1. 1 June 30, 2014
    1. 1.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 1.2 Our public health care needs more protection - The Guardian Commentary by Mary Boyd
    3. 1.3 CETA will result in boost to GDP - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  2. 2 June 29, 2014
    1. 2.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 2.2 Complaints simply sounding on the deaf ears of entitled - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dave Bulger
    3. 2.3 Time to resurrect PR as viable option - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 June 28, 2014
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  4. 4 June 27, 2014
    1. 4.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 4.2 Irving's demands a form of progress? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 4.3 Study first, approve later - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor
  5. 5 June 26, 2014
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  6. 6 June 25, 2014
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  7. 7 June 24, 2014
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 7.2 Environment Canada preparing to test agricultural fumigant chloropicrin - The Guardian article
    3. 7.3 Anti-shale gas group suing New Brunswick government - CBC website
  8. 8 June 23, 2014
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 8.2 P.E.I. at crossroads over ecocide threat - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  9. 9 June 22, 2014
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 9.2 Legislators must set aside Irving’s ultimatum - The Guardian columnist Wayne Young
    3. 9.3 Is the Island too tiny to embrace change? - The Guardian columnist Alan Holman
    4. 9.4 It's time to start on a new farm path -The Guardian Letter of the Day by Ellie Reddin
  10. 10 June 21, 2014
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  11. 11 June 20, 2014
    1. 11.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 11.2 A lesson in manners - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 11.3 A New Vision for Province - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 11.4 Square Fries Make Better Fries - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    5. 11.5 What's the Plan for the Pogey Flood? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    6. 11.6 At crossroads over wells issue - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  12. 12 June 19, 2014
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  13. 13 June 18, 2014
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 13.2 Deafening silence on Gulf drilling - The Guardian Lead Editorial
    3. 13.3 Why does government pay for new power cable to mainland? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David A. McGregor
  14. 14 June 17, 2014
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 14.2 Irving delivers ultimatum on deep-water wells? - The Guardian Lead Editorial
  15. 15 June 16, 2014
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  16. 16 June 15, 2014
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 16.2 More Fiddling, More Burning? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  17. 17 June 14, 2014
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 17.2 Tired of receiving pesticide notices - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 17.3 Threatening government? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 17.4 Potato growers diligent with responsible pesticide use on P.E.I. - The Guardian Commentary by Gary Linkletter
    5. 17.5 Fighting fungus during off hours - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 June 13, 2014
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 June 12, 2014
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 19.2 Islanders Must Say Enough is Enough - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  20. 20 June 11, 2014
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 20.2 Group calls for moratorium on drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence - The Guardian article by Mitch MacDonald
    3. 20.3 Oceans Day reminds us to protect the Gulf - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Colin Jeffery
  21. 21 June 10, 2014
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 21.2 Troubling comment at public meeting - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 21.3 The Hazards of Lawn Chemicals - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 21.4 Cornwall resident offering free rides to transit meeting - The Guardian website article by Nigel Armstrong
  22. 22 June 9, 2014
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  23. 23 June 8, 2014
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  24. 24 June 7, 2014
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  25. 25 June 6, 2014
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 25.2 Canada's 500,000 Leaky Energy Wells: 'Threat to Public' - The Tyee article by Andrew Nikiforouk
  26. 26 June 5, 2014
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 26.2 Children Deserve a Healthy Future - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 26.3 Action Needed Not More Talk - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 26.4 Big Debt Load Brings Dark Cloud - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  27. 27 June 4, 2014
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  28. 28 June 3, 2014
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  29. 29 June 2, 2014
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  30. 30 June 1, 2014
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  31. 31 May 31, 2014
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 31.2 Science Requires On-going Monitoring of PEI's Water Supply - The Guardian Commentary by Dr. Jim Randall
  32. 32 May 30, 2014
    1. 32.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  33. 33 May 29, 2014
    1. 33.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  34. 34 from http://www.peipotato.org/growers-site and tabled in the PEI Legislature this Spring.
  35. 35 May 28, 2014
    1. 35.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 35.2 Physical consequences of drilling into aquifer - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 35.3 89,000 acres of potatoes + 680,551.09 kgs of pesticides = trouble - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  36. 36 A Reader's View
  37. 37 May 27, 2014
    1. 37.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 37.2 Coalition for the Protection of P.E.I. Water offers recommendations to government - The Guardian Commentary by Catherine O'Brien
  38. 38 May 26, 2014
    1. 38.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  39. 39 May 25, 2014
    1. 39.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 39.2 PEI Women's Institute Resolutions - by Darcie Lanthier
    3. 39.3 P.E.I. Group Says "No Monsanto" - The Guardian online article by Mitch MacDonald
  40. 40 May 24, 2014
    1. 40.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 40.2 The pesticide issue and our failing democracy - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David MacKay
  41. 41 May 23, 2014
    1. 41.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  42. 42 May 22, 2014
    1. 42.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 42.2 Lethargic Session Just What Ghiz Wants - The Eastern Graphic Editorial by Paul MacNeil
  43. 43 May 21, 2014
    1. 43.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  44. 44 May 20, 2014
    1. 44.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 44.2 Chris O's Letter on Behalf of Citizens' Alliance of Prince Edward Island
  45. 45 May 19, 2014
    1. 45.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 45.2 Green Washing of Bonshaw Highway - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  46. 46 May 18, 2014
    1. 46.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 46.2 Robert Irving urges grads to seek careers in Atlantic Canada - The Guardian article by Jim Day
    3. 46.3 Address to Grads from Hypocrite? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 46.4 Island Water Symposium at UPEI - facebook event page
  47. 47 May 17, 2014
    1. 47.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 47.2 Prince being used to green wash Plan B - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  48. 48 May 16, 2014
    1. 48.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  49. 49 May 15, 2014
    1. 49.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 49.2 SPRING SESSION OF LEGISLATURE COMES TO END - Ocean 100 website (feat. Chris O)
  50. 50 May 14, 2014
    1. 50.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  51. 51 May 13, 2014
    1. 51.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 51.2 Amend the legislation on cosmetic pesticides - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 51.3 Potential risks not worth it for cosmetic benefits alone - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Lori Barker
    4. 51.4 Apply pesticides at your own risk - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  52. 52 May 12, 2014
    1. 52.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 52.2 Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan
  53. 53 May 11, 2014
    1. 53.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 53.2 Public deserves more facts about CETA - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 53.3 Island representatives must educate themselves about CETA - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Jordan MacPhee
  54. 54 May 10, 2014
    1. 54.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  55. 55 May 9, 2014
    1. 55.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  56. 56 May 8, 2014
    1. 56.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 56.2 Charlottetown protest highlights pesticide controversy - The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong
    3. 56.3 Sherry refusing to release advisory council opinion on deep-water wells - The Guardian article by Teresa Wright
  57. 57 May 7, 2014
    1. 57.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  58. 58 May 6, 2014
    1. 58.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  59. 59 May 5, 2014
    1. 59.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  60. 60 May 4, 2014
    1. 60.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 60.2 The New Abolitionism - The Nation magazine article by Christopher Hayes
  61. 61 May 3, 2014
    1. 61.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 61.2 Too much government? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 61.3 Just say no to cosmetic pesticides - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Roger Gordon
  62. 62 May 2, 2014
    1. 62.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 62.2 It would be great if we could make a Sacred Fire, for when the Prince Tours the Trail in the Bonshaw Hills.
  63. 63 May 1, 2014
    1. 63.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 63.2 P.E.I. politicians see Hamptons's (sic) mystery development, residents don't - The Guardian article by Nigel Armstrong
  64. 64 April 30, 2014
    1. 64.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  65. 65 April 29, 2014
    1. 65.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  66. 66 April 28, 2014
    1. 66.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 66.2 Infiltration water problem - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  67. 67 April 27, 2014
    1. 67.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 67.2 Trans-Canada Reroute protested at Province House - CBC website
  68. 68 April 26, 2014
    1. 68.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 68.2 How Organic Farming Can Reverse Climate Change - Rodale Institute
  69. 69 April 25 2014
    1. 69.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  70. 70 April 24, 2014
    1. 70.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 70.2 Bypass road plans wasteful all around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  71. 71 April 23, 2014
    1. 71.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 71.2 Running Out of Time - The New York Times editorial board
  72. 72 April 22, 2014
    1. 72.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  73. 73 April 21, 2014
    1. 73.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 73.2 P.E.I. agriculture minister says snow has recharged province's water table - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
  74. 74 April 19, 2014
    1. 74.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 74.2 Rough Forecasts - New Yorker magazine article by Elizabeth Kolbert
    3. 74.3 Food ingredients getting scarier - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  75. 75 April 18, 2914
    1. 75.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 75.2 Science favours corporate interests - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  76. 76 April 17, 2014
    1. 76.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 76.2 Soil fumigant kills everything - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  77. 77 April 16, 2014
    1. 77.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  78. 78 April 15, 2014
    1. 78.1 Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report
    2. 78.2 Larry Cosgrave's Environmental Report - Facebook
    3. 78.3 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    4. 78.4 Role of family farms topic of meeting in Charlottetown - The Guardian article
  79. 79 April 14, 2014
    1. 79.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook
    2. 79.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  80. 80 April 13, 2014
    1. 80.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 80.2 Oil and gas sector now Canada's biggest generator of greenhouse gases -The Guardian article
  81. 81 April 12, 2014
    1. 81.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 81.2 Prince Charles and Camilla to spend Victoria Day in P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross
  82. 82 April 11, 2014
    1. 82.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  83. 83 April 10, 2014
    1. 83.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook
    2. 83.2 Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report - Facebook
    3. 83.3 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    4. 83.4 Committee opts to delay decision on deep-water wells - The Guardian Lead Editorial
    5. 83.5 Green Party calls for Public Commission of Inquiry on Water Resources - Facebook
    6. 83.6 Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan
  84. 84 April 9, 2014
    1. 84.1 Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook
    2. 84.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    3. 84.3 Budget Blog-Highlights or Lowlights - NDP Leader Mike Redmond
  85. 85 April 8, 2014
    1. 85.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 85.2 Changes to agricultural legislation patently absurd - The Guardian Commentary by Randall Affleck
  86. 86 April 7, 2014
    1. 86.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  87. 87 April 6, 2014
    1. 87.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 87.2 DeSable land sales - CBC Compass
    3. 87.3 IRAC quashes Hampton development plans - The Guardian article by Jim Day
    4. 87.4 IRAC decision in Hampton may have consequences for land use in P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  88. 88 April 5, 2014
    1. 88.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  89. 89 April 4, 2014
    1. 89.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  90. 90 April 3, 2014
    1. 90.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 90.2 Politicians Abandon Environment - Telegraph Journal Commentary By Brad Walters
    3. 90.3 P.E.I. needs proper land use - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 90.4 April 2, 2014
    5. 90.5 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    6. 90.6 Shrinkage cause of many problems - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  91. 91 April 1, 2014
    1. 91.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update

June 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A catch-up on the most recent commentaries on CETA:

from Mary Boyd, who always has something well-thought out to share:
(link to click for story on-line)

Our public health care needs more protection - The Guardian Commentary by Mary Boyd

Published on June 24th

One of the European Community’s (EU) highest priorities in the Canada and European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations is to extend its scope to provincial and municipal levels. This will hinder federal and provincial government rights to protect universal Medicare and expand and create new public health services.

As the EU negotiators seek to weaken Canada’s protection for health care, the federal and the provincial governments need to respond by better protecting our public health care from European and U.S. corporations wanting to exploit it for profit. Our governments can do this by insisting on a strong and comprehensive reservation that protects health and social services.

The Harper government has already made a serious mistake with CETA by agreeing to extend patents for European Pharmaceutical companies by up to two years. Pharmaceuticals will be more expensive and will make Canada’s pharmaceutical patents the longest in the world. Medication costs will increase by between $850 million and 1.6 billion annually ($3-4.5 million in PEI). Canadian taxpayers, especially low income earners and seniors will pay these increased costs even if the federal government compensates the provinces.    

If CETA proceeds without a strong protective reservation for health, the provinces will be required to negotiate exemptions or rely exclusively on the inadequate Annex II reservation. We only have sketchy information on what the provinces are actually carving out. As far as we can determine, no province or territory requested reservations to exempt health or other public services.

The current Annex II would protect income security, social welfare, public education, public training, health and child care, only to the extent that these are social services established or maintained for a public purpose. Unfortunately, a few provinces are allowing some private health care delivery and some services are a mix of public and private, making it difficult to distinguish public from private services and difficult for Canada to claim it is maintaining the system purely for public purposes.

The NAFTA blueprint on which CETA is based, initially gave no protection to health and social services except for the flawed Annex II. Thanks to public pressure, enhanced protection for health care known as Annex I was added. The combination of annexes I and II gave stronger but not complete protection to Canada’s health and social services.

Now the EU is demanding that Canada abandon Annex 1 and rely solely on the limited Annex 11, a move that would weaken the current protection for health care. The public health system would have to compete with private interests seeking profits. This situation could lead to a two-tier system allowing the wealthy to jump queues and waiting lists thereby denying access to those least able to pay.

Canada needs to safeguard Medicare by negotiating a new exemption stipulating that “nothing in the CETA shall be construed to apply to measures adopted or maintained by a party with respect to our ability to expand coverage of public health care or public health insurance.” This would allow the space to create new services such as Universal Pharmacare and home care without fear of trade challenges.

Wherever two-tier systems exist in health care, the public system is diminished. Trained health-care workers are drained into the private system leaving the public system more stressed. Waiting lists become longer, especially for low-income earners and people on fixed pensions. The more complicated and costly procedures are left to the public system as private companies, wanting to profit from people’s illnesses, enhance their profit margins by performing the quickest and less costly procedures. CETA will allow these private companies to compete with the public system.  

It is clear that there are commercial interests behind the European Union’s demand to include health care in CETA. This is against Canadian values because in Canada, health care is delivered solely on the criterion of patients’ needs without regard for their ability to pay. Our public system needs to be strengthened and improved not undermined by the restrictive CETA. Left on its own the Annex 11 reservation leaves federal and provincial governments vulnerable to private Investor lawsuits under the Investment Protection Chapter.

Worse still, the final ruling in a dispute about whether something qualifies as health for a public purpose as outlined in Annex 11 would be made by a biased trade or investment dispute panel — usually three individuals  — outside of Canada and out of our control. The huge pharmaceutical company, EIi Lilly is currently trying to sue Canada for half a billion dollars for making generics from two drugs whose patents expired two years ago.

CETA and similar trade and investment liberalization agreements are undemocratic and designed to shrink government. They encourage the spread of new competitive markets where they don’t presently exist such as public health and other public services.

We don’t need corporations controlling and chipping away at public services that make society more democratic and equal. We don’t need private interests exploiting the sick by introducing profit-making in public health-care systems. We want fair trade, not CETA.  

Mary Boyd is Chair, P.E.I. Health Coalition


And the immediate response (I wonder if there are fill-in-the-blank responses all ready to go for any earnest opposing letters published)

CETA will result in boost to GDP - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 26th, 2104

I wish to respond to the article published on June 23 with regard to the historic Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA).

With CETA, Canadian businesses will have preferred access to the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc, with more than 500 million consumers and an economy with over $17 trillion of economic activity each year. We will be the only nation with preferred access to both the EU, the 300 million affluent consumers in the United States, and the over 118 million people in Mexico. In Canada, one in five jobs is dependent on exports, and more than 60 per cent of our annual GDP comes from trade.

As our government has stated, Canada trades on products, services and expertise, but we maintain direct control over our regulations and government powers.

The concerns raised by Ms. Boyd are the same spurious claims that were made by those opposed to free trade with the United States over 20 years ago. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed, Canada’s annual GDP has risen by nearly $1.2 trillion, 4.7 million jobs have been created in Canada and the country’s trilateral trade in goods with the United States and Mexico has more than tripled.

CETA excludes health, public education and other social services. In addition, nothing in CETA can force governments to privatize, contract out, or to deregulate public services. Policy makers here guide these decisions in Canada. The suggestions made by Ms. Boyd are without merit and are designed to promote an anti-trade agenda.

Our government worked with provinces and territories at the negotiating table from the very beginning. In fact, there has been direct outreach on CETA to ensure it benefits Canadians in all provinces. The Canada-EU Trade Agreement is a good deal for Canadians, a good deal for Prince Edward Islanders and a good deal for jobs and long-term prosperity in Canada.

Erin O’Toole,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

June 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Nice days to be outside, but here's a little bit to read and contemplate these two recent letters from The Guardian.  A great time for discussion would be next Thursday, July 3rd, at 7PM at t the Haviland Club (2 Haviland Street), at the next Connect Meeting on Thursday, July 3, at 7:00PM.  Connect is the effort of FairVote Canada and Leadnow.ca to "make 2015 the last unfair election".

David Bulger on how our individual Rage Against the Machine could be consolidated to make change happen. (Bold is mine.)

Complaints simply sounding on the deaf ears of entitled - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Dave Bulger

Published on June 24, 2014

On the last night of the Roman year, two men kept vigil on the Capitoline Hill, watching the skies for omens. They were the Consuls, the two chief magistrates of the Roman Republic. They would take office on the first day of January, would have one year in which to effect any political programs, and would retire from office on the last day of December a year away.

Think of it. How wonderful it would have been if we could have gotten rid of Bobby Ghiz in 2008 — having given him and his band of merry men and women only one year to wreak damage on the economy, the landscape and the morale of Islanders.

Well, of course, a one-year term of office may not be workable in our complex society. But limited terms, that is, terms which are actually limited — not just fixed election dates in which the same gang of clowns can be returned to office — would be an excellent idea. And the reason for that is the following: long-term occupation of office can bring notions of entitlement and delusions of superiority, if not grandeur.

One of the wisest statements that has ever been written is Lord Acton’s, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Now there is a issue with the word “corrupt.” We tend to think of it as meaning “morally evil,” but Acton probably meant something more political, given the context, since he would see political corruption rooted in the continued exercise of power over long periods of time, in the sense of entitlement and the delusions of superiority that come with the comfort of long tenure.

Corruption, in a political sense, involves the illusion that the office holder is right, while any opposing voices are clearly wrong. In our system, where ministers are generally not knowledgeable in the subject matters of their ministry, this illusion is shared with civil servants — especially senior civil servants — whose tenure of office is even longer than their minister’s.

Likewise, entitlement and delusions of superiority among ministerial advisers could, for example, produce the following kind of assessment of hundreds of letters to the editor opposing a remarkably stupid government highway policy: “After all, it’s only the same five or six people ... and they’re all ‘tree huggers.’”

What, of course is fascinating about this particular statement, and would confirm the “political corruption” — i.e. entitlement and delusions of superiority — of the speaker, is the lack of knowledge of the legal principle in Armadale Publishers. That decision required that editors must be able to identify each letter writer.  

“Political corruption” — entitlement and delusions of superiority — can also drive misguided expenditures of public monies. Where common sense would dictate restraint, “political corruption” by ministers and advisers will dictate “living large.”

For years, I defended our higher taxes in the face of criticism by American friends and relatives. I pointed to our universal medical care, our far less expensive post-secondary education as examples of things supported by our justifiably higher taxes. But in recent years, I have come to accept that tax dollars also go to fund out-and-out stupidity on the part of ministers and their advisers, and frankly I am tired of handing money over to the un-bright and entitled.

So, I return to a theme I have set out before. We will have no say as long as our system remains as it is. The opinion pages of this newspaper are filled with letters and commentaries which take the government to task for this action or that inaction, but, in reality, such expressions of opinion are exercises in futility.

To all those who write and comment on a variety of specific issues: what we really need are three things, namely, “initiative,” “recall” and “term limits.” Initiative will give us the right to originate legislation and have it voted on by the entire population. Recall will allow us to unseat members of the legislature and force them to run again. Term limits will end long-service and the sense of entitlement that accompanies it. As long as we do not have those things, complaints are simply sounding on the deaf ears of the entitled and those who imagine themselves superior.

To those who write and criticize the government, this advice: band together, circulate a petition addressed to the Lieutenant-Governor demanding that he withhold Royal Assent for all legislation — legally this is his prerogative — until such time as he is presented with bills establishing initiative and referendum, recall of members and term limits. Then we will have broken Absolute Power and the “corruption” that attends it.

David M. Bulger is a retired adjunct professor of political science at UPEI.


Time to resurrect PR as viable option - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 27

Now that we are hopefully all tired of talking about abortion again, how about some lighter summer reading — politics! I’m going to propose that we take proportional representation (PR) on P.E.I. out of the hypothetical realm and into the realm of serious consideration.

Sure, the Liberals look secure now, particularly with the PCs in such a mess. But what is going to inevitably happen is that one election, if not the next one, the one after that, the Liberals are going to lose, and the PCs are going to take every seat. Then we’ll have another 10-year one-party state, and so it goes, back and forth. Just like the present Liberal dynasty, they won’t take 100 per cent of the vote, but they’ll take virtually 100 per cent of the seats.

The idea is that under PR, the seats in the house would look more like the actual percentage of the vote the parties got in the election. I’m not proposing we copy a notoriously unstable model, like Italy, but something with a better reputation for stable, effective government, like New Zealand or Germany.

P.E.I. has a reputation for being slow to embrace change, but then again, we got used to single-member ridings, and we got used to roundabouts. I think we could get used to PR, too.

Stephen DeGrace, Stratford

June 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Farmers' Markets open this morning -  Victoria opens for the season, Summerside, Charlottetown, Montague, Cardigan -- and where else?  I can't find a good list on the Department of Agriculture's website.  I think the PEI Flavours map is included with today's Guardian.

This map might be useful for seeing where organic farmers are located on PEI:

A few weeks ago, I attended the keynote address by Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada, at the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation.

She had great slides, was very inspiring, but talked fast (ha!).  I think I got her ten points:

How to be Courageous in a Planet in Crisis:

  1. Talk about the renewable energy transformation -- and talk, and talk, and make it *normal*
  2. Get organized -- the town of Kitimat organized a plebiscite about the Northern Gateway (a memory lane trip:  the Plan B Plebiscite was going on exactly two years ago today)
  3. Get Creative -- using fun or humour instead of fear -- it gets people moving from apathy
  4. Use Consumer Power -- talk to store managers about organic/local/seasonal food.  Greenpeace has an App to help when you shop for paper towels, toilet paper, and such (and a version for those without smart phones is here.)
  5. Use Technology:  big data, stand up to stuff like our monoculture (OK, I don't remember what she meant here)
  6. Start a petition -- using a clipboard and pen like Kathleen Romans did starting the insulin pump awareness, or ones through sites like Avaaz or SumOfUs.  The web-based ones are easy, easy, and the numbers do influence politicians' and the public's thoughts.  You might consider looking at and signing Larry Cosgrave's petition at Avaaz.ca that "asks Premier Ghiz to ban GMOs and Roundup, phase out pesticides, and promote organics."
  7. Feel good that Canadians have are listed their deepest concerns
    1. the decline of democratic institutions
    2. being unable to care for our elderly
    3. environmental degradation
  8. Bear Witness -- selfies and other citizen documentation with trash, with environmental badness -- and send it to politicians
  9. Do some citizen science -- create a narrative to shift power and have some fun
  10. Remember Maya Angelou's quote:  "Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without it, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."

And in the Fun Category, a group at the website http://www.shd.ca/ realized the URL for the term "economic action plan" wasn't taken, so they got it and made some scathing commercials  (lower screen shot) lampooing the Action Plan signs (a local one, below) and commercials.

Signs in Bonshaw put up in January of 2013.
temporarily unable to upload :(  Please check the facebook page for photos.

Screenshot of lampoon of Economic Action Plan website, from http://www.economicactionplan.ca/ with more commercials.

June 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

An event tonight:
Roger Gordon, who blends his scientific knowledge with common sense and a passion for protecting our children and grandchildren, has been explaining how pesticides work on both insects and humans.  In his spare time, he has been writing his memoirs, excerpts of which will be read at the Haviland Club tonight (7PM) with others from TWiG (The Writers in Group).
A second group has launched a lawsuit against the provincial and federal governments, and the company planning to frack in New Brunswick, The People's Lawsuit:

A few of the very good letters recently:
Boyd Allen's letter commenting on Saturday's The Meddler column:

Irving's demands a form of progress? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

published June 26th, 2014

I am puzzled by Alan Holman’s Meddler column on the 21st of June. He characterizes Islanders as being “very resistant to change,” and that “opposition to progress is part of our history."

 He somehow considers maintaining the moratorium on high-capacity wells for agricultural irrigation and developing a comprehensive water act as evidence of these perceived flaws.

He goes on to present Robert Irving’s recent demands as some form of progress, and that we should bolster Cavendish Farms’ market share in the french fry industry.

Islanders do have long memories. Shipbuilding, fox ranching, and tobacco farming were once primary industries in the Island economy of the day. Changing markets and the march of time made them obsolete. Fortunes were made and lost. Islanders adapted to the collapse of these industries and new enterprises emerged to take their place.

If Mr. Holman considers placing corporate profit above the creation of an enforceable and inclusive water policy, it appears to me that he is unable to embrace any change that disturbs the status quo.

Boyd Allen, Pownal

Shirley Gallant's in The Journal-Pioneer (and today's Guardian, I think):

Study first, approve later - The Journal Pioneer Letter to the Editor

Published on June 25, 2014

Why is it okay to dump highly toxic chemicals on our land without proper studies being done? I don't consider it a proper study when the chemical companies themselves have their own scientists give the, "okey dokey" on the results.

Multi-billion dollar companies can afford to buy science, so the results are in their favour. Remember the tobacco industry? These highly toxic chemicals are marketed as being safe and everyone believes it, because convincing people is what marketing is all about. Years later we end up with revelations like those of DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs, rBGH, nocotine, and many other chemicals that were never properly studied.

It doesn't make sense to continue to use these products first and then have independent studies done. I suggest the studies be done first. I also suggest we enact policies locally to protect our Island.

The Pesticide Control Act needs to be amended to ensure that independent studies conclude that what is being sprayed is safe for humans and wildlife. We can't afford to risk losing the bee population while we wait for industry, science, and politicians to duke it out over whether or not neonicotinoids are destroying the bees.

We need to have the Act amended now to protect Islanders, our soil, water, and wildlife from the products produced by chemical companies who are concerned for nothing more than profits.

Recently a California study found that pesticides exposure during pregnancy increases the likelihood of autism in children. Particularly for mothers who live near farm fields. Another five-year study done by a European task force on systemic pesticides, (neonicotinoids), concluded that these chemicals are harming bees and other pollinators like Humming Birds and butterflies. (We kind of need them if we don't want a steady diet of porridge.) At minimum we should at least get started by banning cosmetic pesticides. Can we really afford to continue saturating the earth with these, known to be dangerous, chemicals?

Shirley Gallant,


If you want to help David Suzuki explain and popularize the idea of environmental rights, among other things, consider signing up to make a monthly automatic donation to the David Suzuki Foundation before June 30th.  (Apparently a donor is going to make a large donation if a certain number of people sign up to donate.)  David Suzuki is recruiting "Radical Canadians"!   :-)
David Suzuki Foundation request

June 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Many friendly but concerned faces in the public gallery of the meeting Wednesday afternoon of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry.   It reminds the committee that the public is interested in the issue and paying attention to what they do about it.

The committee members do like experts, and gave Dr. Cathy Ryan 30 minutes, which she used to give the presentation she made at the water forum last month at UPEI, with a few corrections as pointed out by that audience.
She assured them there was abundant groundwater -- if the wells were dug deep enough, and cased all the way down through bedrock.  She feels this will tap into older but abundant water that would be part of the flow that goes to the ocean anyway.  She does acknowledge that there will likely be effects from climate change and those should be taken into account (though she said she is not an expert on that and wouldn't want to comment further); and that deep wells, actually, are not the answer (it's multifaceted with conservation needing to be a big part).

Ann Worth, Executive Director of the PEI Aquaculture Alliance, urged communication and cooperation, and asked for the formation of a Task Force on Land and Sea, which sounds evocative, but the idea is likely displaced by preparations for a Water Act, I think.

Mr. Bill Trainor described the how he sees our land and waterways changing over time.  (It is not for the better.)  His quiet voice was worth the effort to hear, as he had observations and fantastic recommendations.  Cindy and I merely could have said, "What Bill said," to the committee, and have been done sooner.   As soon as his talk is printed in the Committee records, I will pass it on.

The fourth speaker was Reverend Karen MacRae, who had many concern, many more comments, and was generally just airing a few opinions, mostly about the importance of potatoes to Islanders, and about protecting our water.

Cindy and I focused on reasons to keep the moratorium on high capacity wells, and then went into some components of a good water act.  We mentioned briefly about our agricultural system needing changing.  (Which they could pick up and explore.)  The slideshow of the talk and a copy of the presentation about it will be on the www.peiwater.com website.   It was hard to keep the committee's (and most of the media's) interest, though it was good to provide some closing comments on the process.  I am not sure committee members had figured out from whence the Citizens' Alliance came, as we were not sopping wet, fragrant with woodsmoke,  and carrying signs; but likely figured out where our efforts are going. 

Compass was only on-line Wednesday night due to the World Cup soccer matches, but had a short article, mostly focusing on the first two presenters; at 2:40 into the broadcast.
In response to one of those happy, shiny advertisements for Suncor that was shown at movie theatres in other parts of Canada, the organizing group SumOfUs made this two-minute parody, which hits home pretty hard:


The Ballad of Stompin' Tom starts tonight at the Harbourfront Theatre (previews) and runs until the end of August.  The director is Catherine O'Brien, the chair of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.  Best wishes (or whatever one is supposed to say) to her and the whole cast and crew!

June 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday, CBC reported on a large study that points the finger causing kill-off in bees squarely to agricultural use of certain neurotoxin pesticides, the neonicotinoids,.  This article is very good and is from The (other) Guardian:

I think there are a lot of factors affecting bees right now; this is a big one we could do something about.
Events today:

This afternoon!  What's likely to be the last Standing Committee meeting (Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry) on the high capacity well issue.  Five presenters are appearing: Dr. Cathy Ryan, who spoke at the water forum at UPEI last month, the PEI Aquaculture Alliance, Mr. Bill Trainor, Rev. Karen MacRae, and the Citizens' Alliance which is last.  Cindy Richards and I will be speaking on behalf of the Alliance.  The start time is 1PM, at the Coles Building, next to Province House.
Come by anytime you can, and show your interest in the issue of the wells and in beginnings of the formation of a water act.

