the expensive over-reaction realignment, against countless letters imploring and illustrating cheaper and more effective solutions.
The real causes of accidents — when the data
were finally released in Fall 2012 — were slippery roads and driving too fast
for conditions, factors Plan B is not going to solve.
and a CBC Radio story about intersections
counted more than once which increased the rates, and government’s ignoring of
another stretch of road with more collisions (September 2012):
2) “Islanders told us to go north” in feedback for the original plan to go through
Strathgartney Park, which the TIR insisted counted as consultation for a
completely new Plan B. In fact, out of over 300 submissions in Fall of 2011, not
one suggested the route be changed to cut into the untouched hillside north
of the CBC tower on western end and Fairyland on the eastern side.
The Robert Ghiz government ignored or denigrated a petition, rallies, a citizen-initiated plebiscite, countless letters, over 200 Environmental Impact Assessment submissions, and finally people at the site, by calling in the national police force to pull out a couple of women keeping vigil by the ill-fated hemlock forest in the pouring rain.
(Premier Ghiz) apparently remains unmoved by the spectacle of RCMP officers hoisting and hustling citizens off their own land, and unconscious of the harm he is doing to the RCMP, his own government and the very essence of democracy itself. — columnist Jack MacAndrew, October 2012.
This part has been hard to explain to kids.
Plan B is not an extreme example, but one of the worst of many poor decisions. For instance, the implementation of the HST has been hailed by Mr. Ghiz as one of his greatest achievements of 2013. He said it’s not great policy — he is right, as it is merely a tax grab - but it is neither great policy nor politics to run for office without mentioning something as important as implementing the HST.
A new “wilderness” park isn’t going to erase Plan B — though no wilderness by far, it’s still a lovely area — but if the Ghiz government had actually wanted to protect environmentally sensitive land (a term set out by Environment Minister Sherry in her conditional approval of Plan B), they would not have bulldozed right through the Bonshaw Hills to make this road in the first place.
Will Plan B opponents ever let it go?
Plan B has reinforced that we — all Islanders — need to take care of our Island, both our land and our democracy. Keeping both healthy will encourage our young people to be here making a living and dropping the cynicism that their participation isn’t necessary. And that should be Plan A.Chris Ortenburger lives in Bonshaw and is a member of the Citizens’ Alliance of P.E.I.
So come join our Citizens' Alliance Holiday gathering tonight, 7PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road, Bonshaw. It's a bit of a potluck, so please bring an easy snack to share and perhaps something to share to drink (we'll have tea, coffee, and some mulled apple cider).
A Boxing Day thank-you card to someone who makes a
**Bricktek, a Quebec-based company, makes figurines and
blocks that look a lot like Lego. It's great to see that. My only
annoyance (like Lego) is that they segregate "Boys" and
"Girls" blocks (Boys have "Space Series" on the Bricktek
web page of product lines with a Space Shuttle, while Girls have a series
called "Imagine" with products like "Birthday
A little gift to the environment from the National Hockey
Published on December 21st, 2014, in The Washington Post
The commissioner of the National Hockey League has good reason to be concerned about global warming. “Our sport was born on frozen ponds and to this day relies on winter weather,” Gary Bettman said.
Two weeks before one of the most popular games on the league’s
schedule, the outdoor Winter Classic, between the Washington Capitals and the
Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park (the Washington, D.C., home location of
the professional baseball team "Washington Nationals") on New Year’s
Day, Bettman announced that the NHL will wipe out its carbon footprint by the
end of the season.
<<snip - see link for full story>>
This was passed on to me with a request to share, as it's timely. From sustainability writer, speaker and columnist John Duivenvoorden, it muses a bit about about "What would Jesus say about Climate Change?", first published December 23rd, 2014, in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal and Fredericton Daily Gleaner.And a Christmas gift, care of the people that created, produced and starred in "Lord, What Fools!"
screenshot of YouTube link for "Lord, What Fools!" Christmas play.
This is part 1 (about 38 minutes); Part 2 (about 58 minutes) should be a choice in the upper right sidebar, or is here:
A couple of political commentaries:
Published Wednesday, December 10th, 2014, in The Eastern Graphic
Wade MacLauchlan is on a red carpet ride to a coronation as
Liberal leader. Rob Lantz is one of the leading contenders to become the next
leader of the provincial Conservatives.
MacLauchlan entered the Liberal race – and effectively shut down any potential credible opposition – with a carefully stage-managed event at the North Shore Community Centre. It seemed to play well, at least to those in the room and die hard Liberals across the province.
But the image of a Liberal love fest has different meaning for different people. The most striking impression for many was MacLauchlan’s decision to voluntarily share the stage with 19 Liberal MLAs, all grinning like Cheshire cats, while proclaiming himself ‘Optimist in Chief’.
There is a deep frustration with the Ghiz administration and its anaemic, self-serving, centralizing focus of the past eight years. MacLauchlan’s decision to make his political entry in lockstep with the Ghiz caucus is raising questions about his ability to deliver the type of change PEI desperately needs. You could almost hear a shared cringe across PEI when Health Minister Doug Currie opined in an interview MacLauchlan’s candidacy is about building on the record of the last eight years.
No, Minister. That is not the change Islanders want.
Lantz is perhaps best known to Islanders as the
heritage promoting guy on Charlottetown City Council who seemed to lose more
political fights than he won.
Rob Lantz has no record in rural PEI. Like Ghiz
he will canvas rural PEI and ask for support. Like Ghiz he will promise the
world. The question is will he, like Ghiz, ignore rural PEI the minute he
achieves his goal?
On the plus side, Rob Lantz is the first
candidate wanting to be premier who actually uses ‘excellence’ as a goal for
our chronically under-performing education system.
For eight years the Tories have positioned themselves as the party of rural. Indeed that is where the party’s power base (if you can call it that) exists. Rob Lantz needs rural support to win the leadership. His primary competitor James Aylward is positioning himself as the rural voice. Interestingly, Lantz is noncommittal to party workers when asked about allowing Olive Crane back in the party. Aylward, who many Tories see as weak, offers an emphatic no.
No one will claim that Lantz and Aylward are
dream candidates. That does not mean they cannot grow into leadership. They do
present a contrast. There will be a debate on ideas and how best to move
Over-sized cheques written for ministerial photo
ops will not solve the issues rural PEI faces.
Wade MacLauchlan damaged his reputation with voters through his embrace of the Ghiz caucus. It was a fleeting photo-op with potentially long term implications.
No one should question Lantz’s sincerity, but he has the unfortunate task of following Robert Ghiz whose rhetoric never matched achievement in rural PEI, in large part because when power was obtained Ghiz listened to his backroom power brokers. We’ve seen the greed and self-serving nature of the Tory backroom both in power and in the blood let on the floor during the Crane leadership debacle. It is a fair question whether history will repeat itself?
Our issues demand real leadership. As a province we cannot afford history to show that the next four months ended up being yet another example of rural residents being taken for fools.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Holman, Wade MacLauchlan, and Santa Claus
Published on December 20th, 2014, in The Guardian
Given the season, it seems a bit unseemly to challenge the province’s self designated Optimist-In-Chief on just what exactly constitutes censorship.
Certainly, most would think that any prevention of the dissemination or distribution of opinions, ideals, or comment, that weren’t libellous or slanderous, would amount to censorship. Giving offence is not usually considered to be libellous or slanderous.
When, as president of UPEI, Wade MacLauchlan, swooped up all copies of an issue of The Cadre, the student newspaper, because he found the Danish cartoons it published to be offensive, it is difficult to see his action as anything other than censorship.
But, on the front page of Monday’s Guardian, with his rose-coloured glasses firmly in place, Mr. MacLauchlan denied that preventing the distribution of The Cadre was censorship. The Guardian article didn’t go into what legal niceties or hair-splitting rationale Mr. MacLauchlan used to arrive at this conclusion.
And given that this is the season of Good Cheer
and Santa Claus, perhaps it’s a debate best left for another time.
John Lennon once said something like -- "The only thing they don't know how to handle is non-violence and humor."
Speaking of non-violence and humour (we can only hope), if you are free, stop in for a holiday social in Bonshaw, Saturday evening, December 27th, 7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, 25 Green Road. We have perhaps outgrown calling it the "Plan B Holiday Party", but you get the idea. Bring a little something to share for eating and drinking, if you can.
And speaking of John Lennon, and a grand version of one of his songs, here is are "The Three Tenors" (Jose Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti, and Placido Domingo) singing "War is Over (So This is Christmas)" from 1999 with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Not quite two weeks ago, the Island had an amazing rainstorm. Certainly not a 1-in-100 year rain, but amazing. West Prince received the most rain and suffered the most damage to infrastructure.
