July-August-September 2014


  1. 1 September 30, 2014
  2. 2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    1. 2.1 Pesticide Guidelines Unacceptable - The Guardian Editorial
    2. 2.2 Making Some Sense of the Schwarcz Lecture - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  3. 3 September 29, 2014
    1. 3.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 3.2 Suzuki’s last tour promises to be a good one - The Journal Pioneer article by Brett Poirier
  4. 4 Blue Dot Tour stops in Summerside Monday
  5. 5 September 28, 2014
    1. 5.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  6. 6 September 27, 2014
    1. 6.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  7. 7 September 26, 2014
    1. 7.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  8. 8 September 25, 2014
    1. 8.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  9. 9 September 24, 2014
    1. 9.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 9.2 Pesticide Free P.E.I. Deserves Support - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  10. 10 September 23, 2014
    1. 10.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 10.2 Fair comment on pesticide story - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  11. 11 September 22, 2014
    1. 11.1 Cindy Richards Environmental Report
    2. 11.2 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    3. 11.3 A walk in the right direction - The Guardian article by Maureen Coulter
  12. 12 September 21, 2014
    1. 12.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  13. 13 September 20, 2014
    1. 13.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 13.2 Dr. Schwarcz delivers balanced, fair presentation on nutrition - The Guardian Guest Opinion by John Jamieson
    3. 13.3 Slate' Criticizes the 'Home-Cooked Family Dinner': Joel Salatin Responds - Mother Earth News article by Joel Salatin
  14. 14 September 19, 2014
    1. 14.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  15. 15 September 18, 2014
    1. 15.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 15.2 Leaving to experts got us in this mess - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  16. 16 September 17, 2014
    1. 16.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  17. 17 September 16, 2014
    1. 17.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 17.2 Gasoline prices a big tax rip-off - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  18. 18 September 15, 2014
    1. 18.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  19. 19 September 14, 2014
    1. 19.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 19.2 What will be the 2014 legacy for P.E.I.? - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
    3. 19.3 The Souris bridge says a lot about us - The Guardian column by Alan Holman
  20. 20 September 13, 2014
    1. 20.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  21. 21 September 12, 2014
    1. 21.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  22. 22 September 11, 2014
    1. 22.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 22.2 Local Fisherman Express(es) Concern Montrose Water Quality Unacceptable - The West Prince Graphic article by Cathy Chant
    3. 22.3 The Party is Over and the Foundation is Crumbling - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
    4. 22.4 Doug Sobey to Give Public talk on Early Forests - The Guardian article
  23. 23 September 10, 2014
    1. 23.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 23.2 CABINET TOUR HIGHLIGHTS POTATO INDUSTRY - Press Release from the PEI Premier's Office
  24. 24 September 9, 2014.02
    1. 24.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 24.2 Charlottetown mayor calls for ban on cosmetic pesticides in city - The Guardian article by Dave Stewart
    3. 24.3 Math Out of Sync for This Province - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  25. 25 September 8, 2014
    1. 25.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 25.2 Potato Farming Not Only Industry - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 25.3 Criticism Follows Fracking Decision - The Guardian Lead Editorial
  26. 26 September 7, 2014
    1. 26.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 26.2 The price of cheap shrimp - Island Tides article by Elizabeth May
  27. 27 September 6, 2014
    1. 27.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 27.2 Montrose water unacceptable - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  28. 28 September 5, 2014
    1. 28.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 28.2 Announcement by Andrew Younger, Energy Minister - The Chronicle Herald
    3. 28.3 No Energy Leadership in NS Fracking Fumble - The Chronicle Herald Editorial
  29. 29 September 4, 2014
    1. 29.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  30. 30 September 3, 2014
    1. 30.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  31. 31 September 2, 2014
    1. 31.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  32. 32 September 1, 2014
    1. 32.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 32.2 Fish Kills in 2013 Remain a Mystery - The Guardian Letter of the Day by Mike Redmond
  33. 33 August 31, 2014
    1. 33.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  34. 34 August 30, 2014
    1. 34.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 34.2 Mount Polley: A Wake-Up Call to the Realities of Tailings Ponds - Ecowatch article by David Suzuki
  35. 35 August 29, 2014
    1. 35.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 35.2 Justin Trudeau wrong on fracking, NB Premier David Alward says - CBC news
    3. 35.3 N.S. fracking moratorium should continue, panel recommends - CBC news
  36. 36 August 28, 2014
    1. 36.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 36.2 Tawdry Private Sponsorships Hang Over Premiers' Conferences - The Ottawa Citizen article by David Reevely
  37. 37 August 27, 2014
    1. 37.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 37.2 Memories of a Good Farmer - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 37.3 Verbal Attacks are Unjustified - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 37.4 Pattern on Water a Concern - The Guardian Lead Editorial
  38. 38 August 26, 2014
    1. 38.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 38.2 Documentary Shows Fish Kill Impact - The Guardian article by Mary MacKay
  39. 39 August 25, 2014
    1. 39.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 39.2 Council of Canadians, CUPE Plan Town Hall Meeting on Health - The Guardian article
  40. 40 August 24, 2014
    1. 40.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 40.2 Costs of using pesticide less than benefits of ridding lawn of chinch bugs - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Roger Gordon
    3. 40.3 Comments unfair against Diamond - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  41. 41 August 23, 2014
    1. 41.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  42. 42 August 22, 2014
    1. 42.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 42.2 Sierra Club supports call for pesticide-free buffer zones on P.E.I.- The Guardian Guest Opinion by Tony Reddin
    3. 42.3 California offers drought example - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  43. 43 August 21, 2014
    1. 43.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 43.2 Irvings will walk off into sunset - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 43.3 Another fish kill, another ministerial failure - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill
  44. 44 August 20, 2014
    1. 44.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 44.2 Is industrial farming acceptable as necessary economic engine? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 44.3 No one cares about dead fish? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  45. 45 August 19, 2014
    1. 45.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  46. 46 August 18, 2014
    1. 46.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  47. 47 August 17, 2014
    1. 47.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 47.2 The Good News on National Honey Bee Day - Bayer CropScience Celebrates Positive Trends in Bee Health
    3. 47.3 It costs a pile to grow a potato - The Guardian columnist Alan Holman
  48. 48 August 16, 2014
    1. 48.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  49. 49 August 15, 2014
    1. 49.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 49.2 It all starts from maintenance of a healthy planet - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Peter Bevan-Baker
    3. 49.3 McCains closing sign of the times - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    4. 49.4 Recent application part of strategy - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  50. 50 August 14, 2014
    1. 50.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 50.2 Minister Launches Offensive - The Guardian Editorial
  51. 51 August 13, 2014
    1. 51.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 51.2 If want votes, then earn them - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  52. 52 August 12, 2014
    1. 52.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 52.2 Federal finance minister endorses shale gas development in N.B. - CBC online news
    3. 52.3 What we know we don’t know about fracking - The Coast article by Geoff Davies
  53. 53 August 11, 2014
    1. 53.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  54. 54 August 10, 2014
    1. 54.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 54.2 P.E.I. residents using social media to challenge farm activity - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt
  55. 55 August 8, 2014
    1. 55.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 55.2 Cavendish Farms warns it faces same challenges as McCain Foods - The Guardian article
  56. 56 August 7, 2014
    1. 56.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  57. 57 August 6, 2014
    1. 57.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 57.2 P.E.I. guidelines much too lenient - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  58. 58 August 5, 2014
    1. 58.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  59. 59 August 4, 2014
    1. 59.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 59.2 Moratorium Needs to Remain - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 59.3 Morell River Heating Up - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  60. 60 August 3, 2014
    1. 60.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  61. 61 August 2, 2014
    1. 61.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  62. 62 August 1, 2014
    1. 62.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  63. 63 July 31, 2014
    1. 63.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  64. 64 July 30, 2014
    1. 64.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 64.2 The Truth About Natural Gas: A "Green" Bridge to Hell - ecowatch article by Naomi Oreskes,
  65. 65 July 29, 2014
    1. 65.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  66. 66 July 28, 2014
    1. 66.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 66.2 Cost of perfection may be unhealthy - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 66.3 Fracking in Nova Scotia should be put on hold to allow for more study: expert - The Guardian article
    4. 66.4 Tackling sustainability challenges - The Guardian Guest Opinion by article Dr. Palanisamy Nagarajan
    5. 66.5 Taxpayers on financial hook - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  67. 67 July 27, 2014
    1. 67.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  68. 68 July 26, 2014
    1. 68.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 68.2 Hope in a Book: Michael Pollan’s Foreword to Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country, by Courtney White
  69. 69 By Michael Pollan December 2013
  70. 70 July 25, 2014
    1. 70.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  71. 71 July 24, 2014
    1. 71.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 71.2 Don’t blow the Water Act - The Journal-Pioneer Editorial
    3. 71.3 P.E.I. government an arrogant one - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  72. 72 July 23, 2014
    1. 72.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 72.2 Pesticides now a political issue - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 72.3 CETA’s pro-trade plan of great benefit to P.E.I. - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gail Shea
    4. 72.4 On P.E.I., parents should know when it’s safe to use playground - The Guardian Lead Editorial
  73. 73 July 22, 2014
    1. 73.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 73.2 Announcing David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour
  74. 74 July 21, 2014
    1. 74.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 74.2 Group calls for pesticide ban near schools, seniors homes - The Guardian on-line article by Mitch MacDonald
  75. 75 July 20, 2014
    1. 75.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  76. 76 July 14, 2014
    1. 76.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  77. 77 July 13, 2014
    1. 77.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 77.2 Putting families ahead of lawns - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  78. 78 July 12, 2014
    1. 78.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 78.2 Fracking's long-term impacts still poorly understood - Cape Breton Post article by Jim Guy
  79. 79 July 11, 2014
    1. 79.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  80. 80 July 10, 2014
    1. 80.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 80.2 Chemicals Damages Many Life Forms - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  81. 81 July 9, 2014
    1. 81.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
  82. 82 July 8, 2014
    1. 82.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 82.2 Farm tour not balanced? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  83. 83 July 7, 2014
    1. 83.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 83.2 Another kind of media tour? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 83.3 Farmers fight back against unfair attacks - The Guardian main editorial
    4. 83.4 More lessons on pesticides - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  84. 84 July 6, 2014
    1. 84.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 84.2 Bill Trainor's Presentation to The Standing Committee on High Capacity Wells
  85. 85 July 5, 2014
    1. 85.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 85.2 Party getting out of hand - The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  86. 86 July 4, 2014
    1. 86.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 86.2 A Twenty-First Century Water War Erupts in Texas - Earth Island Journal article exerpt by James William Gibson
  87. 87 July 3, 2014
    1. 87.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 87.2 Toxic economic farming model done on P.E.I. - The Guardian Guest Opinion by John Hopkins
    3. 87.3 Time to fight back - The Journal-Pioneer Letter to the Editor
  88. 88 July 2, 2014
    1. 88.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update
    2. 88.2 This Canada Day spread the word that environmental laws matter - Ecojustice article by Darcie Bennett
  89. 89 July 1, 2014
    1. 89.1 Chris Ortenburger's Update

September 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pesticide Guidelines Unacceptable - The Guardian Editorial

Published on September 29th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a great letter:

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

Published September 29th, 2014

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

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

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

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

Maria Eisenhauer, Charlottetown

September 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

Published on-line on September 28th, 2014

Blue Dot Tour stops in Summerside Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

unable to upload :( Please check our facebook page for photo.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

unable to upload :( Please check our facebook page for photo. https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

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

Hope you enjoy your Sunday,

September 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very observant Islander wrote:

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

Our sense of humour and perspective prevails.  :-)  

September 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

A printed article:

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

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

September 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

The Master's Wife performances on the road

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

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

September 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

Published on September 23rd, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karl Hengst, Summerside

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

September 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

Published on September 22, 2014

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

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

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

Lynne Lund, Clinton

Wednesday night, September 24th, has the Pesticide Free PEI meeting in Summerside, 7PM, at the Sobeys, in their community room.

Our bi-weekly meeting will be held in The City of Summerside, next Wednesday evening. Items up for discussion are: strategies on how to eliminate cosmetic pesticides, educating the general public on the harmful effects of pesticides and alternatives to chemical pesticides.

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

Also, in Charlottetown, on Wednesday evening, a Kimchi workshop:

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

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

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

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

Annual General Meeting

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

September 22, 2014

Cindy Richards Environmental Report


Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Quoted from the article (below):

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

Other great comments (from Facebook):

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

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

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

What happens now?  The week has the United Nations Climate Summit, the one Barack Obama but not Stephen Harper is going to.

350.org has a petition for anyone to sign to send a message:

The recap of yesterday's event in today's

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

Published online Sunday, in print September 22nd, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

September 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

Event link from the 350.org site:
or from Facebook:

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

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

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

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


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

September 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Please bear with these definitions:

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

from Merriam-Webster.com:
shill (noun)
:  one who acts as a decoy (as for a pitchman or gambler)

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

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

1:  appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PS  Zucchini workshop at 1PM at the Farm Centre.

September 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Lots going on tonight and this weekend!

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Take care this weekend,

September 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

Joan Diamond's letter in yesterday's Guardian:

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

Published on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Joan Diamond, Fairview

September 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

from the website:

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

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

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

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

September 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some climate change updates:

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

A quick video illustrating this:

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

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

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

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

Published on Saturday, September 13th, 2014

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

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

Morley LaBelle, Long Creek

September 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

From the front page of this morning's Guardian:

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

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

Published on Monday, September 15th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schwarcz said while arguments for environmental concerns are strongly supported,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background on the Lecture here

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

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

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

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

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

September 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

unable to upload :(  Please check our facebook page for the photo. https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

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

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

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

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(the rest of the article is on the link)

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

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

Published on September 13, 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend thoughts

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

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

September 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some weekend notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

September 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

please mark your calendar now for next month's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would be great to hear others' thoughts.

September 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Published Wednesday September 10th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It won’t happen.

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

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

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

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

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

Printed today (September 11, 2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September  9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 9, 2014.02

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Published on Monday, September 8th, 2014

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

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

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

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

Armond Naninni, Charlottetown

September 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

Published on September 6, 2014

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

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

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

Amanda Simmons, Summerside

And the lead editorial:

Criticism Follows Fracking Decision - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published on September 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Two people making a difference:

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

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

Montrose water unacceptable - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on September 05, 2014

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

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

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

Malcolm Pitre, Tignish

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

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

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

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitromethane

September 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

Many people breathed a sigh of relief, for now.

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

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


by Andrew Younger, Energy Minister -
The Chronicle Herald

Published September 3, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Younger is Nova Scotia’s minister of energy.

Nova Scotia to Ban fracking (Halifax Chronicle Herald)

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

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

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

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

Published on September 3, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

The result:

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

Further downstream:

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

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

unable to upload :(  Please check out our facebook page for the photos. https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/

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

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

A bit on the fracking moratorium decision tomorrow.

September 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Not close to home, but affecting our home:

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

from the toronto350.org website:

"This is an invitation to change everything."

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

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

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

Saturday, September 6th, 9AM to noon, Farm Centre, Charlottetown
Environmental Rights Workshop, sponsored by the Citizens' Alliance and East Coast Environmental Law
This workshop is for people and representatives of organizations interested in being part of a group working on environmental rights in PEI, with public information sessions to follow later this year; anyone interested in being a part of this, contact Cindy Richards <islert12@gmail.com>

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

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

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

“The idea behind this event is to draw attention to the very real threats that all marine life in the Gulf currently faces from planned oil and gas development, climate change, shipping traffic and land based pollution” according to campaign organizer Colin Jeffrey. "There is little doubt that the rich marine life of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is threatened. Climate change is making the Gulf’s waters warmer and significantly more acidic, putting pressure on shell fish in particular. Historic over fishing has changed the role that species like cod play in the food chain while increases in land based pollution are muddying the once pristine waters of the Gulf. In 1973 a comprehensive panel review of potential impacts of oil drilling in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence led by Dr. Loutfi concluded that such development should not proceed in the Gulf. As environmental conditions in Gulf waters continue to deteriorate, many people believe that a precautionary approach should be taken with offshore drilling remaining outside the Gulf."
“Offshore drilling in this fragile enclosed sea tips the balance in terms of risk to our commercially important marine species,” according to lobster fisherman Ian Forgeron.
Save Our Seas and Shores and the Sierra Club are calling for a greater emphasis on renewable energy development in Atlantic Canada and a new interprovincial management strategy that safeguards the valuable renewable resources provided by our Gulf.
For more information please go to the Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/945730395443388/ , contact: Colin Jeffrey - Event Coordinator, (902) 213-2349, colinjef@hotmail.com

September 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A story from away:

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

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

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

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

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

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

from the SkyTruth website:

If you can see it, you can change it

Seeing  > Believing  > Caring  > Acting  > Changing

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

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

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

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

- See more at: http://skytruth.org/about/#sthash.EkHxTTaq.dpuf

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

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

September 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

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

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

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

A few interesting sites on pesticides:

An "Introduction and Toxicology of Fungicides"

Panna (The Pesticide Action Network of North America)

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

Mike Redmond's letter from Saturday's Guardian:

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

Published on Saturday, August 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 31, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"Bees at the Brink", a series of two articles by a Minnesota paper, The StarTribune, about the state of honeybees in North America.
Both were written by Josephine Marcotty, and published this summer.

Part 1 ("America's Dying Migrant Workers") focuses on bees used as migrant workers, pollinators for hire for almond trees in California, and the concerns about the detrimental effects of neonictinoid pesticides.

Part 2  ("Bee Battle Seeks Hearts and Minds") is about lobbying the general public - a young business woman wearing bee antenna on her bike helmet vs. Bayer's new Bee Health Centre in North Carolina.

Excellent photos and graphs -- worth a look just for those.

Tonight is the Bonshaw Ceilidh at the Hall at 7PM.

August 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Farmers' Markets open today in many locations.  It's great to see the change of colours, as one farmer put it -- now the reds and yellows and purples are there, too.
Many Island performances concluding this weekend -- tonight is the closing for The Ballad of Stompin' Tom, in Summerside, in case you want to go in an opposite direction from Charlottetown tonight, or north to the Watermark in Rustico, or over to the opening of The Best Brothers in Victoria.

David Suzuki writes on the tailings pond blowout in British Columbia:

Mount Polley: A Wake-Up Call to the Realities of Tailings Ponds - Ecowatch article by David Suzuki

August 26, 2014

When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an "extremely rare" occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here.

He failed to mention the 46 "dangerous or unusual occurrences" that B.C's chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating mine sites.

This spill was predictable. Concerns were raised about Mount Polley before the breach. CBC reported that B.C.'s Environment Ministry issued several warnings about the amount of water in the pond to mine owner Imperial Metals.

With 50 mines operating in B.C. — and many others across Canada — we can expect more incidents, unless we reconsider how we're extracting resources.

Sudden and severe failure is a risk for all large tailings dams — Mount Polley's waste pond covered about four square kilometres, roughly the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park. As higher-grade deposits become increasingly scarce, mining companies are opting for lower-grade alternatives that create more tailings. As tailings ponds grow bigger and contain more water and waste than ever before, they also become riskier. The average height of a Canadian tailings dam doubled from 120 metres in the 1960s to 240 metres today. Alberta writer Andrew Nikiforuk likens increasing mining industry risks to those of the oil sands.

Open ponds of toxic slurry aren't the best way to manage mining waste. Although there's no silver-bullet solution, and more research funding on alternative technologies is needed, smaller underground mines are finding safer ways to deal with waste by backfilling tailings. Drying tailings or turning them to a paste before containment are two other options. Safer solutions cost more, making them less popular with profit-focused corporations. But surely B.C.'s $8-billion mining industry can afford to pay more for public and environmental safety.

The government allows the mining industry to choose the cheapest way to deal with waste, and companies often lack adequate insurance to cover cleanup costs when accidents happen. Imperial Metals admits its insurance will likely fall far short of what's required to repair the damage at Mount Polley.

The mining industry and provincial and federal governments must do a better job of managing risks. But how can this happen when we're facing unprecedented dismantling of Canada's environmental regulations and decreased funding for monitoring and enforcement?

Although the B.C. government rightly appointed an independent panel of three top mining engineers to review the cause of the Mount Polley breach and report back with recommendations, the lack of an environmental or cultural perspective on the panel makes it unlikely we'll see meaningful industry reform. And even the most thorough reviews remain ineffective without implementation commitments — a point made clear by the federal government's failure to act on the Cohen Commission's 75 recommendations on the decline of Fraser River sockeye.

Canada's mining industry must also work more closely with First Nations, some of which are challenging industrial activity in their territories. The Tahltan blockaded Imperial Metals' nearly completed mine in the Sacred Headwaters, and the Neskonlith Indian Band issued an eviction notice to an Imperial subsidiary, which proposed an underground lead-and-zinc mine in Secwepemc Territory in the B.C. Interior. With the Supreme Court's Tsilhqot'in decision affirming First Nations' rights to land and resources within their traditional territories, we're likely to see more defending their lands against mining and other resource extractions.