Tonight, some very concerned Islanders have an event planned to help Guatemalan farmers.
Starting at 6:30PM, at Timothy's World Coffee Shop (I almost wrote World Cup), 54 University Avenue in Charlottetown
"Breaking the Silence, (BTS) a Maritime-Guatemala Solidarity Group is launching a unique partnership with Timothy’s World Coffee Shop. Timothy’s Coffee Shop will start serving a ‘Breaking the Silence’ Fair Trade coffee blend later this month and Islanders will have the opportunity to make a donation with each cup of coffee bought.
The Fair Trade label ensures that the small farmers who grow the coffee are paid a fair price for their product. This higher price enables the coffee famers to increase their income as well as invest in services in their communities.
BTS and Timothy’s are offering Islanders a unique opportunity to support solidarity work in Guatemala. Timothy’s will have a special urn for ‘Breaking the silence’ coffee and for every cup of BTS coffee you buy customers are invited to pay an extra looney which will go to supporting the BTS projects in Guatemala.
BTS is pleased to have a special guest speaker for the Launch, Leocadio Juracan. For the past 25 years, Leocadio Juracan has been the National Coordinator of the Comité Campesino del Altiplano – CCDA (Highland’s Committee of Peasant Farmers). The CCDA farmers grow fairtrade organic coffee which is brought to Canada by Just Us! Coffee Roasters in Nova Scotia.
The evening will be rounded out by the music of Mike Mooney and Laurie Brinklow."

June 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Small but deeply-felt victories, or at least changes in the wind:

Malcolm Pitre from western PEI, who among others has persistently brought up the issue of the chloropictrin "study" on a test plot of strawberries in West Prince, reports that he got a e-mail from the Environment Canada person that the study is being put on hold. "Further to discussion with PEI officials last week, the study has been put on hold until the results of the special review of chloropicrin by the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency's are known." (communication from Lucie DesForges of the Chemical Production Centre at Environment Canada). 

Unlike the United States, Canadian strawberry growers do not have access to methyl bromide, and conventional strawberry producers are looking for other fungicides. 

And just a reminder about what chloropicrin is (and some other pesticides), from the North American Pesticide Action Network:

And The Guardian story from March 2014:
(text below)

Environment Canada preparing to test agricultural fumigant chloropicrin - The Guardian article

Published on March 02, 2014 ALBERTON – Environment Canada plans to allow a West Prince farm operation to test the fumigant chloropicrin on a small test plot in Ascension this year to determine whether the fumigant poses any threat to groundwater.

The decision to test the chemical follows an application by Alberton-based Westech Agriculture to use chloropicrin on its strawberry fields in place of the fumigant methyl bromide (MB), which, in accordance with the Montreal Protocol, has been prohibited in Canada under the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations, since 2005.

An Environment Canada official said, because of no technically and economically feasible alternatives to MB for growers, Canada requested an exemption under the Montreal Protocol, yet remains committed to phasing it out.

Reached at the farm Friday, Westech Agriculture owner, Nora Dorgan, said the farm simply made application to use chloropicrin, that the actual testing is being conducted by Environment Canada.

The provincial Department of Environment is permitting the federal department to test the product on a small plot of strawberry plants.“We saw that it is used in other parts of Canada, so we put an application in,” Dorgan said of the farm’s application to use chloropicrin. “What the powers that be decide beyond that is beyond my control.”

According to Environment Canada, the application of chloropicrin will be done in accordance with the product label. The area to be fumigated during the test will not exceed five acres.

Monitoring wells and lysimeters will be installed in order to collect groundwater and surface water samples, respectively, and samples will be tested by accredited laboratories in accordance with approved testing standards, an Environment Canada official confirmed.

The official indicated chloropicrin has been used in combination with other active ingredients since at least 2005.

Westech Agriculture did have an incident involving the use of a fumigant in 2001. Water testing by the P.E.I. Department of Environment at that time found four wells to be contaminated with dichloropropene, an active ingredient in the fumigant Telone C-17. The Province subsequently covered the cost of installing a small water system to supply five homes in town.

Mayor Michael Murphy expressed surprise that no one from either Environment departments contacted the town with regard to testing of chloropicrin, indicating he learned about it through a newspaper story.“We are waiting for more information on when it’s going to happen, where it’s going to happen, but we will be voicing our concerns and asking questions about it,” he said.

He questioned the common sense in putting a fumigant in the ground to see if it will go into the water table.

“If it does go into the water table, what steps are they going to take to keep it from going any farther, and how are they going to get it back out of the water table?” he wondered.

Wayne MacKinnon with the P.E.I. Department of Environment pointed out the test will not be taking place anywhere near Alberton.

“It’s on Westech land that is away, quite far, from any residences,” he said.


And an interesting development yesterday:

Anti-shale gas group suing New Brunswick government - CBC website

Statement of claim alleges Charter violations over lack of public consultation, calls for moratorium

Published June 23rd, 2014

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance and three citizens are suing the provincial government over plans to develop the industry in New Brunswick.

The alliance, which represents 22 community organizations, and the three other plaintiffs, filed a notice of action and statement of claim with the Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John on Monday, alleging Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations.

They are calling for a moratorium on the development of "unconventional oil and gas exploration" until the government can establish "beyond a reasonable doubt and with scientific certainty … that it will not contribute to climate change, nor to the contamination of the water, air and land use which causes harm to the health of the plaintiffs and their future generations."

Meanwhile, they contend the government should divert the social, political and economic resources currently at its disposal for unconventional oil and gas development into an energy supply system that is based upon renewable energy sources instead.

The provincial government has 20 days to respond.

The group hinted during a news conference in Moncton on Monday that additional lawsuits against the province by other groups may on the horizon, but declined to elaborate.

The documents filed with the court cite concerns about hydraulic fracturing, alleging the process causes "serious harm to both the environment and human health," including "permanently contaminating and depleting finite clean water and air supplies for both present and future generations."

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro-fracking, involves injecting a mixture of water, air and chemicals into the earth under high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas trapped within the rock formations.

Opponents of the shale gas industry have long argued the hydro-fracking process can cause water and air pollution.

"All life, including human, animal and plant life is impossible without clean uncontaminated water and air," the alliance, James David Emberger, of Taymouth, Roy L. Ries, of Harvey, and Carol Ann Ring, of Rothesay, state.

The 16-page statement of claim also outlines concerns about leaks, spills, illegal dumping of waste water, and a disruption to rural life.

"The cumulative, negative effects on rural people's mental health, due to increased stress, anxiety, fear and depression, leads to physical health problems," the document states.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Lawsuit last resort

Emberger says the group has tried everything to get the attention of the provincial government, including petitions, demonstrations, debates and meetings.

But the Alward government has rejected repeated calls for a moratorium on shale gas, he said.

The group has now raised $100,000 through individual donors and hopes to prove to the province that shale gas extraction can cause cancer, birth defects and respiratory problems.

Larry Kowalchuk, who represents the group, says the government has violated the Charter rights of New Brunswickers to life, liberty and security by moving forward with shale gas exploration without consulting citizens.

"This is a free and democratic society. The Charter is important. These topics are critical now," he said.

SWN Resources Canada intends to drill four exploratory wells next year in the next phase of its exploration program for potential shale gas development in New Brunswick.

Two of the exploratory wells are planned for Kent County, in Saint-Charles and Galloway. The other two are planned for Queens County, in the vicinity of Bronston Settlement Road and the Pangburn area.

Last month, a report by 14 international experts, commissioned by Environment Canada, concluded "data about potential environmental impacts are neither sufficient nor conclusive."The prospect of shale gas development in New Brunswick has sparked protests across the province.

A protest along Highway 11 near Rexton on Oct. 17 ended in a violent clash with police. Six RCMP vehicles were set on fire and about 40 protesters were arrested.

And a reminder that tomorrow (Wednesday) in the Standing Committee meeting on the high capacity well issue, starting at 1PM, in the Coles Building, on the other side of Province House from the Confederation Centre and those giant "1864" numbers.

June 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A Monday mix:

In Saturday's Guardian:

P.E.I. at crossroads over ecocide threat - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 21, 2014

I have been following the growing movement to ban cosmetic pesticides on P.E.I. and I would like to weigh-in from afar. As a former full time resident of St. Georges, and someone who has family and friends living on P.E.I., I am alarmed and dismayed that the spraying of herbicides and pesticides is still rampant and seemingly out of control. The scientific evidence that these toxins are causing higher than normal cancer rates in children, is overwhelming and cannot be ignored any longer.

This is not the 1950s, when people didn’t know any better and the truth about the harm that these substances do was hard to find. Ask yourselves this: Do you believe the scientists and the parents of children with cancer, or do you believe the industry and government who profit from this ecocide? P.E.I. is at crossroads, indeed the planet is at crossroads and it is time to challenge the status quo and shift toward a healthier future. You do want that for your children, don’t you?

Mae Moore, Pender Island, B.C.

A concerned citizen who reads The Toronto Star has compiled 600 Reasons demonstrating that Stephen Harper is changing Canada.

It is a rant, of course, but interesting, nonetheless.


A quote from Ed MacDonald's 2000 book, If You're Stronghearted: Prince Edward Island in the 20th Century, is used at the beginning of Report of the Task Force on Land Use Policy:

Task Force on Land Use Policy page 2

"Edward MacDonald captured the essence of the Task Force assignment:   'On a small island, it bears repeating, land is a finite and fragile resource. Most of us have yet to concede just how fragile. Whether it is labelled environmentalism, sustainable development, or stewardship, the need to protect the land and the waters that surround it can only grow in importance.  In the process, it will pose difficult choices between freedom and regulation, employment and preservation, private gain and the public good. In many ways, those choices are already upon us.' "

June 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Many, many interesting columns and letters in yesterday's Guardian. Three related to Robert Irving's demand regarding the moratorium on high capacity well, with my highlighting some words in bold and comments afterwards.

Weekly columnist Wayne Young:

Legislators must set aside Irving’s ultimatum - The Guardian columnist Wayne Young

Living just 10 minutes from Cavendish Farms, I see every day the economic impact this processing giant has on P.E.I.

Many of my neighbours and some family members depend on the plant for their livelihoods, either by working year-round in New Annan or by working with farmers who grow potatoes for the french fry production line.

Everyone wants Cavendish Farms to succeed, but not at any cost. When the company announced it was laying off 60 people from a workforce of 700 last November, it was front-page news. A company official said it was responding to increased production from competitors in North America and Europe. Three months later, for the same reason, 23 more workers were let go.

So when company president Robert Irving appeared before a legislative standing committee on agriculture last week, it wasn’t surprising that he would argue in favour of a measure he believes will help Cavendish Farms keep pace with its competitors. He urged the committee to recommend lifting a 12-year moratorium on high capacity agricultural wells in P.E.I. The move, he said, would enable its potato growers to stay competitive and the plant to send a high-quality product to market.

Fair enough.

But Irving went farther, much farther. He pointed out Cavendish Farms is the largest private employer in P.E.I. with an economic impact of over $1 billion. It purchases more than half of all raw potatoes grown on P.E.I., he said. But because those potatoes are not meeting consistency and quality demands of the french fry market, Irving warned it might have to reduce its investment here and start growing elsewhere.

Unless, of course, government lifts the moratorium on deep-water wells and allows agricultural irrigation. That, he said, would enable growers to consistently produce the quality product the market demands.

The legislative committee must now sort through Irving’s presentation and determine what’s useful and what’s not.
Cavendish Farms, along with the P.E.I. Potato Board, offered its own scientific evidence that lifting the moratorium won’t jeopardize the province’s only source of drinking water. That’s useful. Irving’s ultimatum is not, and it should be set aside in the debate.

When then-Environment Minister Chester Gillan put the moratorium in place in 2002, he said it needed further study to determine  deep-water wells’ impact on water levels. Many feared it would pose a serious threat to groundwater. Twelve years later, there seems to be plenty of science on all sides of the debate.

But now, there are increasing calls for this science to be peer-reviewed, not only from a coalition of groups and activists opposing the deep water wells, but also from farm organizations who want the moratorium lifted. I find it encouraging that Gary Linkletter of the P.E.I. Potato Board agreed after last week’s presentation that a third party should review the province’s scientific data.
“Get someone credible, probably from another province who’s got a good record, who has knowledge of these things . . . . to review the Department of Environment’s data, do other research as needed and get a definitive answer — will this hurt P.E.I.’s environment? If it won’t, then continue on.”

Like most Islanders and certainly like the politicians who will have to make the final decision, I don’t have the expertise to definitively say yes or no to lifting the moratorium. Opinion isn’t fact, and rhetoric does little to advance the debate on an issue as important as our water quality and supply. Only when all necessary scientific data has been gathered, independently reviewed and proven accurate can a final decision on the deep-water well moratorium be made.

In the meantime, developing a comprehensive water management policy may help. Environment Minister Janice Sherry promises to consult widely with Islanders and experts in coming up with the new water act. Skeptics say it will take too long, probably until after the next election when it will be easier for government to lift the moratorium.

We’ve waited 12 years and can surely wait a few more, if necessary, to get a new water act in place — one that ensures our precious water resources are sustainable for today and future generations, and for an assurance that a decision on deep-water wells will be supported by the best peer-reviewed science available.

As important as Cavendish Farms is to the Island’s economy, its demands can and must be trumped by a safe and sustainable water supply.

We want the jobs, yes, but we want the water more. The final decision on the moratorium must be based on good peer-reviewed science — not ultimatums from huge corporations.

Wayne Young is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.

This was likely submitted and the layout done before Minister Sherry made her announcement about forming a water act and presumably keeping the moratorium in place; and Mr. Young is perhaps putting a bit too much faith that there is one, single solitary answer to the question.  Sadly, the government could easily sway the peer-review process by picking a sympathetic reviewer or selecting only parts of the review to release to the public.

On the other side of the page, the column by Alan Holman ("The Meddler") column was a head-shaker.

Is the Island too tiny to embrace change? - The Guardian columnist Alan Holman

If Prince Edward Island were a Canadian city, rather than a province, it would be about the 22nd or 23rd largest by population; approximately the same size as Kelowna, B.C. or Sherbrooke, Que..  In other words, not very big.But, The Island is not a city, and as a province we have powers that are not possessed by Toronto, Montreal or any of the large metropolises of the country. The Island has the jurisdiction to make its own laws and set its own standards, and as a province we can influence, and in some instances even veto constitutional change in the country.

Except in the area of land ownership The Island hasn’t really exercised its jurisdictional rights, it has rarely flexed its jurisdictional muscle.

Quebec recently used its jurisdictional prerogative and brought in a law that allows physicians to assist terminally ill patients who are suffering, allowing them to die with dignity. Another example of progressive programs that make Quebec unique. In the United States, Oregon, Washington and Vermont also have similar laws, but with different criteria. And, of course, Colorado, recently used its jurisdictional rights to allow for the legal consumption and sale of marijuana.

Some might suggest that P.E.I. has used its jurisdiction to ban abortions in the province, but, it hasn’t passed any laws making abortions illegal. It has just made them very difficult and unnecessarily expensive to obtain.

When statistics show that there are 22 people in the job market for every job that is available on The Island, one wonders why someone hasn’t come up with a way to use its jurisdiction to encourage economic development.

Collectively, Islanders tend to be very conservative. As a people, Islanders are very resistant to change. With the possible exception of consumer goods, Islanders are not generally open to new ideas or concepts.

The government, all Island governments regardless of their political persuasion, find they have to walk a fine line between this resistance to change and the demands for economic development and the jobs that often ensue.

This week the Ghiz government chose to bring in new legislation governing the province’s water resources. As an exercise this is expected to take a number of weeks. It is an exercise that will further delay a decision on a request to lift the moratorium on pumping water from deep wells to irrigate potatoes being grown for Cavendish Farms. For the proponents of deep water wells, the issue is not about job creation, it about job preservation.

Robert Irving makes money by providing his customers with products they want. Recently he pointed out that irrigation is needed to produce potatoes of the size and quality required to create the french fries his customers demand. And, he added, if he can’t provide the french fries from The Island, he’ll produce them somewhere else. For his honesty he’s been labeled a bully.

Based on the reportage of the issue, letters to the editor and anecdotal stories, the opposition to the lifting of the moratorium seems to be based on a fear of the unknown, coupled with a inherent distrust and dislike of both big corporations and government.

This inherent fear and distrust also extends to the issue of the fracking process being used in the recovery of oil and gas. Islanders have already held demonstrations and protests against fracking even though there hasn’t been a proposal to use fracking on the Island, or in the waters around the province. 

But, Islanders, by the thousands, go to the west to reap the economic rewards that come from oil and gas development.

Opposition to progress is part of our history. A hundred and fifty years ago, when the idea of forming a new country by uniting the colonies of British North America was being discussed it was deemed too radical a concept for Islanders. We took a pass.  At the turn of the century the introduction of the automobile was strongly resisted. For years there were a lot of silly regulations before the motor car was fully accepted. More recently during the 1990s there was a lot of wild and ridiculous rhetoric heard before the Confederation Bridge was finally built. Since its completion the hordes of evil have, generally, remained on the mainland.    

Perhaps students of political science or psychology at UPEI could conduct some research to see if it’s because The Island is geographically small and demographically insignificant that this somehow leads Islanders to be afraid of progress and averse to risk.

Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: acholman@pei.eastlink.ca
I usually find his opinions insightful; I was disappointed to see him play the "Islanders Are Afraid of Change" card, especially when his "change" is actually the old paradigm: gambling our remaining natural resources for short-term old-school economic gain. He is saying we are so tiny and backwards we won't embrace change, and why are we being silly enough to demonstrate against fracking, when there is no proposal now, and people go west for jobs in the oil and gas sector.  (I think Don't Frack PEI needs to send some information to him.)

The changes we are afraid of, because they will be hard and they are scary, are converting to renewable, less carbon-based fuels, and converting (back) to more diversified farming.  But I think we are brave enough to do this for our children and grandchildren.

My sentiments are expressed much more clearly by Ellie Reddin:

It's time to start on a new farm path -The Guardian Letter of the Day by Ellie Reddin

Published on June 21st, 2014

Letter of the Day

As reported in The Guardian on June 12, 2014, Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving, appearing before a provincial legislative standing committee, said the company might reduce its investment in P.E.I. and start growing elsewhere if the P.E.I. government does not lift its moratorium on deep-water wells. He also said Cavendish Farms would likely not enter into contracts with growers without irrigation if the moratorium were lifted. Installing irrigation equipment on a farm is estimated to cost $200,000.

Why does Cavendish Farms insist on irrigation? To meet the “stringent consistency and quality demands of the french fry market.” So Islanders are expected to put our water supply at risk and our farmers are expected to go further into debt to meet the onerous demands of Cavendish Farms, all to provide French fries for McDonalds.

Studies conducted by Environment Canada in 2006 found extremely high levels of airborne pesticide and fungicide readings in the Kensington area and found the presence of fungicides “likely to be ubiquitous throughout the atmosphere of P.E.I. during the potato-growing season.” A Globe and Mail article that year focused on the very high rates of unusual cancers among children in western P.E.I. and concern among physicians and parents about the link between these cancers and heavy pesticide use by potato growers.

Will P.E.I. continue on its current path of industrial agriculture with heavy pesticide and water usage in order to satisfy the demands of the french fry market or will we seek an alternate future with smaller, diversified family farms?  A decision to start on a new path is not easily made - transition is difficult - but our quality of life and the lives and futures of our children and grandchildren depend on it.  

Ellie Reddin, Cornwall

If you have about ten minutes, this week's CBC Radio political panel (the last one until September), was very interesting.  It features Jordan Brown, Wayne Collins (former PC MLA and former Island Morning Radio host), and publisher Paul McNeill.

Island morning political panel
June 20th, 2014

June 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

There will be a wonderfully damp walk through Macphail Woods looking at native plants this morning, starting at 10AM.

Farmers' Markets open today in Summerside, Charlottetown, and now in Cardigan.  What others are open this weekend?  Consider making the extra time, paying a little more than grocery-store-prices, but supporting local food.   Eggs, greens, rhubarb, baby root vegetables like radishes, well-stored vegetables from last year, transplants for your garden, breads, chickens and other meats and more are available.

People who signed up for CSAs (community supported agriculture, or farm-share programs) are going to get their first boxes in the next couple of weeks.  It never quite worked out this year, as far as I know, to create one website with locations and availability of Island CSAs, but some farmers still have space or have a flexible by-the-week system.  If you are looking for a CSA, let me know and I can direct you to some great farmers who may know what's available in your region.

Buying from local farmers is truly one way you protect the land by creating demand.  A more regulated way is through Land Use policies.

Remember the Land Use Policy Task Force???  They were a group of five individuals, three farmers and two planners, who were "tasked" with the job of talking to Islanders and organizations and coming up with ideas for Land Use Policies, as recommended in the New Foundations-- Report of the Commission Land and Local Governance ("Judge Thompson's report").

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

The Task Force, from the just-received Report of the Task Force on Land Use Policy

Last fall, the Citizens' Alliance encouraged public participation in the Task Force's survey with this public service announcement,
here , 2 minutes.

The Task Force's report, which they handed into government in January of this year, was released by government yesterday.  Minister Sheridan said that they would work on some of the recommendations.
Link to the report:

And, just a bit, from the section on Statements of Public Interest (expanded on from their draft from last year):

Task Force on Land Use Policy 19

SECTION 1: Protect the Natural and Built Landscape


Water is one of our most valuable public resources - the basis of all life, food, communities and industry. Groundwater is of critical importance on Prince Edward Island, as it is the only source of drinking water.

Goal 1: Protect the quality and quantity of the Island’s water and ensure it is healthyand sustainable for current and future generations

1.1 Ensure policies, development proposals and projects improve or maintain the quality or quantity of groundwater and surface water; the capacity of the ecosystem must not be exceeded;

1.2 Ensure the natural recharge areas are preserved in development projects;

1.3 Establish targets for percentage forest cover in watersheds to meet water quality goals, recognizing that different watersheds have different needs: incorporate watershed management plans when available;

1.4 Identify well-head protection areas; develop sites and protection plans for future municipal water sources;

1.5 Identify high nitrate areas, where national standards for safe drinking water and healthy aquatic systems have been compromised, and implement appropriate corrective actions.

It is in the Provincial Interest to protect the quality and quantity of the Island’s water and ensure it is healthy and sustainable for current and future generations.


The Citizens' Alliance is going to  present to the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry this Wednesday, June 25th, on the high capacity well issue.  The meeting starts at 1PM, and the CA presents  last in a line-up of four or five presenters that day, we are told, but it will be a shorter meeting than the others.  Hope you can pop in to the meeting, in the Coles Building.

June 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Just a few of the good letters in The Guardian recently on the high capacity well issue and Robert Irving's presentation to the Standing Committee, and tomorrow's native plants and trees walk at Macphail Woods.

A lesson in manners - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published June 19, 2014

Dear Robert Irving. I can’t stand a bully. They pop up everywhere, in school boards, milk board, church boards, etc. I have no tolerance for them.

I do not accept that you think you have the right to appear at a legislative committee on deep-water wells and make threats to reconsider your investing here. Lots of people have a lot invested here. This is our home. The difference is we have manners.

You will publicly apologize for being a bully to the standing committee. If you don’t like it then feel free to come to my farm and you and I will chat about manners. Blaine MacPherson knows where to find me.

Ranald MacFarlane,
NFU member,


A New Vision for Province - The Guardian Letter to the Editor


Published on June 19th, 2014

The Irvings are clearly trying to bully Islanders on deep-water wells . . .  time for them to move on. They’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars off our tortured soil, while Islanders suffer from the highest levels of cancer in Canada and rates of asthma in Canadian and U.S. children. Our health-care system has paid the bills while they continue to gobble up more and more ownership and control of our lands — now that the P.E.I. Potato Board has recently and successfully helped them hack up our Lands Protection Act.

And now they are threatening us to bow down to their demands for more deep-water wells to support their increased holdings and control of farm acreage or they will leave the Island. I see a far better vision for P.E.I. without the presence of their relentless and enormous greed on our small Island, which has seen more than 50 fish kills since Cavendish Farms opened. We need a new vision for the Island. The Irvings and more deep-water wells, and tons more pesticides poisoning our air and entering our lungs are not it.

John Hopkins,  Breadalbane


Square Fries Make Better Fries - The Guardian Letter to the Editor


Published on June 18th, 2014

With regard to the potato, deep-water well issue on Prince Edward Island, what stops the consumer from demanding less then perfectly sized french fries. Not every french fry has to be exactly the same size. What is next? The development of square potatoes to fit the french fry processing equipment even better?

There seems to be no end to the quest for larger and bigger produce. It is starting to affect everything in the produce aisle. Do all these oversized hybrid products still have the same nutritional value like the original variety?

Notwithstanding all the criticism, I think that Irving basically is a good company. Yet, they too are caught up in this frenzy of bigger, but not necessarily better. Worldwide there is already a huge shortage of potable water. Eventually the wells will run dry everywhere or get contaminated from all the fracking. It is time to stop this madness. Perhaps the Irvings, already being one of the corporate leaders in our area, could become our corporate leaders to reverse this trend before it is too late?

Annet Tol, Cornwall

And something that has to be considered:

What's the Plan for the Pogey Flood? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor


Published on June 18th, 2014

I don’t pretend to represent all the workers of Cavendish Farms, upper or lower management, or even Mr. Irving. But in my opinion it’s a bit distressing to be reading people basically saying, “buzz off” to Cavendish Farms. Last week we had a writer suggest banning fries (which I guess she surmised would only affect Mr. Irving; and that fries are the be/end all of bad foods) and in the paper June 16 we’ve yet another member of the P.E.I. community basically telling Irving where he can put his money.

All I can think is, gee, it must be nice not to depend on the money Mr. Irving invests in P.E.I. annually. And how lovely it must be to not work in a sector or live in a province that would be affected by Cavendish Farms closing. Personally, I can’t wait to fight for my EI cheque and live off of less money than I’m currently making while looking for something that will pay me enough to feed myself and allow me to spend money on crazy things like child support, rent, and car payments if Cavendish Farms closes.

So while some of the citizens of P.E.I. are looking to so eagerly say goodbye to a business that helps bolster the economy of P.E.I., I’m fairly confident that the employees of Cavendish Farms, other businesses that work in close relation to C.F., and the farmers would rather not see their livelihood go elsewhere. Especially in a province with (I’m fairly certain) double-digit unemployment. Before we kick all of that money out of the province, my question is what’s the back up plan for when a couple thousand more people are drawing pogey?

Josh Hirtle, Summerside


At crossroads over wells issue - The Guardian Letter to the Editor


Published on June 18th, 2014

Prince Edward Island may well be at a very important crossroads over the issue of the deep wells demanded by Cavendish Farms/Irving.

For too long this Island has relied on wealthy, powerful outsiders to ‘do economic development’ by providing a greater or lesser number of jobs for Islanders — only for as long as government largesse keeps coming in and the wealthy can take large profits out of the Island economy.

The deep wells issue, however, seems to be a bit of a turning point. For once, there are a significant number of Islanders who are decidedly uncomfortable with giving up more of our precious water for a big company’s profit. Today’s (June 16, 2014) Editorial mirrors this discomfort.

Meanwhile local initiatives — small companies like Belfast Mini-Mills and the Landmark Café which were recently profiled in your newspaper, Chef Michael’s very successful culinary enterprise, the Festival of Small Halls as well as last fall’s Georgetown Conference — are showing the way to a new direction. This is, I believe, the direction in which this Island needs to move.

We have a deep reserve of expertise here — both locally grown and imported. We have an environment and community spirit that is very easy to fall in love with and an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to ‘git ’er done’. What we need is for government to give up on the old pattern of supporting and inviting the offshore wealthy to come in for their own profit in exchange for a few tenuous jobs.

Supporting locally grown enterprise will not be simple. There will be mistakes, missteps and embarrassments, but in the long run we all know that it is the way to do it.

So if the Irvings et. al. feel they can make more money elsewhere, let them go. Put our tax money into supporting our local entrepreneurs, be they farmers, fishers, tourism operators, artists and artisans, chefs or whoever. That is the way our Island economy will grow and prosper.

Jane Dunphy, Annandale

Saturday, June 21st, 10AM, Walk at MacPhail Woods: Learning About Native Trees and Shrubs

The public is invited to a workshop on native trees and shrubs at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell on Saturday, June 21.  Led by staff of the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project, the workshop begins at 10am at the nursery and will focus on all things related to native trees and shrubs.

Some plants, such as the American fly honeysuckle and red maple, naturally awaken early from their winter sleep.  Bluebead lilies, trilliums and starflowers are now in full bloom after a long spring.  The migrant songbirds have returned to the woodlands as well.

This is an ideal opportunity to learn how to identify native plants, attract wildlife and restore forests.  Participants will learn easy tips for distinguishing a wide variety of species throughout the year and their value to Island wildlife.  The nursery and arboretum offer a close look at different types of maples, dogwoods, elders, pines and many species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns.  Many larger specimens of our native trees can be found along the woodland trails.

There is no admission and everyone is welcome.  Please be sure to bring clothes suitable to weather conditions.

The workshop is part of an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods, a project of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please check out our web site (macphailwoods.org), contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, or check out our Facebook page.

June 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

There are many things to bring up, but it'll be briefly as it rained yesterday:
Stephen Harper is coming to town today for an unknown announcement:
Didn't we teach our children not to take candy from strangers?
Minister Sherry's
announcement out of the blue that she is planning a "piece of legislation to cover all water management policies", with no plans to lift the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture before that.  I am glad she has taken the recommendation of the Standing Committee in the pre-Sitting report to the Legislature to heart.  The Citizens' Alliance is slated to speak before the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy, and Forestry on Wednesday, June 25th about the well issue.
CBC article on Minister Sherry's announcement
CBC's on-line "in-depth" articles on the well issue, still doing the "this versus that" stance on the issue, and creating a poll that splits the *don't* choice:
A 5-minute video that popped up yesterday on high capacity wells:
and its string of five others here from a channel called "PEI Clips."
Five of the videos, with simple images, text, colours and music, point out bad decisions by the Ghiz government (some appealing to young male voters more than others), and one targets Mike Redmond of the NDP PEI.
Several fine letters in the local paper to reprint, summaries of fantastic lectures and discussions, but will have to wait until another day
It's time, yet again, to document environmental mitigation failures at Plan B with yesterday's rather ordinary inch of rain.
There was less than 30mm of rain out here, most of it steady with no downpours or thunderstorms;  two ugly, chronic mitigation failures occurred:

This Crosby Ravine breach continues, and appears to be caused by poor design of the area between Plan B and the old highway near the Plan B connector (McManus Road).

temporarily unable to upload :(  Please check the facebook page for photos.
Sediment flowing into West River by former footbridge near Green Road, Bonshaw, June 18, 2014.

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

Sediment pond with breached lip (not in photo), uphill from the river, in Bonshaw, Plan B up and to right, June 18, 2014.