Last week, NDP PEI leader Mike Redmond issued a press release, here:
Released on December 16, 2014
NDP PEI Leader Mike Redmond is blaming the provincial Liberal government for damage to highways and bridges in West Prince because the Liberals did not prepare for the impacts of climate change on the Island’s transportation system.
“The Liberals had seven and half years to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our transportation system, and they did nothing,” stated Redmond.
Media reports indicate five bridges will have to be replaced in West Prince due to the huge rainfall of last week.
“The Liberals never spoke about climate change impacts on transportation. They did no assessments on roads and bridges considering the more extreme weather conditions. We now see five bridges in need of replacement. This is a major inconvenience and danger to Islanders that could have been avoided,” added the NDP Leader.
The provincial debt increased from $1 billion to $2 billion under the Ghiz government. Among the construction projects of the government was the $18 million Plan B highway project. (And, the cost of Plan B was at least $18 million)
“The Liberals had their heads elsewhere. They spent millions on construction. They did projects that they could not justify to the public. Never did they consider climate change. Now Islanders will pay with huge repair costs and ongoing safety concerns. An NDP government will be upfront about climate change impacts, conduct mitigation measures and work with municipal governments and property owners to avoid future disasters associated with climate change,” concluded Redmond.
Published on December 22nd, 2014
NDP leader slams Island government for failing to anticipate storm damage
NDP P.E.I. Leader Mike Redmond is giving too
much credit to the provincial Liberal government. In an apocalyptic statement
last week, Mr. Redmond blamed recent damage to highways and bridges in West
Prince squarely on the provincial government. The damage was the result of the
powerful rainstorm which pounded the province some 10 days ago, but hit West Prince
through all the hyperbole, one has to conclude that the writers don't really
understand climate change -- because intense storms, in addition to coastal
erosion, are hallmarks of our changing climate.
The Department of Environment, back when George Webster was Minister of Pop Environment, released its Climate Change Strategy in 2008 (link below).
The excerpt below is from the page on the website, which says it was updated in August 2014, but is definitely in need of checking in the Renewable Energy paragraph.
PEI's Climate Change Strategy was released in November 2008. The 47 action items put forward in the Strategy were designed to:
Government continues to implement many of these action items. The more noteable to date include:
Energy Efficiency and Conservation - The Office of Energy Efficiency developed a number of programs to help homeowners and businesses use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So far, over $7.5 million has been provided for this work.
Renewable Energy - PEI is now generating 20% (174 MW) of its energy needs using the wind (a renewable source of energy). This number is espected (sic) to reach 30% (204 MW) by the end of 2013. Biomass (wood) systems are now heating seven large government facilities (schools, hospitals, etc.) across the province. Recent contracts will see similar heating systems established in another 13 facilities.
Apparently, the strategy (Prince Edward Island and Climate Change: A Strategy for Reducing the Impacts of Global Warming) publication is part 3 on policy regarding Environment and Energy. It is 44 pages long and is found here:
There isn't a lot in it about infrastructure (albeit with a quick read), but in a presentation to the Conference Board of Canada in 2009, then-PEI Environment Department Director of Pollution Prevention Don Jardine showed this:
screen shot of Don Jardine's presentation in 2009.
The Strategy makes mention of the Working Group on Climate Change, about which I cannot find anything more that Mr. Jardine saying they met four times as of 2009. And I haven't really ever heard Transportation ministers MacKinley (2007-2011) or Vessey (2011-present) speak about it the working group, or Climate Change in general.
Other department publications -- storm day reading, perhaps -- on climate
change related issues are here:
Which leads to this letter from Friday's Guardian:
Published on Friday, December 19th, 2014
With climate change’s slow encroachment upon us, it is obvious culverts and bridges are undersized and restricting flows. The bridge in Arlington was redone about five years ago and due to flow restriction the area has flooded four times and the bridge has had sink holes on it at least once. Do we have any competent engineers on these projects? Are culverts being changed to a larger size or are the undersized ones being used? The culverts size should be increased.
Substandard methods and practices equal potential loss. Tossing a shovel full of sand into a crater and patting it down seems to be government’s answer. Obviously there are inadequacies in their remedial actions. If remedies are not adequately implemented, the original problem reoccurs and the cost to taxpayers increases dramatically.
People are unable to earn a full paycheque because their work places are flooded, equipment and property has been destroyed and all of this just before Christmas. Will Gail Shea’s disaster fund be compensating these folks? Obviously the province doesn’t seem to care as they are telling people to go to their insurance companies. Many people are unable to afford insurance. Why is our Liberal provincial government not giving any support in this area?
Gary A.O. MacKay, Birch Hill
That same comment about the culvert replacement concerns and residents' knowledge being pooh-poohed was also relayed by completely different people who live in the area.
Many watershed groups have been talking about improving infrastructure to
deal with climate change for some time now in relation to the waterways and
roadways in their areas. They are in a difficult position - TIR provides
and installs culverts, so what watershed group wants to go out of its way to be
critical of government? Not an ideal situation.
Climate Change, which I don't think has been mentioned by any leadership candidate in his or her first their first public address, IS an issue can Islanders bring up to any and all candidates, when they start seeing them. Which is probably sooner than later. :-)
Radio has an article this morning about Keith Kennedy, a Charlottetown resident
and businessman who is seeking the Liberal leader nomination. He plans to
visit 27 electoral districts to raise awareness of issues, to get the number of
signatures required, and to raise the $2500 entry fee to join the
contest. He was in District 27, Tignish-Palmer Road, last week. The
deadline to enter is January 20th, 2015.
Here is the 13th Cassandra PEI installment in their
A quick sum of the values they list is over $850million dollars of government subsidies, and I think the chart is to remind Islanders how much the province is investing (either directly or by tax breaks) into industrial agriculture. Perhaps this is to balance what appear to be inflated figures various groups claim their industry contributes to the Island economy., claims which don't take these into account.
letter in The Guardian in the past few weeks:
Published December 9th, 2014
The next couple of years promise to be an interesting period in Island politics — a time, perhaps for new beginnings and initiatives. Both the Liberals and the PCs will have fresh leadership; the Greens and the NDP already have capable “newish” leaders in place. Wouldn’t it be great if all four parties were represented in our Island Legislature?
And that brings me, again, to the issue of electoral reform. Might it not be time to revisit that issue – one in which the Island was once seen as a leader in Canada. Next year will mark a decade since our 2005 Electoral Reform Referendum. Perhaps Islanders might now see the wisdom in a reform less radical than that proposed 10 years ago.
As a start in this discussion, I suggest that we revisit a research paper written by Andrew Cousins in the year 2000, for the Institute of Island Studies (you can find it on-line at upei.ca/iis). Mr. Cousins suggested a supplementary electoral system, with 20 members elected “first-past-the-post” (like at present), in 20 constituencies. To these would be added 10 supplementary members, elected from party lists, on the basis of the province-wide vote. For each 10 per cent of the vote, an individual from a list would join the Legislature.
There could be many variations to such a system, with provision made, for instance, that there be an equal number of women and men elected from the lists, as well as for even geographical distribution, and so on.
There would be two major advantages to such an electoral system: 1) it would assure a reasonably strong Opposition in the Legislature, comprising at least four or five members; 2) it would give both the NDP and the Greens a very good chance of electing at least one member, province-wide.
At the same time, it would provide stability — as well as a higher degree of proportionality.
Even a relatively modest change, like this one, would place us in the vanguard of electoral reform in Canada.
Harry Baglole, Bonshaw
Here is the direct link to Mr. Cousins' article on electoral reform:
and the Institute of Island Studies publications page, a very interesting collection, is here:
Cassandra PEI reposting is short today, and after numbering up to Part 11, they
stopped; but I will continue to number them to help reference them. It is from
November 4th, originally.
was lovely to see Todd and Savannah and copies of Global Chorus at the
Charlottetown Farmers' Market yesterday. They will be there next
Saturday, and Monday night at Receiver Coffee shop on Victoria Row. Yet
again, I incorrectly called Savannah Belsher-MacLean by the wrong name Susannah
in yesterday's post. I am sorry; I blame the Solstice Brain.
Some letters of note recently in The Guardian,bold is mine. The first
was published just before the Climate Change conference in Peru began.
Published on December 12th, 2014
In this environment the Prime Minister has declared that it would be foolish for the country to adopt climate-change measures which would, in his opinion, cause havoc and cost jobs.
How wrong he is. In many countries, and in the province of British Colombia, where measures have been taken to cut emissions of green house gases, economic growth has returned. Sadly Mr. Harper can’t see past the oil patch, he doesn’t want to understand the number of jobs that can be created in moving away from oil and coal towards a carbon-free economy.
I would encourage my fellow citizens to sit back and imagine what it would be like to have every home heated by heat pumps, every car an electric vehicle, and most journeys a ride in a modern high speed electric train.