The Mount Polley tailings spill threatens two of B.C.'s most valued resources: salmon and water. As one of the largest sockeye runs enters the waterways to spawn, we must wait to find out the long-term repercussions for Polley Lake, Quesnel Lake and aquatic life further downstream.

This disaster has eroded public trust in the mining industry and regulations governing it. If risks are too high and long-term solutions unavailable or too expensive, the only way to ensure that toxic tailings are kept out of our precious waterways and pristine landscapes may be to avoid mining in some areas altogether.

August 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Lots of things to mark on the calendar:

Today, Rally for Health Care, noon, beginning at Trinity United Church, corner of Prince and Richmond Streets, marching to Convention Centre. 

Sunday, August 31st, Bonshaw Ceilidh, 7PM, Bonshaw Hall, Bonshaw
With performers Emma Doucette and Diane Adams, and locals Jolene Willis, Phil Pineau, Tony Reddin and Herb MacDonald.  Proceeds to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Monday, September 1st, 11AM to noon, PEI Federation of Labour's Labour Day Picnic, Joe Ghiz Park, Charlottetown

Saturday, September 6th, Environmental Rights Legislation Organizing Workshop, 9AM to noon, Farm Centre​, 420 Univeristy Avenue, Charlottetown
This isn't a public information session on environmental rights legislation, but a chance for those interested in moving forward on this concept to find out what it is about and ways to advance it.  Jamie Simpson from East Coast Environmental Law Association will be presenting, along with Cindy Richards and Richard Baker.  If you are interested in being a part of this, contact me or Cindy Richards <islert12@gmail.com >
There will be a public information session at a later date.

Monday, September 29, Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki and Friends, Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, 7PM, Also featuring Shane Koyczan, and tentatively, Catherine MacLellan and Paper Lions, along with David Suzuki.
"Be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join David Suzuki, a singularly inspiring speaker, on his last national tour. It’s all in celebration of a simple yet powerful idea, and it starts with you. During this special evening, David Suzuki will share the wisdom of a lifetime full of action as he and other Canadian icons and thought leaders celebrate the capacity of Canadians to protect the people and places they love."

Saturday, October 11th, Our first Citizens' Alliance annual general meeting and Plan B social, 7PM, Farm Centre
featuring guest speaker Todd MacLean, with a social, music, refreshments afterwards.  All welcome, of course.

And two news stories regarding fracking in the Maritimes:

Justin Trudeau wrong on fracking, NB Premier David Alward says - CBC news

Takes issue with federal Liberal leader's call for freeze on development of shale gas

N.S. fracking moratorium should continue, panel recommends - CBC news

More reasearch, implemneting public concerns into fracking considerations needed

A link to the study, a little weekend reading:

August 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Wonderful entertainment you have to pay for:
Several plays are finishing up runs this weekend -- The Ballad of Stompin' Tom at Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, the plays at the Watermark Theatre in Rustico, and A Community Theatre production's of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing  is at:
Robert Cotton Park
tonight, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 6PM
and a Labour Day Matinee 2PM
Tickets are  $18/$16

Not-so-wonderful entertainment you and *somebody else* are paying for:

David Reevely writes for The Ottawa Citizen and wrote on how in addition to money taxpayers spend for the costs of the Premiers' meeting, corporate sponsors are obtained for all the more lavish events.   And representatives of these groups get to go meet the premiers at these certain events.  A list of "sponsors" is included, and it included companies like Merck pharmaceuticals. 

Tawdry Private Sponsorships Hang Over Premiers' Conferences - The Ottawa Citizen article by David Reevely

Published on August 26, 2014

Canada’s premiers have raised $450,000 from corporate sponsors for the politicians’ annual summer meeting in Charlottetown this week.

This is money the companies couldn’t legally give in such quantities to the leaders’ election campaigns when they were only trying to become premiers, but apparently now that they’re in office and actually have power, it’s OK.

The sponsors are a who’s who of corporations whose interests are closely regulated by provincial governments. The most generous, at the $150,000 “Fathers of Confederation” level, is the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada — modern-day Macdonalds and Tilleys and Tuppers. Platinum sponsors ($50,000 each) are Bell and Manulife.

Some selections from lower on the list:

The breweries that own the Beer Store in Ontario, Labatt and Molson and Sleeman’s, whose anachronistic near-monopoly Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa isn’t interested in breaking.

Pipeline company TransCanada, whose multibillion-dollar tubes run through almost every province. Perhaps you’ve heard of Energy East (from Alberta to New Brunswick) and Keystone XL (from Alberta to the United States).

Merck and AbbVie, which make drugs that might, or might not, be covered under provincial health-insurance plans, a distinction worth many millions of dollars.

Borealis Infrastructure, an investment arm of the Ontario municipal workers’ pension plan. Among other things, Borealis has or had pieces of private nuclear company Bruce Power, the Confederation Bridge, school buildings in Nova Scotia, the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and Ontario’s land-registry system.

The Canadian Labour Congress, Unifor and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represent numerous workers whose salaries are paid in one way or another with provincial money.

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

Many of these companies and organizations have sponsored premiers’ meetings for years. In the most benign interpretation, it’s because they want premiers and their senior aides to think kindly of them and their public-spiritedness. More harshly, they’re buying face time that’s otherwise difficult to get with so many important people at once.

“I think there’s such a variety of different sponsors that do this and it sort of takes away from saying there’s single access, things like that,” said Guy Gallant, a spokesman for P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, the conference’s host. “They sponsor some social events during the week, and end of the day that takes away from taxpayers having to spend for that. And, you know, the access they do get is limited. They attend a few functions where there is quite a large gathering of people.”

Functions like receptions, he said, where a couple of representatives from each sponsor get to mingle with the 169 official delegates. (When the 13 provincial and territorial premiers met in Niagara-on-the-Lake last year, they accepted “in-kind” donations from the Jackson-Triggs winery, Spirits Canada and the Wine Council of Ontario. Juice, no doubt.)

It’s not a wholly unique circumstance, though it’s arguably the ickiest of its kind in Canada. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario had its annual meeting in London last week and sold sponsorships worth as much as $20,000. That event is combined with a trade show featuring something like 100 exhibitors, a somewhat odd assortment that includes everything from streetlight-vendors to asphalt-makers to provincial ministries, all of which pay to take part.

The gathering of councillors and mayors is more like an industry convention than a summit of leaders, at least. The premiers bill their collective selves as the Council of the Federation. That’s a name they made up in 2003 to make ganging up on the federal government sound dignified, but if they’re going to title themselves grandly they should live up to the standard that implies.

When the prime minister meets with the premiers, which hasn’t happened in five years because Stephen Harper doesn’t like being ganged up on, the taxpayers pay. There’s even a whole national agency, the lugubrious-sounding Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat, that organizes these things and will help out even if the feds aren’t going. The provinces have used it for dull-but-important meetings of agriculture ministers and ministers responsible for local governments, just in the past few weeks. Those lack the exquisite glamour of a premiers’ conference, though.

When our political executives meet to do the people’s business, it should be on the people’s dime. If they can’t afford to have receptions, or don’t want to be seen paying for them with public money, they shouldn’t have them. The way the premiers have grown accustomed to doing it is tawdry.

There is a rally for health care, starting at Trinity United Church tomorrow at noon and heading towards the Convention Centre were these meetings are taking place.

August 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Two good letters and a pleasantly cogent editorial in The Guardian:

Memories of a Good Farmer - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, August 23, 2014
I can remember growing up on the farm; my father worked very hard when it came to cultivating crops. Often, the neighbors would come help out. We picked potatoes by hand to take to our root cellar or for sale at the warehouse. We had 13 cows, and he milked them and separated the milk from the cream. It was a great place to grow up as a child. We were not rich but we were never hungry. At one point, the government approached my father to expand his farm. They offered him a large loan to build a milking parlor for his cows, buy more cows and plant more potatoes. Now, my father never had much use for politicians, so he told them where to go.

Even with a Grade 6 education, my father had the sense that this was not a good way to run his farm.

So why is it that my father had the good sense not to get in debt over his head to expand his farm the way the government wanted. Yet our well-educated politicians and farmers cannot see the damage they are doing. It is all about money. Politicians are supposedly the leaders of our society yet how can you lead a society when you just don’t listen to the people they represent. So since our politicians are not listening, I am appealing to the farmers. If you are a young man or woman who is inheriting your father’s potato farm, take a second look at what you are doing. Are you going to expose you sons and daughters to the harsh chemicals their whole lives? Are you going to continue the legacy of killing thousands of fish?

Look beyond the money and the politics at the future of every child on P.E.I. What legacy are you going to leave behind? Farmers are good people and most of them caught in a mess of corporations and government politics. Take charge of your farm and stop polluting for the sake of money.

Anne Gallant, Kensington

Regarding the backlash to Joan Diamond's concerns about pesticide drift and exposure:

Verbal Attacks are Unjustified - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pesticides in the media have been a hot topic lately, arguably even more so than in previous years. I found the story ‘Under the Microscope’ to be an interesting one. I specifically liked her quote about not blaming farmers and understanding they need to make a living like everyone else. Her stance was very objective and fair. She was not attacking anyone, and I admire that position.

The way forward is through dialogue, not each side (the citizens and farmers) blaming each other. At the end of the day, we have the same goals. We all want a stable economy. We all want a healthy population. We all want a healthy environment. Even those of us who would not identify as being ‘environmentalists’ would agree with that. The farmers have nothing to farm without good soil, and we at large have nothing to eat. We are on the same side of this issue.

As such, I was quite disappointed to see a letter from Reginald Walsh. No part of what she said indicates she has a ‘problem with the farming community.’ Nor do I see a quote that would insinuate in any way that she feels she is a ‘chemical specialist.’ Moreover, one really doesn’t need to be a chemical specialist to read the studies that are extensively available on the harm of being exposed to endocrine disrupters or carcinogens.

There are 1,000 dead fish in North River, and I don’t need to be a specialist to know this is a problem. Considering the fact that the article was about people using social media to voice complaints about pesticides, I’m not sure why you think your family should have been interviewed. I think every single person who reads your letter to the editor is wondering if you might be the person who owns the field next to Ms. Diamond.

Because we all want to have healthy lives if we worked together and were objective and fair we would all be better off. There is no need for attacks on people who simply want to see positive changes.

Ateesha MacLeod, Summerside

Pattern on Water a Concern - The Guardian Lead Editorial

Published on Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lack of information suggests province busy trying to keep details from Islanders

Government and the agricultural sector are breathing a sigh of relief with no reports of fish kills following a series of torrential downpours across P.E.I. early last week. Many people were expecting the worst — news that some stream was affected by pesticides from a heavy runoff. To date, remarkably, nothing has happened.

Early in August, isolated thunderstorms had dumped heavy showers in various areas of the province and the result was 1,000 dead fish in the Springvale area. It is the only reported fish kill this year. The province argues that conservation and protection measures are working and the lack of dead fish last week would support that conclusion.

While Environment Minister Janice Sherry said the obvious goal is zero fish kills a year, there have been a series of troubling developments within the department that makes environmental lobby groups in particular, and Islanders in general, suspicious of government motives. A pattern of secrecy is developing.

To date, there is no information from an investigation into the North River fish kill which happened almost three weeks ago. The report would indicate if the fish kill resulted from pesticides contained in a flash runoff, or some other cause. The clamour is already out for charges against those responsible.

There is additional focus on that watershed because of water safety concerns raised by Charlottetown city council since the North River is a sub-watershed area adjacent to the city’s new wellfield being developed in Miltonvale Park.

In response to that fish kill, the province’s former chief conservation officer wrote a scathing letter to the editor critical of the province’s lack of support and resources to prevent fish kills.

Besieged farmers now have to deal with a citizens-on-patrol group which has announced plans to take photos and submit reports of any suspected spraying or farming infractions.

Water safety and supply have been in sharp focus since the issue of lifting a moratorium on deep-water wells convulsed the province for the past two years. Most Islanders view those wells as a threat to the province’s groundwater supply.

Ms. Sherry didn’t help matters when she refused to divulge the recommendation on the moratorium from an advisory panel. Media recently obtained a government document on the wells through access to information. But officials blacked out significant portions of the report such as all comments and draft policies on irrigation wells, which the document says the government supports.

While government continues to wrestle with the moratorium issue, McCains announced plans to shut down its major french fry plant in Borden-Carleton, throwing more than 120 workers out of a job. Cavendish Farmers has hinted any decision to follow suit could be affected by a favourable decision on lifting the moratorium since it is pushing hard for those wells to increase potato yield and assure size and quality.

The provincial government also didn’t help its case when it refused to release the location of groundwater test sites, including those that show increased levels of pesticide contamination, a fact confirmed by an environment official.

Cosmetic pesticide spraying inside municipalities is now an election issue, and continues to dominate the agenda in both Charlottetown and Stratford. City mayoral candidate Philip Brown is supporting a complete ban on cosmetic pesticides in Charlottetown while countless letters and opinion pieces to the editor also support a total ban.

Despite assurances there is no cause for alarm, there is a general perception the province is withholding important information on water issues from Islanders. The government must put the health of its citizens first. Secrecy only makes Islanders more suspicious.

Local farmers' markets are open in Charlottetown and Stanley Bridge today.
And the Pesticide Free P.E.I. meeting is tonight, 7:30PM, Sobey's at University and Allen Street, community room.  All are invited!

August 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Yesterday's Guardian has a green Page story about the 35-minute documentary, Fish Tales P.E.I.,  which can be seen here in its entirety:
and plans are to have some public screenings and discussions in the next couple of months.

Here is the article:

Documentary Shows Fish Kill Impact - The Guardian article by Mary MacKay

Published on Monday, August 25th, 2014

Fish Tales P.E.I. is a short documentary produced about Island rivers.

After a third fish kill in as many years, a quartet of creative and environmentally attuned Prince Edward Islanders decided it was time rivers had a voice.

Now after a year in production and a film launch at Macphail Woods Nature Centre in Orwell last week, Fish Tales P.E.I. is available to watch online for free on Vimeo.

This short documentary, shot on Prince Edward Island in the summer of 2013, captures how Islanders interact with rivers and also their perspectives on the future of the province's watershed heritage.

"It's been very much a labour of love over the past year. We really just want people to see it, talk about it and go from there with their own ideas and hopes and plans," says Connor Leggott, who co-produced Fish Tales P.E.I. with fellow volunteer filmmakers Adnan Saciragic, Ashley Prince and Hanna Hameline.

Last year's fish kill spawned the idea for a video that would explore how local rivers and waterways influence Islanders' views on social and environmental issues.

"We basically wanted to tell stories about the human impact of fish kills and then to go beyond that as well because if you want to talk about a problem we don't want to just hit someone over the head with a hammer with bad news," Leggot says.

"I think for socially-conscious PSAs that's a trap they can find themselves in. If you just give bad news-bad news it's something people get tired of hearing, so we really wanted to explore what are Islanders historic connection with rivers and what are people's really personal stories and connections. . . whether it was family, work or volunteering.

"And then we got into what do you see in rivers today, what are the challenges you see? And what can you see looking forward?"

The film crew team interviewed people who derived their living from the waterways, such as shell fishers and watershed group staff, representatives from the agricultural industry and others.

"We also talked with people who had really strong family connections (to rivers). One story that opens up the documentary that is one of my favourites is a PhD candidate at the university who studies rivers and river habitat but he talks about as a kid walking along rivers and using a pussy willow branch as a fishing rod, how he learned that from his dad and it was passed down. That's something really special," Leggott says.

"He really typifies what Fish Tales is all about. . . someone who has a really personal connection, but someone who is also today really passionate about the scientific aspect of rivers: protection, studying fish habitat, fish spawning patterns and things like that."

In co-producing the film Leggott got to delve a little deeper into the subject of "fish kills."

"People described fish kills as a big high-publicity event that the media really goes for, then after a couple of weeks the talk about it dies off, but the effects of fish kills lasts longer than that," he says.

"And there are also other connected problems; the biggest one people mentioned was sedimentation, which is dirt, especially topsoil from road construction, from agriculture that runs into the rivers. And there are different problems from that that people discuss; one of that is it disrupts the habitat of the trout, for example, they need to lay their eggs in a gravel bottom bed and if there's too much sediment going in then that disrupts their habitat and reduces their ability to spawn for future generations."

The other river-destroying culprit that goes along with the sedimentation is nitrogen fertilizer - nitrates - that washes from fields into rivers as well.

"That's when we get things like anoxic events and nitrification where the nitrogen causes a lot of plants like sea lettuce, which grows and blooms in the water, and when it dies off it sucks a lot of the oxygen out of the water. You get these stinky white milky green estuaries and then you also have fish, shellfish and other critters that are living in the water that die off from that as well," Leggott says.

"Another interesting point that a lot of people brought up was that people talk about fish kills but the more appropriate term is river kills because it's not just fish that are affected. . . ."

One common thread throughout, Leggott says, whether the interviewees lived in watersheds areas, were farmers or with the Federation of Agriculture, was that they all recognized topsoil can't be leaving the fields and that better crop rotation and soil management practices are needed.

Leggott hopes the film puts the spotlight on rivers as being an important part of our heritage that needs to be appreciated.

"And part of that appreciation means knowing more about what's going on and caring about what is being done with rivers, caring about the direction they're going in, and whether that means just continuing the conversation and fostering that understanding or whether it means speaking up to government or industry or watershed groups or any other player in that, speaking up with them to let them know what people want with their rivers."

August 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tomorrow, there is a forum on health care coinciding the the provincial and territorial health ministers' meeting:

from Friday's Guardian:

Council of Canadians, CUPE Plan Town Hall Meeting on Health - The Guardian article

As the Canadian premiers meet in Charlottetown from Aug. 26 to 30, the Council of Canadians and Canadian Union of Public Employees will hold a town hall meeting on the current state of Canadian health care and why Canada needs a new Health Accord.

The meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 26, at the Rodd Charlottetown in Charlottetown, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Speakers will be Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians; Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees; and Michael McBane, national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition.

I am forwarding this from Ellie Reddin and Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS)  PEI, which has been working tirelessly to keep tabs on proposed drilling and other projects which could affect PEI.

She wrote it to the SOSS members, but if anyone else is interested in writing a quick e-mail to Mr. Scott Tessier about the Old Harry Project:

Scott Tessier <stessier@cnlopb.nl.ca>

Below are the note from Ellie to the SOSS group, and three letters with background (hers, one from Sylvain Archambault from the St. Lawrence Coalition, and the final one is the one she refers to as an attachment in her note but I put it as a cut-and-past). Bold is mine.

Hello SOSS PEI group,

I am writing to ask each of you to take a few minutes to send an email to Scott Tessier, Chair and CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, urging the Board to initiate an extensive public consultation on Old Harry before making a decision about this project.  To give you some ideas about what you could say, I am forwarding a short email I just sent to the C-NLOPB, as well as an email Sylvain Archambault sent on June 30, and the attached letter Colin Jeffrey sent recently on behalf of SOSS-PEI. 

The Old Harry issue is becoming urgent.  Stopping the Old Harry project before it is approved is our only hope to keep oil drilling out of the Gulf.  Please add your voice at this crucial time.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ellie Reddin
Date: Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM
Subject: public consultation on Old Harry
To: Scott Tessier <stessier@cnlopb.nl.ca>
Cc: Dave Burley, Sean Kelly, Elizabeth Young, Ed Williams

Scott Tessier 

Chair and CEO

Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

Dear Mr. Tessier:

I realize the C-NLOPB is considering how to proceed with a public consultation on the Old Harry project.  I urge you to initiate an extensive public consultation, preferably by means of a well-publicized independent review with open public hearings providing opportunities for meaningful input in each of the five provinces bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It is very important that the public consultation be held prior to any draft determination on the Old Harry project.



Ellie Reddin

Cornwall, PEI


From: Sylvain Archambault
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 9:24 AM
To: Tessier, Scott
Cc: Kelly, Sean; Burley, Dave; Williams, Ed; Jean-Patrick Toussaint; Danielle Giroux
Subject: Old Harry public consultation

Dear Mr. Tessier,

Subject: Old Harry "extensive public consultation"

The Old Harry drilling project has been under environmental assessment for more than three years now, and the draft screening report is probably close to being released. The St. Lawrence Coalition wants to share with you some of its concerns related to the "extensive public consultation" that has been recommended by ex-minister Peter Kent.

1. The recommendation for the addition of an "extensive public consultation" in the screening process has been reiterated many times by the Environment Minister.

2. The CNLOPB has also reiterated that a public consultation will indeed be done on the old Harry project.

3. The CNLOPB has mentioned many times that the format for this consultation has not been decided on, but that an "independent review" is still being considered.

4, The CNLOPB has mentioned that it will take a decision related to this public consultation after the end of the SEA Update.