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

One view of area across new highway with the cause of runoff, between Plan B and McManus Road, Bonshaw, June 18, 2014, which flows under a culvert and in that sediment pond, and down into the river (above photos).
And near Crawford's Brook, by Peter's Road, north of the inlet to the concrete boxes:

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

Sediment from Plan B ditch getting into Crawford's Brook, Churchill, June 18, 2014.

all photos by Cindy Richards, environmental monitor

June 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Enbridge's pipeline being approved by the Federal Cabinet, and these two articles about our current power system....a lot to think about regarding future choices and directions for power generation.

from yesterday's Guardian:

Deafening silence on Gulf drilling - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published June 17, 2014

Canada - Newfoundland Labrador board OKs oil exploration, drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence

It’s very surprising there has been little in the way of “official” reaction thus far to an April report that gives the green light to exploration and drilling for oil and gas off the western coast of Newfoundland. The report, commissioned by the Canada - Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, says there are significant environmental risks but those are insufficient to halt drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Apart from a number of environmental groups trying to draw attention to this announcement, reaction has been muted from Atlantic governments or major municipalities. There were attempts to get the issue on the agenda when Atlantic premiers met recently in New Brunswick — to no avail. There was hope the matter might at least be discussed informally but there was no apparent mention in any communiqués.

The CNLOPB report got scant coverage in regional media. It’s almost as if few people are taking the report seriously. The Newfoundland and Labrador government is already heavily engaged in deep ocean drilling — much to its immense economic benefit - and perhaps doesn’t see the big concern with drilling in the shallower and more contained Gulf off its west coast.

It’s that containment which should be striking fear and concern into provinces bordering the Gulf. An oil spill will have nowhere to go except onto our shores and beaches and into our harbours. It might not seem like a big deal for the N. L. government but it should be a very big deal for Quebec ( Iles- de- laMadeleine), P. E. I., N. B. and N. S. should there be a major spill.

It’s even more surprising how the Canada - N. L. board could make such a critically important decision without input from provinces which will be directly affected by any oil spills. One only has to look at what happened recently when a single oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing a number of workers and devastating shorelines, habitats and livelihoods for a number of Gulf coast states.

Atlantic governments are certainly cash- strapped and P. E. I. is the most resource poor province in the country. Are we taking a wait and see attitude with western N. L. drilling? Is this province hoping that drilling there proves to be safe, successful and lucrative — and that perhaps we could cash in on some revenue- generating wells close to P. E. I.? Are we hoping to reap some economic benefits that might come with drilling by our neighbour just to the north?

We are all aware of how fragile and important the Gulf is as a habitat for fish stocks and incredible numbers of marine life. It should not be up to any federal or provincial board to put our province at risk. Can you imagine what would happen if a major spill found its way to our north shore beaches? Tourism would be effectively ended for years to come. Older Islanders can still remember the panic in September 1970 when the Irving Whale barge sank off the north shore of P. E. I. with 4,200 tons of Bunker C oil aboard. It went down just over 30 miles from North Cape and remained a constant environmental threat until a salvage operation in 1996 safely raised the Whale to the immense relief of all.

Environmental groups, First Nations communities and fishery representatives from five Canadian provinces are pushing for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They argue that one well blowout could destroy the Gulf ‘s ecosystem. They’re right. Where are our provincial and municipal politicians on this matter? Is anyone listening?

Why does government pay for new power cable to mainland? - The Guardian Guest Opinion by David A. McGregor

Printed on June 17, 2014

In what seems to be an annual spring event, there is renewed talk of running a new power cable to the mainland ( New Brunswick). We are told about how old and deteriorated the present two existing lines are, how they are nearing the end of their lives, how much it will cost to run a new submarine cable and how this will improve energy security for the Island. Yet as every year passes, it never gets done.

Maritime Electric used to be a locally owned and controlled corporation, until Fortis, which according to its website is “the largest investor- owned gas and electric distribution utility in Canada with total assets of approximately $ 18 billion and fiscal 2013 revenue exceeding $ 4 billion,” purchased the struggling firm in 1994. This led me to ask the following question: If Maritime Electric is owned and operated by a private, for- profit company, why is it the government’s responsibility to pay for the new power line to New Brunswick?

In my quest to find the answer, I decided to read the P. E. I. Energy Accord and the P. E. I. Energy Commission Report, which was completed in 2012. They were very informative to say the least. They also enlightened me as to what the government gave Fortis in exchange for our 14 per cent rate decrease for two years.

Maritime Electric generates only one per cent of our power. The rest is acquired primarily from New Brunswick through a PPA contract ( Purchase Power Agreement), which is commercially confidential and government helped negotiate.

After Fortis bought Maritime Electric, it started to complain that it couldn’t make a profit. So, in 2004, the government enacted the Electric Power Act to help guarantee the company a profit ( 9.75 per cent of equity).

However, in the Commission’s report, it opined “Under N. B. Powerplus10, ( if N. B charges $ 1, ME charges $ 1.10) Maritime Electric paid marketbased prices for electricity. In theory, this approach should have enabled Maritime Electric to continue operating in a financially sustainable manner…”

I guess corporations are not allowed to lose money anymore, just the people living on pensions.

The government accepted over $ 100 million of Maritime Electric’s debt and, according to premier Ghiz ( State of Province address, YouTube) financed it at four per cent for our “14 per cent rate decrease.”

The cost of the third power cable to the mainland is roughly $ 80 million. And while Maritime Electric is a private corporation, there is no discussion about it taking on this expenditure. Furthermore, Maritime Electric has a lease agreement with the province to use the current cables and will have another when the new cable is completed.

For 2011, on total revenue of $ 165.4 million, Maritime Electric paid $ 6 million ( 3.65 per cent) in taxes. Furthermore, it had total earnings, after taxes, of $ 23.5 million. And remember: This was during our “14 per cent rate decrease.”

The Energy Accord now completed, M. E. / Fortis is no longer obligated to spend a penny on renewable energy creation on P. E. I. At the same time, it is only contractually obligated to use 30 per cent of its power from the farms, at a cost of $ 78 per hour ( The provincially-owned wind farms operate at a profit).

If we are taking on and financing Fortis’ debts, helping them negotiate contracts, accepting the cost of a new mainland cable, the responsibility for renewable energy ( wind) and changing laws to guarantee it a profit ( 9.75 per cent of equity), why did the government sell Maritime Electric in the first place?

The Summerside utility is municipally owned, turns a profit and had none of the above benefits given to Fortis. However, government is forcing its customers to foot the bill for Maritime Electric.

I say get rid of the middleman and take back what should never have been sold to begin with.
David A. McGregor (BA, UPEI) of Charlottetown lived in South Korea for 11 years trading with Daishin and Hana Securities. He is a graduate of IFSE Institute Mutual Fund Dealers Program.

June 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight, something for everyone:

Charlottetown, 7PM, Climate Change presentation by Joce Plourde, Farm Centre, 520 University Avenue, admission by donation ($5 suggested).

He writes: "I will be giving a talk about climate change - what it is, how it works, how it affects us, what we can do...."


Summerside, 7:30PM, The Crisis in Democracy, a video presentation of Elizabeth May's Mallory Lecture, Silver Fox Curling Club (110 Water Street ), followed by a panel discussion iwith Rick Marleau from the NDP Egmont Riding Association, Green Party PEI leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and Leo Cheverie for CUPE.  Sponsored by Leadnow.ca

"Both Fair Vote Canada and Lead Now have called for changes to the electoral system in order to better reflect the views and needs of Canadians and prevent parties that achieve a minority of the general vote from attaining a majority of the power. The event is free and all are welcome. Call 902-836-4745 or email brenda_o63@hotmail.com for further information."



Monday's lead editorial in The Guardian:


Irving delivers ultimatum on deep-water wells? - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving, left, and Blaine MacPherson, company vice president of agricultural affairs, speak before a committee of MLAs probing the issue of high capacity wells. Irving says his company may be forced to look for potatoes elsewhere if P.E.I. does not lift the current moratorium on deep-water wells. (Guardian photo)

Cavendish Farms threatens cutbacks unless government ends moratorium

If Prince Edward Islanders and its government had any doubts beforehand, they were erased Thursday inside the Coles Building. In the shadow of historic Province House in the heart of urban Charlottetown, a blunt warning was issued that could have dramatic ramifications across rural P.E.I.  

Two senior executives for Cavendish Farms told a legislative committee that the company may downsize its operations in P.E.I. if the government does not lift a moratorium on deep-water wells. It has taken a while for the company to finally lay its cards on the table, but there they were last Thursday for all to see.
Cavendish Farms president Robert Irving might have wished it hadn’t come to this, but the company is apparently frustrated and its patience running out while waiting for a decision on the wells issue. Ever since the P.E.I Potato Board first approached government in late 2012, it was believed that Cavendish Farms was the driving force behind the request to lift the decade-long moratorium.
As the news circulated, the vast majority of Islanders seem opposed, based on countless letters and opinion page submissions to this newspaper. They warned that lifting the moratorium would threaten the Island’s water supply, which is solely dependent on the groundwater table.
The Potato Board tried its best to convince Islanders that only a very small percentage of the water supply would be tapped and the annual recharge would more than adequately sustain any increased pressure.
The board then was forced to defend itself against mounting criticism of spraying, trying to justify that careful application of pesticides was essential to produce a healthy crop. Potato growers are facing relentless pressure on all sides — from processors to produce the perfect french fry potato through irrigation and pesticides use — and from Islanders opposed to both. Growers argue that if they don’t spray for weeds, blight or the Colorado potato beetle, they won’t have a crop.
So what has pushed Mr. Irving to take a threatening and bullying posture in front of MLAs on the agriculture standing committee, which had earlier recommended no changes pending presentation of  compelling evidence or argument.
The company has done well financially by P.E.I. and vice versa. It has contracts for some 60 per cent of Island potato production and has a stranglehold on fertilizer sales.
First and foremost, the Irvings are shrewd businessmen. With them, it’s always business. If they cannot get their potatoes at a certain price and guaranteed quality here, they will get them somewhere else. That philosophy dictates company policy, not the loyalties of yesterday.
The Irvings want to know where the P.E.I. government stands — with them or against them. The threat of downsizing must be taken seriously. This is a $1-billion industry in play here.
Do opponents of wells and pesticides think such an enormous loss of revenue can ever be replaced?
This year, Cavendish Farms forced its contract growers to accept a three per cent reduction in price, despite higher costs for fertilizer, diesel and everything else. Was this a signal to government and industry that the company intends to play hardball from now on unless there are concessions on the well issue?
The potato board is desperately trying to find a solution and has suggested getting an independent group to assess the water supply issue and provide irrefutable scientific proof that limited deep-water wells are sustainable. It might be enough to placate Mr. Irving and keep everyone in business.
If not, the government may be forced to decide what’s more important — science supporting the well issue or potato processing supporting the basic economic structure of this province.

For those of you who know your old movies:

Henry F. Potter, "the richest man in Bedford Falls", from It's A Wonderful Life, 1946

George Bailey to Henry F. Potter: "I don't need 24 hours. I don't have to talk to anybody. I know right now, and the answer's no. No! Doggone it! You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money! Well, it doesn't, Mr. Potter! In the, in the whole vast configuration of things, I'd say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider! And... [turning to his aide] And that goes for you, too!"


June 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From someone who can see through the fog, hype, smoke and mirrors better than most of us:

Re: Irrigation:

Irving bases everything on making money. 

We base everything of keeping our drinking water plentiful and uncontaminated.

Our government is basically uneducated and doesn’t know what to do. They base everything on re-election.

We are all not discussing the same thing, since there are three different agendas.

Carlo Hengst, Summerside



Movie: "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hackivists", 7PM, WhYLoft#1, 252 Prince Street, Charlottetown, admission by donation.

"(The film) takes us inside the complex culture and history of Anonymous. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, and then moves to Anonymous’ own raucous and unruly beginnings on the website 4Chan."


Tuesday night there are two fantastic events; luckily, each is in a different city, so at least that could help people choose:

The Crisis in Democracy, a video presentation of Elizabeth May's Mallory Lecture, 7:30pm, Summerside, Silver Fox Curling Club, 110 Water Street (beyond the intersection at Harbour Drive and Epteck Centre).   The video will be followed by a panel discussion including Rick Marleau, NDP Riding Association President for Egmont; Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party PEI; and Leo Cheverie for CUPE.  Sponsored by Leadnow.ca

"Both Fair Vote Canada and Lead Now have called for changes to the electoral system in order to better reflect the views and needs of Canadians and prevent parties that achieve a minority of the general vote from attaining a majority of the power. The event is free and all are welcome. Call 902-836-4745 or email brenda_o63@hotmail.com for further information."


Climate Change presentation by Joce Plourde,7PM, Charlottetown, Farm Centre, 520 University Avenue, admission by donation ($5 suggested).

He write: "I will be giving a talk about climate change - what it is, how it works, how it affects us, what we can do...."


Wednesday, June 18th:

Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, corner of Water and Haviland Streets, Charlottetown. 

June 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some news stories and a letter you might find interesting:

Scary, but we knew it:
Natural Gas (via fracking) was touted as the Bridge to Cleaner Energy.
But it is the Bridge to Nowhere and we're getting there fast:
full article:
an excerpt:

" 'Carbon dioxide is only one greenhouse gas and the public tends to focus on it, and scientists as well,' (Cornell University professor Robert) Howarth told Boulder Weekly. 'Methane is also a potent greenhouse gas. The latest information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in the last seven or eight months, says that global methane emissions from human-caused sources now equal carbon dioxide in their effect on global warming.'

Howarth’s study arose from his examination of about 60 studies published since 2011. He spent so much time analyzing because he had heard natural gas propaganda for much of the previous two years, praising it as a bridge to a cleaner energy with a path away from foreign oil dependence. After teaming with Anthony Ingraffea and Renee Santoro, also of Cornell, he realized that natural gas actually a bridge to nowhere. His latest research drives that point home."


Really scary, but we knew it:
On Harper's big projects, by Linda McQuaig
full article:

"Much has been said about Stephen Harper’s paranoia, his ruthlessness, his Nixonian tendencies, his quickness to dump even the most dedicated loyalist who gets in his way — and other assorted qualities that make him, at the very least, an undesirable person with whom to have a beer.
Relatively little has been said about his grandiosity. Only months after becoming prime minister in 2006, he showed it off in an overseas speech that attracted surprising little attention in Canada. Outlining his plan to turn Canada into an 'energy superpower,' he told the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce in London that developing the 'ocean of oil-soaked sand' in northern Alberta would be “an enterprise of epic proportions, akin to the building of the Pyramids or China’s Great Wall. Only bigger.”


Silly, but sadly true:
from Thursday's Guardian:

More Fiddling, More Burning? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, June 12th

What the heck, forget education; school is almost out for the summer. It’s party time on Prince Edward Island. I can’t understand why people keep complaining about my government, we are throwing a huge party for islanders. No expense spared. We are spending millions of dollars we actually don’t have just to make Islanders happy. Does this really prove that the Ghiz government thinks we Islanders are all dumb?

Has anyone taken a good hard look at the education system on P. E. I. lately? Two years ago we lost an organization called Volunteers for Literacy, more recently we have lost 200 Island teaching positions. In the last election a Liberal promise to build a K- 12 school in Souris never happened. We have government friends and relatives holding jobs in the premier’s office, the English Language board offices, and a principal’s office in an Island school.

The minister of education assures us the system is working. Strangely, many parents do not agree. I guess the plan to party through 2014 is not working, Mr. Ghiz. Sadly this is only the tip of the education iceberg.

We have a president of the teachers’ federation more interested in seeking the Liberal nomination for the upcoming federal election than education. Would it be wrong to question his judgment? Would it be wrong to think this was the reason he was so quiet when 200 teaching positions were slashed? Would it be wrong to ask why this man has not stepped down in view of his political ambitions?

If you think this is the worst, just wait a minute, there is more. Now the Island group for literacy has had its funding cut, rural P. E. I. is alive with rumours of more school closures. We have the lowest education rating in the entire country. But hey, no worries, Ghiz is throwing a party. Unfortunately this only reminds me of the Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village


A couple of nice events:

Today is the Hillsborough River's Eagle Festival in Mount Stewart. You may be able to catch up with the early bird walkers on their way back....

"Early morning bird walk on Sunday June 15th from 6 am to ~8:30 am. Meet at the Hillsborough River Eco-centre in Mount Stewart at 5:50 am. The restaurants will be open at for those who wish to get a breakfast.
Guided eagle and marsh bird viewing was be offered from 12 noon to 4 pm at the viewing station on Pigot's Trail at the Allisary Creek Impoundment and Shaylyn Wallace of the Island Nature Trust will be doing interpretation on Bobolinks.
At 1:15 to 2 pm, Gerald MacDougall will be offering a new eagle presentation"

Also, this afternoon biologist Bob Bancroft will be speaking at Macphail Woods, in Orwell, starting at 2PM at the Nature Centre.

Take care, Happy Father's Day,

June 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tired of receiving pesticide notices - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 13, 2014

Editor: There have been many letters in The Guardian over the past few months regarding the spraying of harmful chemicals for cosmetic purposes. Many of these letters have called for Islanders to say enough is enough. Well, I would like to lend my voice to this cause. Enough is enough.

I am a cancer survivor, and I am very concerned about the poisonous chemicals that are being used in my neighbourhood and surrounding community. I am tired of receiving notices on my doorstep, telling me that my neighbours will be spraying carcinogenic chemicals on their lawns — all for the sake of a few dandelions.

What I find especially disconcerting is that my neighbours in question (they know who they are) know that I have had cancer, and know that I lost a young daughter to cancer. They also know that our other neighbour across the street lost her husband to cancer and that another surrounding neighbour was diagnosed with pre-cancers. I cannot fathom how someone could disregard this information and continue on in such a callous way.

I believe my fellow concerned citizens are correct — the Government of Prince Edward Island must better protect the citizens of this province by banning all lawn poisons. In the long run, such a ban would likely save our hospitals and palliative care unit a lot of money (and many families a lot of heartache).

Perhaps those who insist on using these poisons will think twice about spraying cancer-causing chemicals on their lawn when one of their loved ones or close friend is stricken with this terrible disease. Those dandelions won’t matter at all as you watch your loved one endure pure hell during chemo treatments, or when you are sitting at a funeral home greeting their friends because they lost their battle with cancer.

Wake up people — while you still have a chance. Being a good neighbour is about making good choices, caring about each other and having some respect for your fellow human beings and environment.

Nancy Zahavich, Winsloe

Regarding Cavendish Farms presentation to the Standing Committee on Thursday:http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-13/article-3762886/Threatening-government%3F/1

Threatening government? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on-line June 13, 2014, and in today's print edition (June 14, 2014) of The Guardian

If this current government is seeking an opportunity to reset the economic future of our Island, the Cavendish Farms appearance before the Provincial Legislative Standing Committee (PLSC) on Thursday presented an ideal catalyst. There are two very strong messages contained within the Guardian’s Friday report. It is clear that Cavendish Farms’ strategy against the moratorium on irrigation wells is to threaten and bully our government. It is also clear that our current economic dependence upon the management of Cavendish Farms must be reduced. If the farming of potatoes is to be a partnership between the growers, the processors and the Island representatives, how can such a partnership survive if one partner attempts to dictate and pursue its self interest?

The Guardian article does not provide details on the MLA committee’s questions, but how dare the Irving management attempt to fool Islanders that the core question is their continued investment/expansion in P.E.I.? We all know that the french-fry business has problems and there will be no significant new expansion for P.E.I. We also know that any business, including Cavendish Farms, will not purposely devalue its current capital investment here. The Irving arsenal of threats is also apparently aimed at another partner - our farmers. The message “if you don’t intend to invest up to $200,000 in a new irrigation well, you may not get future Cavendish Farms contracts” surely has to be rebuked by our farmers!

Commercial businesses have long tried to avoid the major risk of dependence upon a single product or service; successful businesses have all realized that the key to continued prosperity is strong and open partnerships between all players in the supply chain. It must be very clear to our Government (and the PLSC committee MLA members) that on Thursday, Cavendish Farms displayed all the wrong business partnership characteristics and it is now time to reset to a strategy of dismissing economic threats and building upon our strengths and opportunities with new business partners.

Roger & Jan King, Hope River

Good points, but our vulnerable little Island needs to be careful with future business partners -- look at the concerns about the "Hampton Mystery Project."
The transcripts of the Standing Committee will be available soon on the Legislative Assembly website.

And this commentary from P.E.I. Potato Board chairperson, Gary Linkletter, in Thursday's paper here brought the commentary below it:


Potato growers diligent with responsible pesticide use on P.E.I. - The Guardian Commentary by Gary Linkletter

Published on June 12, 2014, in The Guardian

There have been a number of letters to the editor in recent weeks which express concern regarding the application of pesticides in Prince Edward Island, including pesticide use by P.E.I. potato growers. I would like to take this opportunity to try and dispel some of the myths relating to agricultural pesticides as well as to ensure that Islanders have accurate information on how pesticides are responsibly used. Pesticides are generally defined as a natural or synthetic product used to control fungal diseases (fungicide), insects (insecticide), or weeds (herbicide).

Readers have no doubt seen large agricultural sprayers in Island fields or on the highways. Many of these sprayers hold up to 4,000 litres of water, enough to spray 40 acres of land, or the equivalent of 30 football fields. At first glance, that may appear to be a lot of pesticides going on fields; however, it is important to note that for a routine fungicide application (the most common pesticide used on P.E.I.), less than 1 kg of actual pesticide is applied to each acre of land, diluted in a large tank of water. This is roughly equivalent to spreading a 1 kg bag of sugar over an entire football field. For most herbicides and insecticides, the levels of active ingredient per application are much lower, with some products being measured in grams per acre.

The majority of pesticides used on Prince Edward Island potato fields are contact fungicides which protect potato plants from contracting late blight, the same potato disease that caused the Irish potato famine in the 19th century and led to many of our ancestors to immigrate to Canada. Potatoes grown in wetter climates like P.E.I. are susceptible to infection by the fungus causing late blight, so all commercially-grown potatoes in P.E.I. (both conventional and organic) use protectant fungicides to prevent infection. There is no cure once a plant is infected, so if potato growers did nothing to address late blight, our potatoes would rot in the field or in storage and our province would not have a potato industry. Additionally, it is important to add that these contact fungicides are not absorbed by the plant itself and do not make contact with the potato tubers growing under the ground. 

Farmers are very careful with their use of pesticides and only apply them when necessary. Most farmers practice what is called integrated pest management (IPM). This means they make use of a variety of preventative practices to avoid pest issues and when pest problems arise they make use of all available pest management tools, including mechanical, biological and cultural controls as well as pesticides. As well, crop scouting is routinely used by the majority of farmers to determine whether pest levels warrant application of control methods.

Island potato growers don’t spray pesticides simply out of habit. Pesticides are a major expense in potato production and reducing the amount of pesticides required to grow a crop of potatoes is a goal of everyone in the industry.

Nonetheless, using pesticides to control diverse pests such as late blight, wireworm, and Colorado potato beetle is necessary to grow high quality potatoes for consumers.  

Advances are being made continuously to make pesticides more targeted in effectiveness while reducing impacts on the environment and on humans. The broad-spectrum pesticides of yesteryear have largely been discontinued, with pesticides of today being designed to target only the pests that are impacting the crop.

 In addition, many potato growers are embracing new technologies such as GPS and band spraying to ensure that only the required amount of pesticides are being applied only in the right place. All agricultural pesticide applicators in Prince Edward Island must be licensed by the province after receiving training on the proper use and handling of pesticides and passing a subsequent exam. These licenses must be renewed every five years.  

The potato industry makes up almost half of the agricultural cash receipts each year and is worth over $1 billion to the Island economy annually. Regulated and safe application of pesticides, which have be reviewed and approved by Health Canada, is an integral tool in producing only the best quality potatoes for Islanders as well as our customers around the world.

Gary Linkletter is chairman of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board and is a potato grower in Linkletter


Fighting fungus during off hours - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 13, 2014
I have no doubt that Mr. Linkletter is a good person who cares about his land and his produce. He has to be in order to live the life he does and suffer endless hectoring by people like me. However, as befits the chairman of any large industry board, his commentary piece is a fine and classic example of deflection and obfuscation.

Note the use of a whopping 4,000 litres of water, 30 huge football fields and a mere 1 kg of pesticide in the same paragraph to give the illusion that these numbers are related. Throw in the comparison to a kg bag of safe, harmless sugar and suddenly it all seems too silly to worry about; a technique used by marketers and politicians since the dawn of time.

By his numbers, the 4,000 litres covers 40 acres and so will require 40 kg of actual pesticide which is a pretty hefty sack compared to a little 1-kg bag of sugar. This works o
ut to 100 litres and  1 kg of pesticide/sugar per acre at 10 g per litre. Pour a bag of sugar in your gas tank or go mix a tablespoon of sugar into a water bottle; pretty sweet and not at all as weak and dilute as suggested particularly when dealing with toxicity levels in parts per million.

Add the fact that the article only talks about fungicides without which “... (we) would not have a potato industry” and would have to relive the Irish potato famine. Fine hyperbole but no mention of herbicides for weed control, fertilizer or Reglone sprayed at the end of the season to kill all the above ground growth to ease harvest and make the potatoes pretty; all of which leach into the waterways and cause no end of problems.

There is the good news, though, that the soil faeries won’t let anything nasty sprayed on the ground get washed down to the tubers in the next rain. Perhaps they could fight fungus in their off hours.

Owen Stephenson, Morell

It's a Farmers' Market day, and the square-foot gardening free workshop is at 2PM at the Farm Centre.

June 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Media coverage from the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy, and Forestry:
As the CBC people left fairly soon after the Potato Board presented, it's no wonder the news coverage seems indicate that *was* the entire meeting, but there were other presentations. UPEI climatologist Adam Fenech indicated his research shows PEI getting hotter and drier, and both Phil Ferraro from the Institute for Bioregional Studies, and then Tony Reddin representing the PEI Chapter of the Sierra Club described better, more sustainable agriculture that PEI can strive for.

But what may stick with the MLA committee members may be the very slick PowerPoint slides with the Cavendish Farms logo and charts and graphs and GDP and demanding quality potatoes for the "quick service industry" (that's a new name for fast-food restaurants), and Irving's brilliant yellow summary boxes saying, "...must allow irrigation...." or basically, they'll leave.

Robert Irving said when questioned that they would likely make having irrigation mandatory for contracts with growers.
(text below)

The next meeting is on Wednesday, June 25th, starting at 1PM.
Last night, a big crowd showed up at UPEI to hear Greenpeace executive director Joanna Kerr's talk to kick off the Atlantic Council on International Cooperation's conference at UPEI. A mix of ages from across the Maritimes in the room, and all were encouraged and inspired.

It was perhaps a fitting antidote to the afternoon's "quick service" industry's demands, and I will summarized it in another Update soon.

Leo Cheverie, one of the conference organizers, has invited anyone on PEI working on environmental issues to join Joanna Kerr for one of the sessions this afternoon: 3:45 to about 5PM, in the Main Building, Room 211, at UPEI. (The building is very near the Visitor Parking off the University Avenue entrance.)

Also today:

"Join us Friday June 13, at noon in the Legacy Garden (of the Farm Centre) for a bring your own lunch and conversation with Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Missouri.  (He) will be the keynote speaker at the Farm Centre’s dinner in honour of the PEI Agriculture Hall of Fame on Friday evening. This opportunity to have a conversation with John in the garden is a unique opportunity to meet this pioneer of a new economics of sustainability and public advocate for a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and economically viable food system." -- from Phil Ferraro

Sounds like a great time! CBC Radio is interviewing Dr. Ikerd this morning.


Tomorrow, 2PM, Farm Centre: A free square-foot gardening workshop

"FoodShare PEI is hosting a Meet and Greet FREE Raised Bed Gardening Workshop with Gordon and Pat Hubbard at the Farm Centre 420 University Ave Charlottetown on June 14th at 2pm.
We will be outside building and planting raised bed gardens. Bring a picnic lunch if the weather is fine.
Gardening clothes gloves and water to drink suggested as well as sunscreen.
An umbrella and rain poncho might be a good idea also.
BBQ fare from Larkin Bros, Taylor Meats and the Loo family prepared by Chef Liz Vaines of The Old Glasglow Mill and The Dunes fame.
Bring your seeds!



Sunday, 2PM, Macphail Woods Nature Centre, Bob Bancroft talk, free

Bob is a noted biologist, a wonderful, straight-talking naturalist you may know from Maritime Noon's phone-in.  It's sure to be a wonderful talk!

June 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is a reminder about two events today that you may be interested in:

The first is the meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry today, starting at 1PM. This is the first meeting since the Spring Sitting of the Legislature ended, and they will be finding out more about the high capacity well issue, among some other things.

Specifically, presenters will include representatives from the P.E.I. Potato Board and Cavendish Farms, and from the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club and from the Institute for Bioregional Studies. Also, Adam Fenech from the UPEI Climate Lab will be presenting on climate change.


If you can drop in for any part of the afternoon, please do. It's important for these committee member MLAs to be reminded this issue is important to Islanders.

The meeting may run until 4:30 or 5PM. It is in the Pope Room of the Coles Building, which is the red brick building next to Province House towards Church Street and St. Paul's Church. Seats for the public are off to the side, and you are expected to treat it like the Gallery of the Legislature -- quiet, no cell phones on, no photography. But you can come and go at will, and there is often coffee and tea for the spectators, too.

(The chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board has a well-timed letter in today's Guardian explaining their pesticide use. I will be able to reprint it tomorrow if you don't see it today. I am reminded that the definition of apologist is "a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial".)


And at 7PM tonight is a free lecture given by Joanna Kerr, the executive director of Greenpeace Canada. It's titled "How to be Courageous on a Planet in Crisis," which certainly sounds timely. ;-)

The lecture is at the MacDougall Hall on UPEI's campus, Room 242, same as the water forum was a couple of weeks ago. A campus map is available here:


Parking should be available and free in most lots.


A letter from a woman who has always shown courage:


Islanders Must Say Enough is Enough - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 10, 2014

What do you do when you see someone breaking the law?

On May 15, we witnessed a crime when a farmer planted potatoes where he had grown potatoes two years ago. The Crop Rotation Act is a provincial law. It regulates when potatoes can be grown. Currently there is a three-year rotation policy. After several calls we reached a conservation officer who started an investigation after discovering this farmer has no environment plan on this leased property. Sadly, the farmer did not cease when he was informed he would be investigated for breaking the law.

The Potato Marketing Board advised us not to let one bad apple spoil all 250 potato farmers’ reputation. Wrong metaphor — this rotten potato is spoiling the reputation of hard-working Island farmers.

The Island needs stronger legislation, monitoring and enforcement. We need established mechanisms that block such irresponsible, illegal activity.