Solar, wind and yes nuclear power systems are rapidly getting cheaper and more efficient. The problems with nuclear energy are more political than technical, as this system is the only one proven to be capable of providing the huge base load electricity system that is needed right now.
It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Canada and Australia, two nations emerging as international pariahs, are given at the climate summit in Peru.
Peter Noakes, Charlottetown
Here are Elizabeth May's comments on the conference:
Published on December 12th, 2014I will be voting PC in the upcoming election because the Liberals couldn’t balance a budget. It costs Islanders $100 million a year to pay the interest on our debt. That money could be used to double our spending on community services and seniors, or give every Islander a $1,000 a year. We cannot continue to pass this debt onto children and the unborn. Some argue we need to deficit-spend to stimulate the economy during hard times. I argue that we can save for it.
My only other hope is that the PC leader that is chosen agrees that the province is over-drawn financially and environmentally. Our natural capital has largely been spent. Just as we need to repair our bank account, we also need to repair our biodiversity, fish populations, forest quality and soil quality. These resources have been steadily spent over the past 500 years, and in my opinion, they’re better than money.
Best wishes to all the candidates, and here’s to a vision we can all aspire to, a debt-free province bursting with life.
Randy Campbell, Charlottetown
on December 13th, 2014
In response to Ben Eisen and Mark Milke's piece in the Guardian on Friday, Dec. 12, I have to agree that it's pretty nuts that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick continue to ban fracking.
Pretty nervy of them, still taking equalization from the rest of the country while selfishly insisting on having clean, non-flammable ground water. For shame, N.B. and N.S., for shame!
And think of the side benefits to citizens they are turning up - you just have to turn on your tap and light up, that's free heating in the winter. That's got to help the economy.
Stephen DeGrace, Stratford
Food today and before Christmas:
books today and before Christmas:
things in print:
A reprint of Cassandra -- actually, a re-posting:
I found I needed to flip the chart to get the picture better:
Green is more recent, red is late 1990s-early 2000s. A greater number of soil samples have smaller percentages of organic matter.
A more thorough read on the composition and good of organic matter is here: http://www.noble.org/Ag/Soils/OrganicMatter/
(The Noble Foundation sounds pretty devoted to the industrial model of agriculture, but this page on what exactly is meant by soil organic matter seems useful.)
excellent letter in The Guardian recently:
Published on December 18th, 2014, in The Guardian
I found that Minister Sheridan’s response to the recent price drop in crude oil exemplifies government’s inability to include the environment in its equations.
Higher oil consumption is not simply a matter of short-term ease of pressure on the consumer or maintaining the flow of tax revenue at current levels.
Climate change and the environmental degradation associated with our dependence on fossil fuels is a reality.
Government has shown little interest in acknowledging this, and no significant leadership toward the development of any alternatives.
Once again, the partisan spreadsheet takes precedence over sound planning that goes beyond the next election.
Is there any reason why some of this revenue can’t be re-allocated towards conservation initiatives, Island-wide public transit, and other programs that benefit the people and the health of the environment?
Despite the Guardian’s view that this issue only makes “environmentalists wring their hands,” it should be a concern to us all.
Boyd Allen, Pownal
The effect of choices on our environment:Cassandra PEI's Day 10, originally published on November 2, was a stark, but common, photo and description:
Using a very useful agricultural-related metric conversion site found at Iowa Statue University's agriculture extension website:
that "acceptable" 7 tonnes per hectare is equal to about 6,300 pounds per acre. That's about 80 feed sacks (of 80 pounds each) of soil per acre each year. The high end of the estimate of *actual* soil loss is ten times. Of course, not every field is losing that amount, but ones like this, not covered with an early blanket of snow, are losing soil; and that's affecting everything from streams and watersheds to harbours.
York has decided to extend its moratorium to a complete ban on hydraulic
fracking. Governor Andrew Cuomo, the son of former governor Mario
Cuomo, appears to follow in his father's footsteps of listening to his
constituents, asking for broad and deep analysis of current information, and
leaning towards the more environmentally-conscious decision.
New York Environmental Commissioner: I Will Ban Fracking in New York - Syracuse Media Group article by Glenn Coin
by Glenn Coin, published on December 17th, 2014, in the Syracuse Media Group
Albany, N.Y. -- New York state's environmental commissioner said today he will ban fracking in New York. DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said a five-year study by DEC on fracking will be released next year."I will then issue a legally binding findings statement prohibiting (fracking) in New York state at this time," Martens said at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's year-end cabinet meeting.
Martens made his announcement after a detailed presentation by state health commissioner Howard Zucker, who concluded that he would not allow his family to drink tap water in an area where fracking occurred. "I cannot support (fracking) in the great state of New York," Zucker said.
Zucker said studies showed harmful health effects from fracking, and there were not enough long-term studies to show the effects over time.
"The bottom line is we lack the comprehensive longitudinal studies, and these are either not yet complete or are yet to be initiated," Zucker said. "We don't have the evidence to prove or disprove the health effects. but the cumulative concerns of what I've read gives me reason to pause."
Martens had few good things to say about
fracking in his 10-minute talk. He listed a variety of potential environmental
effects, from pollution of groundwater to release of methane and ozone. He also
said that more than 63 percent of the possible land area on which fracking
could occur in the deep Marcellus shale in New York would be off limits under
state rules and local zoning. Given those restrictions and the low price of oil
and gas now, Martens said, fracking would be unlikely anyway.
And in case you want a refresher on fracking and its
concerns, albeit not a very industry-friendly one, here is a 2:30 minute
animation from the Sierra Club, narrated by actor Edward James Olmos.
a possible provincial election coming up, Elections PEI is looking for district
You must be 18 or older, a citizen of Canada, and *live in the district*, among other prerequisites.
The deadline is tomorrow at 2PM.
More information and the application at :
I don't think I would qualify (the application lists having the "ability to be neutral and maintain impartiality"). :-)
Twelve Days of Christmas, part 1:
And like the 12 Days of Christmas...
What’s happening on PEI: Part 9 − What’s in your drinking water?
In addition to being washed into streams and rivers, pesticides also end up in our groundwater.
Since 2004, 15 pesticides (listed below) have been found in Island drinking water. In the most
heavily farmed areas of PEI, pesticides are found in more than 90% of wells tested. Data
released in September show a cocktail of pesticides found in the drinking water of nine Island
schools and three seniors homes.
The interaction of these chemicals is also a concern. For example, Atrazine has been shown to
increase the toxicity of some chemicals it is combined with. Is this what Islanders want for our
Pesticides that have been found in PEI groundwater are:
the Cassandra people are the first to admit that more sensitive testing added
to the increase in the last two columns, but still, it is a worrisome,
behalf of the Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water, Ann Wheatley wrote
about a Water Act for Prince Edward Island:
on December 16th, 2014, in The Guardian
It has been a full six months since Environment Minister Janice Sherry announced that the P.E.I. government would commence the process of developing a water act. “P.E.I. needs a single piece of legislation that covers all its water management policies,” said Minister Sherry in June.
“The implementation of a water act will demonstrate government’s commitment to managing water resources in a sustainable manner for present and future generations.”
The announcement followed a recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry in April, and then reiterated in November just before MLAs retired for the year. The committee, chaired by MLA Paula Biggar, had listened to presentations by over two dozen groups and individuals who were responding to requests by potato industry representatives to lift a 12-year moratorium on high-capacity wells.
The recommendations contained in their report to the legislature — to develop a water act and to keep the moratorium in place at least until government has a better understanding of the impact of lifting the moratorium — was very much in keeping with the views of a vast majority of presenters. Since Minister Sherry’s initial announcement, there has been no further word on the subject from her office — nothing to indicate what kind of process will be undertaken, who will be involved and when it will start.
Since the June announcement, there have been the usual seasonal anoxic events in Island estuaries, and a major fish kill in the <North River> watershed (the final report of the investigation into which has yet to be released). As late as last week we were reminded of the vulnerability of our watersheds, as heavy rainfalls caused flooding, wide-scale destruction of infrastructure across the province, significant run-off from fields and roads and siltation in most of our waterways.
All Islanders have an interest in a policy designed to protect water; it is a resource that we hold in common, and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that clean water is available, in adequate supply, for ourselves and for future generations.
If our goal is a water policy that respects the needs and the wishes of Islanders, then the process as well as the Act itself will need to be designed to reflect some basic values, including: equal opportunities for meaningful participation, respect for the knowledge of the community, inclusion of diverse perspectives, clear communication and transparency, and empowerment of individuals and communities.
And what about that process? How might it be designed to reflect those values?
In the first place, the committee that steers the process would be “arm’s length” from government and representative of as many interested parties as possible. Besides people with technical expertise or knowledge, members of various communities would be included — farmers, fishers, First Nations, municipalities, community members, environmental & watershed groups — to ensure credibility of the process and promote inclusion, full participation, transparency and accountability.