5. The legal 365-days deadline for the production of the screening report seems to be over since late-May  

As this "extensive public consultation" has been waited for by a large number of groups/communities/First Nations around the Gulf, could you confirm to us that there will soon be a positive announcement on this "extensive public consultation" prior to any draft determination on the Old Harry project?

We are in the process of submitting an op-ed on the subject to several major medias in the Gulf provinces early next week​, as can be seen in the attached file. Of course, this op-ed would be substantially modified, or ​perhaps even dropped, depending on any comment or announcement you would provide.

Thank you very much for your attention on this important matter.


Sylvain Archambault
St. Lawrence Coalition

Save Our Seas and Shores, PEI Chapter
c/o Voluntary Resource Centre
81 Prince St.
Charlottetown PEI 
C1A 4R3
August 1, 2014

Scott Tessier
Chair and Chief Executive Officer
Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board
5th Floor TD Place, 140 Water Street
St. John's, NL A1C 6H6

Dear Mr. Tessier,

I am writing on behalf of Save Our Seas and Shores - PEI Chapter to request information on the anticipated public consultation for the Old Harry environmental assessment.  In 2011, then Minister of Environment Peter Kent requested that the C-NLOPB include “extensive public consultation” in the screening environmental assessment for an exploratory well at the Old Harry prospect.  Since then the C-NLOPB has indicated several times that it will undertake significant public consultation during this environmental assessment.  It appears that all involved federal departments completed their review of Corridor Resources’ Environmental Impact Study by the end of 2013.  However, the C-NLOPB has still not indicated how and when “extensive public consultation” for this environmental assessment will take place.  We would like to be informed as soon as possible of the nature of this public consultation and be given sufficient notice to adequately plan and prepare for its occurrence.

Save Our Seas and Shores - PEI Chapter would like to be specific about our expectations for “extensive public consultation” as requested by Minister Kent.  The public consultation undertaken during the SEA Update was completely inadequate and there is no indication that the comments made by Atlantic Canadians contributed to the conclusions of this document in a meaningful way.  Inadequacies include a lack of opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns on the public record at the open house sessions and biases observed in the invitation of organizations for private meetings.  We do not therefore believe that public consultation for the SEA Update was conducted in a rigorous, meaningful or democratic manner and expect a much improved process for the Old Harry environmental assessment.  To ensure that extensive public consultation on the Old Harry environmental assessment is conducted in a rigorous, meaningful and democratic manner we call on the C-NLOPB to resume the Independent Review it initiated in 2011.  We now believe that an independent third party is required to determine if there are social or environmental issues of a serious nature in the Western Newfoundland offshore. As you must remember, the C-NLOPB itself recommended that the Old Harry environmental assessment be referred to a mediator or review panel due to the unprecedented level of public interest and concern expressed over the scoping document for this project.  We thank the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board for considering our requests and look forward to receiving further information on the public consultation for this environmental assessment.


Colin Jeffrey

On behalf of Save Our Seas and Shores - PEI Chapter

Edward Williams - Vice Chair
David Burley - Director, Environmental Affairs
Sean Kelly -  Manager of Public Relations

August 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today the Town of Stratford is hosting a tour of naturally beautiful gardens, 1-3PM:
from the website:

Natural Stratford Tour

It’s time to hop on the bus gus! The Stratford Area Watershed Improvement Group and Town of Stratford are hosting an exciting bus tour of beautiful places within the municipality. The Town of Stratford has been asking residents to be more natural when it comes to their lawns and gardens and now we would like to show these natural spaces off. On Sunday, August 24th from 1-3pm, we will be touring several chemical-free gardens and natural areas throughout the town, ending off at the Stratford Community Garden for refreshments and mingling. Please meet at the Stratford Town Hall by 12:45pm, located at 234 Shakespeare Drive.
We will be riding in style in a luxury 44-person bus; however, this means space will be limited!
Please contact Kelley at 367-3605 or at KArnold@townofstratford.ca, to book your spot(s). Reservation recommended but not necessary if seats are available.
This event is open to all members of the Stratford community and Stratford watershed area. We look forward to seeing you on the 24th.


(It took me a second to figure out the reference to the 1975 Paul Simon song as in "Hop on the bus, Gus, you don't need to discuss much...", and to sigh at another example of the loss of the Comma for Direct Address.  ;-)

The idea and tour sound like a great idea, and it appears people interested from outside Stratford would be welcome if space allows.

See resident (and hosts of one of the gardens on the tour) and retired scientist Roger Gordon's letter, below

Costs of using pesticide less than benefits of ridding lawn of chinch bugs - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Roger Gordon

Published on Friday, August 22, 2014 

As I’ve been walking around my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that some homeowners (thankfully, a minority) have had their lawns sprayed with Sevin (chemical name, carbaryl). The lawn spraying companies use it primarily to control the chinch bug, though it is secondarily targeted at the June beetle grubs. On a cost-benefit analysis, danger to human health and the environment versus the much ballyhooed “perfect lawn,” this seems to me to be a no brainer.

Carbaryl is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme present in the nervous systems of all animals, from a jelly fish to an Albert Einstein, that is essential for proper nervous system functioning. This means that all animals to varying degrees are affected by a compound such as carbaryl. It is non specific and therefore detrimental to the ecosystem, let alone human health. The acute symptoms of exposure to carbaryl, as declared on the Material Safety Data Sheet  (MSDS) supplied by the company that produces it, reads like a witches’ brew: burns skin and eyes, causes nausea, cramps, diarrhea, salivation, vomiting, sweating, blurred vision, lack of coordination, convulsions. Yet, it’s the longer term effects of carbaryl exposure that are even more concerning.

In a landmark 2001 study done by a group of French and American scientists, it was determined that carbaryl caused damage to the DNA of human liver cells. In that same year, a study of 4,000 farmers in four midwestern U.S. states revealed that those who had used carbaryl were 30-50 per cent more likely to contract Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer, than those who hadn’t used it.

Then, a group of U.S. scientists in 2010 concluded from studying 56,285 pesticide applicators,  that people who applied carbaryl on a routine basis were 1.7 times more likely to contract skin melanoma than those who didn’t. I wonder why P.E.I. has the highest rate of skin cancer in the country?  

Two excellent, highly analytical (2010, 2012) reviews of the literature by Canadian and U.S. scientists, respectively, concluded that maternal exposure to insecticides (e.g. carbaryl) during pregnancy, whether in an occupational or residential setting, significantly increased the chances of the offspring developing childhood leukemia, as was also the case if the children were exposed post partum. In the second of these reviews, the authors concluded that “there is a growing body of literature that suggests that pesticides may induce chronic health complications in children, including neurodevelopmental problems, birth defects, asthma, and cancer.”

The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. considers carbaryl to be “likely to be carcinogenic in humans.” Even the company’s own MSDS states “this product contains ingredients that are considered to be probable or suspected human carcinogens.” The EPA also deems carbaryl to be toxic to a wide array of animals. Of greatest concern to P.E.I. would be fish, oysters, and honey bees. No wonder that several countries have banned carbaryl: United Kingdom, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Iran and Angola.  

The costs of using carbaryl cannot be seen to be greater than the benefits of ridding a lawn of chinch bugs. Most lawns, kept in good condition by natural methods, recover from chinch bug damage. I use a mild detergent solution to treat the chinch bug brown areas on my lawn. Then, I overseed. For natural ways to combat this insect, go to the Nova Scotia website (http://www.novascotia.ca/nse/pests/docs/chinchbug.pdf).

But, don’t spray with carbaryl.

Roger Gordon, Stratford, is a retired biologist and former Dean of Science at UPEI who has published extensively on biological methods for controlling insect pests.

On-line media articles instigate a variety of comments, and one that pops up in stories about any loss of some animal or plant life is that "it is only a small number."

Regarding the incident in the North River, it was reported that the episode:

<<killed more than 1,000 rainbow trout, brook trout, stickleback and Atlantic salmon">>
and several on-line comments were about it being *only* a thousand fish. 
To which a knowledgeable person later wrote:

more than 1000 fish were found but productive Island streams like this one may have fish populations of over 300 fish/m2 of multiple age classes from young of the year to adult 3-4 years old or more.  It is safe to assume many more (10's if not 100's of times what are found) were killed in the North River fish kill.  It is too bad the focus is always on the ones that are collected.  A thousand fish, that diminishes extent of the loss, and lets people say so as some do, "It is only a thousand fish."  

and a letter worth repeating:

Comments unfair against Diamond - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 22nd, 2014

An article in The Guardian last week, ‘Under the Microscope’ has been under criticism. I recently met Joan Diamond right before the article came out and I was very impressed with all that she had to say. She was so diplomatic, and understanding of the issues multiple sides have to face. It was quite obvious that she was not against farmers.

She said she felt many had no choice with the way agriculture is structured. I feel the comments made in regards to her are unfair. I applaud Joan Diamond and anyone who speaks up. It’s not easy to do. Everyone knows a farmer and it’s difficult to discuss agriculture without mentioning farming practices.

The farmers that I know are good people. Some are family. Some question the effects as well. They have a job to do which they are forced to do a certain way. These issues will never be discussed in government if the public isn’t paying attention.

I also find the “You should have thought of that before moving to the country” rebuttals very frustrating. It’s such an ignorant response we all commonly hear. We live in the country and were naive to think fields were only sprayed a few times a year. Once I was actually out here every day working from home, I realized each field is sprayed once a week or more.

We are surrounded by three different fields with more next to those, and they are often sprayed on different days. I hate that part of living in the country but I figure it doesn’t matter where you live. The big ubiquitous sprayers driving back and forth in the fields next to our house every other day, and the occasional glimpse of many workers dressed in white suits and gas masks by night, just makes the sprays and their toxicity perpetually visible to us country folk.

We are only a six-minute drive from Summerside, there are also fields next to subdivisions in town and I know people getting several cosmetic pesticide notices a summer. It doesn’t matter where you live. We’re on a very small Island with wind farms because it’s windy 75 per cent of the time. It’s everywhere.

Virginia Doyle, New Annan

August 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A lovely swath of farmers' markets are open today (Bloomfield, Summerside, Victoria-by-the-Sea, Charlottetown, Stratford, Morell, Cardigan, Montague, and Murray Harbour).

I think real Island-outside-grown tomatoes are available, and peppers. 

The town of Stratford posts its vendor list on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/townofstratford
A very interesting article came out this week from the U.S.-based Organic Consumers Association titled "What's Holding Back the Organic Revolution?" by Ronnie Cummins.

Here are some excerpts, heavily snipped; full article link here:
and link also at bottom:

But it’s not just the impact of organic foods on personal health that concerns consumers. Organic consumers express rising concern over the destructive impacts of industrial agriculture and factory farms on the environment, climate, animal welfare, farm workers and rural communities. Increasingly, consumers are coming to understand that industrial agriculture and factory farms are the leading cause of water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, wetlands destruction, desertification, reduced biodiversity and, most important of all, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Good news: Organic farming and ranching can regenerate soils and reverse global warming
Bad news: Organic and climate-friendly food and farming are still a relatively small niche market
The life or death question is this: If the overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers say they prefer organics and would like to buy and consume healthier and more sustainable food, then why aren’t they doing so?

There appear to be several systemic, deeply embedded reasons why most Americans are still buying and consuming junk foods rather than “going organic.” These include the addictive nature and omnipresence of “chemically engineered” processed foods; lack of money and time; rampant nutrition and cooking illiteracy; and labeling fraud.

Let’s take a closer look at these problems.
Chemically engineered foods and consumers. According to recent studies, including the best-selling book by New York Times columnist Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, the bulk of the nation’s processed foods, beverages and restaurant fare have been deliberately “chemically engineered” (i.e. laced with addictive, unhealthy combinations of sugar, salts and fats) by a network of food technologists employed by large food corporations determined to turn us into food addicts.
Lack of money and time.
The majority of Americans are victimized not only by a powerful, shadowy network of food technologists, chemical companies and mass media propagandists, but also by a corporatized and inequitable economy. Even if you want to feed yourself or your children organic food, and serve up healthy home-cooked meals, in today’s “Fast Food Nation” consumers face a host of major obstacles, including the high cost of living, lack of free time, lack of cooking skills, cultural distractions and sub-standard wages.
Nutrition and culinary illiteracy.
Most Americans say they’d like to eat healthier foods, and cook more at home, but typically have learned little or nothing about proper nutrition, the superiority of organic foods and grass fed or pastured meats and animal products, or how to affordably purchase healthy ingredients and cook tasty and nutritious meals at home.
How do we move from ‘Fast Food Nation’ to ‘Organic Nation’?
rest of article:

Have a good day, and remember Art in the Open later this afternoon
and the final day of the Jazz and Blues Festival

August 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A reminder that the first part of the Transition Movement workshop is open to the public tonight at 6PM, for a suggested $5 donation (lunch) included, at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown.

There were also two good letters in yesterday's Guardian:

Sierra Club supports call for pesticide-free buffer zones on P.E.I.- The Guardian Guest Opinion by Tony Reddin

Published on August 21, 2014

The national environmental group Sierra Club Canada announced Wednesday its support for pesticide-free buffer zones around key public areas on Prince Edward Island. This is a minimum standard for protection of public health. The citizens’ group Pesticide-Free P.E.I. has asked the P.E.I. government to create pesticide-free buffer zones of at least 25 metres around children’s playgrounds, schools, preschools, bus stops, hospitals, and senior citizens’ homes. We strongly support this request; and those regulations should be written to clearly apply to all pesticides, not just cosmetic urban applications.

Given the recent fish kill in the watershed for the future Charlottetown water supply, reports of cosmetic pesticide applications next to playgrounds, and reports of pesticides in many provincial test wells, Sierra Club is calling on the P.E.I. government to put in place province-wide buffer zones immediately.

The new school year will soon begin and some rural P.E.I. school properties have potato fields right next to them. There need to be large pesticide-free buffer zones to protect our children from poisoning.

Government should release the test results for those school wells, and conduct and assess tests of air quality at those schools if and when pesticides are being sprayed nearby.

Sierra Club is also calling for a comprehensive plan to be enacted as soon as possible to minimize pesticide drift and contamination of drinking water, and other unconsented exposures to pesticides.

Cosmetic pesticides must be phased out. Rules should require agriculture pesticide applicators to identify and avoid sensitive areas within range of the area being targeted, such as homes, businesses, recreation areas, water bodies, and wells. Other factors, such as weather, topography, and proximity to places of particular sensitivity, including those already mentioned, must also be considered and require applicators to take additional measures, such as wider buffer zones, to adequately protect public health and the environment.

Sierra Club believes that stronger pesticide regulations will lower health care costs by removing environmental toxins that affect people’s immune systems and resistance to diseases.

More and more Islanders are speaking out to have our health care placed ahead of the profits of pesticide corporations.

It is the responsibility of the P.E.I. government, not individual citizens, to provide leadership in promoting preventative health care and protecting public health and the environment from pesticides.

Tony Reddin is a Sierra Club of Canada P.E.I. volunteer and national board member

And on high capacity wells:

California offers drought example - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 21, 2014

A few weeks ago, television viewers were informed on drought problems in the state of California. Due to the scarcity of fresh water many orange groves are being intentionally destroyed. Most interesting, for me, had to do with deep-water wells being used to water and irrigate the orange groves during drought periods.

After the first lot of deep wells became available and after that drought subsided, growers decided they had an abundance of water and they increased their acreage. But this present existing drought period, which started almost two years ago without letup, has resulted in a race to drill more and more wells. Growers now realize the deepest wells take away water from the surrounding not-so-deep wells, causing them to go dry. To replace the dry wells, even deeper wells are drilled. A domino effect is occurring.

I wonder if those same problems will be allowed to develop here on our little stretch of red soil. In rural P.E.I., every residence, every business and every farm each have their own relatively shallow wells that provide for their fresh water needs.

P.E.I. doesn’t have snow-capped mountains to provide snow melt water to augment our ground water table. P.E.I. doesn’t have any large deep fresh water lakes that can be used as watershed fresh water reservoirs.

If deep-water wells are used to water and irrigate P.E.I.’s crops, what will happen to all the relatively shallow wells? How many will run dry? Will there be a domino effect? Will each well drilling company try to drill to a deeper depth every well they drill?

California orange growers didn’t look far into their future. They were excited to benefit from short-term gain. Will such ignorance, such lack of knowledge, such lack of foresight, be condoned here on P.E.I., or like the orange growers, will we go for the short-term gain.

I, for one, hope not.

D.S. MacWilliams, Montague

Here's to our little stretch of red soil!

August 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The Jazz and Blues Festival starts tonight and runs until Saturday night.   There are three main shows each night (one at 7:30PM at St. Paul's Church, one at 8PM at Brewing Company, one at 11PM at the Brewing Company), plus a bunch of other concerts popping up everywhere.  It's a really eclectic line-up.  There are a goodly number of sponsored but I will spare you the list. :-)
More details of the shows here:

and today's Guardian story here:
Friday evening all are welcome to the introductory talk about the Transition Movement:

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

A good letter from yesterday's paper:

Irvings will walk off into sunset - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 20, 2014 There is a lot of demonizing going on lately. The farmers are being demonized for their farm practices. The environmentalists for pointing out  there are many things wrong in the environment and something should be done. And the provincial government for not taking action on either side of the issue.

I must admit I am as guilty as anyone for this practice. It seems to be them or us. Maybe we should pause a minute. The farmer wants to farm, support his/her family and provide us with food. It is not his/her intention to harm the environment. The environmentalists are pointing out things that have gone wrong or could. They are not out to destroy jobs and ruin people’s lives. Not all modern advances in farming are bad, but there are canaries not singing in the mine, like the honeybees and after what happened in Toledo, Ohio, we must stop and think.

With the deep wells and Irvings, the provincial government is between a rock and a hard place. If they say no they will oversee a huge economic meltdown on the Island, if they say yes, perhaps an even bigger environmental one. The Irvings have threatened us and it is a very big threat. So now we are all fighting among ourselves. My thought is they are planning on leaving away, whatever happens and when they do, Islanders will be very busy blaming each other, and the Irvings will walk off into the sunset.

Carol Capper, Summerside

And from Paul MacNeill in The Eastern Graphic family of newspapers (which only allows six free articles a month):

Another fish kill, another ministerial failure - The Eastern Graphic article by Paul MacNeill

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5:00 am

Once again PEI’s Minister of Environment is stumbling her way through a crisis. Janice Sherry tried to put the best spin on the North River disaster that killed more than 1,000 rainbow trout, brook trout, stickleback and Atlantic salmon. She even called the latest kill devastating. 

That is an understatement.

Janice Sherry’s description, while appropriate, will do nothing to bring back the dead fish or stop future kills. Hollow political rhetoric rarely solves anything. 

Government’s response to fish kills is a classic exercise in duck, bob and weave. Frontline resources and action never match its words of concern. Fear of alienating the farming community stops government from doing what is necessary. Its primary objective is to appease the general public while doing little to stop future kills from occurring.

This lack of urgency is the primary reason for the annual blotch on our Island reputation. What government fails to grasp is its lack of action not only enables fish kills but harms good farmers, and there are a lot of them. 

The vast majority of Island farmers are conscientious stewards of the land. Every time a fish kill occurs good farmers are convicted by association and the public’s confidence in our vital agriculture sector is reduced. There is nothing like a fish kill to provide easy ammunition to environmental zealots with little appreciation for the role agriculture plays in our economy. 

Hollow words of concern followed by a promise to investigate and, if necessary, tighten rules and regulations is as predictable as the kills themselves. 

Sherry’s tenure as minister has been a miserable exercise in mediocrity. Her handling of fish kills – and this marks the fourth year in a row – and deep well irrigation are both marked by a lack of firm leadership and attempts to dodge and mislead the public. 

CBC reported that two separate requests were made to the department for the deep well irrigation report produced by the minister’s advisory committee. One response claimed no report existed. The second response said the report existed but would not be released. 

Even if you get past the unfathomable reality of two separate answers for the same question, the department’s response is clearly titled toward secrecy. 

And Minister Janice Sherry is responsible. She is invoking a section of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that allows advice to a minister to be withheld.

Irony apparently is lost on the minister. While slamming shut the doors of accountability, she is proclaiming the deep well issue must be fully transparent. 

Transparency apparently does not extend to the office of the minister of environment. 

The credibility of deep well science is of even more importance with the announced closure of the McCain french fry plant and the ratcheting up of rhetoric by rival Cavendish Farms, now claiming access to deep wells could be a deciding factor in any decision to follow McCain out of Prince Edward Island. 

It is a serious threat. One that should not be taken lightly, but also one that government should not cave to.

While the Ghiz government has continued to grow the provincial bureaucracy, it has not invested in frontline environmental services that could increase the public’s trust of the department and the processes it utilizes.

Until the government is prepared to put money behind its rhetoric we are only left with the minister’s word and from an environmental protection perspective that is not worth much.

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

Two comments: "environmental zealots" is rather unkind; and would any other government member do anything differently than Minister Sherry? 