On June 12, there will be a presentation at UPEI entitled How to be Courageous on a Planet in Crisis. Islanders must stand up, speak out and say enough.

Enough deaths from rare cancers.

Enough dead fish from run offs.

Enough soil erosion in ditches and streams.

Enough loopholes in weak legislation.

Enough greed by the Irvings and McCains.

Marian White, Tracadie

June 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This week includes International Oceans Day, a good time to reflect on our relationship with out salty globe.
Monday's Guardian had this front page story:

Group calls for moratorium on drilling in Gulf of St. Lawrence - The Guardian article by Mitch MacDonald

Published on June 09, 2014

A newly released report has united a group of fishermen, environmentalists, First Nations and others in calling for a moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

The report, which also recommends an arm’s-length review and public consultations, was released by the St. Lawrence Coalition Sunday during what is considered International Oceans Week.

(Note: It is called Gulf 101: Oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: Facts, Myths and Future Outlook)
(This is the right link to the report "Gulf 101")

Jean-Patrick Toussaint, one of the report’s three authors and science project manager with the David Suzuki Foundation’s Quebec office, said the report is the end product of several years of documenting the gulf and offshore drilling.

It also highlights a number of unknown factors, questions and myths involved in exploring the complex ecosystem.

“There is a need to have a gulf-wide vision and make sure all provinces are involved in the decision,” he said. “Any spill in the gulf would directly impact many coastal communities.”

The gulf touches five provinces and draws millions to it every year, including the National Park beaches on P.E.I., and also supports a number of endangered species and fishing industries.

Ellie Reddin, of the P.E.I. chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores, said the gulf needs to be treated as a whole rather than divided into provincial jurisdictions.  “Even a routine spill could have quite an impact on the gulf,” said Reddin. “There are only two openings and they’re not all that wide.”

Part of the gulf’s sensitivity lies in the fact that it’s a semi-enclosed sea, with only six per cent of it opening into the Atlantic Ocean.  That means a major difference between drilling in the gulf and the Atlantic, which Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are both now doing.  “If there are any leakages or spills (in the Atlantic), it’s still not good but it’s kind of lost at sea,” said Toussaint. “Whereas in the gulf, it’s hitting the coastline.”

There is one main area in the gulf where seismic testing has revealed oil.  While the area, known as “Old Harry,” overlaps the Newfoundland and Quebec borders, it is located in the centre of the gulf and could pose risks for all five communities if anything went wrong.  Quebec is the only province to have a moratorium on gas exploration in the gulf, while Newfoundland has been in talks with the federal government on the possibility of exploring the area.

Toussaint said while there are unknowns in the environmental effects, there are also some “legal gaps” within the regulations now in place.  One is any company drilling in the gulf can be liable for up to $30 million in the case of a spill.  While that amount is under review to be increased to $1 billion, Toussaint said that is still a small amount when compared to the possible risk. He pointed to the costs surrounding the cleanup of the 2010 British Petroleum oil disaster, which has been estimated at $42 billion.  That spill also occurred during the exploratory process, noted Toussaint.

The report calls for a moratorium until more is discovered about exploring the gulf and if it is possible to do without devastating the environment.

Yesterday there was an excellent letter by Colin Jeffrey:

Oceans Day reminds us to protect the Gulf - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Colin Jeffery

Published on June 10, 2014 As World Oceans Day is observed this week with actions and celebrations by the United Nations and community groups around the world, Atlantic Canadians should pause and consider how we are treating the ocean in our own back yard. Of special concern is the recent push to develop oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Not content with exploiting the 85 per cent of Canada’s Eastern waters that lie outside of the Gulf, the oil and gas industry has successfully convinced provincial governments to open up parts of the Gulf for exploration and development.

However, Canadians have more to lose from petroleum development in the Gulf than outside it. With its warm, shallow waters this inland sea acts as a vital feeding and spawning ground for most of our commercially valuable marine species and contains the largest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic. In 1973, an interdisciplinary panel report led by Dr. Loutfi of McGill University described the Gulf as “biologically, the most productive Canadian marine region” and concluded that offshore development posed too great a risk to an ecosystem of such biological diversity.

Since then the health of our Gulf has deteriorated, with overfishing, land-based pollution and climate change driven impacts all playing a role in its decline. Fish stocks that once created thousands of jobs in the region are now managed with the utmost care in the hopes that they will one day increase. Given the current fragile state of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, do we really want to add the known impacts of offshore drilling to the mix?

Most worrying of all is the lack of environmental protection proposed by those overseeing oil and gas development in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Currently, planned development is concentrated along Newfoundland’s West coast. Like many parts of the Gulf, this area has an unusual abundance of fish and provides critical feeding, spawning and wintering habitat for several groundfish and pelagic fish species as well as threatened whale species.

For this and other reasons, it has been designated an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. One would think that such high biodiversity would persuade the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) to at least place areas of vital marine habitat off limits to future petroleum development, but this has not happened.

In May the CNLOPB released an update of their Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Newfoundland’s Western offshore, a document that is supposed to provide strategic planning for future offshore development and ensure environmental protection on a regional scale. This it does not do. Using the flimsy excuse that specific protection measures cannot be implemented before actual projects have been proposed, the CNLOPB makes no effort to place critical marine habitat off limits to oil and gas exploration and development.  

The SEA Update area also includes the “Old Harry” prospect which is expected to be approved for exploratory drilling this summer.  Located in water six times deeper than the Hibernia site and surrounded by biologically significant areas, proceeding with drilling here is as likely as anywhere in the Gulf to cause real harm.

As Atlantic Canadians, we have relatively little to gain and everything to lose from allowing oil and gas development to proceed in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The economic benefits of these industries are often touted, but increased energy efficiency and renewable energy production offer more substantial economic benefits.  

According to a comprehensive study titled Putting Renewables and Energy Efficiency to Work published in the journal Energy Policy in 2010, “all renewable energy sources generate more jobs than the fossil fuel sector per unit of energy delivered.”

Further fossil fuel production will also increase the severity of climate change, creating substantial negative impacts on our economies and our lives in the coming decades.

When you add in anticipated negative impacts to our Eastern Canadian fisheries, which contribute $3 billion a year to Atlantic economies, one really has to question if offshore drilling in the Gulf is our best option for energy development in Atlantic Canada.

 Colin Jeffrey, York, is a member of Save Our Seas and Shores, P.E.I. chapter.

Please keep in mind the talk tomorrow, Thursday night, June 12, 7PM. UPEI MacDougall Hall, Room 242,  "How to be Courageous on a Planet in Crisis," from Joanna Kerr from Greenpeace Canada.  (And the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental, Energy and Forestry is at 1PM that afternoon in the Coles Building, next to Province House, including the high capacity well issue.)

June 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

We need our provincial government to show strong leadership on protecting our Island's water and land; as citizens and neighbours we have our part, too. Our property lines may be distinct, but they don't stop everything.


Troubling comment at public meeting - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Editor: I recently attended the cosmetic pesticides forum in Charlottetown.

The information presented by scientists Bill Whelan (Canadian Cancer Society) and Roger Gordon (former dean of science at UPEI) was persuasive. Both cited many studies and recommended making use of the precautionary principle when determining pesticide laws.

However, the Department of Environment’s Erin Taylor was a bit of a disappointment. The last hearing on pesticides saw nearly 170 out of 173 speakers push for a comprehensive ban on cosmetic pesticides, and yet it did not pass.

Taylor reminded us that the outcome was based in politics (CropLife Canada, for example, which represents all manufacturers, distributors and developers of pesticide products, objected to the ban) as opposed to a decision based in science. She offered her personal belief that the regulations are adequate, while citing no studies, research or statistics to counter the profound information previously presented. She advised that she takes her recommendations from the PMRA, who continue to state that 2,4D is safe, and yet, P.E.I. has banned it.

This suggests blind faith hasn’t been our policy concerning the PMRA, so it seems contradictory. However, the statement I found the most concerning from her was ‘The dose makes the poison’.

I could not disguise my shock. This Paracelsus quote dates back to the 1500’s and demonstrated the first early understandings of toxicology. However, more than 500 years later it’s safe to say his findings were rather primitive.

Even if we were to take this ancient observation as fact (which of course it isn’t), it leaves out of the equation the problem of bioaccumulation. And beyond that, we now know that many chemicals are more toxic at small amounts than they are in larger ones.

And that isn’t to speak of breakdown products, chemical degradation and countless other well documented realities to consider when dealing with chemicals. To simply say, ‘The dose makes the poison’ is a dangerous oversimplification, and rather insulting to the intelligence of those in audience.

Lynne Lund, Clinton

and http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2014-06-09/article-3756595/The-hazards-of-lawn-chemicals/1

The Hazards of Lawn Chemicals - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Monday, June 9th, 2014

Editor: In many municipalities, a sure sign of spring are the notices on residents’ doors indicating a chemical company intends to spray herbicides on a property within 25 metres.

These herbicides might be MCPA and Mecoprop (commonly called MCPP). Since the provincial government’s “ban” on cosmetic pesticides only extends to products containing 2,4-D, companies are still permitted to spray MCPA and MCPP, despite the fact that:

- The toxicity of MCPA is a topic of current research;

- MCPA has the potential to cause severe eye irritation;

- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. is requiring additional testing of the compound with regard to its potential to cause birth defects in two animal species;

- MCPA is moderately toxic to wildfowl;

- MCPA is slightly toxic to freshwater fish;

- MCPA is currently classified as a “restricted use” pesticide in the U.S.;

Regardless of whether a chemical product is “slightly” or “moderately” toxic, there is usually a certain degree of toxicity that is released through lawn spraying. Residents have to wonder whether these products are desirable in their communities, particularly where children are present, simply for the sake of having a greener lawn.

The National Academy of Sciences has reported that 50 per cent of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs in the first five years of a person’s life. Children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults and their developing organs are less able to detoxify these chemicals.

In addition, the American Cancer Society has reported an increased risk for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when people are exposed to herbicides like MCPP, and exposure to herbicides for infants and toddlers significantly increases the risk of developing asthma.

It is high time that the provincial Department of the Environment began to better protect Islanders by extending its ban to cover all lawn poisons.

Peter Meggs, Cornwall


Here is a story about a kindly neighbour:


Cornwall resident offering free rides to transit meeting - The Guardian website article by Nigel Armstrong

Council to hear Wednesday if new system will replace T3 bus service

Published on The Guardian's website June 9, 2014

Nancy Riley is offering to help Cornwall residents who depend on transit get to a meeting this week about the future of the bus service.

At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Cornwall council is expected to hear of an alternative system to keep it in the regional public transit grid.

Riley is asking residents to show up in force at the meeting to support the need for transit. She is offering to arrange a ride to and from the meeting for those that need it.

The number to call is 213-1270 to leave a message and from there some arrangement can be worked out, she said.

"It's crucial that we show the town council that we do really need a bus," said Riley.

People depend on transit "either because they don't' have transportation or are somewhat disabled and they can't drive," said Riley.

"I have a bad visual impairment and I don't have a licence either," said Riley. "I know there are a lot of other people that go on the bus that have modest income, that only have one car, or something."

Cornwall council voted last January to pull out of the T3 Transit system, which required six months notice so comes into effect the end of this month. ----------

Take care of each other,

June 9, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

June is a lovely month!

Two years ago, around this time, this was in Fairyland:

temporarily unable to upload :( check Stop Plan B facebook page for photo

From June 8, 2012, Ladyslipper along paths near surveyor's cut for Plan B, Fairyland, New Haven.

Last year:

From June 2013: Plan B in Fairyland (looking west).

You know what it looks like now!

Hope you can find some ladyslippers along a quiet path soon.

P.S. A lot going on tonight, between the Voluntary Resource Council's potluck and AGM,

5PM tonight, Central Christian Church Hall, 217 Kent Street. Romana Doyle, sustainability coordinator for the City of Charlottetown will be the guest speaker. All welcome. https://www.facebook.com/events/655858951175561/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

and there is a Citizens' Alliance meeting at 6PM at the Bonshaw Community Centre, all welcome to that!

June 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some Climate Change (or whatever it's called) articles to consider on a Sunday:

A 84-second cartoon on the history of climate change: http://youtu.be/B11kASPfYxY

Here is the text of a riveting speech made by Sandra Steingraber of Seneca Lake in New York State, a beautiful area in the gorgeous (and gorge-ful) Finger Lakes region. She gave it at the New Environmentalism Summit of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, on June 3rd. Worth a few minutes to enjoy her beautiful prose about an ugly problem. Note that the article is three pages long on the website.


From her speech, "A New Environmentalism for an Unfractured Future":

"Fracking is the problem that masquerades as a solution.

"Fracking is the deadly enabler that keeps the whole fossil fuel party going far past the time of its curfew."


This is a graphic of a map from Pennsylvania, just south of New York State, where the state motto, it seems, is "Frack, Baby, Frack" (Frange, Infans, Frange)

It shows areas of "unexpected loose gas" (methane) with accompanying explanations:



Event reminders for today:

Picnic at the beach, Cavendish, preceded by a walk at 10AM, picnic at noon to celebrate International Oceans' Day.


And a little history review tonight:

The re-launch of the book by Harry Baglole and David Weale, The end of an Era: Prince Edward Island's resistance to Confederation

7PM, The Irish Cultural Centre at 582 North River Road, Charlottetown (the old BIS)

June 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today the Farmers' Markets are open, very likely with lots of greens, rhubarb, transplants of tomatoes and herbs for your garden, and more.

After the Charlottetown's Farmers' Market closes, from 2:30PM to 4PM, there is opening reception and talk regarding artist's Sarah Saunder's exhibit, Salt.  The gallery space is in the meeting area by the picnic tables inside, runs until July 19th, and is part of the "this town is small" project.  http://thistownissmall.com/small-town-market-gallery/

When not making intriguing art creations, or helping with a myriad of organizations and other endeavors, she was doing things like this:

Sarah Saunders (r) on an early morning in fall 2012 along the then-TCH, protesting Plan B, CO photo.


If you would rather be planting trees, volunteers at the Farm Centre will be doing just that, starting at about 2PM today.  Dress for the weather.

Tonight is the Island Peace Committee potluck, 6PM, at 305 North River Road.  Details are here:



I have forgotten to mention that next Thursday afternoon, June 12th, starting at 1PM, is a resumption of meetings of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry and will deal with the high capacity well issue, among other things.  It is in the Coles Building, next to Province House and those big "1864" numbers.

from the Legislative Assembly website:


"The committee will receive briefings on deep well irrigation from Cavendish Farms, the PEI Potato Board, the Institute for Bioregional Studies, and the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club Canada; and on climate change and PEI's water supply from Dr. Adam Fenech. Other witnesses to be confirmed."

People are invited to be in the public gallery in the chairs in the back of the room.  Please see if you could stop in for any part of the afternoon, as it is good  for people to continue to show interest in this issue.


That evening at 7PM is  PUBLIC LECTURE: at UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242, featuring keynote speaker Joanna Kerr, Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada, followed by an opening night networking event.

More on the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation's conference here in Charlottetown:http://www.acic-caci.org/our-work/acic-symposium-agm-2014.html

Friday afternoon (June 13th) at 3:45PM in Main Building, Room 211, Ms. Kerr is inviting those working on environmental issues to join an informal chat with her.

Contact Leo Cheverie at <leocheverie62@gmail.com> if you would like to come.

June 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"The Ed Show" (that really loud guy with the MSNBC show who is actually more progressive than he first appears) has environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on his show to discuss the Obama carbon emissions order.
Kennedy is an environmental lawyer with the Riverkeeper organization, among other things.  Kennedy himself is a syndicated radio host (Ring of Fire); he has a laryngeal condition called spasmodic dysphonia, which you may notice in the Ed interview.

Today is the 46th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Robert F. Kennedy, Sr., in Los Angeles, after he won the California primary for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination; it is one of my earliest memories. One quote from him:

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product...if we should judge the United States of America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”
--Robert F. Kennedy, Sr., on national economic indicators

The University of Waterloo published this report, which The Tyee picked up on.

Canada's 500,000 Leaky Energy Wells: 'Threat to Public' - The Tyee article by Andrew Nikiforouk

Badly sealed oil and gas wellbores leak emissions barely monitored, experts find.

The full article is here: http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/06/05/Canada-Leaky-Energy-Wells/?utm_source=editor-tweet&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=050614

It ends with:

"Fixing leaking wellbores can be a financial nightmare for the industry. Plugging a faulty wellbore can cost $150,000, but in some problematic fields remediation costs can go as high as $600,000. One remote well in northern British Columbia cost $8 million to fix. And there is no guarantee of success.
The problem has become so extreme that report calls for better regulations, more accountable engineering and a national roadmap to "improve long-term wellbore integrity." (See sidebar.)
Oil and gas wells leak for a variety of reasons, but it's mostly a tale of about corrupted cement.
Over time, a cement seal in a wellbore can shrink, crack, degrade or be dissolved by acids. In addition steel casing often corrode as they age. Additives added to the cement by drillers can weaken the seal. Plugs used to cap abandoned wells typically experience significant degradation. In some cases local geological conditions such as shallow gravel beds or swelling clays also make cement seals difficult.
Oil prices dramatically impact the quality of cement seals on wellbores, too. During periods of high oil prices companies try to drill as many wells as fast they can with the result that "wellbore construction practices were negatively impacted." 

Yesterday's media reported that the 2014 Celebrations are costing the provincial government (and that would be us, the taxpayer) under $20million, with several more million pledged from the federal government and municipalities (also us  :-) .

from the notice:
"If you are weary of all the 1864 hoopla this could be good therapy"
Sunday, June 8th, 7PM, The Irish Cultural Centre at 582 North River Road, Charlottetown (the old BIS)
Book Re-launch:

The End of an Era: Prince Edward Island’s resistance to Confederation
by Harry Baglole and David Weale

"There will be some informative and thought-provoking talk...some wonderful music from Mary McGillvary...some snacks...an open bar...and a special $10 price on the book for those who show up. Come along...especially you former members of BSCH (that’s the Brothers and Sisters of Cornelius Howatt). Howatt will almost certainly be toasted at some point."

Have a nice damp day,

June 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Various news bits and letters:

The logging in Mexico isn't helping, but it's the Roundup Ready crops (and their ilk) that are killing off the monarch butterflies.

 (This is apparently due to herbicides killing all the plants -- including milkweed,  the main source of food for their beautiful larvae  -- but not the genetically modified crop.)


Very good letters in The Guardian yesterday:

A Grandfather's wish:


Children Deserve a Healthy Future - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 4th, 2014

Editor: I am the grandfather of two boys living in Stratford. As you can imagine, my hopes for them include the normal grandfather-type list of having a happy life blessed with a loving family, good friends, good education, peace and prosperity. But somewhere near the top of the list is good health.

Now I can have little control over some of my hopes for them; however, the factors surrounding their chances for good health are something that I, and indeed all of our society, have a responsibility to influence in order to ensure their health prospects are not jeopardized.

In particular, they should not be subject to the continued, government-approved poisoning of their local environment. The facts are clear. In Stratford chemical pesticide spraying increased 22 per cent in 2012 and the spraying of these carcinogenic chemicals occurs not only on front lawns, but next to playgrounds, daycares and school bus stops where children are regularly congregating.

For goodness sake, let us take some positive action. We need to follow the lead of other more enlightened municipalities and eliminate the use of cosmetic pesticides. Who really wants a green lawn at the expense of our children’s health?

Sandy Kerr, Gladstone

And focussing on several threats to water:


Action Needed Not More Talk - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Printed on June 4th, 2014

Editor: My family and I attended the recent public symposium on water at UPEI.

The raising of public awareness on steps that should be taken to protect the future of our water needs is important, but change needs to be implemented — now. Please, no more passionate discussions, debates or research projects.

We know all we need to know right now, We need to stop jeopardizing our groundwater with the annual barrage of pesticides that are applied to our land across the province.    

Pesticides are designed to kill organisms. They are toxic to many life forms and residues accumulate in the food chain.

Pesticides don’t remain on farm fields, lawns and gardens; rather runoff carries them into nearby streams, rivers and groundwater. These water bodies are the source of our drinking water. Children are especially at risk from pesticides and are much more susceptible to these chemicals than adults.  

It is time for P.E.I. to implement a comprehensive ‘cosmetic pesticide ban act’ to ban the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides. Many other provinces, such as British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, have lead the way in this legislation.  

For example, in Ontario the cosmetic use of 82 pesticide active ingredients is prohibited, along with the sale of 295 products containing these chemicals. The challenge for these provinces now is ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the ban. If Prince Edward Island follows the lead of these provinces it would be much easier to implement and enforce the ban because of the very small size of our province.

After this small step, the province can then set its sights on the more pressing issue of industrial agriculture and the use of pesticides. A P.E.I. potato destined for the dinner table is subjected to 20 applications of pesticides.  

Is it really worth risking the health of our groundwater, rivers, animal and human health so that Irving processing plants can make money selling French fries? This summer, let’s stop talking about these issues and let’s start acting.

Andrea McVean, Charlottetown

And to paraphrase philosopher George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


Big Debt Load Brings Dark Cloud - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on June 4th, 2014

Editor: P.E.I. joined Confederation in 1873 because of huge railway debts so they faced commission government or joining Canada as a province.

When Ottawa offered loans to refinance the railway, P.E.I. agreed to join as a province and was saved from bankruptcy.

In 1966, Alex B. Campbell won a close election and discovered the province was broke and faced commission government again. Instead, he negotiated with Ottawa to stay as a province in return for the multi-million-dollar Development Plan.

The plan would upgrade Island systems and upgrade Islanders’ education and business skills. He helped bring Islanders into the 20th and 21st centuries so they learned how to compete in world markets and survive as a province.

Premier Campbell remained in power for 12 years until 1978 and established one university and consolidated more than 100 school boards into five regional school boards, but today there are only two left. The Island school system was so far behind it still hasn’t caught up to the rest of Canada.

Today, Premier Ghiz has been in power for seven years but is still unable to balance the budget due to Ottawa cuts and wasteful Liberal spending. If the government fails to balance the budget soon we may be faced with commission government again, since history does repeat itself.

David Steeves, Charlottetown

A very dark cloud:
Tiananmen Square happened 25 years ago.
Photos of the "heartbreakingly young, earnest and happy" protesters, with one distressing one after the crackdown.
I was horrified then, and still am, and find I buy way too much stuff made in China.

June 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

There is a lot going on in the next couple of weeks, very social almost-summery events  ---

Thursday, June 5th, 7PM, Haviland Club, corner of Water and Haviland Streets
"Connect Meeting" for Leadnow.ca, "to discuss strategy for promoting electoral reform heading into the next federal election"

Thursday, June 5th, 7PM, Mavor's, Confederation Centre of the Arts
NDP Social
Facebook event page

You can only be in one place at a time.  Maybe it could be kind of progressive pub crawl.

Friday, June 6th, 6:30PM, The Haviland Club, corner of Water and Haviland Streets
"Let Them Eat Cake! An evening of art, music and delicious cakes"
a fundraiser for the Rock Barra Artist Retreat Co-op summer concert series.  Minimum donation $10
more information about Rock Barra Retreat

"Come sample the cakes, bid on beautiful island art, and hear some great music with Teresa Doyle, Jon Redher and Larque....

Can't attend? Donations and volunteering for the co-op are always appreciated."

Sunday, June 8th, starting at 10AM, (Beach walk, picnic starting about noon), Cavendish Beach at PEI National Park.
Picnic at the Shore, hosted by SOSS (Save Our Seas and Shores)
Facebook event page

Sunday evening, I misplaced the details, I think there is an event regarding the reprinting of the book: The End of an Era -- Prince Edward Island's Resistance to Confederation by Harry Baglole and David Weale

Monday, June 9th, 6PM, Bonshaw Community Centre,
Citizens' Alliance meeting, all welcome!

Thursday, June 12, 7PM, UPEI, MacDougall Hall, Room 242
Free public presentation by Greenpeace Executive Director, Joanna Kerr
“How to be courageous on a planet in crisis”
This presentation is the opening of the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation annual symposium.

(related) Thursday, June 12 to Saturday, June 14th, UPEI
Atlantic Council for International Cooperation Annual Symposium and AGM
"The theme of this year’s conference is  “Making Connections: Cooperating for a Sustainable Future” which aims to increase dialogue and make connections not only among individuals, but also between the issues and the actions necessary to create a sustainable future, both locally and globally.   The Friday program will open with a panel discussion, continue with concurrent workshops and culminate in a gala evening event. The symposium wraps up on Saturday morning with more workshops and a closing plenary."
For more information: http://www.acic-caci.org/our-work/symposium-agm-registration-is-now-open.html

Tuesday, June 17th, 7:30PM, Silver Fox Curling Club, Summerside
Video presentation of Elizabeth May's Mallory Lecture, "The Crisis in Democracy".  "In order to expand the discussion around the state of Canada's democracy PEI Leadnow and Fair Vote Canada will host a video presentation of Elizabeth May's Mallory Lecture, The Crisis in Democracy, followed by a panel discussion....Vote Canada and Lead Now have called for changes to the electoral system in order to better reflect the views and needs of Canadians and prevent parties that achieve a minority of the general vote from attaining a majority of the power. "

June 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday, U.S. President Obama ordered cuts in carbon emission, which is something, at least.   The Canadian government's response appeared to be well-rehearsed about what a fantastic job Canada is already doing.

Here is a two minute clip from the next episode of the new Cosmos series.  Host Neil DeGrasse-Tyson explains the difference between weather and climate as part of the program on climate change.  Though a lot of people have a good idea about all that, I am glad there is someone taking on the mantle of Carl Sagan as a "The Science Whisperer":
Besides, the chocolate labrador retriever is so cute to watch frolicking around.

But what's in a name?  Are Climate Change and Global Warming interchangeable, and do people respond to one over the other?
Despite the skeptical name of this website, it is not a climate change-denier.  It understands global warming and climate change, but it is trying to interpret if one term got changed:

This is also interesting:  we all need to "Frame the Name" better:

A tongue-in-cheek (but pulling no punches) description of new names for global warming, from The New Yorker. Don't spew your coffee:
Tonight is the monthly meeting of Nature PEI (another name change! It's also Natural History Society of PEI).  Avid birder, photographer, and wonderfully humorous Sharon Clark is giving the presentation "Pretty Pictures of Birds."  Tuesday, June 3rd at 7:30 PM at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, Corner of West and Kent Streets, Charlottetown.  Admission is free and all are welcome.

Also, on CBC Radio's national radio news and Island Morning will be discussing radon gas in Canada and PEI.  Something we could all find out a lot more about.

June 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Fine weather for being outside!  It's a nice time for hiking around, despite the blackflies. ;-)    Someone asked what happened to the plaque which was dramatically unveiled by our Premier for Prince Charles a couple of weeks ago at the Bonshaw Provincial Park (the newly sodded one).    The pedestal is still there.

Thanks to a certain birder who perhaps was also capturing the new swallows' nestbox, Bonshaw Provincial Park, June 1, 2014. (Taken from Facebook.)

Various theories abound, but perhaps the most likely it that is it being kept clean and dry until the rest of the park is ready. The unveiling of the plaque, complete with the gaggle of politicians walking a newly cut muddy trail in their Sunday Best with Royal Guest (Prize?), was just too good a re-election brochure opportunity, even if a bit premature for a trail system unveiling.

The website of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee has been updated:


and includes the information that the new committee of seven from the original group has been working on the recommendations, one of which is the amalgamation of lands for an expanding trail network.

The new subcommittee members are here:


and I got this update recently from co-chair Brian Thompson of TIR:

On 2014-05-07 9:34 AM, Brian Thompson wrote:

Hi Chris.  Most recently, members of the subcommittee provided a presentation to Provincial Deputy Ministers on the Report recommendation for NAPA protection of lands, and initial work has been done by subcommittee members on drafting NAPA management plans for the same lands.  The bio-inventory work on identified lands is scheduled to begin next week and will continue for the summer; this information will be used in preparation for developing working management plans for each property.  Negotiations have been ongoing with the owners of private lands that would be desirable to incorporate into the expanded park, and these discussions will of course remain confidential respecting their privacy.  Discussions have been ongoing within the subcommittee and with design engineers on the pedestrian underpass that will be located under the Bonshaw Bridge and will provide the connection for lands located on both sides of the TCH, as well as the replacement footbridge that will cross the river up closer to Crosby's - we are considering options for recovering and reusing Island stone that were part of the original bridge across the river in the to-be-built footbridge.  Discussions have been ongoing with Provincial Tourism regarding various aspects of the expanded park concept, as well as the "naturalization" of some areas at the Strathgartney Park property. 

We may be installing a link on the TIR webpage that will provide periodic updates on the subcommittee's progress.  

(NAPA means Natural Areas Protection Act

http://www.gov.pe.ca/forestry/NAPA  )

And Megan Harris (also on the committee representing the West River Watershed Group) mentioned on CBC Radio Friday morning about public consultations on the proposed park ideas, consultations were in the recommendations (found on the Bonshawhills link above).  Yes, area residents and the public would like to see, and of course should see, what is being proposed. 

Bringing back picnic tables, barbecues, trash cans, and some playground equipment vacuumed up for the Prince's visit to Bonshaw Provincial Park as soon as possible for this summer would be a move.

June 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Back to the Pesticide Forum from Thursday night:

The short version (with a longer version below):

Panelists Roger Gordon and Bill Whelan understand the irrefutable evidence that exposure to certain chemicals sprayed on lawns to kill dandelions or cinch-bugs causes certain types of cancer in humans. Roger, through the scientist's lens, and Bill, through the work of the Canadian Cancer Society, each described clear links between exposure to what are truly optional lawn care choices and what become optionless, life-altering, fatal disease.

The Department of Environment representative, Erin Taylor, who is listed on the department's website as Manager of Climate Change and Air Quality ,said she has complete faith in the determination of safety by the federal government's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Complete faith. She demurred making any comment on the cancer studies, citing that she is not a health care professional; nor on the Municipalities Act, saying that is not her department.

(The PMRA is not without its conundrums and critiques. A major one is that a lot of the information about a pesticide comes from the manufacturing company. Here is a little more (from a slightly biased source, but the statements made are accurate) about the PMRA: http://www.flora.org/healthyottawa/pmra-fs-6.htm )

The province through the Department of the Environment has the right to regulate buffer zones but declines to do anything about it. They appear to be much more interested in protecting pesticide applicators (which is admirable but also tells you how dangerous the stuff is they are using) than in protecting the general public, including the more vulnerable residents like children and the elderly. Ms. Taylor also said the MPRA guidelines were reviewed regularly (but other reading suggests a very long time line between reviews), and adjusted as necessary.

It appears to be a case of "willful blindness."