Everyone who participates in the process should have an honest opportunity to influence the decision-making. It would help to have a clear idea, from the beginning, of how the information and views that everyone contributes to the process will be used.
A background document or discussion paper, provided in advance of public consultations, would help people to prepare to participate in the process, especially if it is accompanied by some key questions to frame the discussion. The document would include pertinent information and data, including the total amount of water that is now being pumped from existing high capacity wells, and the amount of water that is used annually by Islanders.
Consultations would take place in a broad range of Island communities and be as accessible as possible in order to facilitate full participation. There would be flexibility in the process, allowing for additional consultations when or where necessary.
When groups or individuals take the time to participate, they must be able to see how their participation has or has not influenced the outcome. It will be important that all submissions are made public.
In fact, it is important that all documents and information regarding the process and consultations are made widely available.
The provincial library system, Access P.E.I. and social media could be used to communicate information, including: a summary of the process; the initial discussion paper and questions; written submissions; technical documents; reports from the community consultations; an overall summary report of the consultations.
At every stage of the development of the Act, consideration should be given to how it will be implemented, enforced and monitored, what kinds of regulations will be necessary, and how it will be communicated to the public. Because, in the end, we really do want a piece of legislation that is effective; an Act that protects and improves water quality, provides adequate supplies of clean water into the future, and protects and improves the health of our watersheds.
And I will put the entire description of the Coalition that the paper didn't print:
The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water is a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to working for the protection of PEI water, for the benefit of present and future generations of Islanders and for ecologically sound public policy including a comprehensive Water Act for Prince Edward. It is our firm belief that such policy must be developed using the best available information and meaningful public consultation. Our members include the Citizens’ Alliance of PEI, Cooper Institute, the Council of Canadians, Don’t Frack PEI, the Environmental Coalition of PEI, the Green Party of PEI, the National Farmers Union, District 1, Region 1, the New Democratic Party of PEI, Pesticide Free PEI, Save Our Seas and Shores PEI, the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter (PEI), Winter River/Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bays, Hunter Clyde Watershed Group, Cornwall and Area Watershed Group, and over 200 individual members. For more information: http://peiwater.com/
by the way, is what is said about the Water Act in the Speech from the Throne,
which was read on November 12th, 2014. I know the Premier retreated the
next day, and most elected officials in government are shrugging and saying,
"The new Premier will have to decide" about pretty much everything,
but folks behind the microphones are obviously still going to their offices and
working on projects and policies.
Our environment has an impact on the quality of life and health of
every Islander. More than in any other province, our economic success is
founded on healthy
soils, clear air and clean water, healthy and diverse ecosystems,
Water matters to every Islander and our agricultural industry needs
clarity regarding its access to our water resource. To ensure both water
quality and water quantity for the long term, My Government will
undertake a thorough and careful process to develop a
Water Act for our province beginning with a public consultation
process in the
The proposed Water Act will consolidate water-related legislation,
regulate the use of surface and groundwater, allocate water in times of
scarcity, protect streams, rivers and related aquatic environments, and
ensure water quality and quantity. Our goal is to regulate water
use in a manner
And speaking of Water....
Cassandra PEI, Part 8:
Here is a link to Macphail Woods' report on all the known fish kills in this
time period, here (it ends in about 2011)
and the press release with a link to the August 2014 North River fishkill preliminary
event later this week, but tickets may be going fast:
Cassandra PEI: Part 6. Originally posted on October
Let's balance out all our "economic engines":
from Cassandra PEI's pdf of all of their postings:
representative appeared before Parliamentary Standing Committee last week
from Matthew Carroll of Leadnow.ca:
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC)
PEI -- a chart from October 29th, 2014: "What's happening on PEI: Part 6
-- What happens here does not stay here."
This shows two consecutive years of research measuring nitrates (in kilograms of nitrate per hectare, measured in watersheds for each year). PEI's nitrate run-off is getting into the Northumberland Strait and spreading across the Strait to the land in New Brunswick.
This work is being done by graduate students at the University of New Brunswick, in this case a Masters student named Pierre Grizard, who is working with Dr. Kerry T.B. MacQuarrie of the University of New Brunswick,
under the auspices of the Canadian Water Network:
Diamond wrote a fantastic letter teasing apart the glossy ad for certain types
of farming. It is not on the website yet.
Published on Saturday, December 13th
Who funded the “Real Dirt on Farming?” If you bought a Guardian last week, you were gifted with an impressive 50 glossy-page spread called ‘The Real Dirt on Farming.’ Bursting with stunning photography and well-crafted articles, this magazine assures us that all is well in Canadian farming. As I read through it I tried to imagine what the general population would be thinking as they leafed through its pages. I expect many would feel relief, as it dismissed any and all environmental and health concerns as being an overreaction … that the use of hormones, antibiotics, GMOs and pesticides are necessary and even healthy. Whew, what a relief!
But those of us who live in rural areas and witness the consistent degradation of our soil, air, water and health know better. Those people who dedicate their spare time to cleaning up dead fish by the thousands know better too. Anyone who looked beyond the gloss would easily find an abundance of scientific proof that much of this is, well, hogwash.
A little bit of digging revealed that the most generous sponsor was Croplife (Bayer, Dow Chemical and Monsanto, et al), donating a whopping $100,000 towards a budget of $350,000. Another level down I found the Council for Biotechnology Information as a gold sponsor. These companies present their own research, which they fund as well. So although assurances are given that the PMRA and Health Canada wouldn’t condone these chemicals unless they were perfectly safe, I encourage Islanders to do some critical thinking. Ignoring studies advising us of the health and environmental dangers of our addiction to pesticides goes against our basic human right to a healthy environment. The assumption that governments’ primary concern is to protect our health and not the pockets of multinational corporations is naïve at best.
I encourage readers to do their own research. Here is a tidbit from mine: ”Any politician or scientist who tells you GMOs are safe is either very stupid or lying.” - David Suzuki.
Joan Diamond, Fairview
Two longish pieces today - hope you have a chance to read
for a while :-)
A new steel bridge was placed on the crossing in 1907 and the hill cut down but by then the road through Bonshaw (current TCH) was clearly the favoured route and there was little further improvement on the Green Road. (Image from the Sailstrait blog)
(Sorry for the extra space on these copied photos)
The steel span was in place until 1962 when it was washed away and floated down to Bonshaw. A temporary foot bridge using decking over two telephone poles provided access to the eastern bank of the river.
That "temporary" structure, I think, survived until 2014. Here is a picture I took of the that telephone pole bridge before it washed away in the Spring melt of April 16, 2014 (drainage from Plan B coursing down into river on the far left of photo)
(I think a lovely shot of the footbridge in better days graces the cover of J. Dan McAskill's Nature Trails of Prince Edward Island, a darling and informative little book with many descriptions -- still likely available at the local new or used bookstores.)
Fall 2014: The (new) temporary footbridge while building a bigger one (white concrete pad for new footbridge visible) , from a few weeks ago (and perhaps what instigated the blog entry by Mr. Holman). Photo from Sailstrait blog:
Thursday morning after all the rain, and the new footbridge partially built, the workers' temporary one swamped (off to right of photo), and with the "Plan B Drainpipe" flowing into the river at center (CO photo):
And a photo from yesterday afternoon, December 13th, water high but receded):
The rest of the article is here:
Bill and Elizabeth Glen, Bonshaw residents and fantastic historians and genealogists, published Bonshaw: A Stroll Through Its Past in 1993, which has been scanned and is available at the UPEI Robertson Library "Island Lives" site here to enjoy:
Sea lettuce is Ulva lactuca, and an excellent description is found here at the University of Rhode Island's website:
Life History and Growth (of Sea Lettuce)
Sea lettuce may be found attached to rocks and shells by a holdfast, but it is also commonly found free floating. Among the most familiar of the shallow water seaweeds, sea lettuce is often found in areas of exposed rocks and in stagnant tide pools. Sea lettuce has also been recorded at depths of 75 feet or more. Sea lettuce grows in both high and low intertidal zones and marshes throughout the year.
Tolerant of nutrient loading that would suffocate many other aquatic plants, it can actually thrive in moderate levels of nutrient pollution. Large volumes of sea lettuce often indicate high levels of pollution. Growth is also stimulated by the presence of other pollutants. It is often found in areas where sewage runoff is heavy. As a result, sea lettuce is used as an indicator species to monitor pollution trends. The density and location of this alga can often indicate the presence of high amounts of nutrients.
(Carrageenan comes from red algae, I think.)
The full pdf of Cassandras PEI's slides and information:
This, to me,the following is one of the better descriptions of some of the health issues of nitrates in our drinking water. Bold is mine.
from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension website:
The methemoglobinemia hazard from drinking water with nitrate-nitrogen occurs when bacteria in the digestive system transform nitrate to nitrite and the nitrite oxidizes iron in hemoglobin of red blood cells to form methemoglobin.