August 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight is the screening of Fish Tales, a 35-minute documentary about Island waterways, at Macphail Woods.  The event will have a walk, the film, a discussion and some entertainment by Island poet Deirdre Kessler and fiddler Roy Johnstone.

The Pesticide Free PEI meeting has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, August 27th.

Last night's CBC Compass carried a feature on a revived initiative to bring unsold produce and perishables from the Charlottetown Farmers' Market to others who can't afford or gain access to them. 
It is 21 minutes into the broadcast.  Great working together by the Food Exchange, the Charlottetown Farmers' Market and manager, the Salvation Army and others.

Two letters of note in yesterday's Guardian:
From Island biologist emeritus Ian MacQuarrie,

Is industrial farming acceptable as necessary economic engine? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 19, 2014

I thank Alan Holman for his August 16 column “It costs a pile to grow a potato.”  He nicely describes P.E.I. agriculture for what it is: modern industrial operations more closely related to things like mining or major manufacturing than to our benign image of “family farms.” Thus, we should not be surprised that the requirements for large-scale crop monoculture mean that nothing much else can survive in the outdoor factories: bees, birds and most mammals must go elsewhere or perish. In some cases, even the soil must be killed in order to support such an industry.

I think it strange that we seem to get alarmed only when farming is linked to fish kills or anoxic waterways. Why should we worry about a few fish? Surely sports fishers can find something else to do; perhaps they could go online for virtual fishing experiences. After all, what matters is the economic engine that is modern farming, and all of the spinoffs that come from it. We willingly sacrifice much natural capital in pursuit of the ideal french fry, but I suppose our society must have some sort of measurable goals.

We thus accept industrial farming as the required economic engine without which our Island would somehow sink without trace. At the same time, we have constant worries about this — will the weather hold, will there be enough water, will the market let producers gain a profit? And there are ominous signs; some consumers are becoming restive about pesticide residues, and GMO foods, and exactly what is meant by ‘food safety.’ I have no idea where all of this is leading; I am quite content to leave the prophesying to your editors and columnists.

Good luck to all.

Ian MacQuarrie, Hazel Grove

And from former Chief Conservation Officer John Clements:

No one cares about dead fish? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 19, 2014

Once again the silence is deafening on P.E.I. Another rain and more red water. Why has society come to accept it to be normal to fear the rain and what consequences come from it with dead fish floating and the estuaries turning white with nutrient load?

Four years have passed since leaving my home province and every summer since it continues. While trying to lead enforcement to protect the precious water and fish in the streams and rivers it became increasingly frustrating with the inability to have politicians do anything more than lip service to the situation.

It is much easier to criticize the conservation officers who lack resources and legislation to deal with this societal plague. They are trying to save what is left with little ability or political willpower.

So as I asked Premier Ghiz and his cabinet when I last spoke to them in Tyne Valley in 2009, to explain why it was the opinion of some ministers that I was targeting Liberal supporters in our enforcement work . . . “why is it normal now that the rivers turn red and the bays turn white?” The answer I got was "thanks John for coming to speak."

Does anyone care?

John K. Clements,
Former Chief Conservation Officer in P.E.I.,
Ancaster, Ont.

August 19, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight is the keynote address by Art Eggleston, at 6:30PM at the Canada Pavilion at the Celebration Zone, free, related to the Atlantic Summer Institute.

This Friday is a free talk by the two folks leading the Transition Workshop taking place this weekend.

temporarily unable to upload :( please check out our facebook page for the photo

Some notes on fracking, from near and far away.

Maine, from the National Wildlife Federation:

New Brunswickers will go to the poll for a provincial election, set for September 22.   The Conservative government is basing their campaign on being very pro-resource development.  However, the government is getting sued by Windsor Energy anyway:

From Don't Frack PEI:
Windsor Energy, a fracking company which was prevented from conducting seismic testing in New Brunswick because the government believed they were breaking the rules, is suing the NB government for loss of potential revenue – for $105 million.

A story about fracking in Denton, Texas; Texas being way "ahead" of the game with fracking -- an object lesson for us?  And maybe applicable to other fields:

an excerpt:

It's a pattern of almost laughable desperation. As the industry clutches at straws - and threatens lawsuits - they are alienating more and more people. At a recent City Council hearing, with 600 people sitting in three overflow rooms, 85 percent of Denton speakers supported the ban. When you've got mothers testifying about how living at home has become a nightmare while industry representatives say we must "fully and effectively" exploit mineral resources no matter what - well, it becomes pretty clear who the real extremists are.

August 18, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Events this week, not in chronological order:

Wednesday, August 20th, 6:30PM, Macphail Woods, free (but donations likely accepted), sponsored by ECO-PEI
Fish Tales film premiere and event.

On behalf of the production crew of Fish Tales PEI, we would like to invite you to join us at the MacPhail Woods Nature Centre on Wednesday, August 20th, at 6:30pm for a river walk on the historic MacPhail grounds, music and poetry by Island artists and an informative evening of discussions followed by the premiere of Fish Tales.

Fish Tales is a short documentary film shot on PEI in the summer of 2013. The film explores how rivers and waterways on Prince Edward Island influence Islanders’ views on social and environmental issues. We look at current realities and challenges in our rivers, including the human impact of catastrophic events like fish kills. 

Through interviews and storytelling with experts from all sides of the spectrum, Fish Tales captures how Islanders interact with these areas, and their perspectives on the future of our watershed heritage.

We want to highlight that many Islanders, from all walks of life, are interdependent with, and have a responsibility towards, the health of PEI's historic waterways. 

To view a trailer for the film, please visit www.vimeo.com/conorleggott/fishtalestrailer

The 1 minute trailer is utterly poignant.
(There are plans for another screening in Charlottetown in the next while, if you can't make it.)

And because there are only so many nights in the week, Wednesday is also the next Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club at the corner of Haviland and Water.
from the organizer, Maureen Kerr:

It's astounding to me how much pesticides have been in the paper as of late, and huge props go out to those who have put themselves out there in the media to speak out against the harm being done by pesticides, both from an agricultural standpoint and cosmetic.  It takes a lot of guts and is not for the faint of heart.

We are also grateful to Earth Action who has announced Operation Pesticide Watch across PEI and on days like today, is encouraging people to monitor the waterways for dead fish.  

Very alarming is the news about the pesticides showing up in wells throughout PEI: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/well-pesticide-detections-examined-for-changing-trend-1.2737494 and as scientist Roger Gordon says: Another way of expressing the Envt Dept data: 

The latest sampling showed 43 out of 44 groundwater sites contaminated with pesticides. The # of pesticides detected in each site ranged from 2 to 6. In all, 15 different pesticides were detected among the 44 sites.

I know it's still summer, but we would love to have your support so please let me know you if you can make it. The more the merrier.  I think we're getting somewhere!

I think, but can't find the details, that the public information meeting is tonight regarding the Tryon TCH work. 
Tuesday  -- something different at the Celebration Zone:
Tuesday, August 19th, 6:30PM, the Canada Pavilion, Keynote address by Art Eggleston.

The Atlantic Summer Institute on Health and Safe Communities is having their conference in Charlottetown next week.  The theme is "Renewing Democracy Though Social Justice: Adding New Voices"

and Art Eggleston, a non-flamboyant former Mayor of Toronto, former MP, and current Senator, is giving the keynote address on "The Great Divergence: Income Inequality".

FairVote and LeadNow Canada will be having a booth there, and you are welcome to stop by.

August 17, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Here is a cute video "Gives Bees a Chance", from "GreenBees".  It's about a minute long. 
It uses humour to make a point, but it also makes me sad.

GreenBees is attempting to counteract "information" from the likes of this:

from April of this year:

CORNERSTONE TO HELP BAYER’S BEE PROBLEM: Bayer Corporation has signed Cornerstone Government Affairs to help “pollinator health and habitat promotion” after a growing campaign, which includes reports from the European Union, has accused the chemical company of causing large-scale harm to the bee population with its pesticides. The company opened a $2.4 million North American Bayer Bee Care Center in Durham, N.C., on Tuesday, to match a similar center in Monheim, Germany. Bayer is one of three companies to sign with Cornerstone this week. American Traffic Solutions is having the firm lobby for traffic cameras, and Brynwood Partners is seeking work on supplemental nutrition programs for women and children.

And rather creepy pages about the lobbying company:


Apparently, we missed this celebration on Thursday:

The Good News on National Honey Bee Day - Bayer CropScience Celebrates Positive Trends in Bee Health

<<snip>>   The fact that neonicotinoids can help control destructive pests while protecting our needed pollinators, such as honey bees, is what makes them so essential to pest management programs. There have been more than 100 studies investigating neonicotinoids and pollinators, and, under conditions of practical field use, these products are not harmful to bee colonies.

You can do your part too! Plant a bee-friendly garden to give honey bees food to eat and share the importance of honey bees with your neighbors and friends. Keeping bees healthy takes everyone working together to find solutions.>>
Bayer Canada also gives generously to 4-H Canada.

I liked the Mousey columns better.

It costs a pile to grow a potato - The Guardian columnist Alan Holman

By Alan Holman (printed on the right-hand columnists' page of the paper)

Published on Saturday, August 16th, 2014 

Following the announcement that the McCain french fry processing plant in Borden-Carleton was closing, there was a plethora of letters to the editor offering any amount of gratuitous advice. A lot of it leaned towards abandoning the way potatoes are grown and turning P.E.I. into a million-acre organic farm.

This may be a good idea. But, on the surface it seems a tad idealistic and it ignores what many people forget, or wish to ignore; farming, first and foremost, is a business, not just a way of life.

Organic produce is available in most Island supermarkets. But, it is not a main stay. Most shoppers buy regular, non-organic produce for a variety of reasons, including price and appearance. Island potato farmers grow in excess of 2 billion pounds of potatoes a year, even if they could grow 2 billon pounds of organic potatoes, finding a market for them would be a challenge, and a huge gamble.

It is doubtful many Islanders understand what a capital intensive business potato farming is. With exception of seed, and some speciality growers, the rule ‘go big or stay home’ applies in spades to potato farming. Hence, in the last 20-30 years there was a tremendous consolidation in the industry. Fewer farmers are growing more potatoes today than were grown on the Island 30 years ago.

A farmer growing 500 acres of potatoes isn’t unusual on the Island. To grow 500 acres of potatoes requires a minimum of 1,500 acres, because of the need for crop rotation. Depending where it is, good potato land sells for between $2,000 and $3,500 an acre. The means the cost of the land for that size farm is somewhere between $3 million and $5 1/4 million. Even if the farmer leases a portion of his land those leases will be based on the value of the land.

There is also the cost of equipment. Modern equipment requires large tractors which sell for approximately $1,000 per horsepower. Most tractors of potato farms are in the 150 to 200 horsepower range and about a half dozen are needed. Another million dollars. Then there are plows, disc harrows, planters, tillers, sprayers, diggers, wind rowers, harvesters, escalators, a fleet of trucks with potato boxes, graders, baggers, fork-lifts, etc, etc. Easily another million or so. For the sake of argument lets say $2 million for equipment.

A modern storage facility with computerized climate control to hold 10 million pounds of potatoes will cost between a million and a half, and two million dollars.

So without planting a single spud, the land, the equipment and storage for the crop will cost approximately seven or eight million dollars. Then add another million dollars or so, every year, to cover the costs of seed, fertilizer, sprays and labour.

If you include the cost of land, equipment, seed, chemicals, fuel, labour and the cost of money for working capital, people involved in the potato industry feel that $3,000 an acre is a reasonable ballpark figure to estimate the costs of planting, growing, harvesting, storing and selling a crop. Costs for table potatoes may run a bit higher than potatoes grown to supply the french fry plants.

If everything goes right and a grower is able to produce a crop of 300 hundredweights, or 30,000 lbs., to the acre, he would need to be paid 10 cents a pound, just to break even. But, yields vary from approximately 250 hundredweight to 320 hundredweight per acre, depending on the grower and on the variety of potatoes being grown.

And then there’s disease. Diseases can effect the yield and the storage capability of potatoes. Because of soil conditions, in some instances caused by poor rotation practices, and because of our damp climate, potatoes grown on the Island need a lot of chemicals to deal with blight and other problems.

The money potato farmers have tied up in their land, storage facilities and equipment is a long-term investment that won’t be paid off for years. But, they’re the ultimate optimists. If they don’t have a contract with a plant, they don’t know what price they will get for their crop. Even if a grower has a contract this year, it doesn’t mean he’ll have a contract next year, as the growers that supplied McCain’s found out a few weeks ago. But, the bank still expects to be paid.

Economics will dictate how the industry evolves. However, the chances of P.E.I. becoming an organic garden won’t happen soon.

- Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: acholman@pei.eastlink.ca

August 16, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Farmers' Markets open in Bloomfield, Bunbury/Stratford, Cardigan, Charlottetown,  Montague, Morell, Murray Harbour, Summerside, Victoria this morning.
Someone mentioned there is an organic farmer who sells his produce in Fort Augustus from noon to 6PM on Saturdays, proceeds going to charities.

Photographer and blogger John Morris is going to be at the Farmers' Market in Charlottetown with copies of his new book and scenic 2015 calendar.  He filmed some footage at Plan B.
Index of his YouTubes here:
Videos 36-57 appear to be some of his Plan B footage.

The one that makes me smile (with rue) is here:
In early October 2012, Cindy Richards asking straight questions of The Environmental Department Guy while others comes and go, and the project manager smiles behind his beard.
Other happenings:
This morning:  Island Nature Trust is hosting a shorebirds identification workshop, gathering at 9AM at St. Eleanor's Community Centre.  from: https://www.facebook.com/events/618378094942179/

Saturday, August 16th, 9:00 AM
St. Eleanor’s Community Centre, Summerside
The annual fall shorebird migration is one of nature’s greatest events!
In late summer and early fall, large flocks of shorebirds are seen along PEI shorelines. This diverse group undertakes some of the longest migrations in the natural world – sometimes flying non-stop for days to reach a destination!
Dwaine Oakley (expert birder and learning manager for the Wildlife Conservation Technology Program at Holland College) will lead a shorebird identification workshop followed by a field trip to test out your new ID skills! The field trip will highlight surrounding Important Bird Areas.
The workshop will begin at 9:00 AM.
Please bring your own lunch!
This is a free event! Everyone welcome!
For more information, please call (902) 892-7513

August 15, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Three recent letters in The Guardian -- the last one from Kevin O'Brien is *very* interesting.


Provincial Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker took notice of the editorial last  Saturday criticizing the federal Green Party:


It all starts from maintenance of a healthy planet - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Peter Bevan-Baker

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 I remember the days when the political party to whom I have devoted my life rarely got a mention in any political discussions, never mind being referenced in an editorial, so it was with a certain degree of delight that I read The Guardian editorial of Aug. 11 which was entirely about the Greens.  That delight was tempered as I read a version of the ole and entrenched misconception that the Green Party is a "single issue" party.  As the editorial stated "(The Greens) are now trying to convince Canadians there is much more to the party than meets the eye"

Combatting the myth that we are nothing more than an environmental organization is an ongoing battle for those of us who have spent decades talking about the economic and social policies of the Greens. Finally it seems that Canadians are accepting that we are indeed a fully fledged political party, worthy of wide support and representation in legislatures across the country.

Certainly our federal leader, Elizabeth May is in part responsible for this, as she has spoken eloquently and thoughtfully on every issue before the House of Commons. Indeed she has stood out as an MP who has, through her industry and integrity, won the respect of her peers in Ottawa (twice in a row being voted as hardest working MP), and solidified support in her own riding. It is now up to other Greens across Canada to carry this message of a new and better way of doing politics to the public.

I have remained a Green Party devotee because I have a deep belief that the values the Party espouses and the policies we have developed represent a clear and welcome departure from politics as usual.

So many critical support systems upon which human societies depend are in peril. Food, water and energy supplies are becoming increasingly vulnerable; our climate and global economy more unstable; our vulnerability to disease and social unrest increase yearly. Politics as usual, far from alleviating these problems, seems more often than not, to make them worse.

A new approach with a long-term vision and a deeper understanding of our place within, and reliance on the natural systems which make life for us all possible is desperately needed. Underlying the unravelling of all these economic, social and environmental systems is one thing — the health of our planet.

There is no economy and no society without clean air, water and soil. So in a sense there is only one issue that really matters when it comes to our continued successful inhabitation of this world, and that is the maintenance of a healthy planet.

Maybe the Greens, as our name suggests are a one issue party after all: the only political party with a full understanding of our dependence on a robust and healthy environment. With increasing support for the Greens, it appears that more and more Canadians are getting this too.

Peter Bevan-Baker of Hampton is leader of the Green Party of P.E.I.


And Martha Howatt is clear:


McCains closing sign of the times - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014

I am not a farmer. I have a veg garden, flowerbeds and plant lots of trees. I grew up with an extended family that farmed but that is the extent of my knowledge. I have, however, managed my own business successfully. One of the things I learned throughout that process is that the market is continually changing and if I didn’t change to meet the demands I would become obsolete quickly.

In my opinion the closing of McCains is an indication that the market is changing. They have commented that the french fry market is declining. Perhaps this would be a good time for farmers to look at greater crop diversification. The weather is changing, as is the cultural dynamic. Both of these indicate the need to investigate new and different crops and markets. Perhaps this would also decrease the use of pesticides, herbicides and neonicotinoids. It may also halt the need for deep-water wells and the reliance on large corporations to buy Island products.

Martha Howatt, Summerside


A final, sober analysis and a real "moving forward together" idea.

Recent application part of strategy - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The end of a recent uni-gendered focus group convinced me that Cavendish Farms was considering leaving P.E.I. One of the other nine men was convinced that Moosehead was leaving the Maritimes. The only other corporate names mentioned were Hershey and McCain’s.

We were not asked to remain confidential so I can tell you that the discussion was moderated by an intelligent young man with excellent people skills who walked us through a variety of scenarios in which it became abundantly clear that some major corporation was examining how to protect its brand image while exiting a community of operations traditionally associated with their brand.

And so I am given real cause to wonder if the recent application to lift the moratorium on deep wells isn’t part of a strategy. I see it two possible ways: perhaps they plan to leave regardless and hope their application is rejected which gives them “cause” or  a reason to complain, or conversely, the focus group was intended to create a rumble so that the application would have a better chance of approval. After all, for $100 (cash) — rumoured to have been $75 for women’s groups — I can’t imagine any of us would have refused a non-disclosure. Or, perhaps, Saint John, N.B., is headed for heartache.

If we, everyone, can stop denying that chemical residues in the air (food, water, etc.) are causing real harm to health in P.E.I., and that agriculture is part of that picture, and agree to face the problem together, and do it with respect for our farmers, and if additionally we have unfettered** access to the science about water resources, and if we have a hearty discussion for a year or two, then perhaps we should consider Irving’s application. Otherwise I think they should make do with their 33,000 pounds per acre. What besides water gets us to that ridiculous 60,000-pound figure they have? I’ll bet there are chemical companies seeing this as an opportunity.  

Kevin O’Brien, Cornwall


**I'll mention that fettered or not, there just is not much water research done in this area that is recent, relevant and comprehensive. 

Cardigan Farmers' Market is open today, and in Charlottetown, the Farm Centre is hosting a post-Gold Cup Parade barbecue with musician Mike Biggar, noon to 2PM, $15, rain or shine.

August 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

If you didn't see last night's Compass, it was full of short segments of interest, on-line version here:

At about 5minutes, an update on plans for the McCains' plant (right now they are talking retraining workers, not anything innovative like encouraging the workers to offer up plans for converting it to something else),

then there is a string of stories showing hard-working Islanders protecting the land:
at 6min, coverage of Earth Action's Sharon Labchuk and Lynne Lund's press conference regarding Operation Pesticide Watch, which will provide on-line resources where people concerned about spraying and wind speed and buffer zones can get more information.  The report also talks with one of the hardest working government workers on PEI, manager of investigation and enforcement Wade MacKinnon.
(Guardian story here.)

After that is a report on a local watershed's concern about Charlottetown's new municipal well being constructed in North Milton, and plans to continue to monitor things.  Cornwall and Area Watershed Group coordinator Karalee McAskill, dedicated and talented, describes things stream-side.

(By the way, work is being done along the TCH in Cornwall on the Hyde Creek culvert, the one that blew out a few years ago.  I am not sure what the reasons are or the plan is at this point.)

(Next is an article about new owners for the Bookmark at Confederaton Court Mall.)
Then a story about federal Agriculture minister talking tough at the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) meeting in Charlottetown about US rules wanting (imagine!) to know Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).  The CCA feels it should be voluntary.  There is footage of how some cattle are raised for market.  I also believe the reporter says the Canada-European Union trade deal (CETA) has been approved, but I don't think that is the case.

(Back to hard-working, caring Islanders:)
After a break (just about 16 minutes), there is a story with Phil Ferraro at the Farm Centre Legacy garden on the green roof on the shed building, describing the benefits, and another roof at Holland College.