Here is a link -- a worthwhile 14:39 minutes, of a TED talk about willful blindness. https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_the_dangers_of_willful_blindness

The last panelist was Jamie Simpson, of the East Coast Environmental Law Association. He knows a great deal about the background on municipalities regarding these kinds of by-laws, and knew there is no clear answer in the law; but felt a test case was always a good way to go.

The longer notes (very haphazard, with my apologies):
The panelists each knew their fields -- Roger Gordon in his illustrated part, titled "Science and Common Sense: say 'no' to cosmetic pesticides", clearly, clearly pointed out the validated research linking pesticides with certain cancers and other illnesses; he also gave a visual primer on exactly what we mean by pesticides and who's who of what's sprayed on PEI lawns.  He provided the background that:
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec have comprehensive bans on cosmetic pesticides,
BC and Saskatchewan have no bans but debate and heavy public support,
Alberta only bans the mixed herbicide/fertilizer combos that "weed and feed,"
and New Brunswick and PEI just ban one chemical, 2,4-D.

Right now the commonly used herbicides (plant-killer) on lawns treated are either "Mecoprop" or "MCPA", both of which are very related to 2,4-D, imitating plant growth hormones to cause out of control growth (which causes blockages of its nutrient system and then death).  The most common insecticide is "Sevin" (carbaryl, an ACE inhibitor, and we *all* have acetylcholine we may or may not need to be inhibiting....)

Short term effects are things like chemical irritations -- of the skin, lungs, but usually not long lasting.

Long term effects are most troubling,  and now that we have the technology to measure things: these pesticides can impair clotting, reproduction, or the immune system; cause genetic damage and are definitely linked to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of lymphocyte white blood cells, and other cancers.

The "definitely linked" proof (my words) are not just cherry-picked or from biased organizations: Retrospective studies have to be used, since it is (fortunately) considered unethical to experiment on humans (though many feel that is what is happening when our neighbours spray).   (Roger described "meta analysis", where many separate but similar studies are combined to look for patterns and check their statistical significance.) These retrospectives show meta analysis of a large number of studies on cancer trends: over 11 years showed non-Hodgkins leukemia other leukemias.  Another meta analysis from 2003-2011 showed lower fetal weight and birth defects, and something about a much higher    "Odds Ratio" of 1.5or 2-- meaning a person is between 50% or 100% more likelyto get certain cancers.

            Roger reminded us that inert ingredients in commercial formulations amplify the potency of the chemical.

Finally, he ended his section with these "By the way" thoughts:
Children are more sensitive to pesticides than adults – closer to toxins, take in more per pound of body weight.

Gordon feels we need to protect our children, and finished with: “Bring in the precautionary principle, and ban cosmetic pesticides.”

Catherine O’Brien, the excellent moderator, mentioned the FAQ page on the Department of Environment website which clearly states that the province requires no buffer zones next to playgrounds, or any other public space.

Bill Whelan, a professor at UPEI specializing in  biomedical optics with a special emphasis on cancer diagnosis, and past president of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), spoke next.
The CCS calls for complete ban on cosmetic pesticides, citing they cause no benefit and may cause harm.  They have been calling for this for the past five years.  The past five years.

CCS review of current literature focuses on human epidemiological studies.  This contrasts to regulatory studies (which focus on animals in testing situations and extrapolation done).  CCS looks at occupations, too. Prostate and kidney cancer have associations, but not as strong as links to NHL, malignant melanoma, brain tumours. 

Bill also discussed the Precautionary Principle. He reminded us of how health professionals declared no harm from smoking.

Organochlorine pesticides thought safe for a while, until effects determined, and they were finally banned in this country.   

He really feels we can’t afford to wait any longer for a ban.

He shared general tips for reducing exposure to pesticides:

Keep children and pets away from lawns for 24 hours.

All individuals stay indoors when spraying

Wash ALL fruits and vegetables.

CCS has tool kit as far as looking at alternatives for healthy lawns -- call their office at 566-4007 .

Bill finished by reminding us that it takes a while for studies to make links with these chemicals, and in the meantime a lot of people die.

(Two acronyms are treated with much reverence on the part of bureaucrats: the MDSS (Material Data Safety Sheet) tells the short term side effects.  The federal PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) says what is OK and what isn't. There are concerns from other quarters about where the PMRA gets their material on the safety studies, which I believe is from the manufacturers.)

Jamie Simpson from ECELAW (East Coast Environmental Law) spoke next.  He is a lawyer, logger and author. He reminded us that you have to
act locally to effect real change.

As the issue last night was the regulation of cosmetic pesticides – 1286 municipalities have brought in by-laws.  Jamie talked about the community of Hudson, Quebec, which in the 1990s enacted a bylaw to restrict cosmetic pesticides.  Lawn companies took the town to court.  In 2001, the Supreme Court said the town *does* have the right.  Law is not static, it evolves, so there are no clear cut answers sometimes.  A legal opinion is an opinion.  And for an opinion one way or another, the judge has to be more than 50% sure of the answer in one direction.

Courts are showing more and more deference to municipalities’ desires and wishes (the voters!).


Mike Redmond was there, Darcie Lantheir from the Green Party.  No other politicians.  Not even Richard Brown, who was Environment Minister when the provincial ban against 2,4-D was put in place.  Some environmental department officials.  No media that looked like mainstream media.

 During questions:

Erin Taylor clarified that some BC municipalities have enacted their own by-laws -- she has in her remarks made it look like only a minority of provinces were interested in banning cosmetic pesticides, which Roger Gordon spoke up to clarify.   She would not speak on the Municipalities Act but I thought she said, “We support communities that want to ask for a ban.”

 Jamie Simpson reminded the audience Squeaky wheel gets the grease,

A municipality could enact a bylaw, it could be challenged.  But people do need to ask the province to amend legislation.  The wording of the Quebec municipalities act includes the wording that municipalities can make bylaws based on a lot of reasons, including the "health" of residents.

Everyone agreed (well, maybe not the person not able to discuss health concerns) that a cancer epidemiologist  would be helpful.

As usual, questions from the audience explored more:
Gary Schneider asked the logic puzzle of why PEI banned 2,4-D when the PMRA has not restricted it.

It would seem the Faith on the Bible of PMRA is eroded.

Roger skewered government using the justification of science with other studies for other issues or reasons, and these being political decisions.

Darcie:  Risk, risk, risk and no benefit.

 Edith Perry:  We are not happy with these politics.  Real leadership is needed.  

 A young woman mentioned that the Canadian Association for Physicians for the Environment had met here recently and was all for a ban.

 She asked if cancer numbers dropped after pesticide bans in Canada?  Bill said there is no hard numbers since bans are so new.  In Europe NHL cases decreased after certain pesticides.

That's when he said: It takes decades to get those numbers but in the meantime a lot people die.

 Ifo Ikede said that he shouldn’t be part of an experiment without his persmisson.  And that we need to follow the money.


So those are the notes that stuck with me.  Lots more to discuss and plan on this one.


Take care, enjoy the dandelions,

May 31, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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


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

*anything* for residents and travelers for this year.

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


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

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

More in a day or two.

May 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

About 2:15 into the video.  http://youtu.be/pVfo8FteaG0

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

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

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

Here are two:

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

from http://www.peipotato.org/growers-site and tabled in the PEI Legislature this Spring.

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


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

Responsible, clear communication from government. 


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

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

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

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

Jamie Simpson, from East Coast Environmental Law Association.

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


May 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Published on May 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart


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

Published on May 20, 2014

A Reader's View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joan Diamond, Fairview

May 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Published on May 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

May 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

PEI Women's Institute Resolutions - by Darcie Lanthier

Darcie writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two Marions I mentioned:

Former MLA Marion Murphy 

Former MLA and Lieutenant Governor Marion Reid

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

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


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

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

Published Saturday, May 24th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

The day was the second March Against Monsanto held globally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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


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

Published on May 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can you do? One thing David suggests is check out Leadnow.ca http://www.leadnow.ca/

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

May 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

And a great quote from David Suzuki making the rounds:

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

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

Now, five years later, Bill McKibben from the organization 350.org is trying to organize people, lots of people, Islanders too, to come to New York City on September 20 and 21st:


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

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

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

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

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

May 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of a roundup; forgive the pun:

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

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

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

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

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

Published Wednesday, May 21, 2014

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

No mission statement is necessary if the system collapses.

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

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

Robert Ghiz is a sound-bite premier.

There is no vision for sustainable communities.

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

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

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

There is no vision to rethink the massive provincial bureaucracy.

There is no vision to ensure our fiscal autonomy.

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

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

Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at paul@peicanada.com

May 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

An excerpt:

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

To which volunteer environmental monitor Cindy Richards responds best:

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

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

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

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

But future generations were also on Prince Charles mind:

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

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

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

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

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

Some events today:

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

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

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

And tonight:

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

and if you are in town:

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

May 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Ortenburger,
Citizens' Alliance of PEI

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

from the website http://www.confederationcentre.com/en/symons-lecture-series.php

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

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

May 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

Photos from May 15, 2014.

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

Local resident Tony Reddin comments:

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

Published Saturday, May 17th, 2014

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

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

We are not amused.

Tony Reddin, Bonshaw

This is a long but very interesting article about what seems like new tighter regulatory rules regarding fracking in the state of Colorado, but what it really says: http://ecowatch.com/2014/03/20/colorados-fracking-rules/

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

May 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

Published on May 17, 2014 

© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You are our future.''

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Published Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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

David Weale, Charlottetown

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

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


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

Island Water Symposium at UPEI - facebook event page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

Published on May 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Cindy Richards, Stratford

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

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

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

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

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

May 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

transplants, greens, more

Fiddlehead Social in Breadalbine, 1PM onward

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

Forum on Water Issues and Science, UPEI Business Building,

May 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maureen Kerr, Stratford


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Tips to reduce your exposure to pesticides:

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit cancer.ca to learn more about this important topic.

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


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

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

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

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

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

 Ivy Wigmore, Charlottetown

May 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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


Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan

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

Posted on March 31, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

Published on April 28th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on May 5, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

May 9, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Mr. Aylward:   Far from it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wheatley River Hall will be staging Dr. Magnificent's Magical Medicine Show on that date  -  Friday, May 9, 2014 at 7:30.  We'd be so pleased to welcome you to our newly renovated community hall to enjoy this play presented by Young at Heart Musical Theatre for Seniors.  But it's not restricted to seniors, all ages are welcome!  Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.  To reserve, please contact us at 902 621 0718  or at omega2@pei.sympatico.ca

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

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

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

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

Here is the schedule of events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Minister Sherry garners three comments today:

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

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

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

Guardian story on the "pesticide controversy"

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

Published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published Thursday, May 8th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

Here is a little background I dug up:

What is corn gluten and how does it work?

But does it work?

Why is it banned on PEI?
That I really don't know.  (Unfortunately, some corn gluten would likely be from GMO varieties that contain Bt to kill corn borers, by the way)
from:    http://www.gov.pe.ca/law/statutes/pdf/p-04.pdf
It may be because it's

Pesticides Control Act

Cap. P-4 11


(ii) fertilizer-pesticide blended

products or other combination

pesticide blended products,

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

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

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

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

May 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Premier Ghiz:

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

These are actually a major changes.

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

Leader of the Opposition:

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

Premier Ghiz:

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

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

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

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

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

But MLAs have to vote on it in Third Reading, so if you have an opinion you can still tell your MLA.
contact info: http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3?number=1024555&lang=E

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

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

Enjoy the cold rain!

May 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

The New Abolitionism - The Nation magazine article by Christopher Hayes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a related quote by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May:

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

So there is Hope

May 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

Too much government? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on May 02, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Aubrey Bell, New London

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

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

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

Published on May 02, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

which includes for Tuesday, May 20:

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

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

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

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

Well, Prince Charles does have e-mail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

A some background on the project and the IRAC decision is here:  http://www.stopplanb.org/updates#TOC-April-6-2014

Was the meeting worth it?  Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published on May 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) results for Worst Roads in Atlantic Canada 2014 are here:
Plan B is 9th, and of course the worst on PEI. 

To be fair, the heaving has settled a bit in the last week, but you can still see its flaws; and you can't see its price tag.

Today at 10AM is a talk on the dangers of genetically-modified food at the Robert Cotton Youth Centre off Bunbury Road in Stratford.  Folks who were at the talk last night thought it was excellent and *very* eye-opening.

Tonight in Hampton is the meeting regarding:

All welcome, for the background on the whole issue will be informative, and learning anything more about what's happening here will be enlightening.

If you haven't seen the non-profit Young At Heart Theatre musical production of "Dr Magnificent's Magical Medicine Show" yet, there are still a few more opportunities:  Wednesday, April 30 (tonight) at the Farm Centre (dinner and show) at 6:30PM (892-3419),
North Rustico Lions Club, Tuesday, May 6, 7PM
Wheatley River Hall, May 9, 7:30PM, in their newly renovated hall, (621-0718 or e-mail omega2@pei.sympatico.ca)
and St. Paul's Church, Charlottetown, Sunday, May 10 2PM (892-1691) -- last performance and reception

April 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A correction:  The talk about genetically modified food is at 6PM tonight, at the Robert Cotton Centre, in Stratford, off Bunbury Road.

A reminder:  The publicly-called meeting regarding a proposed development in Hampton-DeSable is tomorrow night, 7PM, at the Bites Cafe (Hampton Hall) on the TCH, west of Bonshaw. 

The Legislature resumes today, from 2-5PM, and 7-9PM. 

is the website if you want to watch the proceedings (follow "Watch Live" links).

Fuerunt quondam in hac re publica viri magnae virtutis.

There were once, in this republic, men of great virtue.

April 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight, in the theatre at Westisle High School, near Elmsdale on Route 2, 7PM.
The importance of water to wildlife and ecosystems will be talked about in a talk called: “Silent Springs: Potential Impacts of Deep Water Well Extraction on Prince Edward Island” with Professor Daryl Guignion.
This talk is sponsored by the Western Prince Watershed Improvements Groups -- good for them!  Daryl is an excellent speaker and has beautiful photography illustrating his points. 
If you are anywhere in the area, it would be a great talk to attend.
For more information:  Watershed Alliance website information on tonight's talk

Another informative letter from Tony Lloyd:
Link to Tony Lloyd's letter referring to aquifiers in The Guardian

Infiltration water problem - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 25, 2014

As regards confined aquifers (CA), consider the specific yields of unconfined aquifers are much larger than the storativities of CAs.

Thus, from a hydraulic standpoint, unconfined aquifers are generally preferable to CAs for water supply, because for the same rate of water extraction there is less draw down over a smaller area with an unconfined aquifer than with a CA.

The Winter River abstraction well fields have been drilled into a Permian CA with gravel beds of high lateral conductivity. Over the past 50 years, the area of depressurization has increased to such an extent that the CA has consumed the Stanhope ponds and bogs and has induced anoxia on Covehead, Brackley, Rustico and Winter bays. The area of infiltration may now be greater than 200 square kilometres, extending as far west as Hunter River.

In the sandstone layers of the aquitard, which separate the CA from the water table (unconfined) aquifer, the vertical permeability of sandstone is two to three times less than its horizontal permeability and this suggests that there is more joint permeability than inter- granular permeability.

However, as water pressure is reduced (de-watering) in the CA, stresses between solid grains of the aquitard matrix will increase because of the overburden pressure of land above and compaction of the aquitard sandstone will occur; hence, its permeabilities will decrease; hence, the area of infiltration must increase.

Compaction is an irreversible and permanent change to the sandstone matrix. The CA was primed during the last ice age. Now man has pumped the CA to a steady state standoff and the land and ocean are crying out. The recharge time of the upper CA may be rated in centuries while deeper CAs may be rated in millennia and for this reason CA waters are often classed as a non-renewable resource.

The water table is stable but its lateral flow, waters destined for marine environments, now have a large downward component into the CA. The horizontal (lateral) flow, now largely stopped, of such waters are a renewable resource and are necessary for the survival of many marine plants and animals.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart

Some additional notes:
Permian: 250 - 300 million years ago
"Aquitard - A confining bed that retards but does not prevent the flow of water to or from an adjacent aquifer; a leaky confining bed. It does not readily yield water to wells or springs, but may serve as a storage unit for ground water (AGI, 1980)."
This article, "Fresh Water and the Water Cycle", looks like a good background.

illustration from Steve Altaner's article "Water Cycle and Fresh Water Supply."

This illustration and link are from Connexions (or cnx.org), a "global repository of educational content provided by volunteers."
Link to Wikipedia article on CNX or Connexions organization

April 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Issues old and new, but with a lot in commom:

Reserve Wednesday, April 30th, 7PM, Hampton, for this meeting; no matter where you live on PEI, this is important, and you are welcome to attend.

Two years ago, on April 26, 2012, a Stop Plan B rally was held on a brilliant, crisp Thursday afternoon in front of Province House.  It was from about 1-2PM, so all the MLAs had to pass through it to get into the Legislature for the afternoon session.

The rally poster with fantastic logo by a Bonshaw resident; a young speaker at the Rally, April 26, 2012, with lots of wonderful people attending; we know many others wished they could be there.

We had lots of help planning it, and learned a great deal:  It is good to have many, *short* speeches, and someone as a ruthless timekeeper. It is good to have music, and good-hearted musicians are something the Island specializes in.  It helps that they often have sound equipment, too, and generally they are unflappable, able to fill in all sorts of gaps and work in all sorts of combinations, and calming to everyone around them (Roy Johnstone, Margie Carmichael, Doug Millington).  Balloons are good, and ours were not helium-filled!  Signs of all sorts.  And a big fat petition to sign and turn in.

The speakers hit at why Plan B was wrong from about every angle -- an economist discussing our debt and the fallacy of 50cent dollars (Jim Sentance), leaders of every political party on PEI at the time (James Rodd, Sharon Labchuk, Olive Crane, and Robert Ghiz; we couldn't reach an Island Party person), a kid who called out the hypocrisy and the reckless handing of money saddled on her generation (Liese Ortenburger): "We are going to have to pay for this debt and everything it is made of...like roads we don't want.  We have no choice; we are chained to it.")  The safety monkey-business (Peter Bevan-Baker). A business owner and grandmother (Lynne Douglas), a business owner and dad (Bruce MacPherson), a couple of mothers who looked at thier children and wonders what this means for them (Tracey McG and myself).  Environmentalists (Irene Novaczek, Tony Reddin, Jackie Waddell), each eloquent.  I am forgetting people, and I apologize for that.

Yes, the premier was booed, and Minister Vessey, and we sang little ditties like "Quit the Road, Ghiz"; but it was all part of the day.  Too bad instead of listening to the speeches those two found people to talk loudly to, and Plan B's own MLA Valerie Docherty was whisked inside and didn't make any sort of comment until after Question Period when she lashed out at Opposition MLA James Alyward.

For being very serious about a very bad government decision which has longterm ramifications, we also had a great deal of fun.  We (all of us) made our point.
Later, in the Legislature, Question Period focused on Plan B, the concerns about the nearby shale pit and who knew what when, and finally the Opposition tabled the petition, and also a motion to scrap the project.  The motion was defeated, after lengthy speeches on why Plan B was bad by the Tories (including then-Tory Hal Perry), and why it was just dandy from several Ministers who repeated from the same crib sheet of safety and 50cent dollars.  It's hard to remember what was the most ridiculous statement, but runners up were Tourism Minister Robbie Henderson saying basically it would be great for tourists to see those old trees more closely from the new safe road, and Minister George Webster saying completely odd things like:

Thirty years ago I probably went out and planted more trees than anyone in this room. I’m not saying that from a boastful perspective at all, but I planted about 10,000 trees on land that I had that I harvested some trees that were mature. Trees grow up, trees mature and trees die and fall over. On top of all of that, I had what we call a plush tree. Forestry folks walked through the forest and they found this perfect tree. It was a black spruce tree, it’s still standing today. Every year the F.J. Gaudet tree farm, tree nursery, would come out and they would shimmy up the tree, and they would take the, I think, scones or something, they’d take off the tree. That was the breeding stock for next year. They did that for many years to multiply their stocks and produce trees for other woodlots.

As minister of forestry, we planted about 650,000 trees last year, and I believe we’re planting about that this year again. It’s a good thing.

I think, if we do have some super good high quality hemlock stock out there where this road may interfere with some of them, I think we should go out and harvest the material.

Hansard links for Spring 2012 Legislature sitting  pick April 26 for the pdf.

Valerie Docherty said this late in the afternoon when she spoke:

"I wish, and to my two constituents above, that I could make a decision that would make them happy. I know I can’t. But I value them, I value their opinion, and I hope that they understand the position I’m in.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.

...which was most nauseating of all. 

The CBC article focused on the booing, and most of the coverage was about Valerie's meltdown in the lobby of the Legislature.

CBC website article from April 26, 2012, rally

Trans-Canada Reroute protested at Province House - CBC website

April 27th, 2012

About 350 people gathered in front of Province House Thursday to protest realignment plans for the Trans-Canada Highway in Bonshaw. Premier Robert Ghiz was booed when he came out to speak to the crowd.  People gave speeches, chanted, held signs and brought in baby Hemlock trees, hoping to block Plan B.

Plan B is the provincial government’s $16-million plan to reroute the highway, which would run through private forest lots on the other side of the current highway, eliminating steep grades and numerous driveway accesses.  The province has said the decision to reroute the highway was the result of public input about the safety of the current route.  But many who oppose the plan say it was unfair that plans moved ahead without public consultation, and that other options to make the highway safer haven't been considered.

"I feel that there was false inclusion in the decision-making process," said protester Walter Wilkins. "It's basically a waste of my money, of taxpayers' money."

Opposition leader Olive Crane said her party wants to hear from Islanders. "We're going to ask one of the legislative committees ... to go the next step — start public consulations on this project and give it back to the government. That's the work that the House is supposed to be doing," Crane told the crowd. (Chris's comment -- Olive is about the only one who really knows the work that the House *should* be doing.)

NDP leader James Rodd also spoke out against the Liberals' plan.  "If the government doesn't speak for those majestic trees, or the ecology, or the environment, then it's up to you," he said.

The rerouting involves 34 private properties, including 10 homes. The province has said affected residents will be compensated.  About $4 million has been set aside to purchase all of the affected properties, including the large, forested New Haven Campground, which used to be the amusement park, Encounter Creek.

Area residents are concerned about the environmental impact of the new road.  The Island Nature Trust also sent a letter to Transportation Minister Robert Vessey saying the group is strongly opposed to the rerouting of the Trans-Canada.  Jackie Waddell, the executive director of the group, said the project will cross a number of deep ravines and stream systems that support lots of fish and wildlife.  The minister responded to the group, saying the changes are needed to bring that section of the Trans-Canada up to current safety standards, Waddell said.  "From what we've heard to date, this is a project that's being bullied through, and we think it's just not necessary and it's going to ruin these systems," said Waddell.

Opponents are presenting a petition to the legislature with more than 3,000 signatures, with hopes the government will soon respond.  An environmental assessment is underway, and construction will likely begin once that’s completed.

"Very rarely does the result of an environmental impact assessment stop a project," Waddell said.  "While there may be threatened species, it's very unlikely we'll find anything endangered, or they're going to find anything endangered in the path. However, there are sites of provincial significance that should be considered."

Ghiz spoke at Thursday's protest, saying the reroute was an opportunity to improve a dangerous section of highway through the Atlantic Gateway Fund.Ghiz did say he expected opposition.  "This is an opportunity for us to improve highway safety, to save lives, and we also have the opportunity to improve the highway," Ghiz said amidst several boos from the crowd.

Hope you had a nice cup of something warm for the memory lane walk.

April 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A buffet of events in the next week:

Today, Saturday, April 26th:
The Bonshaw Fisherman's Breakfast is going on this morning, until the food runs out (before noon), Bonshaw Community Centre, proceeds to the QEH.

The NDP PEI Convention at the Rodd Charlottetown starts at 8AM (registration) and featuring guest Lorraine Michael, Leader of the NDP in Newfoundland and Labrador.
NDP PEI Convention Facebook event

Also, at the Farm Centre is the Family Farm and Micro Processing Trade Show, another in a fantastic line-up of workshops and events that are bringing that dear Farm Centre back to life for all kinds of farming and all Islanders.
Family Farm and Micro processing trade Show Facebook Event

The final showings of Inherit the Wind, a play about the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, are tonight at 7:30PM and tomorrow at 2PM, at Trinity United Church, a joint effort of the church and A Community Theatre (ACT).
Inherit the Wind facebook event listing

Sunday, April 27th
Art with Heart Closing Reception and Live Auction
"After almost two weeks of a wonderful art showing on the walls of Now n Zen Coffee and Tea House, we are closing the bidding for the online auction at 2pm on Sunday. A reception will take place and we are auctioning a few of the pieces LIVE! All money raised is going to help families with children fighting cancer on PEI."   A great effort from Maureen Kerr (who is responsible for the attractive website for the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water http://peiwater.com/ ) and others.
Art with Heart Facebook Page

The Bonshaw Ceilidh, at the Bonshaw Hall, switches back to evenings, 7PM, admission by donation, proceeds going to the Parkinson's Society.

On Monday, April 28 at 7:00 PM at Westisle High School in Elmsdale.  "The Western Prince Edward Island watershed improvement groups are sponsoring a presentation by Professor Daryl Guignion outlining threats to aquatic ecosystems and water resources on Prince Edward Island. The presentation “Silent Springs: Potential Impacts of Deep Water Well Extraction on Prince Edward Island” will relay important background information on how cool, clear and abundant water in our Island streams is critical for a balance in our estuaries’ eco-systems. Mr. Guignion will talk about the importance of and the relationship between the quality and quantity of water and the health of the fish populations and aquatic life in the streams. 
"Professor Daryl Guignion researches wildlife and their ecosystems, and investigates factors limiting wild salmon and trout production on Prince Edward Island. Mr. Guignion was instrumental in setting up the Island Nature Trust, a non-government organization dedicated to the protection and management of natural areas on PEI.  Professor Guignion continues to work with other groups to develop and implement watershed plans.
For further information please contact John Lane, Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association coordinator, at (902) 853-2090 or jlane32090@live.ca

Tuesday, April 29th, 7PM, Robert Cotton Park, 57 Bunbury Road in Stratford, lecture: "Genetically Engineered Foods and Your Health". Dr. Thierry Vrain is a retired genetic engineer who now speaks out against GM technology.
Also, 10AM Wednesday, April 30th. 
GE Foods and Health Facebook page

Wednesday, April 30, 7-9PM, is the meeting on the development in Hampton and DeSable, at the Hampton Hall/Bites Cafe on the TCH (19566)
Hampton/DeSable development project meeting

OK, that's enough of things going on.  Here is an interesting food (well, soil) article.

Have a great day,
Chris O.


How Organic Farming Can Reverse Climate Change - Rodale Institute

Published on April 22, 2014

Rodale Institute announced yesterday the launch of a global campaign to generate public awareness of soil’s ability to reverse climate change, but only when the health of the soil is maintained through organic regenerative agriculture. The campaign calls for the restructuring of our global food system with the goal of reversing climate change through photosynthesis and biology. 

“We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture.’” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The white paper, Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming, is the central tool of the campaign. The paper was penned by Rodale Institute, the independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit agricultural research institute widely recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement in the U.S.

The white paper states that “We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture.’”

If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model as practiced at the research sites included in the white paper, more than 40 percent of annual emissions could potentially be captured. If, at the same time, all global pasture was managed to a regenerative model, an additional 71 percent could be sequestered. Essentially, passing the 100 percent mark means a drawing down of excess greenhouse gases, resulting in the reversal of the greenhouse effect.

Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including (at a minimum): cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. Conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration. Other biological farming systems that use some of these techniques include ecological, progressive, natural, pro-soil and carbon farming.

“The purpose of our work is singular; we are working to create a massive awakening,” said “Coach” Mark Smallwood, executive director of Rodale Institute.

“Our founder, J.I. Rodale, had a vision so ambitious that many people wrote him off at the time. Almost 75 years later, the organic movement is exploding with growth and fierce determination. But the stakes are much higher in 2014. J.I. saw that agriculture was heading in a dangerous direction by way of the wide-spread adoption of the use of synthetic chemicals and the industrialization of farming. He attempted to prevent that transition. We no longer have the luxury of prevention. Now we are in the dire situation of needing a cure, a reversal. We know that correcting agriculture is an answer to climate chaos, and that it hinges on human behavior. The massive awakening itself is the cure. The future is underfoot. It’s all about healthy soil.”

The Rodale Institute supports its claims by explaining that if sequestration rates attained by the cases cited inside the white paper were achieved on crop and pastureland across the globe, regenerative agriculture could sequester more than our current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Even if modest assumptions about soil’s carbon sequestration potential are made, regenerative agriculture can easily keep annual emissions to within the desirable range necessary if we are to have a good chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C by 2020.

“The white paper is to encourage new research, new policy and the rapid expansion of regenerative agricultural methods,” said Smallwood.

“The media campaign brings the broader vision to the public much faster. The idea is to stoke the public outcry that already exists and to validate those who demand these changes be made now. By engaging the public now, they build the pressure necessary to prevent this call to action from sitting on the desks of scientists and policy-makers, or worse yet, being buried by businesspeople from the chemical industry. We don’t have time to be polite about it.”

Below are three excerpts exemplifying the call to action set forth in the white paper:

  • Organically managed soils can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset. It’s nothing new, and it’s already happening, but it’s not enough. This is the way we have to farm, period.
  • There’s a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that’s tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to localities the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization. It’s photosynthesis.
  • The solution is farming like life on Earth matters; farming in a way that restores and even improves on the natural ability of the microbiology present in healthy soil to hold carbon. This kind of farming is called regenerative organic agriculture and it is the solution to climate change we need to implement today.

Since its founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Rodale Institute is home to the Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30 percent higher. This year, 2013, marks the 33rd year of the trial. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock.

April 25 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

We have a lovely university here, but I am left feeling some of its decision-makers aren't quite living up to the standards we wish they would.

Yesterday the names of four recipients of honorary degrees for the May 10 UPEI convocation were released; one of the recipients is former lieutenant governor Barbara Hagerman, two other men with ties to the Island (a retired major-general Matt Macdonald and educator James MacAulay) and...Robert Irving.

Robert Irving is the grandson of K.C. Irving, along with his brother Jim Irving.  (It has been acidly mentioned that Jim manages a little woodlot known as New Brunswick, and Robert a little French fry farm know as PEI.)  This year people have realized that Cavendish Farms and the PEI Potato Board are the main forces behind the push for lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells.  In July of 2013, the two groups met with the Environment Minister's Environmental Advisory Committee to with a presentation "The benefits of high capacity wells for irrigating potato fields in PEl."
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/documents/  2013 Annual Report of PEI Environmental Advisory Council,tabled April 15, 2014

UPEI Press Release on 2014 recipients
and from the page on selection, from UPEI's website:

An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations. The degree is typically a doctorate and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution.
Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, "for the sake of honour” and are awarded as a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa at the University of Prince Edward Island.