Methemoglobin lacks oxygen-carrying capacity and the condition known as methemoglobinemia occurs. Because infants under six months of age have a higher concentration of the digestive system bacteria known to transform nitrate to nitrite, and a lower than normal concentration of the enzyme known to reduce methemoglobin back to hemoglobin, they are at higher risk for methemoglobinemia.
Consuming water from a source containing 10 or less mg/l nitrate-nitrogen provides assurance that methemoglobinemia should not result from drinking water. Consult your physician for information on methemoglobinemia or for professional diagnosis if methemoglobinemia is suspected.
Methemoglobinemia (too much methemoglobin in the blood) is sometimes called "Blue Baby Syndrome." Note that the risk to infants is if they are fed formula mixed with water high in nitrates. I have found no suggestion that breastmilk from mothers who are drinking higher nitrate water results in methemoglobin in her baby.
Most public health agencies list the "safe" level as 10 mg/litre, which is Health Canada's threshold, but it seems so very high.... and one wonders about other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. Also, there are concerns about increased rates of certain cancers in people who are exposed to higher concentrates of nitrates in their water.
Health Canada's summary:
from Cassandra PEI's Media Release release around that date (end of October of
screenshot from Cassandra PEI Facebook group:
Admittedly, this is one of the less impressive charts (I say that since I am not sure if I understand it), but I gather the point is that a homeowner is going to pay if he or she has high nitrates in a household well. Occasionally, there are free testing clinics, but water filter systems are not cheap. The point is that nitrate concentrations are high in P.E.I. drinking water, it's likely both spread across regions and very focal in some areas, and it's very likely the nitrates are due to heavy fertilizer use.
Hope you can enjoy some local farmers' markets and some local crafters this weekend
It was dispiriting to see and hear about so much damage on
the Island to infrastructure due to the extreme-but not-uncommon rain of
yesterday, and know our government, despite calls from watershed groups and
environmentally-minded people, has not really been investing in preparing the
structures we have for these climate change-related insults. (It is one
of many questions all our new candidates can be asked.)
The water flow entering the river at centre is nearly entirely due to runoff from the extensive stretch of Plan B asphalt uphill. The local watershed group and others placed all sorts of sediment controls in the ravine in the past few months, but there is a huge amount of water coming off both sides of the highway, under it, and down this ravine. And the brand new footbridge beams are not quite high enough for these big rains or melts.
PEI, Part 2: After
the August posting, Cassandra PEI started daily postings in late October on
Nitrate is the name for a molecule that has one nitrogen and three oxygens
bonded around it, with a negative charge. It's found in fertilizers (this
is over simplifying it but plants absorb nitrogen from the soil as they don't
take it from air), which of course is used to push plant growth and increase
Many "regular" meetings are taking a break for the holidays, and lots of organizations are having holiday socials today and next week. The weekend is filled with concerts and other holiday-related performances.
The Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) is hosting an open house at its location at Royalty Centre/House of Sport (the old PVI), 40 Enman Crescent, from noon to 3PM.
now-normal but unusual weather like 80+mm of rain in central P.E.I. in December
has caused problems all over the Island, and we'll see what Plan B's run-off
mitigations look like in the daylight. The water was lapping the
temporary footbridge built at Green Road and Crosby Mill last night.
A few weeks ago, three folks had a news conference about their evocatively
named organization,"Cassandra PEI", which is "Charting a
Better Future for Prince Edward Island." The group existed on
Facebook, which is cheap and easy to share and allowed some anonymity (and
perhaps not a little buzz about who he, she or they could be). (Guardian article
printed below.) Three of the members are very respected scientists and
naturalists, and caring Islanders, Ian MacQuarrie, Daryl Guignion, and Mike
Also from August 9th, 2014 (screenshot by CO).
Screenshot from Facebook, August 9th, 2014.
This wonderful three-way chart (Charting a Better Future -- get it?) graphically shows the rise in both number of acres planted in potatoes on P.E.I. (green left-hand vertical line numbers) and the rise in number of hundred-pound lots of potatoes ("cwt" for "hundred-weights" per acre of potatoes planted, yield, in red). While the number of acres declined since about ten years ago, the yield has increased. It's not like our soils got fertile all by themselves -- this is likely the result of specific "inputs" like fertilizer and in some cases irrigation. Does this help feed a hungry world? Maybe.
So, there may be less acres in potatoes, but each acre is expected to produce more.
The article in The Guardian does not appear to be on-line, but here is the text:
Environmental group wants concerns turned into voting issue
Published Saturday, November 22nd, 2014, in The Guardian
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.
Last week, on December 2nd, The Green Economy Network,
sponsored by the McKillop Centre for Social Justice and the peerless Mary Boyd,
hosted a one-day roundtable and evening public presentation.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Stratford Town Hall
22 people were present over the course of the day, including Tony Clarke (Green Economy
Network - GEN),
Matthew McCarville (Don’t Frack PEI), and Donald LaFleur (Canadian Labour
Congress), along with many other Islanders.
Nuclear energy has been ruled out as an option for a green economy by GEN because it creates divides in discussions and doesn’t contribute to successful collaboration between all the different groups necessary. Essentially, issues with divisiveness, international security risks, the disasters at Chernobyl and Japan, and the fact that nuclear energy is not technically renewable since it’s dependent on plutonium which is a finite resource, all culminate with it being an undesirable energy source.
transit and especially Green Buildings need planning.
Efficiency: $100 into electricity gets you $100 worth of energy
- $100 into oil gets you ~$87 out
- $100 into an air-sourced heat pump gets you $250 out
Financing options: Credit Unions will give you a loan and provide you with a payment plan to pay off a renewable energy upgrade to your house
provincial government removed a 9% tax on furnace oil, but kept the tax on other
heat sources such as biomass. If this tax was re-introduced, 9 cents on every
dollar of furnace oil expenditure would be raised for the provincial government
to open up an air-sourced heat pump fund so that homes heated by furnace oil
can upgrade to air-sourced heat pumps. PEI households consume roughly 160
million litres of furnace oil per year, which would create $10 million of tax
revenue per year. There are 40,000 houses in PEI. $10 million being directly
transferred into a fund for renewable energy infrastructure upgrades for 40,000
houses equals $250 per house per year. Over 10 years, this would total $2500
per home per year, which would cover the installation of an air-sourced heat
pump in every house in PEI.
A note: Summerside's net metering program: 50% electricity sourced from wind power.
agriculture on PEI requires too much land and too much capital investment on
behalf of farmers for too little profit and too great environmentally
destructive consequences. The aging farming population has few aspiring farmers
in the younger generations who can realistically afford to buy the hundred or
thousand-acre farms for such little monetary reward.
PEI potato production is 40% less efficient than the average yield in other areas.
current marketing system for small-scale local organic farmers is not optimal.
Being taken away from your farm for two days a week during the summer when you
most need to be there is inefficient. (Ideas to get local food to people
- A grocery store or food distribution hub
- “Plate It” distribution - an Island company that connects restaurants to local farmers (business picks up and delivers for the farmer in exchange for a fee)
fall’s Speech from the Throne (November 12, 2014) in the Provincial Legislature
mentioned a Farm Funding Program to enable the continuance of the family
farm. It will be for farms greater in size than most starting out can
afford -- to any young adult interested in starting a farm operation, any
farm this size will be too much of a financial barrier to enter into that
business. Serious look (needs to be taken) at smaller models of agriculture.
Donald LaFleur, Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress spoke on socially and economically equitable employment.
Government policy demand: retro-fitting programs
Government policy demands:
By 2025, every house on PEI will be transitioned to heat via air-sourced heat pumps.
Some funding should go toward solar power as well. (Idea of 2017 PEI Celebration funding was allotted to grants for households to invest in renewable energy.)
By 2017, all new energy sources will be wind, water, and hydro; all new cooling and heating technologies will be compatible with wind, solar, and hydro power.
Homes that are net energy producers should receive compensation for the electricity that their renewable energy systems place back into the system. Yes, Maritime Electric is taking on the cost of power storage for when the supply is greater than demand, ME is still benefitting overall by charging customers for electricity that they themselves did not create. Customers should be fairly paid for the energy they produce, with costs for infrastructure and services provided by ME being the only subtraction from that payment.
Definitely related to the air-sourced heat pumps installation demand to government
Community volunteer initiatives:
Awareness-raising over the Renewable Lifestyles and Solar Island Electric Inc. programs; this creates climate jobs when the Renewable Energy PEI could be a vehicle for this awareness-raising
Political opportunities: pre-budget roundtable; green jobs suggested as an idea to help the PEI economy. As UPEI and Holland College are investing money in renewable energy and sustainable design engineering courses, what is the point of so much financial investment in these education programs if there are no jobs from the students when they graduate? There must be an equal investment from the government in creating jobs and supporting businesses in infrastructure projects that will match the skills of new graduates with gainful employment?