(Then there is a story about liquor stores, and the weather.)

Here is the editorial from Wednesday's Guardian mentioned yesterday:

Minister Launches Offensive - The Guardian Editorial

Sherry says fish kill devastating news; challenges farmers, watershed groups

Published Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Environment Minister Janice Sherry has decided that the best defence is a good offence. The minister says the latest fish kill discovered over the weekend is devastating news, the same response we heard from three opposition parties. Ms. Sherry has drawn a lot of criticism for her recent weak track record on the deep-water well issue and cosmetic pesticides. She now subscribes to the theory that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em and has allied herself with Islanders aghast at the fish kill.

While the investigation continues into the deaths of approximately 1,000 fish discovered Saturday in the North River, potato farmers have already been tried, convicted and sentenced to new careers in organic farming. It’s likely that pesticides sprayed on nearby fields were washed into the river by heavy showers and thundershowers which impacted the Island from last Thursday into Monday. Farmers, lawns and watersheds all needed rain, just not in a sudden downpour.

This was the first kill in the river in many years, and the only one on P.E.I. thus far in 2014. Any fish kill is unfortunate, and opposition parties were quick to heap criticism onto Ms. Sherry as being personally responsible for allowing this to happen. A provincial biologist said that samples from the scene showed oxygen levels and water quality were OK so the list of suspects is rapidly narrowing to pesticides.

No one wants to see fish kills, especially farmers who know they will automatically receive most of the criticism. Ms. Sherry said: “It’s not anything any of us want to hear about or deal with.” That would be the understatement of the year.

The Action Committee for Sustainable Land Management, which was established after a 2012 fish kill in Barclay Brook in western P.E.I. made 18 recommendations, including soil conservation measures. One could argue the group has been relatively successful with just the one kill this year.

Fish kills should no longer be an annual occurrence, any more than highway fatalities or residential fires. But accidents or acts of God will happen and it’s doubtful we can ever reach the point where there are no fish kills.

Sharon Labchuk, co-ordinator of the environmental group Earth Action, thinks otherwise. She said the usual response from government to fish kills is to improve regulations. Isn’t that a good thing? Is she suggesting banning agriculture or just making the province a pesticide-free, organic zone?

Earth Action is hoping to get the public to help report pesticide regulatory violations through a new campaign it calls Operation Pesticide Watch.

Ms. Labchuk will hold a news conference today near the North River to launch that campaign. She argues that until P.E.I. becomes an organic province, the public has a right to know what pesticides are being sold and how much is being sprayed.

OPW sounds like the RCMP mantra of asking the public to provide tips on suspected drunk drivers. Spray at your own risk.

It’s obvious that additional measures are needed to protect streams and rivers from dangerous runoffs.

Ms. Sherry is placing more onus on industry to better patrol itself and watershed groups to work on solutions since its obvious that government won’t, or is unable, to do it all by itself.

It has to be a co-operative effort by all parties to reduce the risk of fish kills as much as possible.

The minister has announced she will introduce a Water Act which will address the problem, but not necessarily find the magic solution some people thinks exists to prevent these fish kills.

August 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It is almost charming to see federal and provincial representatives, from different major political parties, get together to make redundant announcements (the only new part being which pocket the  taxpayer is paying from).  It appears this smiley event took place at the CAT dealership.

from the on-line article:

"The upgrades to Routes 1 and 2 include improvements that will make it easier to make left turns along the Trans-Canada Highway near Bonshaw, while a 1,350-metre segment of the highway near Tryon will be rehabilitated to meet current safety guidelines."
It's a done deal!
In the print edition editorial in today's Guardian, (which can't be accessed on-line until later this morning), in discussing the recent fishkill and defending Environment Minister Janice Sherry, the editors write, "While the investigation <into the fishkill> continues, potato farmers have already been tried, convicted and sentenced to new careers in organic farming."

(even sarcasm fails me here)
In Monday's paper, Lynne Lund spells out where we are headed:

with a horrendous headline:

If want votes, then earn them - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 11th, 2014

Everything has a season, and it seems we are nearing the end of this one. No, I don’t mean summer, or at least, not exclusively summer. We are nearing the end of this phase in agriculture and you can feel it everywhere. It’s hard to deny the fact that public opinion is changing. Letters pour in.

People are speaking out who never would have done so in the past and social media is overflowing with stories, studies, images and videos on the subject. Our soil is getting depleted. More and more farmers are tired of jeopardizing their own health to meet the demands of a french fry spec.

McCain’s is shutting down, the Irvings threaten to leave and we are collectively sick of being poisoned.  The story line is clear and it all points in one direction: The current model of agriculture doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for the land, and it doesn’t work for the people. Indeed, it’s time for a bold new vision for P.E.I.  

And as we near the end of summer, we know what’s coming, right? Soon, many of us can expect politicians to be knocking on our doors. So when opportunity knocks, answer it and take that opportunity to ask your potential representatives if they will indeed be representing you, or big business.

It’s time to start asking tough questions of the people who hold seats in public office. Pesticides are a political issue and you need to know what side of it your representatives are standing on. I for one think if a candidate doesn’t at the very least take a strong stance against cosmetic pesticides, they won’t have a chance this year. We’re looking to you, candidates. If you want our votes, earn them.

Lynne Lund, Clinton


Take care -- some Farmers' Markets open today (Stanley Bridge and Charlottetown)

August 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Reports regarding fracking from our neighbouring provinces:

"Say yes to shale gas jobs and prosperity," said (New Brunswick Premier David) Alward. "As premier, I think it would be irresponsible to not take advantage of the natural resource opportunities we have before us today."


Federal finance minister endorses shale gas development in N.B. - CBC online news

Joe Oliver urges business leaders to consider industry's positive track record out west

CBC On-line news, August 7th, 2014

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the national economy is in recovery and if New Brunswick wants to follow suit, shale gas may be its best bet.

Oliver made the comments while addressing business leaders at a Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday.

He spoke about negotiations for a free trade deal with the European Union and outlined his government's economic accomplishments.

But then strayed from his prepared speech to weigh in on the contentious shale gas issue, following comments by Premier David Alward.

"As the premier mentioned, New Brunswick has significant shale gas reserve potential. It's up to the province to decide whether to develop them," Oliver told the crowd at the Delta Fredericton.

Speaking to members of the media later, Oliver said that the provinces with the most prosperity are also the provinces that have natural resources.

New Brunswickers should look closely at the industry's track record in other provinces when deciding whether to pursue the shale gas industry, he said.

"Environmental safety is, of course, a precondition," said Oliver.

"If you look, however, at shale gas development in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, it's been going on for over 50 years. One hundred and seventy five thousand wells have been drilled using [hydraulic] fracking. Not a single instance of drinkable water contamination."

In January, Nova Scotia's Environment Minister confirmed a leak of between 6,000 and 14,000 litres of fracking waste at that province's only operation.

Randy Delorey said the wastewater escaped from a holding pond in Kennetcook and some of it ran into a nearby brook.

Oliver stressed that developing shale gas reserves remains a provincial decision.

"If the objective, scientific, independent analysis says that there isn't going to be damage, then we're in a position to approve it," he said.

The New Brunswick premier has said repeatedly his government plans to pursue development of the shale gas industry in New Brunswick.

He reiterated his stance during Thursday's luncheon.

"Say yes to shale gas jobs and prosperity," said Alward. "As premier, I think it would be irresponsible to not take advantage of the natural resource opportunities we have before us today."

And more food for thought for The Wheeler Commission:

This was published recently in The Coast, a local weekly from Halifax.  From Wikipedia:
"Founded in 1993, The Coast has a generally left wing editorial policy. It focuses on local issues, especially "people working for change" within the community."  The language can be a little salty at times.

What we know we don’t know about fracking - The Coast article by Geoff Davies

Before surveying the land and finding the gas, before boring the wells and breaking the shale, questions must be answered.

The practice is called fracking. The province’s two-year moratorium on it is almost up, and all the questions lie at the feet of Dr. David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University.

Wheeler and the panel he leads---at the behest of the provincial government---are due to give their final report later this month, but Nova Scotians got a taste during a two-week public-meetings roadshow that ended July 29 in Whycocomagh.

Fans of “the good ol’ Canadian government study” were not left disappointed: true to the genre, Wheeler’s is a study calling for more study.

Study of community attitudes; study of health impacts and environmental risks; study to learn where the resources are and how much they’re worth---as Wheeler told a raucous crowd of three hundred at the Halifax consultation, a “significant period of learning and dialogue” is the panel’s prescription.

But the panel stopped short of advising any course of action for the fracking moratorium itself---whether to lift it, extend it, or ban hydraulic fracturing outright.

“It’s not our job,” Wheeler told the Halifax meeting.

So, if now’s not the time for firm answers and solid conclusions, let it be the time for pointing out answers that should be questions, and conclusions that are shakier than they seem. Here’s what we know we don’t know about fracking in Nova Scotia.

We know we don’t know whether Nova Scotian communities have enough water to frack without going thirsty.

The Wheeler panel thinks we do, stating that “water use for hydraulic fracturing would likely not lead to issues of water demand for the majority of the province.”

Meanwhile, a team of Dalhousie scientists are mid-way through a project to fix the fact we know dick all about our provincial surface water supplies.

Just this spring, the researchers and the provincial government published the Nova Scotia Watershed Atlas, calling it the first high-level assessment of the health and stressors of the province’s watersheds.

Dubbed the Nova Scotia Watershed Assessment Program (NSWAP), they’ve been working together since 2010 to fill knowledge gaps about the status of watersheds: which are the most at-risk, and what patterns are happening at the provincial-scale, and so on.

What they’ve now completed---the first of two planned stages---is the mapping and risk-factor ranking for about 250 watersheds.

What they’ve found is some of the watersheds with the highest potential to be harmed are in Colchester, Pictou and Cumberland counties---the same areas that are currently being explored for conventional fossil fuels, and have been marked as being potentially frackable.

Summarizing their work in an article recently accepted by the peer-reviewed Journal of Hydrology, the researchers specifically call out Wheeler’s review of shale gas development in discussing the limited knowledge surrounding our surface water.

The NSWAP researchers say there is a “critical need” for water budgets in Nova Scotia---essentially hydrological cash flow statements, accounting for water entering, leaving and staying in a watershed.

Until we have that, we can’t actually know how much water there is in an area, and we can’t be sure, as Wheeler and friends are, that there’s little risk of withdrawing too much.

“Without this information it is not possible to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the potential risks to surface water supplies due to large-scale water withdrawal projects,” says the NSWAP.

The researchers also note that Nova Scotia is unique for having a bunch of small watersheds draining to the coast, instead of being dominated by a few large ones---like, say, New Brunswick.

“If you include all the islands and all the small coastal watersheds, there's over 2,500 across the province ,” says Kevin Garroway, a water monitoring expert with Nova Scotia Environment, and a lead scientist on the project.

That means that not only is it misleading to think of the province as having 40-some large watersheds, as conventionally is done, but also that, due to their often small size, Nova Scotia’s watersheds could be more delicate than we think. Just as a drop of poison in a glass is more potent than one in a vat.

“In a smaller watershed a potential impact could have a more detrimental effect to that watershed as a whole, because there's less ability for that watershed to be buffered against a potential impact,” says Garroway.

Wheeler and friends are also suggesting that the province watch the example of fracking New Brunswick, which presents its own host of unknowns.

In the McCully Fields around Penobsquis, near Sussex in the province’s south, the 30 wells there make up about two-thirds of the province’s total. But, says Dr. Brad Walters, a professor of environmental studies at Mount Allison University, most of those are drilled into “tight sand” deposits---a different beast from fracking in shale, because gas is locked in low-porosity sand instead of bubbles within the rock.

Plus, underground wells from the local potash mine existed before and during natural gas development in the Penobsquis area, making it hard to disentangle the effects of the mine from the effects of the fracking. And there have been effects aplenty.

“I believe some dozen households lost their water, just like that. Literally overnight, water wells dried up, and what was likely happening was that it was emptying out into the mine, because the mine was flooding,” says Walters.

There were also reports of sewage leaking into the ground around homes, and of houses slowly sinking into the ground. This led to Penobsquis residents filing a legal complaint against the company, Saskatchewan-based PotashCorp, seeking damages.

This is tied to another unique problem with fracking in the Maritimes. As Walters explains in his written submission to the Wheeler panel, the geography of Atlantic Canada is such that shale gas deposits often co-exist with populated areas. Unlike in Northern B.C. or Texas, people here would be living much closer to fracking operations.

“All these things were happening to these people and to put it bluntly, the government just didn't give a shit, and they had to basically hire a lawyer and force the government to the table,” Walters says.

More than two years into that legal battle, most of those residents abruptly withdrew from the proceedings in 2012, with some citing an unfair disadvantage and a broken process.

There’s your Lesson Number One,” says Walters. “It’s that all this talk about having regulations in place and how the government is going to protect people's interests; the Penobsquis case is clear illustration that that is just nonsense.

“When push came to shove it was clear where the province placed its allegiance.”

The very starting point for considering fracking is the notion that it’s more efficient and more effective than other means of harvesting energy. That’s the root of the much-heralded “golden age of gas,” and of that ever-tantalizing carrot---job creation.

It’s why “yes, but” can still follow the list of fracking’s potential harms---methane in the air, chemicals in the groundwater, mysterious ailments of nearby residents.

But fracking isn’t even as economical as many think. When considering “energy returned on energy invested” (how much you get for how much you put in), fracking doesn’t size up all that well.

Though it’s highly situational, and the field of study is fairly new, the average EROEI for shale gas is five-to-one. That’s a few points lower than the ratio championed by industry, and about on par with the tar sands, and of course far below the EROEI of a conventional oil play (25-to-one).

The efficiency of the whole process gives one pause, too. The resources are often concentrated in “sweet spots”, which are the first to be developed. When the wells are bored and the fracturing releases the gas, the gas comes out fast (many wells see bumper production in the first few years), followed by fast and steady decline.

To think that the United States has become a golden land of cheap, fracked gas would also be inaccurate. While there are about 30 shale plays across the country, 88 per cent of the country’s production comes from just six of them. About a third of the country’s wells are in decline, and another third have flat production.

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, these are just known unknowns. What riches Nova Scotia will gain from the controversial process, and what we all could potentially lose, are still frustratingly vague. As Nova Scotians have made clear, that uncertainty isn’t good enough.

“I’m terrified,” says Eleanor Kure, who attended the volatile Wheeler panel meeting in Halifax. “[The panel is] basically just saying ‘Don't worry about it. It's going to be all right. We'll be careful,’ and unfortunately there is not a way to be careful with something that's so dangerous.”

A reminder the Environmental Impact Assessment public meeting on the proposed new provincial garage is at 7PM tonight at the Brackley Community Centre on Route 15 north of Charlottetown.

August 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Monday morning news in Summer:
The first "real" rain in weeks in Queens County fell last week, and while it appears most of the mitigations at Plan B held back some of the sediment, yesterday on-line news reported a fish-kill in the North River.

CBC, first about noon Sunday:

The poor fisheries biologist made a cautious quote that it is too early to tell what caused it.

Another feature on the radio this morning is the PEI Potato Board's "I (Heart) PEI Potatoes" program that's been printed on the polyethylene white hay bale wrap and placed in prominent locations.

and here is the Guardian's on-line story on the fish-kill:

The Guardian printed edition this morning did not mention the story at all, I don't think. 

But The Guardian's main editorial (usually available on-line later in the morning of the print date) is on the Federal Green Party, pretty much kicking at it for a press release the Party issued which didn't mention the environment, and deriding its goals for the next federal election.   One of those long opinion pieces on the right-hand page also takes aim at those "radical NGOs"  opposed to pipelines.

August 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

I am back after a little trip, and hopefully bellaliant and sympatico are letting all the mail through, unlike Thursday and Friday.
Yesterday's front page story by Steve Sharratt in The Guardian featured some people who are worrying about pesticide exposure, and some instances where people have documented concerns on social media in addition to calling the environmental officers:

Mr. Sharratt, who often writes about rural issues, ratchets up the rhetoric by using the terms "vigilante" and "posse"  to describe people posting concerns on social media.  A resident sees a tractor with spray drifting and shuts him or herself and family up; and has no idea what is being sprayed, nor of any real measure of wind. The person calls out for some sort of response, which some friends respond to.   If you have kids or a respiratory issue, you can imagine the concern at the lack of information.

Concern and the methods to document have produced a vesuvian reaction from some promoters of the industry.  Perhaps instead of shiny media campaigns, real public information could be shared with residents affected: perhaps notices, in the mailboxes or doorways of the adjacent properties, of the chemical and its use (herbicide, fungicide, insecticide).  That is required for applications of certain lawn pesticides in subdivisions  -- why should it be different for agricultural pesticides?

In the article, former CBC journalist and Food Matters blogger Ian Petrie, as usual, sees the whole picture and communicates it respectfully. (His blog is: http://foodmatters-petrie.blogspot.ca/ )

The bold is mine.

P.E.I. residents using social media to challenge farm activity - The Guardian article by Steve Sharratt

Published on August 9th, 2014

Once upon a time, people would stop along the roads of Prince Edward Island to wave and take photographs of farmers working in their fields.

They still do, but today it’s sometimes for reasons other than the pretty views and pastoral settings.

P.E.I. farmers are under the microscope, especially when the cellphones come out. Photos are taken, and routine chores like spraying the crop or even fertilizing the soil, appear on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

There’s a pesticide posse sweeping across the province these days, hunting down farming infractions and violations.

One recent incident was a video posted on YouTube, under the title “Weak enforcement of pesticide regulations in P.E.I.,” showing a Tignish area farmer spraying a crop in alleged high winds near Kildare.

The Department of Environment investigated, after the application had taken place, and found no violation.

A charge can only be laid if the pesticide officer is on site to witness the infraction, but there are only two pesticide officers covering the entire province.

According to some observers, people posting to social media sites only reflects the lack of public confidence in the province’s willingness - let alone ability - to enforce agriculture regulations.

Joan Diamond prefers life under the radar.

But that all changed this spring when she took a day off work to garden and the potato field next to her Fairview home, in rural Queens County, was sprayed.

“I had to take all my clothes off the line and go inside my house and shut the windows and doors for the entire day,” said Diamond, who lives near Rocky Point. “When I checked the government website, I discovered that I have no rights whatsoever. They protect the fish, but only because of bad publicity from fish kills, and yet there is zero protection for humans…how it that even remotely possible?”

The Island born mother - whose well water is afflicted with nitrates - is now the page master of the new Pesticide Free P.E.I. group on Facebook. It only started two months ago, but has more than 800 followers and increases daily.

“We are family friends with our farmer and we don’t blame him…farmers are stuck between a rock and a hard place and have to pay the bills,” she said. “But I’m scared for my family to go outside and even drink my own water.”

Pesticide Free P.E.I. wants government to change weak and unenforced pesticide regulations by offering incentives to farmers to phase out what they describe as a pesticide addiction “that spreads poison” on the land.

“Farmers know that people want pesticide-free food, air and water…that’s our right,’’ she said. “Times are changing and the P.E.I. government has to get behind it.”

Like police encouraging cellphone tips on drunk drivers, so goes the public vigilance squad on the prowl for agricultural infractions -- a situation farmers find frustrating.

It has been said we are farming in a subdivision in P.E.I., and with social media, farmers are subjected to all sorts of harassment and misinformation spread by people who have no clue about agriculture,” said John Jamieson, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.

Jamieson said one farmer had a neighbour make three calls about spraying during alleged “high” wind conditions. The subsequent investigation revealed wind speed was only 11 kilometres an hour - well within provincial limits of 20 kilometres an hour.

“From some of the stuff you read (on social media sites) you would think that farmers are out there spraying pesticides for fun,” he said. “They also don’t realize that practically every farmer (conventional or organic) uses pesticides.”

But some Islanders insist the P.E.I. government -- through tacit approval of the status quo -- is creating the hot potato.

Former reporter Ian Petrie covered P.E.I. agriculture for decades and is not surprised at the growing public scrutiny over pesticides on social media.

“I think it is fair ball for the public to be out doing this,” said Petrie, who blogs about food matters. “Government has dropped the ball completely on enforcing such things as crop rotations. So, yes, it’s very fair to take pictures of what’s growing where and what is being sprayed.”

However, he regrets such a “vigilante” environment is festering.

“It speaks to the public lack of confidence in the province’s willingness and ability to enforce anything,’’ he said. “I have concerns because farmers have told me they feel guilty when they're out spraying and feeling judged as if they're doing something wrong.”

Petrie said there’s always been mistrust between the general public and potato farmers.

“The Ghiz gestapo is what some farmers are now calling conservation officers,” he wrote in a recent blog. “While many, many in the general public think conservation officers only swing into action once the fish are dead. This is really troubling.”

The cone of silence is so great that annual pesticide sales data has not been released since 2008. And when the public gets riled over pesticides, the complaints wind up on the desk of Wade MacKinnon.