UPEI honorary degrees are intended to recognize outstanding provincial, national, and international contributions in any field(s) of endeavour. Whether these are made by Prince Edward Islanders, or by individuals with strong PEI connections, their contributions should reflect extraordinary intellectual or artistic achievements or significant service to society set at a standard of excellence that merit the University's highest honour. 

At UPEI, two honorary degrees are conferred at each the morning and afternoon Spring Convocation in May. (Comment: not counting  "Special Convocation" or in 2003 when they conferred a baker's dozen.)  One of the honorary degree recipients at each convocation usually presents an address. The tradition of granting honorary degrees at UPEI dates back to the Convocation of its founding institution, St. Dunstan’s University, in 1960.

Selection of Honorary Degree Recipients
The University of Prince Edward Island welcomes the nomination of worthy individuals for honorary degrees and any member of the public or the University community may submit nominations.  Honorary Degrees from UPEI are conferred on the authorization of the Senate, after the Honorary Degree Committee brings forward the name of suitable candidates for consideration.  UPEI Honorary Degrees are generally not awarded posthumously or in absentia, or to any of the following: current faculty or staff; current members of the Board of Governors and the Senate; and current holders of political office in Canada.
Nominations are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the year, however nominations must be received by January 10, 2014 for honorary degrees conferred in May 2014. Make a nomination using the Honorary Degree Nomination Form

The makeup of the selection committee is here

Below is a list of past honorees; just last year the two women selected made (make!) significant contributions to our Island community *and* environment. 

Have a great day,
Chris O.,

UPEI Honorary Degree Recipients 2013-1968

Marie Burge
Regis Duffy
Diane Griffin
Fred Hyndman
Special Convocation:
Rhoda Karetak (Iqaluit, NU)
Donald Uluadluak (Iqaluit, NU)

Michael Bliss
Derek Key
Frank Zakem

Monique Collette
Louis MacEachern
Teresa Mellish
Danny Williams

Pat Binns
Judy Bragg
Donald MacKenzie
Harry Snow

Parker Jewell
Marilla Millar
Anne Murray
Michael Schurman
Special Convocation:
Meeka Arnaquq (Iqaluit, NU)
Mariano Aupilardjuk (Iqaluit, NU)

James E. Carter

(I thought James E. Carter was, you know, Jimmy Carter, maybe for his work for Habitat for Humanity and I wasn't paying attention that he came here; but no, the James E. Carter is:   "Mr. James Edward Clarke Carter, also known as Jim, P.Eng. served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Syncrude Canada Ltd. from October 1, 1997 to April 30, 2007. " -- Bloomfield Business Report)

Wayne D. Gray
Nona Macdonald Heaslip
Joseph Ng

Donna Jane Campbell
Paul Giannelia
Richard Homburg
Kay MacPhee
Special Convocation:
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

Elaine Helen Campbell
Suzanne Lévesque
David Wallace Rodd
Joseph Fenwick Watkin
Alice Patterson Webster

James Matthew Lee
Colin Edward MacDonald
John Joe Sark
Charles Stewart Scranton

Joseph Georges Arsenault
Francis Blanchard
Jacques Hebert
Arnold Aubrey Hiltz
Ellen Margaret Macdonald
Antonine Maillet
Special Convocation:
Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado

Marlene Bryenton
Arthur Linkletter
Kent G. Ellis
David R. Mason
Sam Sniderman
Mary Walsh
Special Convocation:
Vera Elizabeth Dewar
Doug Hall
Hesta Arlette MacDonald
J. Faber MacDonald
Katherine MacDonald
Roy MacLaren
Cecil E. MacPhail
Ruby Matheson

Tom Connors
Lorie Kane
Alistair MacLeod
Beverley McLachlin

M. Lorne Bonnell
Norman Kenneth Campbell
Donald Harron
Brady J. Smith

M. Olive Bryanton
Stephen Lewis
Paul Hudson Schurman

Angele Arsenault
Colin James McMillan

Ronald Everard Irving
Doris Hilda Anderson
Mary Johanna Boyd
James Simpson Palmer

Marion Loretta Reid
Elaine Russell Harrison
J. Antoine Richard

Adrienne Clarkson
Dorothy C. Hall
Brian Maxfield Dunbar Chandler
John Angus Weir

Mary Nicholson Ross
Bertha Wilson
J. Hubert O'Hanley
Wilbert C. Mclnnis

Roberta Lynn Bondar
Eleanor Mary Lowe
William A. Ledwell
John H. Maloney

Reginald G. Thomson
L. George Dewar
Elinor MacDonald MacLellan
J. Mavor Moore

June Callwood
Lyman Maclnnis
Mary Irene McKinnon
Wanda Wyatt

Stephen P. Connolly
Trevor Lloyd Jones
Anne Marie Perry
Alan K. Scales

Gwilym John Bevan
Michael Dennis Duffy
Special Convocation:
Anna Jane Duffy
Eugene McCabe
Mary Olga McKenna
Brendan Anthony O'Grady

Ronald James Baker
Robertson William Davies
George Frederick McRobie
Arthur West Vesey

Donald Ernest Malcolm Glendenning
Athol Leith Roberts
Albert Bing Ching Young
Wayne Arnold Easter

Roy Earnest Bonisteel
Joseph Clair Callaghan
Gustave Gingras
Catherine Gertrude Hennessey
Dennis George Howell
Special Convocation:
Joseph Atallah Ghiz
Doreen Wadad Kays

Muriel Helena Duckworth
Maureen Katherine Forrester
Edward Dawson Ives
Freeman Lester McEwen

Alfred Linus Morrison
Leo Harrison Killorn
John Angus MacLean
John Ronald MacDonald

John Thomas Place
Joseph Guillaume Gaudin
George Parkin Grant

Georgie Read Barton
Philip Warburton Oland
Thomas Henry Bull Symons
George Denton Clark

Catherine Therese Wallace
Florence Elsie Inman
Joseph Cyril O'Brien
Evelyn MacEwen Cudmore

Jean Pierre Edgar Gallant
Helen de Greayer Herring
David Samuel Horne MacDonald
William Wright Reid

Gordon Lockhart Bennett
Clement Cormier
Mary Evelyn & Raymond Alfred Vessey

Alexander Bradshaw Campbell
Farley McGill Mowat
Ernest Wilbur Johnstone

Heath Nelson Macquarrie
James Merrill McAlduff
Donald Joseph McDougall

Milton James Acorn
John George Diefenbaker
Preston MacIntyre

Chinua Acheve
John Tougas Croteau
Eugene Patrick Cullen

Henry Bramwell Chandler
Mary Elizabeth Park Henderson
Constance Ida MacFarlane
Gordon Edward Pinsent
William Bernard Ready
Jean-Guy Sylvestre
Louis George Vagianos

William Stewart MacNutt
Leone Mosher Ross
David Takayoshi Suzuki

Joseph Ulric Poirier
Chester Bryant Stewart
Pierre Berton

John Hugh MacLennan
Austin Alexander Scales
Moncrieff Williamson

Dorothy Agnes Cullen
Mark Rudolph MacGuigan
Edward Fletcher Sheffield

Laurier Lucien LaPierre
Alan Wilfred Lund
Eric MacLean Found

St. Dunstan's University

Dorothy Corrigan
Eleanor S. Duckett
M. Alban Farmer
Harold J. Hynes
Hugh J. Somers
George F.G. Stanley

Iphigenie Arsenault

April 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

MP Sean Casey's Town Hall on the "Fair Elections Act" tonight, 7-9PM, at The Guild. All welcome.

Tonight and this weekend:
Inherit the Wind, a play based on the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial", call for ticket availability (892-4114)

Monday, April 28th, Meeting on high capacity wells and related issues, with guest speaker biologist Daryl Guignion, at Westisle School, Route 2 near Alberton.  More details to follow.

The PEI Legislature sits today (2-5PM, 7-9PM) and tomorrow (10AM-1PM).  If you can drop in to watch the proceedings, that's great; watching or listening from Eastlink TV or from your computer
gives you an idea of what is being discussed.

A letter from the time capsule, that still rings true, from two years ago:

Bypass road plans wasteful all around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 18, 2012

The P.E.I. government, with taxpayers' money, has in the past designed, built, inspected, and accepted, among others, the portion of highway between New Haven and Bonshaw, through one of the most forested parts on the Island.

This project created infrastructure for Trans-Canada Highway traffic as well as lucrative work opportunity for the selected construction industry. Now the same government declares its commissioned road unsafe, based on one fatal accident, in order to justify duplicate road construction through more of the pristine lands.

The existing road contains gentle hills with gentle curves and appears in acceptable unfailed condition. To make such road responsible for traffic accidents is false argumentation, unworthy of being used as justification. If road and vehicle have not failed, then traffic safety always depends on all drivers' ability to correctly read road conditions, to be alert and undistracted for making good judgments and to operate their vehicle in a courteous and safe manner. In these times of restraint there is no need to spend some $16 million for a section of bypass road. If the government wants to improve on its design, shave off some hills and cut some corners, one lane at a time.

The government's unsophisticated plans require the destruction of pristine natural lands in the area. Well-managed woodlands, some of them rare hemlock and white pines, estimated to be 300 years old. Steep slopes with vegetation now hold the water and balance the watershed. Wide ravines with sizable creeks are destined to be filled in. Despite the strong objection by the concerned public, and likely pressured by a hungry construction industry, the government is arrogantly and stubbornly determined to ram this project through, without a thorough and detailed environmental impact assessment.

Consideration for economic gain must not simultaneously destroy environmental value. We all have to learn to become ecologically literate. The environment must be seen as a most valuable asset with an extremely high cost, and that cost must become part of the monetary equation.

Karl (Carlo) Hengst, Summerside

Take care today with the rain and all.

April 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Paris United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015 meeting will be very important, and we have time to get ready for it. 

This editorial is of course very American-centric, but interesting.

Running Out of Time - The New York Times editorial board

Published on April 20, 2014

Next year, in December, delegates from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to take another shot at completing a new global treaty on climate change. This will be the 21st Conference of the Parties under United Nations auspices since the first summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

For the most part, these meetings have been exercises in futility, producing just one treaty — in Kyoto in 1997 — that asked little of the big developing countries and was never ratified by the United States Senate. But if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report is to be taken seriously, as it should be, the Paris meeting may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control.

The I.P.C.C., composed of thousands of the world’s leading climate scientists, has issued three reports in the last seven months, each the product of up to six years of research. The first simply confirmed what has been known since Rio: global warming is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels by humans and, to a lesser extent, by deforestation. The second, released in Japan three weeks ago, said that profound effects were already being felt around the world, including mounting damage to coral reefs, shrinking glaciers and more persistent droughts, and warned of worse to come — rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields.

The third report, released last week, may be the most ominous of the three. Despite investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources in the United States, in Europe and in developing countries like China, annual emissions of greenhouse gases have risen almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century as they did in the last decades of the 20th century. This places in serious jeopardy the emissions target agreed upon in Rio to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level. Beyond that increase, the world could face truly alarming consequences.

Avoiding that fate will require a reduction of between 40 percent and 70 percent in greenhouse gases by midcentury, which means embarking on a revolution in the way we produce and consume energy.

That’s daunting enough, but here’s the key finding: The world has only about 15 years left in which to begin to bend the emissions curve downward. Otherwise, the costs of last-minute fixes will be overwhelming. “We cannot afford to lose another decade,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”

The report does not tell governments what to do — presumably, that’s for them to decide in Paris — but it lists approaches, mostly familiar, some technologically advanced. The most obvious, and probably the most difficult to negotiate, is to put a global price on carbon, either through a system of tradable permits like that adopted by Europe (and rejected by the United States Senate) or through a carbon tax of some sort, thus driving investments to cleaner fuels.

A more plausible pathway is to get each country to adopt binding emission reduction targets and then allow them to choose how to get there — ramping up nuclear energy, phasing out coal-fired plants in favor of cleaner natural gas (though natural gas itself would have to someday give way to low-carbon alternatives), and vastly increasing renewable sources like wind and solar, which still supply only a small fraction of the world’s energy (less than 5 percent for wind and solar combined in the United States). All this will require a huge shift in investment, both private and public, from fossil fuels.

Governments have an enormous amount of work to do in devising emission reduction strategies by next year. As always, American leadership will be required, meaning leadership from the top. Confronted with a hostile Congress, President Obama has commendably moved on his own to reduce emissions through regulations, first with cars and now with coal-fired power plants. And he has done so without a great deal of public support. However compelling the science, global warming has not generated the kind of public anxiety and bottom-up demand for change that helped win the big fights for cleaner air and water in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This makes his job harder but no less urgent.

April 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today is actually Earth Day, but it sounds like the Easter Monday break yesterday was too good to miss for activities at the Family Earth Day Expo at the Farm Centre.  Hats off to Jordan MacPhee and other for their work organizing a great event, and being concerned about our Earth every day of year.

Some other events going on today and the next couple of days:

Today is the annual Earth Day cleanup afternoon, from about 2-4PM, at MacPhail Woods.  It is such a lovely place, and like anywhere else, could use some help tidying things up in the spring.  Maps and contact information are here: http://macphailwoods.org/

Thursday, April 24th, Charlottetown Liberal MP Sean Casey Town Hall Meeting on the Fair Election Act, 7PM, The Guild, 111 Queen Street. Here is a poster produced by FairVote:

FairVote poster

The play Inherit the Wind is being performed Thursday through Sunday.  It is a joint production of Trinity United Church (where it will be held) and ACT, A Community Theatre.   (The cast includes some wonderful Plan B friends :-)  )  For more information, see:

American public broadcaster PBS is showing a one hour documentary tonight (I am not sure access, or if there will be any webviewing), A Fierce Green Fire

The title comes from a comment made by conservationist Aldo Leopold (who was mentioned in a letter to the editor last week by Island biologist Ian MacQuarrie).  It is one hour long, and includes five parts, and clips of Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai from Kenya (her efforts were documented in the movie Taking Root),  Bill McKibbon of 350.org, and many, many others.  The trailer gives just a taste, but it shows a whirlwind history, with the parts narrated by people concerned about our Earth and with good speaking voices, including Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, and Meryl Streep.

April 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It's Easter Monday, not April Fool's Day, I think, but here is an article from last week's Guardian where the Agriculture Minister has declared any water concerns are over:

P.E.I. agriculture minister says snow has recharged province's water table - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart

Published on April 16, 2014

The harsh winter may have been a nightmare for P.E.I.ʼs roads but it has been a blessing for the provinceʼs water table.
Agriculture Minister George Webster told the P.E.I. legislature on Tuesday the water table has been completely recharged thanks to a record winter of snow.

The last couple of years has seen little snow, at least that stuck around, and hot, dry summers.

“Weʼve had a significant amount of snow and, of course, the snow protects the soil from frost. What has happened over the past two to three weeks is weʼve got a nice slow melt . . . and itʼs actually being absorbed in the soil and percolate down to the water table,ʼʼ Webster told The Guardian following question period.

“This is the kind of spring you want. It may be a little hard on winter roads and so on but itʼs excellent for the land and excellent for the water table. If you drive through the countryside you can see water percolating out of the ground. Weʼve got a great recharge this year.ʼʼ

Webster said heʼs not basing it on any science. There are no studies or numbers to back up what heʼs saying. The minister said itʼs his opinion, based on years farming the land.

“I donʼt have any readings from the Department of Environment. Theyʼre probably monitoring that but if you drive by the countryside I can see springs actually percolating up through the ground in places and thatʼs a real good sign that the water table is really high,ʼʼ the minister said.

Bruce Smith, co-ordinator with the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed Association, said the minister may not be far off in his assessment.

The Winter River-Tracadie Bay watershed is the only source of water for Charlottetown right now.

“We donʼt really have a way of measuring the groundwater but there is no question that the springs are flowing very well,ʼʼ Smith told The Guardian in an email.

The Department of Environment does have what is called reference wells. Smith said he heard levels in those wells are close to what they were last year but that more information will be available sometime in May.

Webster said he doesnʼt think the City of Charlottetown will have to worry about water restrictions this summer.
“Oh, I donʼt see any water restrictions whatsoever (necessary). Weʼve got a great recharge this year and that will be good for Winter River, too, on a go-forward basis because Winter River was certainly pretty low on water last year.

“Thatʼs no oneʼs fault. Charlottetown has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years and the need for water is growing, too.ʼʼ

Work on a second water source for the capital city is currently underway in Miltonvale.

Webster said while the snow helped prop up the water table, the weather can still help out over the summer.
“My wish list would be an inch of rain a week.ʼʼ

Sometimes you just need to stop talking and sit down (watching where you sit, of course).

A few events to make note of:

Today is the Earth Day Expo, from noon to 4PM at the Farm Centre, free admission and a myriad of activities, information booths, and performances, going on.  There is also a film screening at 7:30PM at the Farm Centre, too.  The Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club organizes it, (and is cosponsoring the movie with Cinema Politica, and kudos to them all!
Family Earth Expo facebook event details
Cinema Politica facebook event for Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth

Next Wednesday, April 30th, 7PM, Hampton Hall, 19566 TCH, All interested in this issue or what it means for any other part of the Island, please feel welcome to attend.
Public Information Meeting on Hampton/DeSable Development proposal
Event details from Facebook
"Investors have bought 250+ acres in the Hampton/DeSable area and have presented to the PEI Government a development proposal worth $100 million. No local residents have had access to the plans and many are concerned about what may lie in store for their community. Owing to the lax land use regulations on PEI, the developers may well be able to proceed without any community input whatsoever. This proposed development may be an example of what is to come in other areas of the province; where investors can purchase vast tracts of unincorporated property and carry out large scale developments with government approval, and with no heed to the general public interest. If this is of concern to you, please plan on attending this important public information meeting."

April 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Writer Elizabeth Kolbert gracefully sums up the situation:
Article by Elizabeth Kolbert on the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s report

Rough Forecasts - New Yorker magazine article by Elizabeth Kolbert

Published April 14, 2014

The chemist F. Sherwood Rowland is one of the few people in history about whom it can accurately be said: he helped save the world. In 1972, Rowland, a chemist at the University of California-Irvine, attended a talk on the compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons. At the time, these were being used as refrigerants, cleaning agents, and propellants in aerosol cans, and they had recently been detected in the air over the Atlantic. CFCs are unusually stable, but it occurred to Rowland that, if they were getting blown around the world, at very high altitudes they would eventually break down. He and one of his research assistants began to look into the matter, and they concluded that in the stratosphere CFCs would indeed dissociate. The newly liberated chlorine atoms would then set off a chain reaction, which would destroy the ozone layer that protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation.

Industry groups ridiculed Rowland’s findings—Aerosol Age accused him of being a K.G.B. agent—but other scientists confirmed them, and Rowland pressed for a ban on CFCs. As he said, “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” The discovery, in the mid-nineteen-eighties, of an ozone “hole” over the South Pole persuaded world leaders, including Ronald Reagan, that the problem was, in fact, urgent, and a global treaty phasing out CFCs was approved in 1987.

Rowland’s question came to mind last week. At a meeting in Yokohama, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest update on the looming crisis that is global warming. Only this time it isn’t just looming. The signs are that “both coral reef and Arctic systems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts,” the panel noted. Composed in a language that might be called High Committee, the report is nevertheless hair-raising. The I.P.C.C.’s list of potential warming-induced disasters—from ecological collapse to famine, flooding, and pestilence—reads like a riff on the ten plagues. Matching the terror is the collective shame of it. “Why should the world pay attention to this report?” the chairman of the I.P.C.C., Rajendra Pachauri, asked the day the update was released. Because “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”

Talk about standing around and waiting. As in the case of the destruction of the ozone layer, much of the key research on climate change was completed in the nineteen-seventies. (The first major report on the subject from the National Academy of Sciences was requested by President Jimmy Carter.) And, once again, it’s been clear since that time what needs to be done. Global warming is a product of carbon emissions produced by burning fossil fuels, so, if we want to limit warming, these emissions have to be phased out.

Economists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the most efficient way to reduce emissions is to impose a carbon tax. “If you want less of something, every economist will tell you to do the same thing: make it more expensive,” former Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed, in a speech announcing his support for such a tax. In the United States, a carbon tax could replace other levies—for example, the payroll tax—or, alternatively, the money could be used to reduce the deficit. Within a decade, according to a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, a relatively modest tax of twenty-five dollars per metric ton of carbon would reduce affected emissions by about ten per cent, while increasing federal revenues by a trillion dollars. If other countries failed to follow suit, the U.S. could, in effect, extend its own tax by levying it on goods imported from those countries.

Currently, instead of discouraging fossil-fuel use, the U.S. government underwrites it, with tax incentives for producers worth about four billion dollars a year. Those tax breaks are evidently ludicrous, and they should be repealed. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. is the world’s largest single source of fossil-fuel subsidies; the I.M.F. has estimated that eliminating such subsidies worldwide could cut carbon emissions by thirteen per cent. Meanwhile, the tax credit responsible for much of the recent growth in wind generation in the U.S. has been allowed to lapse. This is more lunacy; that tax credit should be reinstated. On a state level, public-utility laws need to be revamped so that utility companies are rewarded for promoting energy efficiency rather than energy consumption. Building codes, too, need to be rewritten; according to the previous I.P.C.C. update, released in 2007, significant cuts in emissions from buildings could be achieved through measures, like improved insulation, that also save their occupants money.

When the first I.P.C.C. report was issued, back in 1990, George H. W. Bush was in the White House. Each of his successors, including Barack Obama, has vowed to address the problem, only to decide that he had better things to do. Obama had an opportunity early in his first term to make a real difference; legislation to impose a price on carbon emissions, through a cap-and-trade system, was approved by the House in 2009. But the President put little political muscle behind the bill, and it died the following year in the Senate. The White House is now trying to bypass Congress and reduce emissions through regulations. In January, the Environmental Protection Agency published rules governing emissions from new power plants; effectively, they prohibit the construction of coal-burning plants. In February, the Administration announced plans to tighten fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles like garbage trucks and tractor-trailers, and, this spring, it is expected to propose new regulations limiting emissions from existing power plants. These are all laudable efforts, but the last set of regulations, which should be the most consequential, are coming so late in Obama’s second term that they will be left to the next President to implement—or not, as the case may be. And, unfortunately, the Administration is undermining its own best efforts by pressing for more domestic fossil-fuel production.

The fact that so much time has been wasted standing around means that the problem of climate change is now much more difficult to deal with than it was when it was first identified. But this only makes the imperative to act that much greater, because, as one set of grim predictions is being borne out, another, even worse set remains to be written. 

Of course, it helps to get local food, than food trucked in from somewhere else, as much as possible.  Local meat, sweet, white and red potatoes, fresh greens and the last winter root vegetables, flour for baking -- all are grown in the Maritimes and more will be if the demand is there.  (Chocolate is another story, but a big chain drug store has a few items from the fair trade company Cocoa Camino.)

Food ingredients getting scarier - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 10, 2014
What is in our food? Do you read labels? It is scary. Over the last 10 years or so, I have started to pay close attention to the ingredients in food and I am getting very concerned. There are so many things added to food that I had to take on a very strong attitude, if I cannot pronounce the ingredient or I do not know what it is, I donʼt buy it.

The food industry and government agencies that tell us this or that ingredient is safe for human consumption. However, there are many ingredients still in use in Canada that have been banned in other countries, why?

One example of this is azodicarbonamide, also listed as ADA on labels. This is found in many commercial breads, donuts and hot dog buns, etc. When the bread is baked at high temperatures, the AFA causes two other chemicals to be released: “urethane, a recognized carcinogen, and semicarbazide, which causes cancers of the lung and blood vessels in mice but poses a negligible risk to humans” (Center for Science in the Public Interest). However the ingredient list will only include the ADA and not the other two released carcinogenic chemicals.

In this day and age, the Internet provides us with an encyclopedia of information on anything we want. You do have to sift through a lot of it and check out the source of the information. The food producers will give you all kinds of data telling you how safe these chemicals are because they need to preserve their product on the shelf until it sells, it is all about money.

Take charge of your health, read labels and eat locally. You will see definite benefits in the way you feel in the long run.

Anne Gallant, Kensington

Have a great Easter weekend,

April 18, 2914

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From a couple of days ago, a letter that says a lot in a short space.

Science favours corporate interests - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 14, 2014

I am glad that the P.E.I. government did not lift the moratorium on deep-water wells.

The Guardian editorial of April 9, 2014 suggests that — “if the issue is too complex for committee members to handle, let the science talk”.

Governments should not form policy on the basis of scientific studies which, in many cases, have been commissioned by and slanted in favor of the corporate interests who will benefit from the contrived results.

Tony Lloydʼs letter entitled “pattern suggests link to wells” questions the possibility that deep-water wells may be responsible for the anoxia events on P.E.I.ʼs north shore and the lowering of the water table which in turn eliminated the North Shores wild cranberry bogs. He ends with “this, to me, suggests a hypothesis linking marine waters via the sandstone sub-strata, groundwater and deep-water wells.”

“A Thousand things are hidden still, and not a hundred known” —applies to mysteries as great as the water on which all life depends. I hope the last thing government will do is "let the science talk."

Marion E. MacCallum, Charlottetown

Saturday is a Sea Plants workshop at the Farm Centre, 2-5:30PM, another in the wonderful series the Food Exchange is offering to introduce and share food knowledge and food accessibility with everyone.
Registration is limited, so sign up if you are free tomorrow afternoon!  Admission free or by donation.  
Seaplants workshop Facebook page and link to registration

Learn about the most common, edible PEI seaplants and their nutritional value as food and for gardening; enjoy small group discussions and information exchange about benefits of seaplants as soil amendments; participate in a demonstration of how to cook with seaplants; and top it off with a seaplant gardener's feast: veggie stew with seaplants, sea flake biscuits and an Irish moss fruit pudding!

Resource persons: Irene Novaczek, PhD marine botany, Oceanna Seaplants Breadalbane; Joe Dorgan, entrepreneur (seaplants and agriculture) North Atlantic Organics, Tignish

We are requiring pre-registration for this workshop, given the anticipated demand. Registration will be limited to ~40 participants, so sign up fast!

To register, please visit the following link:

Here is the revised Owl Prowl schedule, and I would guess the paths are less snow packed that last week:
Owl Prowls are now scheduled for tonight and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday), and next Saturday, April 26th.

from their news release:


Come celebrate the wonderful world of owls this weekend at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell on Friday, April 18 and Saturday, April 19.   The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation will be opening up the Great Room of the Homestead at 6:30pm each evening and serve light refreshments.  Visitors can warm themselves by the fireplace and enjoy the historic beauty that surrounds them.  There will be no cost but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted.

At 7:30pm on both evenings, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project will hold Owl Prowls starting at the Nature Centre.  There will be a third Owl Prowl held on April 26.  Visitors are asked to only attend one of these events.

These events are excellent opportunities to learn more about a fascinating family of rarely-seen birds.  From the tiny “saw whet” to the large “great horned”, owls have long been birds of mythology and misinformation.  The workshop will separate fact from fiction, combining a slide show with an outdoor walk.

The talks starts with slides and taped calls of common and uncommon owls that can be seen on Prince Edward Island.  There are also mounted displays of most of these birds as well as other educational material on owls and their habits.

Participants can then take a walk around the woods and try calling in owls.  Make sure to bring clothes suitable to weather conditions.  There is no admission for the workshops and everyone is welcome.  This is a very popular event and visitors are advised to come early as seating in the Nature Centre is limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis.  

 The owl prowls kick off an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods, a project of the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, visit the website (www.macphailwoods.org) or find us on Facebook.                     

And Monday, celebrate Earth Day a day early at the Earth Day Expo, 12-4PM, at the Farm Centre!
Earth Day Expo Facebook events page

April 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The melting of a winter with a whole lot of snow has led to a lot of runoff at Plan B and everywhere else.  The West River has dealt with a lot, from the parts near Emyvale and down.  The little wooden footbridge in Bonshaw was overwhelmed and pulled off the banks yesterday afternoon.

The footbridge at Green Road over the Bonshaw (West) River, April 16th: top to bottom: noon, 2PM, 4:30PM.

Megan Harris of the West River Watershed (Central Queen's Wildlife Federation) reiterated that the Province is not doing enough to prepare for these intense weather patterns we are experiencing.

One small but significant example of this is the culvert underneath what is now the old TCH in Churchill.  It is supposed to drain both Crawford's Brook (the box culvert at Plan B) and Crawford's Stream (the arches culvert and Hemlock Grove) into the West River by Strathgartney, but is partially blocked/collapsed/eroded under and around.  The Department of Transportation knew that this culvert should be replaced, but instead trumpeted about fixing a much smaller hanging culvert upstream as part of Plan B.  People communicated the concern -- it could have been incorporated into Plan B and some small good would have resulted for the fish and other aquatic life; TIR ignored the concerns, or shrugged that it was very low on the list of culverts needing replacing.

Here is what the culvert flow looks like where the Crawford's Stream and Brook meet and attempt to go under the old TCH culvert:

April 16th, 2014, at the old TCH in Churchill: The two swirling eddies show the lack of progress of water under the double culvert.

And a map from the past:
An old and busy map of culverts near the West River. The blue-labeled culvert with the yellow circle is the one badly needing replacing.  The little footbridge in Bonshaw that was swept away was far left in map.

Todd Dupuis, of UPEI and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, has been named to the newly created position of Assistant Deputy Minister of the Environment.  Todd was vociferous in his opposition to the lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture, and clearly explained the concerns with the flimsy studies and slack interpretation that the Department of Environment used to write its 2013 Water Extraction Policy.

For the past year and a half, Todd has been serving as co-chair of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, and in that and other work has spent time with various government people.  Let's hope he brings much to them.

Good to know that one of our most eminent biologists makes the effort to write, and with such gravitas:

Soil fumigant kills everything - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 15, 2014

I understand that there are to be tests of the soil fumigant Chloropicrin in western P.E.I. I am sure that the tests will be well managed, as Chloropicrin is a dangerous chemical, used as a weapon in Word War I. My concern is not with tests, but with the possible future use of soil fumigation on more extensive acreages on the Island.

Fumigation kills almost everything in the soil, not just pests. It changes the extremely complex topsoil into an inert substance that I can only call ʻnot-soil.ʼ It reduces species diversity to a tiny fraction of that found in well-managed topsoil. This topsoil, which takes hundreds of years to form, can be extinguished in a day. Is it necessary to sacrifice our soil to produce large, attractive and tasteless strawberries, following the California approach?