Government policy demands:
Creating of an education program for small-scale organic production.
Cooperation with ACORN’s existing Grow-A-Farmer program, which pairs aspiring farmers in an unpaid apprenticeship with organic farmers. Government investment could make these paid apprenticeships, just like the apprenticeship programs for large-scale industrial farms.
An education program to hand down necessary skills to an aspiring generation of farmers paired with grants and loan programs to help new farmers to acquire land and pay for infrastructure and equipment costs
By 2025, the Island will be transitioned to 100% organic production.
Food hub for local organic distribution; grocery store (cooperation with community volunteers necessary)
Community volunteer initiatives:
Food hub for local organic distribution; grocery store (cooperation with private enterprise necessary)
was a welcoming and inspiring day for the participants, with great thanks to
It is rather politicky
people are easy to tag with one label, but admittedly, Allan Rankin's main
professions are a wonderful hodge-podge -- musician, and senior bureaucrat
through multiple governments. With that background, and his reputation as
a honest and caring Islander, he is a wonderful choice to have a column in The
Eastern Graphic called "Thinking About It".
Our next premier should wear the Island like an OLD suit of clothes - The Eastern Graphic "Thinking About It" column by Allan Rankin
Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014
With both main line political parties on the Island set to choose a new leader within the next few months, and presuming at least one of them will be our next premier, it’s time we ask an few overriding questions.
What qualities and abilities should Islanders look for in their next premier?
Who is the man or woman most likely to make a difference?
Forget the Blue Team and the Red Team for a moment. Forget about Grits and Tories and all the partisanship I believe can obscure free thinking and responsible citizenship.
Each party will go about its leadership business of course, however, our shared challenge as Islanders is to find an individual who possesses the vision, character and inner strength and the abilities to lead from the front.
It would be convenient I suppose to assemble our quintessential premier from the best attributes of previous Island premiers, or genetically engineer the individual like an AquaBounty salmon, but none of that is possible.
Therefore we must select from the known gene pool.
Now I am going to state what some will think is a contradiction.
In my opinion, we need a premier who is only secondarily a politician, for a premier who views himself as a political operator first will be more interested in consensus and compromise than in making tough, right decisions.
More troublesome perhaps, the thoroughbred politician who occupies the premier’s chair will often serve the party ahead of the province, and a small group of friends ahead of the wider population. In a government led by such a premier, partisanship and favouritism often will rule the day.
Our outgoing premier is a decent and intelligent
man who has served the Island with conviction and dignity.
Sadly, the PNP debacle revealed another kind of premier.
It is always dangerous for a premier to manage any file within his own office, especially one that is potentially controversial and involves the disbursement of money. Premier Ghiz could not resist a direct role in administering and disbursing PNP units, and as a consequence he became ensnared in the irregularities and outrageous behaviour that surrounded that program.
It is cruel perhaps to say this, but his father, the late Premier Joe Ghiz would not have made that mistake.
I believe Robert Ghiz was also a product of his own upbringing.
Brighton born and raised, I don’t believe he ever felt completely at home outside of Charlottetown, and he enjoyed the halting respect but never the admiration of rural Prince Edward Island.
Our next premier should wear the Island like an old suit of clothes.
Our next premier needs to be comfortable in their own skin, and feel at home in urban and rural communities, around the board table, in the barn, and on the wharf.
It’s a tall order I realize.
Above all, the next premier of Prince Edward Island must be willing to stand tall for the province, and possess the intelligence and gravities to be taken seriously at the national level.
Prince Edward Island always needs to be capable of swinging above its weight.
That takes outstanding political leadership at the top.
We don’t need an emperor premier, or someone who relishes micro management and certainly broad direction and forward planning should be built around meaningful public engagement. But we desperately need a mature individualist who loves their province and is confident about its future.
Islanders need and deserve someone who can restore our hope.
Accepting that a genetically engineered premier is off the table, we must rely on our political parties to find the man or woman with the right stuff.
Perhaps that individual will shroud themselves in party red, or blue, or green, or whatever.
It’s not about party affiliation or the 50 shades of political ideology.
To embrace the spirit of the coming season, it’s about gifting ourselves with a premier we need more than want, a leader of quality and substance underneath the pretty wrapping.
Members of Provincial Council will hold
their December meeting prior to the social, from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
of the people at the Artisan Market today will be artisan woodworker Gary Loo.
A little over two years ago, in response to Plan B, Gary made a piece of art
called Flawed Flag.
From the article submitted to The Buzz in December 2012:
Island craftsman Gary Loo has created a woodcut version of a flawed Prince Edward Island flag in support of the Plan B protest. The woodcut is partly constructed of downfall wood from species which will be felled by Plan B (maple, spruce, birch, pine and larch). Other wood types used in the piece include mahogany and walnut.
Describing the flag Gary Loo says: “The flag’s middle tree is missing—chopped and pushed aside. symbolic of how thousands of trees, including rare and ancient Hemlock, have been mowed down to make way for the Plan B project. The right end of the flag has been left somewhat rough and crooked, as though it had been ripped from a flag pole. The flag is also facing the in opposite direction from how we normally see it, to symbolize the backward ideas of the plan B project. ”Source: www.BUZZon.com
correction from Saturday, as I identified Gail Shea as MP for Cardigan, not Egmont.
Lawrence MacAulay represents Cardigan.
Published on Saturday, November 29th, 2014
When that did not get approved, the next plan "aimed to turn P.E.I. into a financial service centre, similar to the Cayman Islands or Dublin, Ireland. "That one never materialized either, but was replaced by "a proposal to make P.E.I. the first and only Internet gaming regulator for Canada".
Whatever happened to the "Gentle Island" or the 'Garden of the Gulf"? Has a serpent invaded? I scream, I scream for the Island! Does anyone have a slate handy to knock some sense into the heads of people pursuing "a proposal to make gaming the first of several phases that would make P.E.I. a financial transaction "hub" for the continent?
Laura Mair, CharlottetownWe would need a big slate.
attended part of the Green Party Social in Hampton last night, where Lynne Lund
was introduced as the Green Party candidate for Malpeque. Becka Viau was
announced earlier in the day to be the candidate for the riding of
Charlottetown. Both are inspired and energetic, and care about this
Island and its future. It's likely that the candidates may run in the
provincial elections, if the provincial election is held before the Stephen
Harper government potentially calls a federal election. Well, the idea of
fixed elections date legislation sounded good. ;-)
Paul MacNeill, publisher of the Graphics, wrote this week
here (bold is mine):
Can one man change deck chairs on Titanic? - The Eastern Graphic "Against the Tide" article by Paul MacNeill
Published on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
Wade MacLauchlan is the candidate Tories and Liberals both coveted; he is also the man almost everyone expected never to run for public office.
So when he actually did drop his name in the ring to replace Robert Ghiz it came as a surprise, bordering on shock, to many.
At the top of the disappointed list is a whole host of current cabinet ministers who quietly jockeyed for best position in the event Ghiz did move on from the Big Chair. MacLauchlan’s entry sucked the air out of any hope the Liberals had of a competitive leadership race. And there is reason for that. He is well respected and has a record of achievement that includes co-chair of The Georgetown Conference, an idea for a non-political event focused on rural Atlantic Canada that originated with me.
His role has now changed. Mine hasn’t.
Two weeks ago almost all Grit MLAs and cabinet ministers fancied themselves a potential successor. When MacLauchlan announced, 19 current Liberal MLAs (only Carolyn Bertram, Valerie Docherty, rumoured leadership hopeful Robert Mitchell as well Ghiz himself were absent) were present.
It was a picture for the Liberal Party, not the province. And it could come back to bite the candidate. Wade MacLauchlan doesn’t need the Liberal caucus; they need him.
This is a coronation.
And coronations rarely are good in the long run for candidate, party or province. Those set to receive the crown always benefit from a little bruising.
Wade MacLauchlan boasts a resume that makes him arguably among the most qualified candidate for premier our province has seen in more than a generation. He is not without detractors or issues that need to be addressed. The NDP call him elitist. The Tories argue his record as President of UPEI resulted in the multi-million dollar budget shortfall and cutbacks of today. During his tenure there were lawsuits and a faculty strike. These are valid arguments that deserve debate. Any Liberal who thinks the party is better off with a leader untested before an election is delusional. History is littered with sure-fire candidates who wilt under the pressure of a campaign.
MacLauchlan’s first obstacle is to win leadership of the Liberal Party – given the love fest of last week this is not an issue.