“There is a definite increase in the number of complaints,’’ said the manager of the Department of Environment investigation and enforcement branch. “We had over 100 complaints last year primarily concerned with wind speeds and spraying, and likely just as many will come before the end of this year.”

The department was successful with two $1,000 convictions in a Summerside courthouse in 2013, and others are pending.

But with only two pesticide officers for the entire province, it’s a busy job.

“It’s a very sensitive issue from both sides,” he said. “But our job is to respond to the public…..and if we determine there is a violation, it’s our job to proceed with legal action.”

While spraying infractions do occur, the department does get some overzealous callers offering inaccurate claims. In one case, a complaint turned out to be nothing more than a farmer fertilizing a field with manure.

“To put it mildly, the public is very sensitized to pesticides now.”

When asked, MacKinnon said it was not his role to comment on whether the legislative teeth of pesticide rules and regulations in P.E.I. were little more like dentures.

“We are driven by public complaints,” he said. “And if we look at the increase of those complaints….we can only imagine there will be more in the future.”

Rollo Bay potato farmer Alvin Kennan is the chairman of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture. He says farmers have always struggled to get their story across.

“People are trying to use social media to fit their own agenda,’’ he said. “I am concerned that we are not doing our due diligence as an industry to have the public more informed about how we are looking after the crops, ensuring food safety and using crop protection in a safe manner to prevent losses.”

Jamieson said he is dismayed at the activism and inaccuracies posted by some groups such as the P.E.I. Food Exchange.

“Their view of agriculture is extremely narrow and they seem to view any farmer who is not small and organic as a ‘factory farm’. They also like to perpetuate the notion that P.E.I. has the highest cancer rates caused by pesticides.”

Jamieson said the federation of agriculture is trying to get the real story out about agriculture and has taken on a fairly aggressive communications campaign to combat negativity. It also has its own Facebook page and Twitter account.

Back in Fairview, Diamond said her group is especially worried about glyphosate (Roundup), which was developed by Monsanto and widely used even though there are concerns about the effects on humans and the environment.

Pesticide Free P.E.I. plans to post more videos, including some with testimonials from people affected by pesticides, and is working to secure some celebrity endorsement as well.

“Islanders don’t want to offend anyone, but I’ve had my head stuck in the sand far too long…..we are going to push this as a major issue in the next election,” said Diamond. “There are plenty of examples of people growing good organic food here…the only reason we use pesticides in such quantity is to get a four-inch french fry.”

(Those supporting Plan B for various particular reasons also had "fairly aggressive communications campaign" , which didn't convince too many people, either.)   ;-)

August 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

I saw a notice in today's Guardian that the Environmental Impact Assessment meeting regarding the proposed $16.5 million provincial garage didn't take place last night, and was moved to Tuesday. 

Also, in today's newspaper, Cavendish Farms looks at the McCain Foods situation, and immediately calls for high-capacity wells, if Islanders want them to stay (bold is mine):


Cavendish Farms warns it faces same challenges as McCain Foods - The Guardian article

French fry giant says it is committed to P.E.I., but without deep-water wells could face an uncertain future

Published August 8th, 2014

McCain Foods’ biggest competitor in the french fry market says it is facing the very same challenges – currency, competition and costs – as its rival.

Ron Clow, vice president of Cavendish Farms, says his company remains committed to P.E.I., but he called on the P.E.I. government to ensure it has access to deep-water wells to ensure its survival.

Cavendish Farms has warned its plants on the Island could be in jeopardy if deep-water wells are not approved. The province is currently studying the issue.

Clow said his company invests in its employees and technology.

“We also need a sustainable source of water to grow potatoes,” Clow said in a statement emailed to The Guardian.  

“The fact is that the yield from P.E.I. potato fields is lagging behind the rest of North America due to a lack of certain water supply.  This means less money for the farmer per acre, and less potatoes for Cavendish to process.”

Cavendish Farms employs 600 workers and buys potatoes from 92 family farms.

Clow said Thursday’s news that McCain is leaving P.E.I. is very difficult news for many Island neighbours.

“We need to consider what this says regarding the very real challenges facing the sector and what it takes to sustain good paying food production jobs on P.E.I.”

Mr. Clow is choosing to ignore the host of other reasons brought forth during the Standing Committee meetings regarding P.E.I.'s relative lack of productivity -- a shorter growing season, lower levels of organic matter in the soil, choice by the buyer of the potato variety, etc.  

The Premier appears to be in reactive mode:  something like, "We offered everything to get McCains to stay."  It is time to think a little farther down the road then the next election....

A very positive idea I read on social media about what to do about the McCain's plant closure is to let the workers organize the plant into a organic vegetable processing facility.  Many of us in the winter would be happy to have more sources of frozen Island vegetables; Riverview Market and some of the rural convenience stores have some frozen Island vegetables for sale.

August 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit for everyone tonight:

Leadnow Connect meeting, 7PM, Haviland Club, is having a Connect meeting at the Haviland Cub, corner of Haviland and Water Street, tonight at 7PM.  Discussion of events for informing and engaging the public regarding electoral reform and other issues.

Island Nature Trust talk, 7PM, Wheatley River Hall
from the news release:
The Island Nature Trust will present an information session about Bobolinks and Barn Swallows  at Wheatley River Hall on Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 7 in the evening.  Jackie Waddell and Shaylynn Wallace are conducting a summer survey about the declining numbers of these beautiful and important bird species.

Everyone is welcome to come out and view their Powerpoint presentation and hear the bubbling, metallic song of the bobolink and the twittering warble of the barn swallow.

This is hosted by the Wheatley River Women's Institute.  For more information, contact Trudy MacDonald at (902) 621-0718.
Map to Wheatley River.

Public Meeting, 7PM, Brackley Community Centre, Brackley Point Road.

The public meeting to discuss the proposed government garage project and on its environmental impact assessment (EIA) is tonight.

Here is a Guardian article on it:

The article has a pretty good map and a link to the EIA statement. 

Minister Vessey repeatedly uses the word "efficiency" when talking about this move, but the cost of $16.5 million (which presumably does not include the generous above-market value paid for the land) is a pretty steep price tag when there is such government financial mismanagement. 

The map shows it pretty close to the Confederation Trail and the Sherwood Cemetery, both places that people go for a little bit of solitude; there is an asphalt plant nearby already.   Whatever the purchase price, those 80-some acres of pretty nice farmland close to the city won't be growing any kind of food again.

I do wonder, at first glance, about the idea of brine tanks (somebody mentions the irony of making brine when we are surrounded by it) and where the fresh water is coming from for that; I haven't really dug into the EIA document, which was prepared by Joose Environmental and DEJardin Consulting.
Members of the public can submit comments on the EIA for the next ten days.

August 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This being Wednesday, the Stanley Bridge and Charlottetown Farmers' Markets are open. 
Tonight is the Pesticide Free PEI meeting, 7PM, Sobey's community room, Allen Street store.


From yesterday's paper, short and pointing:

P.E.I. guidelines much too lenient - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on August 5th, 2014

Health Canada has guidelines on the safe use of pesticides. They state "never spray a pesticide if wind speeds are more than eight km-h. On Thursday, July 31, 2014, they made this the issue of the day using their Healthy Canadians Facebook page.

Meanwhile, P.E.I. regulations state pesticides may be sprayed as long as wind speeds don’t exceed 20 km-h.

I’m pretty sad that P.E.I. government is willing to let farmers and cosmetic pesticide users do things that even Health Canada says are not safe.

As an Islander, I ask that the government that is voted in to represent me, you, our families, friends, farmers, farm workers, and all Islanders bring our provincial legislation — in this case regulations that fall under the responsibility of your department, Minister — in line with the safety guidelines from Health Canada, and keep our Islanders safer from the effects of pesticides!

Similarly, I request you introduce improved measures that Islanders can trust to enforce these and related limits, not people tied to the farming industry who find themselves unsympathetic to the enforcement of regulations, and regular islanders concerned for their health and that of the environment. I trust that your government has no interest, once brought to your attention, in allowing the continuation of a conflict of interest which puts the health of Islanders and our living environment at unnecessary risk.

Angela Court, East Royalty


On a completely different note:

And it's sometimes hard to justify the costs of space exploration, but it usually promotes cooperation between nations, and it's just so interesting for some of us.  Today this dear little European Space Agency probe named Rosetta (her last name, presumably, is Stone, but perhaps she answers to "Hey, Rosetta"), somewhere out around Jupiter, is finally -- after about a decade of economical flight parameters -- meeting up with a comet, which she will tail (ha!) until November, when she tosses a lander on the surface.  The comet is 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, or 67P for short.

and a CBC story:

August 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A bit of this and that:

Transition Information Series Talk, 7PM, Farm Centre, free

City of Charlottetown Sustainability Coordinator Ramona Doyle joins us for the last presentation in the Transition Information Series. She will be talking about the City's commitment to water conservation.

The Transition movement has become one of the most promising ways of engaging people and communities to take the far- reaching actions necessary to increase economic equality, build local, renewable energy infrastructure, support a healthy, regional food system and forge mutually- supportive connections. Thousands of people from 44 countries around the globe are now engaged in Global Transition Network activities.

There will likely be information about:

August 22-24th, "Transition Island: Training for Transition" workshop, Farm Centre, registration fee
from: http://www.peifarmcentre.com/#!fc-more-about-this-event-2/c1z42

The global Transition movement began in 2005 when groups of concerned citizens began meeting to discuss ways to encourage community resiliency and develop solutions to the economic crisis, climate change, food security and the imminent depletion of natural resources.

The Transition movement has become one of the most promising ways of engaging people and communities to take the far- reaching actions necessary to increase economic equality, build local, renewable energy infrastructure, support a healthy, regional food system and forge mutually- supportive connections. Thousands of people from 44 countries around the globe are now engaged in Global Transition Network activities.

What can you expect?
A highly interactive event that will connect you to neighbours who share your concerns for positive, effective action.

• Learn how to describe the triple challenge of resource depletion, climate instability, and economic deterioration and move people to action.

• Explore ways to create and strengthen your local community.

• Connect with others who share your concerns and are on a similar path.

• Become a part of a rapidly growing positive, inspirational, global movement.

The course teaches the fundamentals of setting up, running, and maintaining successful Transition Initiatives. The trainers will delve into the theory and practice of Transition that has worked well in hundreds of communities around the world. The training is packed with imaginative and inspiring activity intended to prepare community leaders, working group members and individuals who plan on introducing and implementing Transition Initiatives in their communities.

Who should attend? People interested in learning about the Transition Movement in depth and leaders already creating a Transition Initiative in their community.

Visit the link (above) for more information. 

James (Jamie) Larkin is running for a council seat in Charlottetown Ward 1 Councilor in the Fall.  He has taken a stand against the use of cosmetic pesticides.
from his announcement:
Larkin is concerned about the spraying of cosmetic pesticide within the City. This practice should be reduced immediately and ended through regulation and an alternative pest management program. “It is unconscionable that our seniors and young people are being exposed to these chemical pesticides”, added Larkin.


There is a Pesticide Free PEI meeting this Wednesday, August 6th, at 7PM, at the Sobey's on Allen Street, Community Room, to discuss the call for a buffer zone for lawn spraying and their other work.  All welcome.

And this Thursday, August 7th, is the regular monthly meeting of
Fairvote/Leadnow Connect meeting, at the Haviland Club, 7PM, to discuss events in the late summer where FairVote and Leadnow will have displays to discuss "nationwide civic education and electoral reform in Canada."

August 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"Plan B was stupid enough, lifting the moratorium on deep water wells is just plain crazy."
That pretty much sums it up.

Moratorium Needs to Remain - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

I believe that those of us who love this Island and are not involved in the corporate potato industry, or have the desire to get elected/re-elected, do not want the moratorium on deep water wells lifted.

We do not want our government to allow the depletion of this natural resource or other attacks on nature for any reason, least of all personal profit.

Plan B was stupid enough, lifting the moratorium on deep water wells is just plain crazy. Given the information we have from community watershed groups, who could disagree with the fact that we need to protect and care for our limited water resources.

Honestly, I get heartsick just thinking about it.

M. Claire Arsenault, Charlottetown

Also from the weekend paper, a letter from Tony Lloyd very worth reading:

Morell River Heating Up - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Higher water temperatures on the Morell River has been in the news recently.

The Morell River watershed is a water drainage system and consists of surface streams and subsurface conduits. The water table aquifer forms the subsurface conduit, an underground river, which flows slowly downhill just as does the Morell River.

Some of the underground river flows into the Morell River as springs flowing into streams, bubbling springs in the river itself, as well as diffuse discharge through the river’s bottom sediments. The temperature of the underground water is about eight degrees Celsius and this cools the Morell River in the summer and warms it in the winter.

The above-ground river and the underground river share two properties: (1) they both flow downhill towards the ocean under the force of gravity and (2) they both have bottoms. The bottom of the underground river is exfiltration of waters flowing upward from the confined or pressure aquifer which lies below the water table aquifer. In a very real way, exfiltration is the bottom of the underground river and this is particularity true at lower elevations.

When wells are drilled into the confined aquifer its pressure is decreased and at higher elevations exfiltration becomes infiltration; wells at lower elevations are particularly harmful. The waters at the bottom of the underground river no longer move strictly laterally downhill but have a downward component into the depressurized confined aquifer. With such wells, the diffuse discharge upwards through the bottom of the Morell River is decreased hence the river will be warmer in the summer and colder in the winter, hence thicker ice; three more unintended consequences of drilling into confined aquifers with far reaching consequences to aquatic life.

For the Morell River, bogs up river, in particular Indian marsh which has a surface area of at least four square kilometres, and the plants and animals that inhabit all watershed bogs will also be at risk of extinction, another unintended consequence. The role of deforestation must also be considered a factor in the Morell River’s higher temperatures.

Tony Lloyd, Mount Stewart

August 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A hopscotch of links, none about anything directly affecting the Island, but interesting.

First, a New York Times article by Paul Sullivan from last week about a billionaire and how his yacht was actually good for job creation:
"Seeing a Supersize Yacht as a Job Engine, Not a Self-Indulgence"

This prompted economist John Fullerton to write in EcoWatch on Thursday:
full article:
<<What floored me was how he rationalized spending $34 million on his new yacht and how uncritically the author Paul Sullivan bought into that rationalization. According to Sullivan, “Mr. Jones said he wanted to encourage other wealthy people to think about how their opulent lifestyles could provide jobs just as their charity helps people in need.” The story goes on to report how his $34 million purchase order in 2013 helped revive the North Western yacht manufacturer who had been forced, out of necessity, to diversify into manufacturing wind turbines and smaller vessels. I guess until Mr. Jones got his mojo back, the mega-yacht purchasing crowd was still laying low following the Wall Street-induced economic collapse. Now that’s the leadership we’ve been waiting for!>>
He goes to describe what financial stewardship in the 21st century could look like, with climate change in mind.

And some background bits:
"Living is Easy with Eyes Closed" is a line from the Beatles' song, "Strawberry Fields Forever"; and there is a movie (same title, came out in 2013) about when John Lennon wrote the song, while acting in a movie, with the details here.

And back to Mr. Jones and his yacht.  I was wondering what his former company (Jones Pharma) manufactured to have been so successful.  One of the drugs was a form of levothyroxine, or artificial thyroid hormone. 

From an article from a UK publication for general practitioners:
Third of patients on levothyroxine have no reason to take drug, claim researchers

There are both patented and generic forms of levothyroxine.  It is manufactured as Levoxyl, by Pfizer, the giant pharmaceutical company that bought out Jones' parent company a while back. Here is a website to get a 30-day free trial of the brand-name drug:
Just to get brand-loyalty going.

August 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Unlike yesterday, I think I have today's date correct.

Today is Canada Food Day, proclaimed by Anita Stewart and others, to encourage eating foods produced in Canada. 

Here is a message on the website
from the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, (an un-tasty word) Gerry Ritz

On Saturday, August 2nd, I challenge everyone to join in the celebration of Canadian food by eating at a participating restaurant near you, or by creating your own all-Canadian meal right in your own kitchen, backyard barbecue or around the campfire.

Our farmers drive our economy by creating jobs and economic opportunities all along the value chain. I spend a lot of time on the road with industry, and we always find that once our global customers get a taste of Canada’s safe, high-quality, nutritious food, they come back wanting more.

This annual mid-summer celebration of our Canadian agriculture demonstrates what can be achieved when farmers, food processors, retailers, and restaurants come together and deliver their top-quality products to dinner tables around the world.

Congratulations to Food Day Canada for your innovative approach to engaging Canadians.

Gerry Ritz, P.C., M.P.
That seems pretty straightforward.  He could be doing a lot to support local food, all the time.

Local food in PEI today -- farmers' markets open in *Stratford* (which I forgot to mention last week), Charlottetown, Summerside, Bloomfield, Cardigan, Montague, Morell, Murray Harbour, and Victoria-by-the-Sea.

August 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Today, the Cardigan Farmers' Market is open from 10AM to 4PM, and I think the Farmers' Market upstairs at the Confederation Court Mall is open, too.

Tonight, lecture on "Islands as Wetlands" at 7PM, UPEI's MacDougall Hall, Room 243, free

from the press release:

Public Lecture: John R. Gillis, "Islands as Wetlands"

Eminent scholar and environmental historian John R. Gillis, a longstanding friend of Island Studies at UPEI, will be delivering a
lecture to which all are cordially invited:

"Islands as Wetlands"
Friday, 1 August, 7:00 p.m.
McDougall Hall, Room 243
University of PEI

Doctor Gillis is a Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University and spent time at UPEI while preparing his most recent book, The Human Shore:
Seacoasts in History
(University of Chicago Press), a provocative exploration of the rich history of humans' relationship with the the seacoast, the vital ecotone where land and sea meet.

The lecture is sponsored by the NiCHE, the Network in Canadian History
and Environment.


Sunday, August 3rd, Macphail Woods, 2PM, Forest Restoration Workshop, free
 from their press release:

Macphail Woods hosts forest restoration workshop

Are you looking for alternatives to clear-cuts and plantations?  Do you want other ideas on how to improve your woodland?  The Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project can help answer many of your questions.  On Sunday, August 3, Gary Schneider will host a “Forest Restoration” slide show and walk on the grounds of the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell.  Activities begin at 2pm in the Nature Centre.  

Forest restoration is attracting more and more attention these days as people work to reverse the degradation they see happening all across the province.  The workshop will look at the concepts behind restoring forests.  Participants will walk the trails and discuss ways to improve different types of woodlands.

As part of its work on restoring the native Acadian forest, the Macphail Woods project has been using a variety of silvicultural techniques to improve and enrich stands of old field white spruce or low-value hardwoods.  The thinnings and small patch cuts are generally followed with plantings that incorporate a mixture of native trees and shrubs to improve diversity, enhance wildlife habitat and add value.  

Rare plants such as hemlock, red oak, white ash, witch hazel and hobblebush have been planted throughout the forest, though more common plants such as yellow birch, white birch, white pine and sugar maple have also been planted.  Each area of woodland is looked at as a separate unit to assess what plants will do best in the area and what cutting practices would actually improve forest health.

The walk will provide an excellent opportunity to not only learn more about woodlands but also to share your knowledge.  While walking through the various forest types, participants will discuss the variety of techniques that could be used to improve the sites, which may involve cutting and/or planting.  Bring your ideas and your forest problems - there will be plenty of time for discussion.

Admission is free and registration is not required.  The workshop is part of an extensive series of outdoor activities at Macphail Woods.  For more information on this or upcoming tours and workshops, please call 651-2575, check out our website at macphailwoods.org, or look us up on Facebook.

The Tea Room at the Macphail Homestead is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 1:30pm, and focuses on using local produce.  Please call 651-2789 for more information.  And you can check out the website at www.macphailhomestead.ca for information on additional activities.


This is the last weekend for the Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun play at Victoria Playhouse.

July 31, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It has been a week since the David Suzuki Foundation announced the Blue Dot Tour, his last cross-country trek to visit every province and discuss the concept of environmental rights, bringing along some Canadian talent to share the stage with.

The tour's launch date was set a while back, apparently, but the PEI location wasn't set until much closer to that date; there has been some confusion and some of their materials still have the default main PEI event location on them.  On behalf of the Citizens' Alliance, we will be in touch with the folks on Vancouver to point out some inaccuracies and find out more details.

Blue Dot Tour home page:

So the PEI stop is Monday, September, 29th, 7PM, at Summerside (Harbourfront Theatre).
more  info:

So do plan to come, if at all possible -- it should be a great evening for all.  Tickets are still available and in the price range of about $60, $40, and $25 for students.