I am quite aware that farmers, in order to produce a crop, are in a constant battle with pests. While there have been successes, there have also been well-known failures, such as in the widespread use of DDT (or again in warfare) Agent Orange. I think that the lesson is to be extremely careful with the use of synthetic chemicals, not only for human safety but also for ecosystems in total.

There are many thousands of kinds of living things in soil. I firmly believe that there are good biological reasons for such diversity, and that we should be aware and appreciative of such complexity. As my hero Aldo Leopold once said: “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

Ian MacQuarrie, Hazelgrove

Aldo Leopold was an early 20th century American writer and environmentalist from Iowa.
An biographical sketch of Aldo Leopold.
Wikipedia entry on Aldo Leopold.

CBC and The Guardian had stories on how bumpy Plan B is earlier this week.  Minister Vessey said he "expected it," which is what engineer Steven Yeo said when asked the same thing early in the New Year.  I think they should tell us if they are expecting anything else!  The Minister assures that after the final coat (late June, likely), there will be no other problems.  We can quote him on that.

You can still vote for the Atlantic Region's worst road.  TCH New Haven (Plan B) is number 10.

April 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Too much melting yesterday on Plan B.  Spring is great, but a lot of water rushing.

Cindy Richards' 1 minute documenting of sediment into Crawford's Brook from this week.  The dedicated environmental employee has been at the sites and let us know early yesterday that Transportation was coming out to assess the areas and dig out the ditch by the culvert bore under Plan B just east of the Plan B/Riverdale Road intersection, which seems to be the root of the problem (well, there are other roots of the whole problem!).  I was out in the early afternoon and didn't notice any work being done by that point to address the worst situation in at the Crawfords' former backyard.  Today's rain is not going to help.

Richard Raiswell's 4-minute CBC Radio Mainstreet's political commentary from Monday on Premier Ghiz's bill to change the Order of PEI requirements is here.
(It is the first choice on the page.  There is a 40second intro that you could skip through.)

Raiswell reminds listeners that the Premier blithely said that to give the Order of PEI when he felt like it, he would just introduce legislation to allow him to do that. 

Here is an annotated screen shot of a page of Bill No. 40, tabled for first reading in the PEI Legislature on April 8th, 2014.  (It doesn't say when it will be discussed at second reading.)

from Legislative Assembly page "Progress of Bills" -- click on Bill No. 40

The existing Act is found on this page, by clicking: "Provincial Emblems and Honours Act".  The original Act was instituted in 1996 and the most recent version is dated November 2003.

Note that the new bill doesn't go back and authenticate what the Premier did at the post-Olympic party, so presumably the deserving Miss Moyse has been nominated in the regular fashion.

But Bill No. 40 will insist on not less that three awards, and to be given any time during the year;  this is a huge change to the spirit of the Order of PEI.  To paraphrase Mr. Raiswell, it's all about the vanity of the Premier, cashing on other people's achievements. 

Will any of his Caucus say that?  Are they hearing from their constituents, now the bill has been introduced?  Will the Opposition speak against it?  If so, they would likely be brushed as not giving proper honour to deserving people.  And eventually the Opposition might make up government and want the changes so they could have the photo-op-abilities?? 

It might be worth contacting your MLA is you have concerns on this.  A contact list is here.

April 15, 2014

Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report

Video at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151992536276851&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Larry Cosgrave's Environmental Report - Facebook

Plenty of sediment-rich water flowing into West River and tributaries today from plan B and other sources: roads, ditches, farmlands - good luck aquatic creatures! And was opening day of Fishing season - does anyone know how fish find food when it is muddy water? — with Daneb Jeffrey at Churchill PEI.

Video at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153993405210705&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Monitoring the monitor! erosion/siltation at old Fairyland site


Gulley formation but springs flowing out 1/2 way down them


We sit on guardrail for thee!


Chris Ortenburger's Update

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions,
and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
--Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry (b. 1934) is an American writer and farmer, focusing on ideas, nature, pretty much everything.  He lives in Kentucky.  The PEI public library has two of his novels and one book of essays, and he contributes to the Tememos Academy Journal, a publication from Great Britain sponsored in part by Prince Charles.
Link to information about Tememos Journal

Food and farming today:

The Food Security Network AGM today, 4PM-5:30PM, Farm Centre

And an article in The Guardian, nicely written, and with a lovely photo of keynote speaker Sally Bernard and her husband Mark:

Role of family farms topic of meeting in Charlottetown - The Guardian article

Published on April 14, 2014

The central role that family farms play in feeding the world will be the subject of a meeting hosted
by the P.E.I. Food Security Network on Tuesday, April 15, at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.

The event will feature a keynote presentation by Island farmer Sally Bernard, a presentation about community gardens and the screening of a short documentary.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. It has been estimated there are 500 million family farms worldwide, and that they produce almost 60 per cent of the worldʼs food.

Bernard farms with her partner, Mark, in Freetown. Their farm, Barnyard Organics, is a certified organic farm begun in 2003, where a vision for a self-sustaining and environmentally sustainable farm continues to be the goal.

The meeting will also feature a presentation by Adam MacLean, about the Farm Centre's legacy community garden project.
And at the close of the meeting, there will be a screening of Mille Clarkesʼ documentary Island Green, a film that explores organic food production and its hope for the future in Prince Edward Island.

Tuesdayʼs meeting will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Farm Centre, which is located at 420 University Ave.

And at 7PM at the Farm Centre, an info session about CSAs by RJR Farms.

Our effects on the land:

Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Sobeys Community Room in Stratford, tonight

And at Plan B yesterday,
an inch of rain really exposed the ugly things underneath the snow, most notably the mesa "storage area" of unwanted shale and rocks  in a backyard of the old Crawford property by Peter's Road:

Sediment and water gushes down into Crawford's Stream, downstream of the box culverts; in the fog, Monday afternoon, April 14th, 2014.

A Department of Environment person was out yesterday, and apparently Transportation will be out to look at the situation today and decide what they can do.

The Legislature sits at 2PM to 5PM, and 5-7PM.  After the usual welcomes and questions, they are likely to be focusing on the submitted budget ("the estimates") by departments, currently in the Department of Health and Wellness.
Live coverage here (follow links)
They will sit tomorrow afternoon then be off until next Tuesday for the Easter holidays.

April 14, 2014

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook

Plan B below boxes at Crawfords Brook

Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8HoC2dHY3o&feature=youtu.be

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This interesting article, from The Nature Conservancy science blog, describes the reason Monarchs are in a terrible downward spiral, why this likely is, why this is important, and what you can do about it.

from page 14 of the Prince Edward Island -- 2014 Budget Address

<<As a result of the report from The Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, we will be establishing the Province’s first wilderness park, which will provide educational and recreational opportunities for Islanders. To further stimulate interest, we will be conducting a park naming contest, with participation from school-age children.>>

And likely have special guests dedicate it....perhaps in May.

gild   (gĭld)

tr.v. gild·ed or gilt (gĭlt), gild·ing, gilds

1. To cover with or as if with a thin layer of gold.

2. To give an often deceptively attractive or improved appearance to.

There are a few events coming up this week:
Tonight is a Citizens' Alliance planning meeting, 6PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre, and you are most welcome to attend, especially if you would like to be involved in the organization.
It will be over supper time, so please bring an easy snack to share.
Some of the topics we'll be discussing are monitoring Plan B during the spring melt and rains, what's going on with the high capacity well moratorium, and other issues related to environment and democracy.

Tuesday, April 15th,  is the Food Security AGM at 4PM at the Farm Centre,
7PM both a CSA information session by RJR Farm at the Farm Centre
and a Pesticide Free PEI meeting at 7PM in Stratford

Wednesday, April 16th, is Green Drinks after 7PM at the Olde Triangle Pub

(I may have some times from but will correct tomorrow if needed.)

April 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Not news we want to hear, really, but what we suspected:

Oil and gas sector now Canada's biggest generator of greenhouse gases -The Guardian article

Published on April 12, 2014 TORONTO - An environmental analyst says a new report revealing that oil and gas production has become the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions adds further weight to calls for Ottawa to regulate the sector.

An Environment Canada summary report released quietly Friday shows that energy production has now surpassed the transportation sector as the largest generator of the climate-change causing gases.

Analyst P.J. Partington with eco think tank the Pembina Institute says the change further underlines the need for the Harper government to bring in long-delayed regulations for the oil patch.

The report covers the period from 1990 to 2012, and states that crude oil production and the oilsands were behind the energy sector's 70 per cent emissions jump in that time span.

Oil and gas is now responsible for one-quarter of Canada's greenhouse emissions, narrowly edging out transportation, while reductions in electricity and manufacturing cut overall emissions by under one per cent between 2011 and 2012.

The report shows that Canada's emissions have dropped five per sent since 2005, meaning the country still remains far off from meeting its Copenhagen accord commitment of a 17 per cent reduction by 2020.

From Bradley Walters in New Brunswick (and I think I posted the YouTube from Mark Jacobson a while back, but worth the time on a Sunday to see it again):

Solutions Project: Achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050

This ambitious proposal developed by Standford University Engineering Professor, Dr. Mark Jacobson, is getting lots of attention. If this is doable in the US, it is certainly doable in Canada given our greater renewable resource potential and smaller population size.

Here is a link to Jacobson's Solutions Project.  

Here is YouTube (12 min.) of Professor Jacobson presenting on the study:

And instead of bemoaning that PEI don't have fossil fuels to supposedly provide revenue (not mentioning anyone in particular), let's look at working towards the Don't Frack PEI motto of -- "Wind, Water, Sun -- Energy for the Long Run". 


April 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

As it is Saturday, many of us will be out getting food.
How they measure local food access in the States:
Ecowatch sent around a story this week on ranking each of the United States on their local foods accessibility index. Very interesting!

There is a "Lentil Soup and 'How to' Gardening Workshop" from 1:30PM until 6PM at the Upper Room Soup Kitchen, 101 Prince Street, Charlottetown

And Tuesday you could just hang out at the Farm Centre:
The Food Security Network is having its AGM at 4PM, with a short meeting, keynote talk by organic farmer Sally Bernard, and screening of the 30 minute documentary Island Green.

RJR CSA Information Session, Tuesday, April 15th, 7PM, Farm Centre

"RJR 100 Acre Farm will be holding a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) information meeting April 15th, 7pm at the Farm Centre, University Avenue, Charlottetown.

You are invited by RJR 100 Acre Farm, to discover how you can receive flavourful, fresh, locally grown food.

Learn how you can become a member or a sharer of a CSA and in the process contribute to local food security.

A CSA connects you to the land, your food and to the farm family that produces it. So, why not come out to an information session at the  Farm Centre April 15th, 7pm and learn how you can become a CSA sharer and support a local farm family in the process."

RJR 100 Acre Farm is run by Rita Jackson and James Rodd.  For more info call 892-8575 or write: csa@rjrfarm.ca

It is the time when farmers with CSAs are "booking" their shares, and if you are thinking of it, to help find one near you, contact the Cooper Institute - 894-4573, or the PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-op   http://organicpei.com/contact/ or any farmer with a CSA program.

Farmers' Markets in Charlottetown and Summerside are open today.

Guests for Victoria Day -- itinerary lists Charlottetown, Cornwall, and...Bonshaw....

Cornwall, as in "Duchess of", I can guess.  But Bonshaw?   I hope the Royal Limo has good suspension, someone quipped.  We'll see.

Prince Charles and Camilla to spend Victoria Day in P.E.I. - The Guardian article by Ryan Ross

Published on April 11, 2014

Victoria Day will have an added royal touch this year when Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visit the Island as part of their trip to Canada.

The official dates for the tour were announced Friday and the royal couple will be in P.E.I. (Monday) May 19 and (Tuesday) May 20th, which will include Victoria Day.

In a news release, Premier Robert Ghiz said the province was delighted to be included in the royal coupleʼs tour this year as P.E.I. celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.

“The royal tour is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the history, natural beauty, vibrant culture and people of our province,” he said.

During their stop in P.E.I. the royals will visit Charlottetown, Bonshaw and Cornwall.

Islanders will have several opportunities to see Charles and Camilla, including Charlottetownʼs Victoria Day celebrations and fireworks.

Few other details about their trip to P.E.I. were released Friday, but their visit to the Island will fall between stops in Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

The couple will spend May 18 and 19 in Nova Scotia and May 20 and 21 in Winnipeg.

While in Nova Scotia the couple will have an official welcome to Canada at the Grand Parade in Halifax on May 19.
In Manitoba they will visit Assiniboine Park and the provincial legislature.

Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover announced the tour dates and in a news release she invited Canadians to join in the royal tour celebrations.

“The 2014 Royal Tour of their royal highnesses will not only highlight Canadaʼs achievements and our shared heritage, but will also look to the future of Canada and how we will continue together to build a country that is the envy of the world.”
Charles last visited P.E.I. in 1983 and it will be Camillaʼs first time in the province.

In 2011, the royal family was front and centre when William and Kate spent two days in P.E.I. as part of their first official visit to Canada after their marriage.

William and Kate crammed a lot of activity into their short visit, including a water bird training exercise in a Sea King helicopter and a dragon boat race on Dalvay Lake, along with a few public appearances that drew thousands of people.

Charles and Camilla were in Canada in May 2012 when they visited New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

April 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It was rather funny that as I was heading out to chat with the man who assisted Horace Carver with the Commission on the Lands Protection Act, Minister Wes Sheridan was in the Legislature introducing for first reading Bill C-43, An Act to Amend the Prince Edward Island Lands Protection Act.  The papers were handed to Clerk of the Legislature Charles MacKay, who read the title, and Minister Sheridan (after throwing a furious silencing look at a Minister behind him who was joking to his neighbour) talked about the work of "the very esteemed Horace Carver," and that the Bill would "... bring forward a number of these changes that will be enacted this Spring."
Legislative Assembly Video Archives page
About 80 minutes into the first broadcast for April 10th.
That was all for the day.

I had put describing the Commissioner's report in a pedantic fashion on hold when I got totally befuddled by the recommendations regarding the "Land Identification Agreement (LIA)."  While I kind of understand it now (a way to tag land to keep it from further subdivision/development, but it's a land use issue, truly), I'll switch gears and talk about what recommendations are in this Bill C-43 (it sounds like recommendations 1,2,3,6,12,24 and 26 are covered in this Bill, if you want to get out your scorecard); hopefully before it goes to "second reading." 

As of this morning, the Bill hasn't been put up on the Legislative Assembly's treasure trove of a website, but George Webster's $38 in-room movie bill has already been put with all Tabled Documents here.

The Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM, (follow choices for "Watch Live")
Legislative Assembly live video page


Tonight, Dr. Magnificent's Traveling Medicine Show, Milton Community Hall, 7:30PM, $15 in advance, $17 at door (For advance tickets call 902 566-3154 or visit www.miltoncommunityhall.ca)

Saturday, April 12, 2PM: Seniors Active Living Centre, Cari complex, UPEI ( for advance tickets call 902 628-8388)

Owl Prowls at MacPhail Woods
from Gary Schneider: "Come celebrate the wonderful world of owls with the first of three Owl Prowls at the Macphail Homestead in Orwell on Saturday, April 12.  The Sir Andrew Macphail Foundation will be opening up the Great Room of the Homestead at 6:30pm and serve light refreshments.  There will be no cost but donations to the Foundation will be gratefully accepted. Then at 7:30pm, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project is holding its first Owl Prowl of the season at the Nature Centre.  There will be a second owl prowl held on April 18 and a third on April 19, but visitors are asked to only attend one of these events.  There is no admission for the workshop and everyone is welcome.  This is a very popular event and visitors are advised to come early as seating in the Nature Centre is limited.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please contact Gary Schneider at 651-2575, visit the website (www.macphailwoods.org) or find us on Facebook.        "          

Tuesday, April 15th, Food Security AGM,withIslandGreenscreening, 4PM, Farm Centre

Tuesday, April 12th, Pesticide Free PEI meeting,7PM(I think), Sobey's in Stratford

April 10, 2014

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook

Dec 4 2013 will help us understand what is happening April 9 2014

Video at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10154003784555557&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Dana Jeffery's Environmental Report - Facebook

Video at:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151981173071851&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Water and Plan B -- too much coursing over too much exposed land.

While yesterday morning things weren't so bad, but by the end of the day, lots of sediment flowing specifically from Plan B into the West River by the footbridge in Bonshaw, the old highway by Strathgartney Park, and by the box culverts at Crawford's Brook; the last being from what was once the woodsy backyard of the old Crawford property, now a mesa of dumped shale.

Footbridge in Bonshaw, Wednesday evening (April 9, 2014), photo by environmental monitor Cindy Richards

A huge thank-you to the environmental monitors who have been out despite other employment and family responsibilities.
Water and groundwater:

When the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry tabled a report to the House last Friday, many of us were relieved that they had several recommendations, including:

2. Your committee strongly recommends that Government develop a Water Act.
3. At the present time, your committee does not recommend any changes to the 2002 moratorium on new high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation.
Your committee wishes to continue its investigations into this matter, including hearing from the witnesses that were prevented from appearing due to bad weather, and additional individuals and organizations that have expressed interest. This has proven to be a complex issue and your committee does not wish to make recommendations prematurely. Witnesses to date have made compelling arguments both for and against the lifting of the moratorium, and your committee continues to consider these very carefully. The interest of so many individuals and groups and the capacity attendance at committee meetings to date speak to how important this issue, and water in general, is to Islanders. Your committee’s work is not done on this issue.  The report can be found on this page.

Yesterday's Guardian, sometime giving you editorial waffles with your breakfast, has the temerity to chastise the Standing Committee for not being decisive.
(italics and bolding are mine)

Committee opts to delay decision on deep-water wells - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published on April 09, 2014

Recommendation to keep moratorium in place shirks responsibility on issue

The recommendation from a legislature standing committee that the moratorium on deep-water wells should remain in place while further investigation and public hearings continue, leaves more questions than answers. The key issue remains unresolved and the committee seems befuddled on what to do next.
The request from the P.E.I. Potato Board to lift the 10-year moratorium on deep-water wells has resulted in months of intense debate, letter writing and opinion submissions. The committee held lengthy hearings where individuals and groups, both for and against, were passionate in presenting viewpoints and arguments.

But there is no information from the committee about additional hearings. There is no timeline for an answer. Such an important question requires action or at least a plan. Instead, the committee presented a stopgap recommendation. It seems the committee is anxious to put the controversial question aside and is reluctant to deal with the issue.

If the committee cannot produce an answer, then perhaps itʼs time to assemble an independent commission to review submissions, analyze the best data available and deliver a scientifically supported recommendation.

Members of the public had packed the committee hearings in almost unprecedented numbers. They want an answer as well. Instead the committee is suggesting that government develop a Water Act. Such legislation is long overdue, but also raises the questions: Will this further delay an answer on wells or is this a completely separate issue? A Water Act should give direction on how we use and protect our water supply but it could also derail the whole deep-water well issue for a year or even longer.

At some point, we have to make a decision and it better be the right one. If the issue is too complex for committee members to handle, let the science talk. Is there sufficient groundwater to supply additional deep-water wells and is there sufficient recharge to replenish the water used? Environment data indicates the answers to both are yes. Many have called for a review of that data. An independent commission can provide that.
The kind reader will overlook that a professional publication did not remember that "data" is plural, but the logic behind their argument is weak and looks a bit biased.  Many presenters clearly pointed out that the Department of Environment's declaration that there is sufficient recharge is based on flawed interpretation of incomplete research.   Why are they in such a rush?  The Committee never said it couldn't reach a decision; it said its work is not done.   The demand that the moratorium be lifted exactly duplicates language from someone on the Potato Board in one of the first articles about this issue.

The editorial does recommend an independent commission, which could look at the wells issue and concept of a sustainable water act.

Here is another commentary on the subject:

Green Party calls for Public Commission of Inquiry on Water Resources - Facebook

(from a Facebook posting April 9, 2014)

With the release of the standing committee’s report on high-capacity wells on Friday, there was a deep sense of relief felt by the huge number of Islanders who had expressed concerns about the potential lifting of the moratorium.

“A great number of people and organisations had spent hundreds of hours compiling submissions to the standing committee telling them that we have insufficient information to make a decision with potentially profound and irreversible outcomes,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. “I am relieved and pleased that the committee has recommended to maintain the moratorium at this time. The wording of the report, however suggests that when the submissions which were postponed by the recent storms are heard, a different recommendation could be made.”

A less ambiguous recommendation from the committee was that the government develop a Water Act for Prince Edward Island. The Green Party and some other groups specifically called for this in their presentations to the committee, and are delighted that this has been recommended so forcefully in the report.

“An obvious first step towards this end would be a Public Commission of Inquiry, to assess research already done, consult with Islanders in their communities from tip to tip, call expert witnesses and perhaps advocate for more research to be done,” continued Bevan-Baker. “We have had Royal Commissions on land ownership and use but never a comparable one on water resources. Its findings would be used to inform the Water Act, which would include a water policy for the Island. Such a process would provide invaluable information not only for a fully informed decision on such issues as high-capacity wells, but to guide us in how to protect the quality and quantity of this precious and irreplaceable resource into the future.”

Bevan-Baker suggests that Nova Scotia’s “Water for Life” act could be a useful template from which PEI could start the work to develop our own Water Act, which would be unique and tailored to our particular geological and hydrological situation.

The high capacity well issue was featured in the most recent (March 31, 2014) magazine called Water Canada, which is described as
"The Complete Water Magazine...Water Canada is an influencer, a networker, and a newsmaker. Our editors and researchers know the industry. More importantly, we know the people implementing plans and projects on the frontlines.  Thousands of readers turn to Water Canada for exclusive, insightful content that speaks to Canada’s water expertise, connects the country’s decision-makers, and promotes better water management and stewardship of our most important natural resource."


A pretty good take on the issue, which perhaps The Guardian editors should read, especially the last paragraph:

Hot Potato - Water Canada magazine article by Rachel Phan

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

April 9, 2014

Cindy Richards' Environmental Report - Facebook

Problems will only exist until the grass grows they say.. doesnt look like the hydroseed worked well


The deep snow in ditches helps to cover up the problems, water rushes under the snow to resurface further down in Strathgartney park waterway


A familiar sight red running into the Bonshaw River at footbridge from an overwhelmed silt pond above along plan b, it keeps happening so I guess they can say they expected this too


Video: April 9 2014, flowing from plan b into the bonshaw river at foot bridge at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10154002455290557&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday afternoon mitigation breaches were already taking place along parts of Plan B -- no surprise, just sooner than other sources of sediment in the river (fields, clay roads).

Arrows show sediment-rich water running down from the slopes and ditches of Plan B (to the right of this photo) beyond the sediment pond (worked on Monday) flowing into Crawford's Stream. The picture was taken from the edge of Plan B, over the guard rail, down over 40 feet into Hemlock Grove. Tuesday, April 8, 2014, about 4:30PM.

We'll have more photos later today, likely.

It's been a confusing couple of weeks with the snow days and all, but CBC Compass showed footage of the parked excavator that was working Monday evening and said that an official with Transportation said they were getting work done along Plan B today Tuesday.  They showed a close-up of a trickle of beautiful running clear water.  About 6:45 into the broadcast.
Compass link from Tuesday night

A note before the exhibit is over!  The Seniors' College Art Exhibit is at the Arts Guild daily from noon until 6PM Saturday.  A fantastic collection from fantastic people, including Marion Copleston of Bonshaw.

Regarding the Legislature:

Monday, Mainstreet political columnist Richard Raiswell had a commentary on the Auditor General's critique of government bookkeeping, and what's not being done:

NDP Leader Mike Redmond listed misses and problems with the budget, thoroughly and accurately:

Budget Blog-Highlights or Lowlights - NDP Leader Mike Redmond

There are moments in our life when one wishes that they had just stayed in bed. Well today was certainly one of those days. The NDP PEI team attended the budget lockup this afternoon at the Confederation Centre, and we left disappointed and frustrated with the government’s lack of understanding and commitment to all Islanders. Has this government become so arrogant they simply do not understand that our communities are dying and people are going hungry?

The Ghiz Government took great pride in announcing a new "Eye See, Eye Learn" program which will provide free eye exams and glasses for eligible kindergarten children. They took great pleasure in announcing the completion of the Confederation Trail on PEI, their wonderful effort to create jobs, while celebrating our employment average of 74,100 which is an all-time high. They never did tell us what wages are paid for the call centre jobs they created. They announced funding for insulin pumps to children, but if you are an adult, you’re out of luck.

Social assistance food rates were increased by 5% in January 2014 for single clients, but not for families depending on social service payments. The budget indicates that there is a five-year plan to increase food rates for all social services clients which will be implemented beginning in the next year.

This government has also completely ignored the environment again; no water policy, no plans for public transportation, no increase in funding for municipalities.

Our eighth consecutive deficit budget, by a government that has given themselves a 4% raise in one year (all Conservative and Liberal members), and kept their gold plated pensions, completely unfunded. This government has been an abject failure on the social action plan and the Minister responsible should be embarrassed to stand behind this sad document. No affordable/social housing plan, no plan to address food insecurity, no more funding for addictions or mental health. Those in our society who are the most vulnerable are completely forgotten by the Ghiz Government.

A balanced budget is promised in 2015/16, co-incidentally an election year. To our amazement the Ghiz Government is now taking credit for philanthropic donations and federal funding, WOW! Did they happen to mention that we have the highest unemployment rate in Canada and that for every 1 job, 20 Islanders are applying to fill it?

The Ghiz Government is balancing the budget on the backs of retired Islanders. Over 500 million dollars in cuts to public service retirees pensions; 150 million to retired teachers alone. Not done yet, The Ghiz Government has also reversed the last payer plan for medical insurance plans, meaning that the insurance companies are now the first payer. Does that mean that retired public servants will now pay double their monthly insurance fees, anywhere from $300.00 to $600.00 per month? Along with cuts to education, teaching positions, nurses and continued health care cuts our government is failing each and every Islander.

But wait, and here is my favourite. The Ghiz Government has announced they will further stimulate interest in the new wilderness park by conducting a park naming contest. How about "The Plan B Park" ? "B" as in Buffalo; as the people of this province have been buffaloed by the Ghiz Government.

I had not heard about the contest to name the park of land leftover from and very near to Plan B, the one referred to as the...umm... "wilderness" park. 

In the Legislature yesterday, before the budget was introduced and during Question Period, PC MLA from Souris-Elmira Colin LaVie was asking about high energy costs.

The Premier responded with rhetoric seemingly annoyed about our Island's lack of resources (regarding, of course, nothing but fossil fuels), and pretty much taunting LaVie with questions that if he thinks there are resources in his district, he could have fracking take place and have energy security:  "Come see me about any proposal about fracking you may have." (I am paraphrasing and the Assembly link is down this morning for maintenance so I can't verify exactly what he said.)

I am not sure what kind of message he was sending.  It sounded loud and mean and indicated if there were tax revenues to be make on fracking, he would go for it.

I think the Leaders of the Island Political Parties need to state (or restate) their policy regarding fracking in PEI -- a simple "for it" or "never", please.

April 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

One of the sediment ponds along Plan B had a wall blowout Monday due to the melting snow and flow of the cut-into springs.  It was along the northern part, east of the arches at Crawford's Stream (Hemlock Grove), across from Eric's Crossroad. TIR apparently noticed it and got a crew in with a "long-reach" excavator and a dump truck of gravel.  Close to 6PM last night, the driver rebuilt the wall so clearer water crosses over and the more sediment-dense water stays in the pond. That is the idea.

An older map (from November 2013), labeling previous sediment flow (the black arrows).  Yesterday's incident is at the area with the yellow circle.  The small yellow squiggle is Eric's Crossroad, connecting to the old TCH.

Fixing a sediment pond, corner of Plan B and Eric's Crossroad, April 7th, 2014.

Excavator dumping rocks into breach in retaining wall, April 7th, 2014.

We'll hope forecast holds for not too much rain in the next day, both for Plan B and for people's basements.

Today the Provincial Budget is introduced, starting at 2PM.  Shoes, bombast, and a document that bears close scrutiny.
The website is http://www.assembly.pe.ca/ if you wish to watch it live (the afternoon session goes from 2-5PM, and returns from 7-9PM today).

Tonight is the Leadnow Connect meeting at 7PM at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown. 

Tomorrow, if you live in the Cornwall area, or just like to keep up with watershed news and see a great presentation:
Cornwall Watershed AGM, Wednesday, April 9th, 6-8PM, Cornwall Town Hall (next to the APM Centre). 
Cornwall and Area Watershed Group (CAWG) website
"Join us on Wednesday, April 9th, from 6-8PM, at the Cornwall Town Hall Boardroom.  Snacks and tea/coffee to be served and presentations by Rosie MacFarlane, a PEI Biologist, by Cornwall Water and Utilities and CAWG members."  All are welcome!
It's a dynamic watershed group (Hyde Creek is the waterway) led by Executive Director/Watershed Coordinator Karalee McAskill.  CAWG is part of the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water.

Randall Affleck of Lower Bedeque, another extremely hard working member of the National Farmers' Union, comments on the Conservative government's Agriculture Growth Act, Bill C-18, bold is mine:

Changes to agricultural legislation patently absurd - The Guardian Commentary by Randall Affleck

Published on April 07, 2014

The Agricultural Growth Act, Bill C-18, is currently before Parliament. It is an omnibus bill amending nine separate pieces of agricultural legislation. The changes vastly increase corporate control of seed and will result in higher seed costs for farmers in the future.

The Plant Breedersʼ Rights Act (PBRA), adopted in 1990, confers to a breeder of a new plant variety, a form of intellectual property rights similar to a patent. The Plant Breedersʼ Rights Office receives between 300 to 400 applications per year with about 100 coming from Canada. This office has no role in enforcement of a breedersʼ right once granted. It is up to the rights holder to pursue infringements through the court system.

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is an international Convention of which Canada is a member state and signatory. The purpose of UPOV Convention is to standardize criteria, definitions, legislation and regulations as they apply to plant breedersʼ rights among member states. Canadaʼs current PBRA is based on the 1978 UPOV version which implicitly recognizes that a farmer may use part of their harvest for seed. The 1991 UPOV version gives extensive and exclusive rights to plant breeders so that their authorization is required for farmers to use harvested material as seed. In order to ratify the UPOVʼ91 Convention, Canada has to amend the 1990 PBRA. This is exactly what Bill C-18 does.

At present, a PBR holder only has the exclusive right to produce and sell seed. The proposed amendments grant PBR holders the exclusive right to produce and reproduce, condition, sell, export or import, and to stock propagating material for 20 years (to “condition” means to clean and/or treat seed and to “stock” means to bag or store seed). This is a significant expansion of intellectual property protection and expands the legal avenues for seed companies to pursue royalties. Further, the ability to collect end-point royalties on the whole crop following harvest if not previously collected on the seed would be permitted with these changes. These powers would only apply to varieties introduced after the new Act comes into force. Existing varieties would continue to be subject to the UPOVʼ78 rules and conditions.