His biggest challenge is to substantively change the face and focus of government. He may be the face of change for the Liberal Party, but the 19 sitting MLAs who stood behind him are not. They are the face of an arrogant administration that has expanded and centralized an already bloated bureaucracy, cut services to rural PEI, ignored major issues impacting our sustainability as a province, allowed patronage perks to flow to themselves and friends of government while jacking every fee imaginable on ordinary Islanders. This is an administration that spent like drunken sailors but received little in return. This is a government that ignores the necessity for sweeping change to our education system if we are to have any hope of attracting and keeping new Islanders and creating an economy built on something more than seasonal work.
Where does Wade MacLauchlan stand on the Ghiz record? We don’t know. To be trusted as the face of change the picture of smiling Liberals standing behind the presumptive new leader must change.
Ridings held by Independent Olive Crane, three Tories and Robert Ghiz give him five seats to find candidates without the taint of the Ghiz years. But that is not nearly enough to imprint a new face on an old government whose record in rural PEI is abysmal.
So who will step aside? What cabinet ministers will be shunted to the backbench? What MLAs will put renewal ahead of self?
MacLauchlan’s steamroll to the leadership has created an unnatural euphoria among elected Liberals and the throngs of government hangers-on who imagine eight more years of uninterrupted life at the trough.
Having worked for three years with Wade MacLauchlan on the Georgetown Conference and its follow up, I doubt this is the type of government he favours. We simply don’t know what his priorities are or what his proposed roadmap is for the transformative change he speaks of. But unless he emphatically puts his own stamp on the party and government – both in terms of elected members, fifth floor operatives and deputy ministers – the bureaucracy and Liberal establishment will bring to a screeching halt any notion of transformational leadership he may have.
MacLauchlan speaks of a leadership that ‘squares up to the challenges’ we face. We should all hope he succeeds because successive Tory and Liberal regimes have ignored the great and imminent issues we face. But if he fails at his most pressing challenge – bringing change to the Liberal regime he is set to inherit – his odds of success will drop precipitously.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at email@example.com
letter from The Guardian:
Published on December 04, 2014Peter Bevan Baker’s letter of Dec. 3 speaks to the need for strong leadership and a new direction on the political front in Prince Edward Island. He hopes Wade MacLauchlan is a harbinger of a new political direction on P.E.I. I so hope he is right. MacLauchlan has the credentials and the experience to set that new direction. However, so does Bevan-Baker. It is wonderful to see the leader of a political party inspiring those in another party to move forward in a new, positive direction without the usual partisan cheap shots.
The philosophical differences between the prominent political parties in this province have long disappeared into the mire of small-minded personal attacks and nit picking. The big picture is rarely, if ever addressed. Unfortunately the traditional third party has chosen to go down the same mired road.
The key to the future of P.E.I. is strong, committed leadership. John Quincy Adams once said,” If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more, you are a leader.”
It seems Wade MacLauchlan will be given the opportunity to create positive change through his leadership. Peter Bevan-Baker is another who shows the qualities that could lead this province out of its political malaise. After those two, the depth of inspired political leadership seems to run rather thin as of late in this province.
Terry Allen, Charlottetown
Some interesting commentary:
Published on December 2nd, 2014
The last few weeks have seen the business of governing P.E.I. being trumped by MLAs currying favour with potential leaders in soon-to-be re-booted political parties.
An encouraging counterpoint to this was the report delivered to the legislature from the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry. This multi-party committee received 29 presentations and 16 written submissions over several months and presented its report on the 19th of November. This was one of the few opportunities the electorate had to directly engage with their elected representatives on important issues.
Among other things the committee recommended was not lifting the 2002 moratorium on high capacity wells.
It stressed the development of a Water Act and that the public consultation be “inclusive, extensive and transparent.”
The Guardian editorial of November 24 (Committee procrastinates on wells issue) kicked this process to the curb. The editor berated the committee membership for not providing a timely report appropriate to the perceived needs of a portion of the potato processing industry.
The issues arising from high- capacity wells represent a fraction of the elements that must be included in a comprehensive water act.
This editorial simplifies and trivializes a primary recommendation of the committee.
It is interesting to note the following day’s Guardian featured an article on Agriculture Minister George Webster’s address to the AGM of the P.E.I. Potato Board (which took place on the previous Friday).
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.”
Is this the minister’s goal, the government’s goal or the industry’s goal? The Webster Dictionary defines the word “discuss” (verb): to talk about (something) with another person or group.
The minister’s version of a discussion is strikingly similar to the government’s road-tested announce and defend style of public consultation.
As we look to the future, the Water Act will be of utmost importance to all Islanders. The old style driven by political expediency and vested interest carries unacceptable risk.
Boyd Allen, Pownal
And as mentioned previously, Minister Webster was questioned on the floor of the Legislature the last day of the session (Thursday, November 27th) and demurred that of course he understood about the public consultations and the authority of the moratorium over his own desires for segments of the agricultural industry.
Lots going on today and this weekend:
The Green Party is having a "Big Green Weekend", with Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer coming to the Island and going to events in several parts of the Island.
This afternoon at the Farm Centre (3:30PM) , the Charlottetown candidate for MP will be announced.
Big Green Social, 7PM, Bites Cafe in Hampton. Admission $20 with John Rehder and company providing music for socializing or dancing, and food and drinks for sale. The candidate for Malpeque will be there, too.
Saturday, December 6th:
Bruce Hyer will be at both Farmers' Markets:
Summerside at 10AM,
Charlottetown at 12noon,
for informal conversations with Islanders.
NDP Christmas Social with Joe Byrne, 2:30-4:30PM, St. Peter's Cathedral Hall, All Souls Lane, Charlottetown. All welcome. Federal NDP MP Guy Caron of Rimouski, QC, will be in attendance, entertainment by Dylan Mensie, refreshments, goodwill offering (non-perishable food item) for Upper Room Food Bank auggested.
Green Party Meet and Greet, 6:30-9:30PM, Arts Guild, 111 Queen Street. The Charlottetown candidate for MP will be there, again, along with Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer.
Sunday, December 7th:
Green Party Cardigan Coffeehouse, 2-3:30PM, Cardigan, details to follow.
Vinland in Fact and Fiction lecture, 7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall), Charlottetown. (details below)
Monday, December 8th:
Progressive Conservative MLA James Aylward's Announcement, 7PM, Stratford Town Hall, refreshments and entertainment.
Vinland in Fact and Fiction
In the final public lecture of the year, sponsored by the Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island, the search for Vinland will continue, ranging from the realm of geography to that of the imagination.
Our guide on this journey will be Dr. Síle (Sheila) Post, a writer with doctoral work in Scandinavian Studies. A former university professor, Dr. Post now writes about “Place” – the local and the transcendental – in the old/new worlds of Maritime Canada and New England. Her current novel project, aptly called Vinland, is set on the Island where she resides, blogs and writes fiction (when not writing in Vermont).
In her talk, Síle Post will explore both the literal and the imaginary Vinland.
She will examine the fascinating links among place, people and metaphor through time-honoured symbols that help to locate and celebrate Vinland as place and theme – with compelling thematic significance for us as Islanders, followed by a reading from her own Vinland.
Síle Post will present her lecture on Sunday, December 7th, beginning at 7:30. The location is the Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall), on North River Road, Charlottetown. All are welcome.
Tuesday night, at the "Land Use Policy at an Impasse?" forum at
UPEI, the first major speaker was Jean-Paul Arsenault, a former
director of forestry and a land planning expert, among other professions.
He talked about the extensive history of those giant commission reports that
have been done since the 1970s, his having contributed many hours of his life
to most of them. With steely honestly he speculated on the political and
moneyed interference that had likely kept many, many of the recommendations
from being enacted.
More about the supplement in yesterday's Guardian called "The Real
Dirt on Farming", a shiny, thick insert about food and farming in
Canada. Well, a beautifully shot version of all kinds of conventional
farming. While it did contain some accurate information, it was written
in a soothing and paternalist style (from the sidebar on raw milk: (re:
pasteurization "This is to destroy any pathogens, like salmonella or E.
coli, which might be in the milk. These pathogens can make people sick
and even cause death.") ("Some people believe neonics are contributing
to bee death but there are conflicting views.....") and was
definitely very slanted to seed (ha!) concerns about any small-scale,
diversified or organic farming, and promote the need for genetic engineering,
routine antibiotics, and intensive animal penning. But, gosh, it was
Saturday, November 29th, 2014, The Guardian, page A14:
David Best and family from Tryon described their difficulties with farming and tried to have a crowd-source funding initiative over a year ago, when things were looking dire. It went from bad to worse. They are very decent people and I hope things work out OK.
Island Excavators was a family-run business in Crapaud, doing small and big constructions jobs.
very interesting Land Use Policy forum at UPEI last night. I know why the
reporters for Island's media leave events early, so they can get the (perhaps
incomplete) story packaged in a timely fashion for the 11PM news or morning
paper; but I'll stick to compiling a more complete version for tomorrow.