Why "Blue Dot"?
The Apollo astronauts in the 1960s first called the Earth a "pale blue marble", and astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan called it the "pale blue dot", as he requested the Voyager unmanned planetary craft turn, right before it left our Solar System, and take one shot back at Earth.  There, with a little sunlight distortion, was this tiny blue dot:

Earth (marked with arrow) is a tiny blue dot seen from the edge of our Solar System.  Photo credit: University of Hawaii

From The Planetary Society ("Empowering the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration"), the text Sagan wrote:

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Sagan's audio recording of his words have been set to images; this powerful one is here (3 and some minutes):

An aside, from The Atlantic on-line, editor Rebecca Rosen's writes:
"A peek into the evolution of a beloved passage."

July 30, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Stanley Bridge Centre Farms (9AM - 1PM) and Charlottetown (9AM - 2PM)  both have Farmers' Markets open today.

And tonight is "The Master's Wife" at Orwell Corner, 7:30PM.  I think tonight and next Wednesday are the final two performances at Orwell.
This is yet another long read, but critically looks at the many of the arguments made in North America that natural gas from fracking would be that "bridge to renewables".   It focuses on the U.S., but reminds us what is at stake in our little corner of things.


The Truth About Natural Gas: A "Green" Bridge to Hell - ecowatch article by Naomi Oreskes,

An excerpt,bold is mine:

Albert Einstein is rumored to have said that one cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that led to it. Yet this is precisely what we are now trying to do with climate change policy. The Obama administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many environmental groups, and the oil and gas industry all tell us that the way to solve the problem created by fossil fuels is with more fossils fuels. We can do this, they claim, by using more natural gas, which is touted as a “clean” fuel—even a “green” fuel.

Like most misleading arguments, this one starts from a kernel of truth. That truth is basic chemistry: when you burn natural gas, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced is, other things being equal, much less than when you burn an equivalent amount of coal or oil. It can be as much as 50 percent less compared with coal, and 20 percent to 30 percent less compared with diesel fuel, gasoline, or home heating oil. When it comes to a greenhouse gas (GHG) heading for the atmosphere, that’s a substantial difference. It means that if you replace oil or coal with gas without otherwise increasing your energy usage, you can significantly reduce your short-term carbon footprint.>>

<<What this means is that most of the benefit natural gas offers comes not from the gas itself, but from how it is burnedand this is mostly because gas plants tend to be new and use more efficient burning technologies. The lesson, not surprisingly: if you burn a fuel using twenty-first century technology, you get a better result than with late nineteenth or twentieth century technology. This is not to defend coal, but to provide an important reality check on the discussion now taking place in this country. There is a real benefit to burning gas in America, but it’s less than often claimed, and much of that benefit comes from using modern techniques and new equipment. (If the coal industry weren’t so busy denying the reality of climate change, they might publicize this fact.)>>

A little more from Naomi Oreskes and the TomDispatch.com "A Regular Antidote to the Mainstream Media":

July 29, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

European decisions, some Canadian reactions:

A sigh of relief, for now:
Trade-wise, Germany appears ready to reject the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but it's not just about us, it's with any eye for their future trade deals with the United States.  The sticking point, which has been repeatedly brought up by the Island groups critical of CETA  -- but not mentioned much by federal government people pushing it --  is about corporations suing a state.

Applause from The Council of Canadians:

A swift intact of breath:
U.K. going "all out for fracking"

From their Business and Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, "Ultimately, done right, speeding up shale will mean more jobs and opportunities for people and help ensure long-term economic and energy security for our country,.”

And if not "done right":
from an anonymous comment on the website article:
"Poisoning the water tables that have taken thousands of years to form and causing unknown changes to pressure plates that balance the earth's stability. We are like moths flying into the fire. Insanity, just plain insanity."

July 28, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some letters and an article from last week's Guardian, on various topics, but worth a read:

On Cosmetic Pesticides:

Cost of perfection may be unhealthy - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 26, 2014 As a frequent visitor to your beautiful province I have noticed many aspects of Island life which I think other jurisdictions could learn from — recycling and courteous driving are the first two that come to mind.

However, this obsession with perfectly manicured lawns has me puzzled. Almost without exception, the predominant landscaping theme appears to be to remove all trees and shrubbery and replace it with massive neatly trimmed expanses of grass.

The golf courses are equally complicit in this regard. But we all know this comes at a price, and while it is heartening to hear that there is a small but committed minority raising the alarms about rampant pesticide use, their concerns aren’t being taken seriously.

While the rest of the country is waking up to the clear environmental and health risks of this practice, I am afraid that the local culture here seems a bit resistant to change. For those of us that just pass through each summer, the effects are minimal.

But for everyone else who calls this lovely Island home, and more importantly for their offspring, the desire for perfection will come at a very high price.

I hope that a change will come before the effects are irreversible and that P.E.I. will continue to be a healthy, peaceful place for future generations of Islanders and tourists alike.

Ian Dobson, Thunder Bay, ON

An Update on the Wheeler Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing:
Dr. David Wheeler is saying he won't tell the government in Nova Scotia to keep the moratorium, but he says fracking should not go ahead until a broader public discussion is had and more research is completed.  So the review is not a rubber stamp, I hope.


Fracking in Nova Scotia should be put on hold to allow for more study: expert - The Guardian article

Published on July 25, 2014

HALIFAX - The head of a panel reviewing the potential for hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia says the province should not allow the industry to proceed until a broader public discussion is held and more research is completed.

David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, says the province needs more time to get up to speed with the rapidly expanding unconventional oil and gas industry.

Nova Scotia imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking in 2012 as public concern grew over the potential impact of high-volume fracking.

Wheeler's comments come as his independent panel is about to wrap up a series of stormy public meetings, where the vast majority of participants said they were opposed to fracking.

The panel is expected to release a final report with recommendations next month, but Wheeler stressed his experts won't tell the province what it should do about the moratorium.

However, Wheeler says the panel will recommend that once the public has had a broader conversation and more research is completed, it should be up to The communities to decide whether to allow fracking within their borders.

Reasoned commentary on the world environmental status:

Tackling sustainability challenges - The Guardian Guest Opinion by article Dr. Palanisamy Nagarajan

Published on July 25, 2014

With the purpose of expanding and strengthening the role of the present United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), a new governing body of the UPEP, with representatives from all UN member states,  was conceived by the world leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

Subsequently, a landmark inaugural meeting of the UNEA was convened last month in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23 to 27 June 2014. Over 1,200 high-level participants attended this historic meeting —the highest-level UN body ever convened to discuss environmental sustainability issues.

“With its augmented role as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly, UNEA has the mandate and capacity to position the environment alongside peace and security, poverty reduction, global health, trade and sustainable economic growth as an issue of crucial importance to every government,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at this momentous meeting.

Also, Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need for unwavering action to change humanity’s relationship with planet Earth. Protecting our life-supporting system of the Earth is integral to sustainable development.

He said forcefully and succinctly: “The air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food are part of a delicate global ecosystem that is increasingly under pressure from human activities. As our population grows, we have to recognize that our consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable. We see the heavy hand of humankind everywhere — from tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries; from growing freshwater shortages to increasingly polluted skies and seas, land and water in many parts of the world; from the rapid decline of biodiversity to the growing menace of climate change.”

The opening session of UNEA dealt with mounting environmental problems such as illegal wildlife trade, chemical waste, air pollution, and new development goals.  Comprehending the fact that every second around 200 tonnes of plastic wastes are dumped into the world’s oceans is difficult. The fragile marine ecosystems are increasing jeopardized, despite our growing awareness of the problem, and the financial damage alone amounts to $13 billion a year, according to a recent UN estimate.

Environmental crime epidemic, such as  poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, illegal fisheries, illegal mining and dumping of toxic waste, among other things, poses a shocking threat to security and development, according to a recent report from the UNEP and INTERPOL. The monetary value of all environmental crime is worth up to US$213 billion each year, compared with global Overseas Development Assistance of around US$135 billion a year.

“Beyond immediate environmental impacts, the illegal trade in natural resources is depriving developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues just to fill the pockets of criminals,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim. “Sustainable development, livelihoods, good governance and the rule of law are all being threatened as significant sums of money are flowing to militias and terrorist groups.”

Given ever more disquieting state of the global environment, we have entered a new era in tackling the Gordian knot of sustainability challenges of the 21st century. First and foremost, a transition from inherently unsustainable development trajectory to sustainable development trajectory requires a fundamental change in our socioeconomic system. Surprisingly, four decades have gone by since the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Over the years, there has been no dearth of international conferences, UN summits, and mountains of scientific reports that have dealt with sustainability crisis of our time. Yet, the crisis has been deepening. It is time to recognize the obvious fact that the root cause of the sustainability crisis has not been addressed at all.  We have been trying to move towards sustainable development path without changing the system which is contributing to the problem. At levels of decision-making, we continue to think ‘inside the box’ rather than thinking ‘outside the box’ for taking bold action to cut the Gordian knot of sustainability.

Human and nature dynamics (HANDY), a mathematical model of developed by Motessarrie, Rivas and Kalny (2014), published in latest issue of Ecological Economics, shows that unsustainable exploitation of natural resources or increasingly unequal wealth distribution can independently lead to collapse of modern societies. Societal collapse can be averted if the rate of deletion of natural capital can be reduced to a sustainable level, with an equitable distribution of resources. The validity of this handy model lies in reproducing the irreversible collapses of past societies.

Just two years ago, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded the world community, during his opening statement at Rio+20, that our efforts in dealing with climate change and environment “have not lived up to the measure of the challenge.” He said: “Nature does not wait. Nature does not negotiate with human beings.”

Against the backdrop of what is going on in the global environmental landscape, it is time to reflect and ponder whether Homosapiens would be able to avert the possible collapse of modern societies with wisdom and foresight.  Will UNEA pave the way for taking a sharp U- turn in moving towards sustainable development trajectory? Time will tell.

 Dr. Palanisamy Nagarajan is emeritus professor of economics and Island Studies Teaching Fellow, University of Prince Edward Island.

And just a give-your-head-a-shake letter:

Taxpayers on financial hook - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 23, 2014

Whose money was allegedly misappropriated by Senator Duffy?

Whose money was it that paid for the year-long investigation by the RCMP? Whose money will be used for a very lengthy trial, probably costing many millions? If the accused is convicted, whose money will be used to pay for his incarceration and rehabilitation?

The answer is you, the taxpayer, will bear the cost.

It is amazing that one citizen can singlehandedly change the political landscape of a nation. Mr. Duffy may well become the most important Islander in history.

Meanwhile, taxpayers’ money flows unrelentingly down the 1864 drain — bread and circuses.

M. Raymond Moore, Charlottetown

July 27, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight is the Bonshaw Ceilidh, 7PM, Bonshaw Hall.  More details:

A couple of interesting articles, for Sunday reading:

From EcoWatch, a sobering article on how fracking is changing everything in Appalachia, "How Fracking Changed the World."


Labels that help a consumer make better environmental choices:

Eco-watch article on ecologically useful labels for purchases


From Nature PEI (Natural History Society), a blog entry from the Canadian Wildlife Federation about bats and the Species at Risk list.  Bats have been decimated by White Nose Syndrome.  I know I haven't seen any bats since earlier this summer, and we were pretty batty here in Bonshaw.

Comments from the public are welcome and might help. Deadline is August 18th.  Read more here.


And another "Could this possibly happen in PEI? -- some waters off California are so polluted that fishing and tourism are affected.   California businesses band together for environmental protection of their livelihood connected with the ocean.

July 26, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Summer food gathering, as it is Saturday, there are local farmers' markets open in:
Stanley Bridge (new for Saturdays, I think),
Montague Waterfront and
Murray Harbour Farmers' Market
There are still lots of salad and other greens, in addition to small beets and new potatoes and such.  :-)
Summer food reading...save for another day, if you have to, but it's worth it.

There is an (superlatives fail me -- he's just extraordinary) writer named Michael Pollan, whose most "famous" book perhaps is The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.    The library and bookstores have it.  It chronicles the origins of four meals -- a fast-food meal, an industrial organic convenience food, a home cooked meal at a self-sufficient farm, and wild-caught (hunter-gatherer) meal, and revealed a great deal about corn production and high-fructose corn syrup and such.   Pollan became one of the spokesman for responsible and local food production, along with writer and chef Alice Waters. 

So he gets asked to read and write forwards for others' books on related-issues, as he did for Courtney White's book,  Grass, Soil, Hope.

From the website about the book:
A former archaeologist and Sierra Club activist, (Courtney) White dropped out of the 'conflict industry' in 1997 to co-found the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between ranchers, conservationists, public land managers, scientists, and others around the idea of land health (www.quiviracoalition.org). Today, his work with Quivira concentrates on building economic and ecological resilience on working landscapes, with a special emphasis on carbon ranching and the new agrarian movement.

His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Farming, Acres Magazine, Rangelands, Natural Resources Journal, and Solutions. His essay "The Working Wilderness: A Call for a Land Health Movement" was published by Wendell Berry in 2005 in his collection of essays titled The Way of Ignorance.

Courtney is the author of the book Revolution on the Range: the Rise of a New Ranch in the American West, and he co-edited, with Dr. Rick Knight, Conservation for a New Generation, both published by Island Press in 2008.

(Chris's note: This Island Press is located in Washington, D.C., and deals primarily with environmental issues: http://islandpress.org/press/about.html

The website for the book: http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/grass_soil_hope/

And (finally) here is Michael Pollan's beautiful preface, originally posted on the Organic Consumers Association website:

Hope in a Book: Michael Pollan’s Foreword to Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country, by Courtney White

  • By Michael Pollan
    December 2013

Hope in a book about the environmental challenges we face in the twenty-first century is an audacious thing to promise, so I’m pleased to report that Courtney White delivers on it. He has written a stirringly hopeful book, and yet it is not the least bit dreamy or abstract. To the contrary, Grass, Soil, Hope is deeply rooted in the soil of science and the practical work of farming.

Grass, Soil, Hope is at the same time a challenging book, in that it asks us to reconsider our pessimism about the human engagement with the rest of nature. The bedrock of that pessimism is our assumption that human transactions with nature are necessarily zero-sum: for us to wrest whatever we need or want from nature—food, energy, pleasure—means nature must be diminished. More for us means less for it. Examples of this trade-off are depressingly easy to find. Yet there are counterexamples that point to a way out of that dismal math, the most bracing of which sit at the heart of this book.

Consider what happens when the sun shines on a grass plant rooted in the earth. Using that light as a catalyst, the plant takes atmospheric CO2, splits off and releases the oxygen, and synthesizes liquid carbon–sugars, basically. Some of these sugars go to feed and build the aerial portions of the plant we can see, but a large percentage of this liquid carbon—somewhere between 20 and 40 percent—travels underground, leaking out of the roots and into the soil. The roots are feeding these sugars to the soil microbes—the bacteria and fungi that inhabit the rhizosphere—in exchange for which those microbes provide various services to the plant: defense, trace minerals, access to nutrients the roots can’t reach on their own. That liquid carbon has now entered the microbial ecosystem, becoming the bodies of bacteria and fungi that will in turn be eaten by other microbes in the soil food web. Now, what had been atmospheric carbon (a problem) has become soil carbon, a solution—and not just to a single problem, but to a great many problems.

Besides taking large amounts of carbon out of the air—tons of it per acre when grasslands are properly managed, according to White—that process at the same time adds to the land’s fertility and its capacity to hold water. Which means more and better food for us. There it is: a non-zero-sum transaction.

This process of returning atmospheric carbon to the soil works even better when ruminants are added to the mix. Every time a calf or lamb shears a blade of grass, that plant, seeking to rebalance its “root-shoot ratio,” sheds some of its roots. These are then eaten by the worms, nematodes, and microbes—digested by the soil, in effect, and so added to its bank of carbon. This is how soil is created: from the bottom up.

To seek to return as much carbon to the soil as possible makes good ecological sense, since roughly a third of the carbon now in the atmosphere originally came from there, released by the plow and agriculture’s various other assaults, including deforestation. (Agriculture as currently practiced contributes about a third of greenhouse gases, more than all of transportation.) For thousands of years we grew food by depleting soil carbon and, in the last hundred or so, the carbon in fossil fuel as well. But now we know how to grow even more food while at the same time returning carbon and fertility and water to the soil. This is what I mean by non-zero-sum, which is really just a fancy term for hope.

It has long been the conventional wisdom of science that it takes eons to create an inch of soil (and but a single season to destroy it). This book brings the exceptionally good news that this conventional wisdom no longer holds: with good husbandry, it is possible to create significant amounts of new soil in the course of a single generation. The farmers and the scientists who are figuring this out are the heroes of Grass, Soil, Hope.

The book takes the form of a travelogue, a journey to the grassy frontiers of agriculture. Some of these frontiers White finds in the unlikeliest of places: on Colin Seis’s “pasture cropping” farm in Australia, where annual grains are seeded directly into perennial pastures; on John Wick’s cattle ranch in Marin County, California, where a single application of compost has roused the soil microbiota to astonishing feats of productivity and carbon capture; in the tenth-of-an-acre “edible forest” that Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates planted, according to the principles of permaculture, right behind their house in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Each of these chapters constitutes a case study in what is rightly called “regenerative agriculture.” Taken together, they point the way to a radically different future of farming than the one we usually hear about—the one in which, we’re told, we must intensify the depredations (and trade- offs) of agriculture in order to feed a growing population. Courtney White’s book points to very different idea of intensification—one that also brings forth more food from the same land but, by making the most of sunlight, grass, and carbon, promises to heal the land at the same time. There just may be a free lunch after all. Prepare to meet some of the visionaries who have mastered the recipe.

Michael Pollan Berkeley, California December 2013

You can purchase “Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country,” by Courtney White, at a 35-percent discount (good through Dec. 31, 2014). Go here  and enter the discount code: CGP35


What a lovely, hopeful bit of writing.

July 25, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Midsummer Updates
What some groups of people like you have been watching and acting on this summer:

The Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water will watch how government plans to work on the water policy announced last month.  The Coalition sent a letter to the Premier and Minister and others with suggestions on how the process would be inclusive and transparent.  Lots of background, including various groups' submissions to the Standing Committee at http://peiwater.com/

Don't Frack PEI
is keeping an eye on the Nova Scotia Expert Panel Review of fracking, public meetings taking place this week and next.  It bears watching.  Andrew Lush attended the meeting and published some thoughts at  http://dontfrackpei.com/web/ 

(On a side Plan B-note:  He has also pointed out a few weeks ago some problems with the not-so-realigned driveway from Plan to the Strathgartney Equestrian Park, and how tricky driving to the Park with a horse trailer is.  TIR has had a crew out there to "mitigate" things recently.)

FairVote/Leadnow is meeting regularly ("Connect" meetings, the first Thursday of each month, usually in Charlottetown, usually at the Haviland Club) to discuss raising awareness about proportional representation and making that an outcome after the next federal election.  Several events are taking place in August which they are involved in.

Food Exchange PEI has been a big promoter of the garden plots at the Legacy Garden behind the Farm Centre on University Avenue, and holds workshops aimed at helping people enjoy food and be empowered to grow and process their own.
The next thing is a Kale Workshop this Saturday, 10AM, Farm Centre, free.

Gary Schneider of Macphail Woods, in addition to hosting summer camps for kids and workshops for everyone, went to the Atlantic Agrologists' convention on day this week in Stanley Bridge, participating in a forum about farming and the high capacity well issue.  He felt it was a positive session and that a lot of issues about farming today and in the future were aired.

Pesticide Free PEI has called on the provincial government to -- at the very least -- immediately implement buffer zones from cosmetic pesticide spraying around places where children and seniors are. They continue to meet regularly and encourage Islanders to write letters to the editor and copy to their MLAs about this issue. 

The NDP-PEI immediately endorsed the call for the buffer zones; they also recently reminded Islanders and government that the details about last year's fish kills were never released.

SOSS Save Our Seas and Shores has also been meeting regularly, and recently followed up with a letter to Premier Ghiz about their meeting, with additional questions about PEI's role in protecting the Gulf and additional resources about sustainable energy production.

and is promoting The Blue Whale Campaign

And what has our provincial government been doing?
the finished the Upton Road/Charlottetown Bypass this week, and announced plans to move a church and reduce a curve in Tryon.  Both projects were eligible for use with the Atlantic Gateway money (the "50-cent dollars") and this was confirmed by the chief engineer in a meeting with Premier Ghiz and Minister Vessey two years ago.
Both projects appear to have had consultation about the actual plan chosen *before* construction started.

To the Department of Tourism Parks' credit, they did deliver five picnic tables and a few garbage cans back to Bonshaw Provincial Park, as all "infrastructure" was removed before Prince Charles came along for his stroll.
(Parks are inexplicably in a division called "Corporate Services" in the department.)
And you probably know that David Suzuki is taking up the cause of environmental rights legislation as his last major project across the country.  He is coming to PEI in Monday, September 29th, 2014, to Summerside. Info and ticket link:  http://bluedot.ca/the-tour/

Apologies for any errors in the updates above.