To save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds is a traditional practice and an inalienable right of farmers. Government is proposing a “farmersʼ privilege” section in this legislation. They claim that this provides an exception to PBR-holdersʼ exclusive rights to reproduce and condition seed. This government-given privilege allows farmers to save and condition seed, but notably absent is the ability to stock the seed. Whatʼs more, the power to limit the farmersʼ privilege provisions in the future through regulations is also included in Bill C-18. What is being proposed is truly a hollow privilege for farmers. The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.

Canadaʼs variety registration process is an important part of this story. Older varieties can be used by farmers without payment of royalties and effectively ensure market discipline on PBR varieties as a lower priced option for farmers. In May 2013, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) proposed a regulatory change that would allow variety registrants, who are often also PBR holders, to withdraw varieties on demand, without criteria or reasons and no mechanism for another entity to take over responsibility for an abandoned variety so that farmers can continue using it.

The Canada – EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which the Government of Canada recently agreed to in principle, would expand the enforcement powers of PBR holders. While the text has yet to be released to the public, the National Farmers Union has studied the leaked draft text of this agreement. CETA would permit the precautionary seizure of a farmerʼs assets upon alleged intellectual property rights infringement. Further, the same asset seizure powers could also apply to a third party, such as a seed cleaner, if alleged to be assisting patent infringement. If C-18 passes, these enforcement tools would become available to seed companies seeking to prosecute farmers for violating PBRA rules and regulations.

The primary purpose of the C-18 measures is to increase revenues for seed companies. Farmers will eventually be bound to yet another agri-business profit centre, this time via the seed. Litigation and the gradual de-registration of publicly available varieties will help persuade farmers to replace farm-saved seed with seed purchased from the company every year.

Farmers are being promised more variety research and development, and more innovative new varieties through this privatized system. However, farmers will simply end up paying more royalties with no say in how these funds would be used. Probably a reduced level of research on regionally appropriate varieties and less assurance that a registered variety can be expected to perform as claimed. Farmers can probably look forward to more correspondence from Sue, Grabbitt, and Runne LLP Barristers & Solicitors, along with additional forms to fill out on varieties planted, yield history and annual sales.
For more information about UPOV ʼ91 and Bill C-18 please visit http://www.nfu.ca/issues/save-our-seed

Randall Affleck of Lower Bedeque, is a national board member, National Farmers Union.

And he manages to slip in a joke while explaining a dismaying topic. The website offers suggestions for what you can do; simply e-mailing or writing your MP to express your opinion, or downloading a petition, etc.

Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan) <lawrence.macaulay@parl.gc.ca>
Sean Casey (Charlottetown)  <sean.casey@parl.gc.ca>
Wayne Easter (Malpeque) <wayne.easter@parl.gc.ca>
Gail Shea (Egmont) <gail.shea@parl.gc.ca>

What MPs are up to is documented here at the  OpenParliament website

April 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Maritime Connections, a Sunday afternoon CBC Radio show focusing on local issues, featured callers describing the "Worst Roads in the Maritimes" and apparently people called in about Plan B,
and yesterday's program is the first choice (April 6th)

and it is still on the CAA Worst Roads list, voting is here:

And while it is still Bumpy (a truck driver said, "Don't open your coffee until you get to DeSable!"), it's the melting snow on either side, in addition to any forecast of rain (as in tomorrow), that will sorely test the thin mulch over the bare slopes on the road cuts. 

Spring Melt and Rains and Plan B slopes
Cindy Richards, environmental monitor, and I met with two fellows from the Environment Department Friday, to go over Transportation's Plan for dealing with snow melt and rain.  It took quite a lot of nudging and repeated requests to get that Plan from TIR.  In the end, it's not much of a Plan, just that they will be on standby to assess run-off conditions and bring in the contractor (Island Coastal) for work if they deem necessary. Though the dedicated employee from the Environment Department (a requirement of Minister Sherry's conditional approval of Plan B) will check on things, there is a tacit agreement that volunteer monitoring is going to be relied on. 
Everything is getting a coat of hydroseeding as soon as things melt and dry out.  Perhaps by late June or July the slopes will be able to handle regular rains.

Tomorrow afternoon there is moderate rain forecast, so I am sure some volunteer environmental monitors will be out, and everyone is welcome to note conditions and let me know or post on the dear old Plan B facebook page.
Plan B facebook page link

A sediment pond last week, which drains into old Crosby Road, seen off Plan B in Bonshaw. A couple of event reminders for early this week:

Today is the last day I think to register for the Sunday afternoon (April 13th) workshop (2-4PM, Our Lady of Assumption Church in Stratford) for an afternoon workshop on "Two World Views: CETA and Pope Francis"
LAMP invites you to this workshop which will identify the motivation behind the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and contrast it to the Pope Francis' view of the world. Workshop participants will single out the consequences of both opposing views and identify appropriate action. Workshop leaders are Kevin Arsenault and Marie Burge
Call 894-5845 to register or email burgeirene@Hotmail.com


Tomorrow, Leadnow meeting, Tuesday, April 8th, 7PM, Haviland Club:

A Leadnow local information meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 8th, at the Haviland Club,7 pm. Leadnow is one Canada's largest national social activist organization that brings together generations of Canadians for progress through democracy. Leadnow was founded in 2010 by a group of young people who decided to focus their long-term efforts on strengthening Canada's democracy, doing their part to address climate change, and building a fair economy that reverses the trend of growing inequality. For more information go to www.leadnow.ca or call 626-4364.

April 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Spring Melt has started, fortunately fairly gently along Plan B, and I'll update tomorrow what plans the Department of Transportation has for dealing with run-off.

But it's Sunday and here is a lengthy description of a completely different issue, one involving a potential land development project with virtually no information willingly given to local residents, and people in government either simpering or clamming up.

It's a two-fold issue. One part was about land in Hampton appended (or added to another lot) and then peppered with mini-homes. 

Compass did a story on March 20, regarding the ruling and the concerns about property sales in nearby DeSable. The Compass article is here about 7 minutes into the broadcast. DeSable land sales

DeSable land sales - CBC Compass

The Guardian (copied below) focused on the IRAC ruling.

IRAC quashes Hampton development plans - The Guardian article by Jim Day

Published on March 22, 2014 

A successful appeal to IRAC by a cottage owner has quashed plans for commercial development in Hampton.

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission has allowed Gary McLure's appeal that quashes plans to renovate and relocate existing rental cottages and locate nine additional cottages in Hampton.

McLure argued there was no authority under the Planning Act or the regulations to append a lot.

He submitted that section 30 of the regulations would not apply to allow the subdivision to be rescinded as the developer is not the original owner.

McLure also submitted that there is nothing in the minister of Finance, Energy and Municipal Affairs' file to establish that an entranceway permit was issued by the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

The appellant argued as well that the development permit would create a detrimental impact with respect to safety at the highway access point and with respect to surrounding land uses.

McLure also submitted that parking and drainage matters were not considered, and the minister's decisions reflect approval of a premature development with a lack of sound land use planning.

David Wu of Hampton Beach Resort Developments had told The Guardian in October big plans were in the works. He was eyeing development of almost 80 cottage units as well as looking at building a driving range and a nine-hole golf course.

Wu could not be reached Friday but McLure's successful appeal would appear to put an end to those development plans.

Mr. Gary McLure spelled things out very well in a commentary piece a few days later about his appeal to IRAC:
Gary McLure's commentary in The Guardian on April 2, 2014

IRAC decision in Hampton may have consequences for land use in P.E.I. - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on April 02, 2014

I want to explain why I appealed, and discuss the possible ramifications of my successful challenge of the decision made by the minister of finance, energy and municipal affairs to issue a development permit for the expansion of Blue Spruce Cottage rental business in Hampton on July 23, 2013, because of the perceived change of use of a lot from cottage use only to a commercial use. The permit was issued on the premise that the change of use of the lot was permissible under the provisions of the Planning Act and the subdivision and development regulations. This was not the case as ruled by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission in an order issued on March 17, 2014.

The approval was given by the minister, to append the existing summer cottage-use-only lot, to the larger commercial Blue Spruce property, thus changing the lotʼs use to commercial. This change allowed the developer to place eight rental mini homes on the area of the said lot.

The commission found that the designation of cottage use became concrete when the lot was first sold for the purpose intended and thus could not later be altered without a formal change of use process. The commission could not find any regulation that supported the ministerʼs position.

The authority to append must exist either in the planning act or the regulations in order to be lawful. In conclusion, the lot consolidation or appending process needs to be supported by the planning act and regulations. Accordingly the appending decision was quashed for lack of legal authority. Since the lot is only approved for summer cottage use only, the presence of eight commercial rental cottages is not permitted on such a lot and thus, the development permit was also quashed.

Since the minister has no legal authority under the planning act for the appending of property, then the question arises, as to the legality of all approvals given to append properties in the past. This may have consequences in respect to land use within the province. Property owners that have had approval for appending should be asking this question.

The commission also made several observations and recommendations, due to the facts presented by the appellants.

1. Raised concerns with the policies, directives and statutory tools, or lack thereof, given to those who just deal with applications on a day-to-day basis and appear on the ministerʼs behalf before the commission.

2. It was not made clear that all aspects of section (3) of the regulations were considered.
a) Detrimental impact on surrounding land use and safety at the highway access.
b) Premature development (sound planning)
c) Entranceways in respect to change of use of existing entranceways or creation of new entranceway. In respect to the requirement of the highway access regulations.
d) Other approvals under Land Protections Act, Road Act, where entranceway permit or approval required.

There was little evidence in the file that indicated that much attention was placed on section 3 of the regulations. The commission recommends that these provisions must be followed.

It had become evident during this appeal that approvals are given by the minister in cases where the highway access regulations are being ignored. I know of numerous approvals for developments that havenʼt taken this into account.

The government is putting itself into a libel position. If entranceway permits are not issued and registered with the deeds to the properties than access would be deemed illegal under the Road Act Regulations. These irregularities are being ignored by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and they have the responsibility to enforce the highway access regulations.
People should be aware that if they are not within an area that has an official plan then they come under the provincial jurisdiction and this could happen to you. I site this case as an example.

It should also be noted that the minister has placed government in a position of legal action by both the developer and the appellant.

If people are interested and wish to read the decision go to the website www.irac.pe.ca, McLure versus Minister.

Gary McLure, of Crapaud, is the appellant who appealed the Blue Spruce property development permit issue to IRAC.

OK, a lot of work went into a private citizen having to point how government is not following its own rules.  What about what Compass mentioned about the DeSable side of things?

Many other properties in the area have been sold to the same pair of businessmen, or landowners approached to sell.  Not just the old pizza plant (formerly Little Christos, I believe), but many, many other properties in a crescent stretching from the Blue Spruce Cottages in Hampton up to the TCH and over to DeSable.  Nothing illegal in buying land, if the Lands Protection Act is followed, of course. But concerns for what the future holds. Rumours of potential plans range from a(nother) nine-hole golf course and theme park to very big ideas of an exclusive private resort.   I may have facts a bit muddled, but will continue:

This raises all sorts of issues:  what is planned for an environmentally sensitive area?  These communities are "unincorporated" and thus have no checks to any sort of development.  How can government know all these plans -- and there are lots of rumours that this development is just the tip of the iceberg -- and smile and say oh-how-they-wish they could tell the people who would be affected what is planned (and how long they have known about it?

The folks in this area, though they chose to live in a quiet part of the Island, are not knee-jerk anti-development; they want to hear what is planned and whether that is a good idea for their community as a whole, and be part of the discussion.  They would prefer government not allow the sale of their beautiful landscapes and sense of community right out from under their noses.

Residents have written and called local MLA Valerie Docherty and asked for more information, for a community meeting, and were told that it's a private business matter and when there would be "change of use" applications, there may be a public meeting; or likely when there is an Environmental Impact Assessment (for a major development qualifying for one).  As in so basically don't worry.  Unfortunately, after the Plan B experience, that is not reassuring at all.

Local residents have decided to have call a public information meeting for Wednesday, April 30th, 7PM, at Hampton Hall/Bites Cafe, at the corner of the TCH and Sandy Point Road in Hampton. MLA Valerie Docherty has been invited and has been asked to invite the developers and any other relevant government people.  Everyone is welcome, and is asked to pass the word.

I don't have a map of the properties already sold right now, but here is a map of the Island (from TIR's atlas), with the area in a green rectangle:

and a closeup of the area:

The former pizza place is just east of where the TCH crosses the DeSable River.
Old pizza plant with new name, in early April 2014,

And the name on the plant is:

which was listed as being at 18876 Trans Canada Highway, DeSable, PE C0B 1X0 and the
Incorporation Date as October 30, 2013, in Executive Council Order-in-Council.

Despite some unknown machinations going on, it is hopeful to see residents banding together for the good of their community, which can only improve life on PEI.

I hope your day is pleasant.  For something completely different than hidden land development plants, the PEI Symphony Orchestra plays at Zion Presbyterian Church at 2:30PM, and The Vinland Society talk is at 7:30 at the old Benevolent Irish Society Hall on North River Road. 

April 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A Friday in the provincial legislature was informative (the high capacity well issue) and parts just a bit bombastic (the HST accounting questions during Question Period).

MLA Paula Biggar, who is chairperson for the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, tabled a report from her committee about its work and recommendations to the Legislature.

The committee said they strongly urge the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture not be lifted, as they want to let the last people present to them sometime after the House is done sitting (May?).  They also recommend that "Government develop a Water Act."

Select Friday, April 4th, and it is about 66 minutes into the broadcast.
Legislative Assembly Video Archives

3:50 into the broadcast
Compass TV News from Friday night

A few comments:
As someone posted on Facebook -- "Breathing room.  But no complacency." -- as a committee's recommendation is not binding, and though reported on CBC, I don't think it was the committee who was approached to lift the moratorium in the first place.

Here is a link to the Committee's report that was tabled (five pages).

The transcript of today's proceedings will be available here sometime early next week:


Do look at the whole five page report when you get a chance.  Note both the fact that Minister Webster is listed as having made a written submission, and the line in the report (bold is mine) shows that no final decision has been made is in bold here:

3. At the present time, your committee does not recommend any changes to the 2002 moratorium on new high capacity wells for agricultural irrigation.
Your committee wishes to continue its investigations into this matter, including hearing from the witnesses that were prevented from appearing due to bad weather, and additional individuals and organizations that have expressed interest. This has proven to be a complex issue and your committee does not wish to make recommendations prematurely. Witnesses to date have made compelling arguments both for and against the lifting of the moratorium, and your committee continues to consider these very carefully. The interest of so many individuals and groups and the capacity attendance at committee meetings to date speak to how important this issue, and water in general, is to Islanders. Your committee’s work is not done on this issue.

And it is likely there will be more ad-ucation from the Potato Board in the paper in the coming weeks...

But, overall, people taking notice of this issue, and coming to committee meetings, writing letters (which is key!), planning and attending public information events like the forum with Maude Barlow, and urging organizations to take a stand on this, and a group like the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water forming -- all make a huge difference for the future of this Island. 

Perhaps there is a change in the season.

Have a great day dealing with mud and slush, and consider buying some local food this weekend -- it is all part of the change.

April 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A Friday smile (kind of):

The Canadian Automobile Association has its Worst Road Contest each year...hmm, you might be able to think of a road on the Island.

If you may be thinking Plan B, which is labeled as TCH New Haven, PEI. (The TCH with Bonshaw in its title is west of the community.)
You are asked to choose a kid of "road problem" -- too bad "Bumpy" isn't a choice. Or "Outrageously Expensive."

Here is the home page, and someone mentioned that it wasn't working well yesterday.
CAA Worst Roads in Atlantic Region Home Page

(A Lot of) Events:

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 5th, 2:30PM, Community Garden Meet&Greet, and Garden Design Workshop, Farm Centre
Facebook events page
"Welcome to the Garden! Don't let winter get you down. Get ready for the spring! It is coming, I'm sure!
This gathering will bring together some of the fantastic people involved in the legacy garden project. Get to know your fellow community gardeners!
Tania Hupé Collins will be presenting a garden design workshop! Want to know what to do with your garden plot this coming season? Tania and our other garden mentors will be on hand to provide guidance....Light fare will be served."

Sunday, April 6th, 7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall),  Vinland Society of PEI Lecture: "A New Vinland Voyage" by Geoff Ralling
"Island sailor Geoff Ralling will talk about his plans to replicate the Viking voyages to Vinland this summer.
More than 1,000 years ago, Vikings sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence from their over-wintering camp at present-day L’Anse aux Meadows, at the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula.
Some details of the explorations of these first European visitors survive in the pages of the two Icelandic manuscripts known as the Vinland Sagas; and these descriptions resemble locations around the Gulf today, including Prince Edward Island. Much of what they saw from their longboats remains unchanged; thus a sailor in a small boat today can re-live much of what they experienced a millennium ago.
Geoff Ralling has explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence extensively over the past 20 years in his sailboat, Be Faithful 2. This summer he will again head north from PEI with L’Anse aux Meadows as his destination – then sail back to the Island. Conditions in the northern Gulf and the Straits of Belle Isle are challenging to the small boat sailor and must have been difficult for the Vikings also. Unfavourable winds, strong currents, very cold water, ice and fog all have to be faced. Geoff will talk about his plans to deal with these conditions and how the Viking ships may have fared in these waters.
Geoff will illustrate his presentation with photographs taken from the deck of Be Faithful 2 on his previous adventures."

Tuesday, April 8th, Haviland Club, Leadnow Connect gathering

"A Leadnow local information meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 8th, at the Haviland Club,7 pm. Leadnow is one Canada's largest national social activist organization that brings together generations of Canadians for progress through democracy. Leadnow was founded in 2010 by a group of young people who decided to focus their long-term efforts on strengthening Canada's democracy, doing their part to address climate change, and building a fair economy that reverses the trend of growing inequality.  For more information go to www.leadnow.ca or call 626-4364."

Sunday, April 13th, 2-4PM, Workshop: "Two World Views: CETA and Pope Francis", Our Lady of Assumption Parish Hall, Stratford
Facebook description for LAMP workshop
"LAMP invites you to this workshop which will identify the motivation behind the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and contrast it to the Pope Francis' view of the world. Workshop participants will single out the consequences of both opposing views and identify appropriate action. Workshop leaders are Kevin Arsenault and Marie Burge. Call 894-5845 to register or email burgeirene@Hotmail.com"
I think they would like registration by Monday, April 7th.

Monday, April 14th, 6PM, Citizens' Alliance "general" meeting/potluck, Bonshaw Community Centre
A regular meeting for anyone interested in helping plan Citizens' Alliance work.  What is happening at Plan B this spring, the high capacity well issue, the CA organizational work and future plans.  We meet while sharing easy dinner food.

Tuesday, April 15th, 4PM, Food Security Network AGM, Farm Centre
"The theme of our 2014 AGM is the International Year of the Family Farm - and why it's important. The business meeting will be as short as possible, to make more time for our guest speaker, Sally Bernard.  Sally farms with her partner Mark. Their farm, Barnyard Organics is a certified organic farm, begun in 2003, where a vision for a self-sustaining and environmentally sustainable farm continues to be the goal.
Adam MacLean will also speak about the Farm Centre's legacy community garden project.
And at the close of the meeting, there will be a screening of Mille Clarkes’ documentary Island Green
For more information, call Cooper Institute - 894-4573."

Tuesday, April 15th, 7PM in Stratford, next Pesticide Free PEI meeting

"With a new spraying season upon us and still no action from the government we have to continue to spread the word about how the majority of people feel about cosmetic pesticides on PEI." 

The Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM today,
and of course there's lots of music today and this weekend.

April 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

News from various sources:

Brad Walters from New Brunswick usually gathers and sends media reports and other news about environmental issues in New Brunswick, most notably fracking. Yesterday he had a commentary in the Journal Telegraph -- sobering, and entirely applicable to our Island home.

Politicians Abandon Environment - Telegraph Journal Commentary By Brad Walters

(original title: “Corporate Conservatives”)
Published April 2, 2014

It is not unusual for elected governments to support industrial development in their jurisdictions. Conservative political parties, in particular, are more likely to champion big business, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule because pro-corporate policies can alienate the “populist”-wing of the party and voters that hew to populist sentiments.  What is unusual today is the degree to which conservative politicians — both in Canada and the United States — have become beholden to corporate interests, especially those in the oil and gas sector.

The United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its latest scientific assessment. Its findings are dire and an urgent call for action.  In fact, a large majority of the public in both Canada and the U.S. support government leadership on climate change.  But they are unlikely to get it from either Canadian Conservatives or their American, Republican-party counterparts, whose respective commitments to the oil and gas industry border on the scandalous.  It is not much exaggeration to suggest that the Harper Conservatives and the U.S. Republican Party have become the political front for the fossil fuel industry.

Closer to home, New Brunswick Conservatives have lately demonstrated a similar drift that extends deeper into the clutches of big industry.  For example, Premier Alward’s recent policy reversal on forestry is astonishing in the extent of its capitulation to industry interests. By sharply increasing the allocation of wood from already heavily cut public lands, the government has ignored not only the expressed wishes of the public (as measured by various opinion surveys) and the expert advice of many scientists, but also the past recommendations of   Brunswick Legislative Assembly’s own select committee on wood supply.

The Alward government’s unshakable support for shale gas development is even more troubling given the seriousness of the risks, and the evidence that supports such risks, and the fact that the corporate interests involved appear to have no long-term vested interest in the welfare of the Province and its people.  In fact, corporations rarely do have a vested interest, despite their spin to suggest otherwise. That the Minister of Energy now publicly disparages (almost daily) any and all critics of shale gas re-affirms where this government’s loyalties lie.  And yet, this same government insists it will protect the public interest from harm once the oil and gas multinationals get down to the risky business of drilling and fracking.  The minister will have to forgive the many New Brunswickers who view such assurances with skepticism.

One can debate and speculate whether the public interest is likely to be served in the long run by these unabashedly pro-corporate policies. I am inclined to think it is not.  Either way, this government’s complete disregard for current public interest is very disconcerting.  The government knows that the majority of New Brunswick citizens wants policy leadership on climate change, views a diverse forest and forest economy as desirable, and prefers a halt to further shale gas development (at least until the risks and benefits can be more truthfully assessed).

The government knows where public sentiments lie, but just doesn’t care.  Instead, bargains with industry are being struck behind closed doors without proper independent scrutiny or due consideration of the public interest. Perhaps it is time for the people of New Brunswick (and of Canada) to remind their governments who it is they really work for.

 DR. BRAD WALTERS is a professor of Geography & Environmental Studies at Mount Allison University.

If you are interested in being on Brad's list (1-4 e-mails per day), contact him at : bwalters@mta.ca

If you are interested in a daily news service regarding environmental issues, you could subscribe to "Eco-Watch" here:

and the homepage is here:
Thanks to Karlo and Hitrud Hengst for passing this along

And there is always The Guardian locally (bold mine):

P.E.I. needs proper land use - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on March 28, 2014

A U.S. government scientist warned in a report 15 years ago of a potential massive landslide near Arlington, Wash. However, Snohomish County officials permitted homes to be built in the area known as “Hazel Landslide,” which had a history of mudslides over the past 50 years.

The current county public works director and previous county officials should be held directly responsible for people killed in the recent landslide because they did not rezone the area and stop the building of new homes. They claim ignorance of the 15-year-old report but they knew the sloping area was very risky but took no action.

We have a similar problem on the Island because the P.E.I. government continues to ignore several excellent land use studies because they donʼt want to do proper zoning due to controversy with farmers. Thousands of subdivision lots have been approved without proper soil and water testing so we now have enough lots to do us for the next 100 years.

However, many of the subdivisions should be retested and removed from the market but the government is loath to do it because they are owned by party supporters and farmers. Land use planning and proper zoning is a specific responsibility of government; however, it is being ignored and avoided like the plague which is a disgrace and a cop-out.

David Steeves, Charlottetown

Tonight is the Heritage MEAL (Meet, Eat A Learn) at the Farm Centre, 6:30PM.  It's lots of locally-made appetizers, and with speakers on local food-related topics.  https://www.facebook.com/events/1391966857730912/
(You may have to cut and paste this link.)

April 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Legislature opens today, 2PM,

From the Legislative Assembly website:
"The Spring 2014 sitting of the Fourth Session of the Sixty-fourth General Assembly opens Wednesday, April 2, at 2:00 p.m. Visitors are always welcome to view the proceedings from the public gallery!"

The schedule is:




2:00pm - 5:00pm, 7:00pm - 9:00pm



2:00pm - 5:00pm



2:00pm - 5:00pm, 7:00pm - 9:00pm



10:00am - 1:00pm







You can tune in by going here, and following the prompts:

As often happens when storms have events postponed, tonight has two very interesting water issue events:

Already on the schedule for tonight is another interesting and welcoming NDP public policy forum on Island Fisheries, at Rodd Mill River Resort, 7-9PM.
from the Facebook events page:

NDP PEI Leader Michael Redmond is pleased to announce the latest in a series of Public Policy Forums to examine the challenges of Island Fisheries.

By hosting these gatherings, the NDP PEI hopes to ensure that its policies are well informed and relevant to the needs and aspirations of Islanders of all political views. Consequently, the forums are conducted in a non-partisan way, which allows people from all political stripes to participate and benefit.

This event is open to everybody. Forum organizers make a special effort to invite groups and individuals who have a particular interest in or knowledge of fisheries issues, in the hope that discussion will allow exploration of what is working well in the fishery, what needs improvement and how the long-term viability of this important part of our economy can be improved.

Several people have been invited to take part in a panel presentation at the beginning of the forum, and this will be followed by an open discussion involving all forum participants and the general public.

But the talk and monthly meeting from the NaturePEI got moved from last night:

NaturePEI monthly meeting, with guest speaker Mike van den Heuvel talking about Island streams and estuaries:
from the website:

Wednesday, April 2nd, 7:30 pm at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets.
The Effects of Human Inputs to Island Streams and Estuaries
Dr. Mike van den Heuvel of the Canadian Rivers Institute at UPEI does not have to look far in this Island Province to find something to study. He and his team of students have been dissecting the factors that are increasingly causing our estuaries to become anoxic and our streams choked with sediment, limiting healthy productivity in these ecosystems. He notes “The aquatic environment on, and surrounding PEI is not improving, it is getting worse. When I think of the "Green Island", I see mountains of sea lettuce in our estuaries. Damage to our tourism, fisheries and aquaculture industries is happening now, but it can be reversed if the public demands it." The effects of unsustainable land use on our streams, estuaries and coastal environment will be discussed in Mike van den Heuvel’s presentation, PEI's Dirty Secrets: Squandering our Greatest Resource at the upcoming April meeting of Nature PEI. It takes place on Wednesday, April 2nd, 7:30 pm at Beaconsfield, the Carriage House, corner of West and Kent Streets. Admission to the presentation is free and all are welcome Dr. Michael R. van den Heuvel is the Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity at the University of Prince Edward Island. He is an environmental biologist who has worked measuring toxic effects from pulp mills in New Zealand and Canada and oil sands-related aquatic reclamation projects in Alberta. Since moving to Prince Edward Island he has found ideal study sites to track ecological degradation in estuaries. He has been investigating not only the environmental damage caused by excessive nutrients, consequences of erosion on sediment in streams, and the impacts of a variety of contaminants, but also collaborating with end-users to define how we should monitor environmental health in our ecosystem.

Tony Lloyd's very understandable letter in yesterday's Guardian, with a headline perhaps indicating a laundry issue:

Shrinkage cause of many problems - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on March 31, 2014

We are told that the stream and river flows in P.E.I. are stable. Which begs the question: Where is the seven million cubic metres per year produced by the Winter River well fields coming from?

I was talking to friends in Covehead when someone said: “If you ask me the real problem is flushing. The land is not being flushed the way it was. Last year they had the longest plumb ever in Covehead Bay. It lasted a whole month. Brackley Bay is dead. Gone. The aquiculture is gone; itʼs no longer a commercial bay.” I asked, “What kind of plumb?” “Algae plumb. Anoxia.” was the reply.

In Nature magazine, April 18, 1996, an article appeared titled: An underground route for the water cycle; with subheading: Water flows from the land to the sea in rivers but there is evidence that a comparable amount may flow underground directly into coastal waters.

The research was done in South Carolina and the evidence is quantitative — based upon measurements of Radium, 88Ra226, with a half life of 1,620 years. The flow underground is called submarine groundwater discharge (SGD): estimates are 40 per cent SGD, 60 per cent surface discharge. The SGD acts as a climate regulator and provides temperature stability to coastal bays and estuaries: warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer. The SGD carries trace nutrients into and metabolic waste products out of the bays and estuaries.

Rain falling on land and entering the ground is called recharge. Recharge over the confined aquifer (CA) region of infiltration moves vertically downward until it's in the CA channel; whereas recharge over the CA region of exfiltration moves horizontally once it's in the saturated zone and forms the SGD. In short, SGD is flushing; SGD flushing our bays and estuaries.

We can reason by the missing ponds and bogs that the region of exfiltration has been shrinking, hence the SGD has been shrinking. This shrinkage is an expropriation of the SGD into the Winter River well fields and is the source of many problems in our North Shore fisheries.

Tony Lloyd, Mt. Stewart

April 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry finally just let "Winter" win and cancelled the Committee meeting that was scheduled for this morning.    I appreciate all that the clerk has done to communicate the changes, and I personally was looking forward to the update about the Lands Protection Act Commission from Commissioner Horace Carver, in addition to the presentations about the high capacity wells moratorium from diverse groups such as the PEI Potato Board, Cavendish Farms, and the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club.

These groups and individuals were invited to send their presentations in to the Committee.  If those are posted at some point, we will find the link.

This meeting has not just been postponed but cancelled, apparently since the Legislature opens tomorrow (Wednesday, April 3rd, at 2PM).  It may be rescheduled to May or whenever the Legislature has closed after the Spring sitting.  I don't know what this means as far as what presentations and recommendations the committee has already heard.  I can imagine the topic of lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells will come up in Question Period.
The Committee's website:

and the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water has lots of information on its website:
due to the work of a very tech savvy woman.

Here is an article on the rally yesterday regarding the ending of the Health Care Accord:

The Nature PEI tonight talk on "The Effects of Human Inputs to Island Streams and Estuaries" may be postponed due to the storm, but an update should be here:

And I can't believe I am saying, "Follow us on Twitter", but there you are.
It's likely useful for announcements such as those about the Standing Committee meeting cancellation.

(I had troubles with fitting "Citizens' Alliance of PEI" in such size-restricted lines, and I appreciate greatly the help of another certain tech savvy woman in getting the whole thing set up a while back.)