Today, Islanders can contact their MPs about a proportional
representation debate in the House of Commons.
This is the background from FairVote:
Fair Vote Canada has just learned that NDP Democratic Reform Critic Craig Scott will introduce the following motion for PR to the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday December 3).
That, in the opinion of the House: (a) the next federal election should be the last conducted under the current first-past-the-post electoral system which has repeatedly delivered a majority of seats to parties supported by a minority of voters, or under any other winner-take-all electoral system; and (b) a form of mixed-member proportional representation would be the best electoral system for Canada."
There will be a two-hour debate 3:15 to 5:30 EST. The vote will occur at 6:45 PM EST.
We need you to contact your MP now! Find your MP's phone number and email at: http://openparliament.ca/
The NDP has committed to implementing Mixed Member Proportional Representation if elected in 2015, with an all-party and citizen task force to create the best design. MMP with open, regional lists (meaning, all MPs are elected by voters and all MPs are local) is the model recommended in 2004 by the Law Commission of Canada. Eight provincial commissions have also recommended MMP.
The Green Party also supports implementing proportional representation before 2019.
The Liberal Party of Canada is calling for an all-party process involving citizens and experts to look at all electoral reform options - including other winner-take-all systems and proportional systems - in the first 12 months following the 2015 election.
There are two major families of voting systems in the world: Proportional, and Winner-take-all ("majoritarian/plurality"). All evidence indicates that to replace one winner-take-all voting system with another is simply to replicate almost every problem we face now with first-past-the-post. 10 commissions, 14 years of polls, and decades of research says Canada needs a more proportional solution.
Proportional representation is based on a couple of key principles: a) Voter equality - your vote should count towards electing a representative you want, and b) if a party earns 30% of the popular vote, they should earn roughly 30% of the seats. There are a variety of ways proportional representation could be designed for Canada. Fair Vote Canada does not endorse only one proportional system.
Regardless of whether your MP supports Mixed Member Proportional in particular, please urge them to vote YES to this motion if they support the premise that every vote should count. Amendments to motions are possible and a yes vote to this motion will open the door for a process to design the best electoral system for Canada, consistent with Fair Vote Canada's 2015 campaign. Achieving PR will require parties working together in an all party process.
This motion is a reflection of the momentum that is building across the country for votes that count. We need as many MPs to speak in favour of proportional representation as possible to move this issue forward now.
Please take a moment to let your MP know that you want him or her to be a strong voice for proportional representation. You can find the email address and phone number of your MP here: http://openparliament.ca/
Thank you for helping us Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
Anita and the whole Fair Vote Community
P.S. A setting was off on the fledgling Clearinghouse Calendar of Events on our website -- it should be working now:
A couple of corrections from yesterday:
Wednesday, NDP District 17 AGM start time has changed to 7:30 PM.
Elizabeth May on our elected representatives: We are a democracy only in theory - The Globe and Mail special by Monica Pohlman
Published Friday, Nov. 21 2014
Today, democratically elected governments have little sense of sovereign power and are beholden to transnationals through things like investor-state agreements. We need to re-establish that democracies â and citizens â can choose what they want to do, whether it's saying no to something like the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines or weighing in on the Canada-China investor treaty. For many years, we’ve gone through deregulation, privatization and trade liberalization. Taxes and anything collective are demonized. Our kids have been raised in an era in which the message has been, government is bad. When I talk to young people, they say, I don't want the government doing this or that. But in a democracy, you should feel as though your government extends from the end of your fingertips to do collectively what you can't do as an individual.
Our capacity to know what's actually going on has been diminished. The Internet has opened up the possibility for massive amounts of disinformation, masquerading as information. Social media has amplified the voices of the intolerant, the racists, the misogynists, the homophobic. I am on Twitter, and the stuff I get sent sometimes is horrific. There were always elements of our society that were intolerant, but one of the great things about Canada has been our respect for different viewpoints and the idea that we can come to consensus. We've always had this notion that we could disagree without being disagreeable. Today, the polite Canadian is disappearing. Conversations are no longer allowed. You're only allowed to yell slogans at each other across the aisle.
Pohlmann: What lessons do we need to learn from our past failures?
May: The 2015 election is a chance to restore the Canada many of us want, but we have to be able to talk about what's gone wrong. Getting rid of an elected dictatorship requires reducing the power of political parties and amplifying the role of individual members of Parliament. Members of Parliament have to get back to actually representing their constituents. We need to say it over and over again: All MPs are equal, and the Prime Minister is simply supposed to be first among equals.
We're like a little Popsicle stand. If you're ruthless, you can knock us over. Our constitution is based on the premise that those with power will not abuse it. There are no rules against the abuse of power; it's just not done. Stephen Harper doesn't have any real respect for Westminster parliamentary democracy. I don't think he is working in the interest of Canada. He is not in the pocket of all big corporations; he seems to be specifically ruling in the interest of Texas oil.
Some fun events going on this week:
Stephen Lewis roars once more in takedown of Stephen Harper government - The Star article byTim Harper
Canada and its politics, the former Ontario NDP leader says, are in free fall.
By Tim Harper, National Affairs columnist, Sunday, November 23, 2014
At the age of 77, Stephen Lewis describes himself as being “happily in his dotage,” a man free to bare his soul and dispense with diplomatic niceties.
He did just that in Charlottetown last Friday. The one-time lion of the left unleashed a withering roar over eight years of Stephen Harper government that deserves to be moved from the relatively tiny confines of the Confederation Centre of the Arts into a larger forum.
Lewis focused on five fronts of perhaps irreversible decline in this country, five only, because time did not allow him to get into all the factors that “scar my soul.”
The former Ontario NDP leader, United Nations ambassador and lifelong human rights advocate took aim at the “pre-paleolithic Neanderthals” in office and their role in the decline of Parliament, the suppression of dissent, the plight of First Nations, their blinkered climate-change policy and our plummeting world status.
There is no secret of the left-wing perspective from which Lewis comes. He borrowed the title of his speech, A Socialist Takes Stock, from his father David who delivered a similar cri de coeur some 60 years ago.
When he surveys the political scene today, he says he runs the emotional gamut from “rage to rage.”
But he is not alone. He joins a line of political elders who are taking increasingly harsh stock of this government’s performance.
Former Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe Clark has spoken out about foreign policy, former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin has been an outspoken critic of aboriginal policy and former ministers in the Brian Mulroney government emerged to condemn the watering down of environmental regulations.
Lewis told the Symons Lecture on the future of confederation:
· Canada’s world standing is in free fall.
· The Harper government’s contempt for Parliament and its traditions has degraded political life and fostered voter cynicism.
· Its attitude to aboriginals is not paternalistic, it is racist.
· Harper’s refusal to join the rest of the world and move toward renewable energy sources is endangering future generations and contributing to a looming planetary meltdown.
· Civil society and the ideas it fosters have been slapped down and censored, subverting democratic norms.
“There is a radical ideological agenda gripping this country,” Lewis said, “but it’s not the environmentalists or the other targeted groups committed to the quest for social justice; it’s the political leadership.”
We are channelling the years of Richard Nixon’s enemies list, Lewis says, adding the former U.S. president was driven by paranoia, Harper is driven by malevolence.
Lewis compared the atmosphere in Ottawa to that of the Ontario legislature where he served for 15 years, the William Davis years.
There was a respect in that chamber, he said, and that was respect was fostered by the premier.
“Vitriolic nastiness in debate does not breed respect,” he said,
“nor does adolescent partisanship, nor do pieces of legislation of encyclopedic length that hide contentious issues, nor does the sudden emergence of frenzied TV attack ads, nor does the spectre of a Prime Minister’s Office exercising authoritarian control.”
The government’s refusal to hold an inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women, its refusal to compromise with aboriginal leadership on the funding gap on First Nations education and its environmental standing that has sunk so low that we are seen as an impediment to a climate change accord in Paris next year, are all being watched around the world, said Lewis.
“It is as though Canada had decided, like some mindless national curmudgeon, to be a permanent outlier on issues of minority rights and women’s rights,” Lewis said.
“It does us damage. It does us shame.”
Of the “redundant” tarsands, Lewis says he is “hyperventilating for the day, when some Canadian politician has the courage to say: Leave it in the ground.”
Is this merely an overheated attack on a government that shares none of Lewis’s principles? An angry journey into nostalgia?
“Somewhere in my soul,” Lewis says, “I cherish the possibility of a return to a vibrant democracy, where equality is the watchword, where people of different ideological conviction have respect for each other, where policy is debated rather than demeaned, where the great issues of the day are given thoughtful consideration, where Canada’s place on the world stage is seen as principled and laudatory, where human rights for all is the emblem of a decent civilized society.”
He will be ignored by those in office. But his words should be studied by any who seek to govern going forward.