July 24, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Last weekend The Green Party of Canada held its convention in Fredericton, NB, and
from The Green Party PEI press release:
The Green Party of Canada honoured Darcie Lanthier with the 2014 Community Involvement Award for her active participation in many community groups; Pesticide Free PEI, Voluntary Resource Council, Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, Home & School Association, Women's Institute, Citizen's Alliance, PEI Food Exchange, Legacy Garden, Green Drinks Charlottetown in addition to serving at both the federal and provincial levels of the Green Party.
She also is a fantastic cook, wife, mother and energy efficiency expert.  And she is a wonderful henkeeper.

The Journal-Pioneer weighs in, its lead editorial a breezy gust not-from-Charlottetown:

Don’t blow the Water Act - The Journal-Pioneer Editorial

Published on July 23, 2014

For many faiths water is a sacred element. It has been used in a thousand different ways since the dawn of human time.

Life cannot exist without it.

So how sobering a thought it is that we here on Prince Edward Island are metaphorically floating on a raft of fresh water in an ocean of salt.

P.E.I.’s fresh water supply is entirely supplied by groundwater.

If something happens to that supply. Game over.

Islanders would have to either invest in hugely expensive desalination plants to replace our supply or pack up shop and head for the mainland.

This reminder of water’s importance is notable because the government of Prince Edward Island is set to bring in a Water Act.

This act will, presumably, encompass any and all rules and regulations for accessing and utilizing this shared resource.

Premier Robert Ghiz and his government should be commended for doing this.

Frankly the fact this gaping hole in our legislation has been overlooked for so long is stupefying.

Ah well, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

In any case, this act has now been proposed and work on it will soon start, if that hasn’t happened already.

Those doing the writing need to keep some things in mind.

They would have done well to be in Stanley Bridge over the last couple of days, where a meeting of the Atlantic Province’s agrologists were discussing all things water.

Many of the professionals in attendance, scientists, environmentalists, business people, etc. were deeply concerned about the future of the Island’s fresh water supply.

Some asked why current and past recommendations by scientists have yet to be implemented, other’s questioned the validity of what science has already been done and still more lamented the politicizing of the issue.

Several people questioned whether or not this water act will be a slapped together affair – a token move to kick the proverbial can of debate further down the road.

One visiting businessman from the United Kingdom commented that in his country, they’ve been fighting over water rights for 10 years.

So how is P.E.I. supposed to do that in a year? Or however long the province expects to take to write this document?

These are all valid concerns.

We can’t afford to ignore them.

Our future on this Island depends on them.

F. Ben Rodgers writes very good letters, usually making me smile or grimace.

P.E.I. government an arrogant one - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 22, 2014, in The Guardian

I believe the real arrogance of this government began on the night of the last election when Robert Ghiz chastised the people of Souris over the airwaves for not re-electing Alan Campbell. He stated Mr. Campbell was a great guy and would have a job in the premier’s office tomorrow.

The present direction of this government concerns me. I’m referring to the probable removal of the moratorium on deep wells asked for by the potato industry.

Six months ago on CBC Compass, Environment Minister Janice Sherry stated she had received reports dealing with the issues concerning deep wells. The interviewer asked would she make them public? The minister said no, they were for her info only. Six months later, still no info. Such arrogance.

This minister needs reminding whom she works for, who pays her salary. The last time I checked it wasn’t the potato industry. Now it appears the lifting of the moratorium is a done deal. George Webster is in the provincial cabinet, which will decide the issue. Strange, isn’t Webster a potato farmer?

Then we have two defeated Liberals working on behalf of the potato industry lobbying to lift the moratorium. It all seems a little bit slanted in favour of a large industrial corporation.

The seriousness of this issue, if it becomes a done deal, is we can’t go back. It’s not like the other issues such as Plan B or the HST. This is about the survival of our Island, of risking the one sustaining and precious resource life depends on.

If government goes ahead with this reckless and irresponsible action it will be too late to reverse the damage. I ask the question, is this really what government wants to do? What about future generations, politicians have children/grandchildren too.  

 It’s difficult to understand why I have to write this letter of protest. The interests of government should follow the same lines as the majority of Islanders. They should share our concerns and act on the promises made during election campaigns.

Remember the last election campaign, they came to our doors smiling and promising to work on our behalf. Well, it is past the time for Robert Ghiz and his government to do the right thing.  The Island can’t risk deep-water wells simply because a few greedy corporations can grow more potatoes.

F. Ben Rodgers, Abram Village

PS  I am not sure of details, but I think tickets for David Suzuki's Blue Dot tour are set to go on sale today at noon.  http://bluedot.ca/  and go to "The Tour" choice on the top bar.   However, the website may not be caught up with the PEI stop details yet, which are Monday, September 29th, 7PM, Harbourfront Theatre.

July 23, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Islanders standing up on lawn pesticides:

Despite no promise of public consultations or of a timeline, the Department of Environment is feeling public pressure and considering the call by Pesticide Free PEI for buffer zones around areas where children and seniors are. 

Pesticide Free meeting tonight, 7PM, Trinity United Church Hall, corner of Prince and Richmond Streets, Charlottetown.

In Monday's Guardian:

Pesticides now a political issue - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 21, 2014

Pesticides have been in the media a lot lately. And it's not good news.

- National Geographic is calling them a "Second Silent Spring," referring to biologist Rachel Carson's groundbreaking book written 50-plus years ago about the harmful effects of pesticides;

- The Globe and Mail released an article about pesticides being linked to causing autism from a recent study in California;

- the Ontario government just announced they are taking action by planning to reduce or eliminate the use of neonicotinoids - a class of pesticides implicated in the mass deaths of bees.

And the problem on P.E.I. is that we use a disproportionate amount of pesticides for such a small area. We spray our lawns with cosmetic pesticides, we have a lot of golf courses that use large amounts of pesticides and the biggest culprit of all is the 85,000 acres of potatoes that are sprayed up to 20 times a season.  

Let's hope the government of P.E.I. takes swift action, especially given the recent onslaught of scientific proof of the detrimental effects and bans cosmetic pesticides which so many people have been asking for, for so many years. It's gotten old and tired, but now that the media is picking it up maybe that will be the incentive for the government to act. Kind of like how Premier Ghiz so quickly changed the legislation on the order of P.E.I. issue.  

Pesticides are a political issue, sadly, and they are impacting the health of the people and the environment of P.E.I., possibly being responsible for our high cancer rates. I think most people would say they believe there is a likely chance for this to be true. Being willfully blind to this cannot continue, not with so much evidence. Who's going to be the politician to step up to this issue?

Maureen Kerr, Pesticide Free P.E.I.

And even The Guardian's lead editorial on Tuesday was about the issue. 

"Kids, seniors deserve our protection"
It's a bit winded, but starts with "On P.E.I., parents should know when it's safe to use playground" and ends with:
In the absence of agreement on a cosmetic pesticide ban, Pesticide Free P.E.I.’s call for a buffer zone around playgrounds and senior citizen facilities seems like a sensible one and something the province should ensure takes place.
The entire text is at the end of this Update.

Let me be clear -- Gail Shea is channeling her inner Harper:

CETA’s pro-trade plan of great benefit to P.E.I. - The Guardian Guest Opinion by Gail Shea

Published on July 21, 2014

Trade has long been a powerful engine for Canada’s economy. It is even more so in these globally challenging economic times. Indeed, trade today is equivalent in size to some 60 per cent of Canada’s annual Gross Domestic Product and one out of every five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports.

When we trade, we become more competitive. Prices for goods and services go down. Wages, salaries and our standard of living go up, and businesses are able to hire more workers. All this is why our government has put so much effort into expanding market access for business people and investors here in Prince Edward Island as well as right across Canada.

Our government’s pro-trade plan is about creating economic growth and jobs in every region, rather than “advancing the rights of businesses” as a recent letter to the Charlottetown Guardian inaccurately suggested.

Since trade today can extend beyond the import and export of goods to encompass a vast number of business connections, Canada’s free trade agreements include provisions concerning foreign direct investments – an important input into the creation of new jobs and business innovation.     

The Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) is no exception. CETA’s investment rules provide greater certainty, transparency and protection to Canadians who want to invest in the EU and will ensure that EU-member governments treat Canadian businesses no less favourably than they do EU businesses.

These new investment rules will ensure that markets remain open while protecting Canadian businesses against arbitrary government measures that discriminate in favour of domestic companies.

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing in CETA or any other Canadian trade agreement that restricts the ability of a national, provincial or local government to regulate and legislate in areas designed to protect the environment, public health and safety, our water supply, our health-care system, culture and a myriad of other such fields. Under CETA, foreign investors, like domestic companies, are subject to and must abide by the laws and regulations of Canada and P.E.I..

Despite the fear-mongering of CETA’s anti-trade critics, the reality is that this agreement will be of great benefit to P.E.I. across all sectors of our economy.

For example, tariffs on Canadian exports in the EU currently range from nearly 18 per cent for frozen French fries, to an incredible 25 per cent for seafood. When this agreement comes into force, 96 per cent of tariffs for fish and seafood products will be lifted. In the first year alone, the lobster industry stands to save $6.7 million. Seven years into the agreement, the last of the tariffs will disappear, and our lobster products can be sold completely duty-free. The long-term benefits of increased exports to Europe mean more jobs, higher wages, and greater prosperity.

Gail Shea is Egmont MP and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Lead Guardian  editorial from yesterday:


On P.E.I., parents should know when it’s safe to use playground - The Guardian Lead Editorial

The issue of banning cosmetic pesticide use on Prince Edward Island has been a political hot potato for some time now. And, as with all such controversial debates, the devil is always in the details.

The issue is back in the news following some weekend advocacy by a group called Pesticide Free P.E.I. It is a grassroots organization that advocates for the prevention of what it terms pesticide-related health risks. On the weekend, the group reiterated its belief the provincial government should enact legislation protecting children and seniors from the potential risks of cosmetic pesticides.

While the group would be made most happy by seeing a complete ban on cosmetic pesticide use, for the time being it would be satisfied if the province moved to protect some of society’s most vulnerable citizens — children and seniors. It wants to ban spraying cosmetic pesticides near playgrounds, day cares, schools, bus stops, hospitals and senior citizen complexes.

Roger Gordon, a spokesman for the group and former UPEI biologist, said the request for a 25-metre buffer zone near those areas would be similar to a current requirement for homeowners. Residents who spray their lawns with cosmetic pesticides must give advance notice to all their neighbours within a 25-metre radius of when the spraying will take place.

Mr. Gordon and the group say it doesn’t make sense that while residents get notice when spraying is about to take place, there’s no provision to let children and their parents know when the area around a playground is being sprayed. What parent hasn’t heard the call from the wee ones in the back seat to stop at a colourful and fun looking playground. It would be nice to know a spraying program had not just taken place. And when it comes to children, Pesticide Free P.E.I. says there are studies that have found children are at a greater risk for harm from cosmetic pesticides than adults.

P.E.I. doesn’t have a ban on cosmetic pesticide use, but it does ban a key chemical ingredient that is used in many pesticides.

Of course, cosmetic pesticide use is only part of the pesticide debate in the province. There is also the issue of agricultural chemical spraying that is used to control pests. In the past, runoff from agriculture chemicals has found its way into Island streams with deadly results for fish. The industry has responded with better stewardship of the land, which is designed to prevent runoffs from reaching our precious waterways.

At least when it comes to agriculture pesticide use, the industry can argue the spraying is necessary to enable farmers to grow their crops and make a living. Farmers will argue that given the choice, they would just as soon not have to spray costly chemicals. Critics of cosmetic spraying argue that having a nicer looking lawn isn’t worth the price of causing health problems to neighbours or fellow citizens.

One of the areas where the call for a ban on cosmetic pesticide use gets dicey is when it comes to controlling legitimate insect or weed infestations. For example, is it realistic to expect homeowners to stand by and allow their house to become overrun with ants or some other undesirable visitor? Of course, there is usually more than one way to control such things, and the answer doesn’t always have to come from a spray can.

So the debate goes round and round.

In the absence of agreement on a cosmetic pesticide ban, Pesticide Free P.E.I.’s call for a buffer zone around playgrounds and senior citizen facilities seems like a sensible one and something the province should ensure takes place.

July 22, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Tonight the second of three free Transition Island Talks is at the Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, at 7PM. Tonight features Mike Thususka from Summerside about their wind farm.

And speaking of the Summerside, mark you calendars for Monday, September 29th, when David Suzuki is stopping in PEI for what's likely to be his last cross country tour, to share the concept of environmental rights.

Things are still in the planning stages, which is why the location may be listed on the tour page as Charlottetown instead of Summerside, but more details will follow. 
It's great timing as the Citizens' Alliance will be hosting a workshop in early September for folks interested in being involved in a PEI working group on the concept of environmental rights, in conjunction with East Coast Environmental Law Association.
We have been invited to help host the PEI stop of David Suzuki's Blue Dot Tour. 
And the concept of environmental right is sure to be a focus of our Citizens' Alliance first annual general meeting on Saturday, October 11th. 

Take care,
Chris O.,

from an e-mail:

Announcing David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour

The David Suzuki Foundation is excited to announce the Blue Dot Tour, a cross country celebration featuring David Suzuki and a star-studded line up of Canadian performers, artists and leaders.

Between September 24th and November 9th, David Suzuki and the Blue Dot Tour will visit 20 communities from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Vancouver, BC. From engaging community events to spectacular concert experiences, this once in a lifetime experience is not to be missed.

The Blue Dot Tour is the celebration of a simple yet powerful idea: that all Canadians should have the right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food. 

(Suzuki and other are touring) for one simple reason: they believe that by coming together to take action locally, we can guarantee that all Canadians will have the right to a healthy environment no matter who they are, or where they live.

Website for The Blue Dot Tour

July 21, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

In today's print Guardian (and on-line over the weekend), is a story about the call from Pesticide Free PEI to the Department of the Environment to create buffer zones from cosmetic pesticides to protect the most vulnerable.  My understanding is that buffer zones would not call for new *legislation*,  just *action* by the Department of Environment.


Group calls for pesticide ban near schools, seniors homes - The Guardian on-line article by Mitch MacDonald

Published on-line on July 19, 2014

A group of Islanders is calling on the province to enact legislation protecting children and seniors from the potential risks of cosmetic pesticides.  Pesticide Free P.E.I., a grassroots group advocating for the prevention of pesticide-related health risks, has made its dealings with the government public after seeing little progress during private emails and conversations made during the past year.  The group has made a public calling for the provincial government to ban  spraying cosmetic pesticides near playgrounds, day cares, schools, bus stops, hospitals and senior citizen complexes.

Roger Gordon, a spokesperson for the group and former UPEI biologist, said five provinces currently have a complete ban on cosmetic pesticides.  While the group would also like to see a ban on P.E.I., Gordon said right now the focus is on protecting the most vulnerable members of society.  “We recognize the government is not likely to do that (a complete ban) in the immediate future unfortunately. What we feel urgently needs attention is protecting children and elderly people from cosmetic pesticide spray,” said Gordon. “This is not an unreasonable request.”

Gordon said the group’s request for a 25-metre buffer zone near those areas would be similar to a current requirement for homeowners.  Residents that spray their lawns with cosmetic pesticides must give advanced notice to all their neighbours within a 25-metre radius of when the spraying will take place.

“It seems inconsistent to us that if any of my neighbours were to have their lawn sprayed we’d get a notice in the mail saying that spraying is going to be done… but there’s no provision to advise children that can come from all over the place visiting a playground,” Gordon said, adding that some studies have found that children are at a greater risk for harm from cosmetic pesticides than adults. “We think that is a dangerous situation and the very least the province can do is to put in place a buffer zone around these areas where children and elderly people congregate.”

Pressure for a ban on cosmetic pesticides increased after a public forum in Stratford a little over a year ago.  Pesticide Free P.E.I. was formed out of that meeting and has remained active since by lobbying members of government and holding another forum last month in Charlottetown.  However, Gordon said email requests and phone calls between the group and environment department officials have not led to any progress.

He said the group has been hitting a brick wall.  “We reached a point where we thought ‘we’re getting nowhere doing things in private’,” he said. “That’s why we issued this press release, it’s not because this is the first request we’ve made along these lines. We’ve sincerely tried."  The group sent an open letter to Environment Minister Janice Sherry, as well as the department’s deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and other high-ranking officials, earlier this week asking the government to immediately create buffer zones near the areas.

The group said it hopes for the buffer zones to be brought in ahead of the lawn spraying season for chinch bugs in August.

Pesticide Free PEI is meeting this Wednesday, July 23rd, 7PM, at the church hall of Trinity United Church, corner of Richmond and Prince Streets, Charlottetown, and all are welcome.

An excerpt from earlier this month in her naturapathic column in The Guardian, regarding changes that would make major changes to Islanders' health:
Kali Simmonds' comment:

July 8th, 2014
<<I would like our government to become more involved in addressing the concerns around cosmetic and agricultural pesticide use. Like the smoking debate, before the impact on human health was so clear and could no longer be ignored, we need to address the concerns around pesticide use and its impact on our health and the environment. If an elementary school principal were to chain smoke today in a school it would be ludicrous. However, I am 42 years old, and that was my reality 31 years ago.

I suspect that eventually the perception of any gain from routine pesticide use will be considered equally ridiculous. Anyone who sprays their lawn I would say educate yourself about the reasons not to continue such behaviour and farmers as well to consider the impact on their health, those they love and the population at large. In my experience, many who say that pesticide use is not a problem have failed to take the time to really look at the evidence. For those who share these concerns speak up, avoid pesticides and choose organic foods (especially local) whenever possible.>>

Kali Simmonds, ND

July 20, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

If you wish to goof around with a program that makes a little Lego-ish figure that shows you are unhappy with Lego's partnership with Shell Oil, go here and follow the prompts:


You can choose to "register" it with the website and then share it.

unable to upload :( check facebook page for image

Not an accurate likeness.

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin is working on something called Mission Ocean, which is proposing a new agreement to protect the high seas and promote ocean heath.

Here is a Globe and Mail article with background and graphics.

There are eight proposals listed here, along with the report, many having to do with overfishing and pollution, but regarding oil and gas exploration, it's number 6 that caught my eye.  It includes the line:

The Commission supports the adoption of international binding protocols with safety and environmental standards for offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation on the continental shelf, including provisions for emergency response, and capacity building for developing countries.

...which implies that safety standards are enough.  The whole endeavor of course is trying to improve things, and is worth finding about a bit more.

July 14, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Three videos, the first two being about neither the environment nor democracy issues in PEI, but worth passing on.

"July 14th -- Malala Day": A friend passed on this link to a one-minute YouTube celebrating the birthday of Malala Yousafzai and her wish for access to education for all girls and boys.
A simplified, but concise -- and therefore violent -- cartoon history of the conflict in the Middle East. 3:30 minutes.  Below the film is a key which shows the various groups throughout history who have battled for the scarce resources of the region.  The identification is *below* the character.
LEGO toys blocked the Greenpeace video that criticizes its partnership with Shell.

Background story on Greenpeace's campaign:
EcoWatch summary of story

and the new location of the video, in case you wanted to see it again or share it:

July 13, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

This is long, but very worth it; consider reading it one section at a time:
"Broken Ground: On the Frontlines of a Fractured Landscape."

It interviews individuals with their experiences about fracking and other uses of the land, and with the law, to highlight the idea of Environmental Rights.  There are both text and short videos.

“A campaign today to respect a clean and healthy environment — is that a good thing? Does it make us as a country stronger? Absolutely. Go for it.”
--Svend Robinson, former NDP MP from British Columbia, interviewed about his work getting environmental rights included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the response then.

The article is from the folks at the David Suzuki Foundation, which is solidly behind the Environmental Rights movement.
David Suzuki is going to be speaking about environmental rights across Canada this Fall. 

From David Ing in Saturday's Guardian:

Putting families ahead of lawns - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published July 12, 2014

When are we going to put our families ahead of our lawns? The spraying of noxious substances on our lawns has been denounced by the Canadian Medical Society, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the P.E.I. Medical Society, the Ontario College of Family Physicians, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Sierra Club of Canada.

Here are a few natural weed controls one can apply to their lawns:

Dig dandelions manually with a Fiskal picker, fertilize with 10-10-10 (Agro Co-Op) in the spring, over seed with new grass seed at the same time, lime in the fall, always mulch the leaves and leave the mulch on the lawn.

For spot treatment of weeds, use a vinegar-based spray but not the whole lawn. Corn gluten (Phillip's Feeds) is supposed to control dandelions from germinating but you have to apply it as soon as the snow disappears, and it also stops new grass seedlings from germinating, so you'd have to wait to overseed the barren areas with grass seed.

For controlling chinch bugs and June beetles use a biological insecticide from Halifax Seeds. Look for “nematodes” or “entomopathogenic nematodes” on their website.

For insect control on vegetables and ornamentals, spray with soapy water. Crushed eggshells help to keep the slugs at bay.

Dr. Roger Gordon, retired UPEI biologist, presented this information in an article in the 2013 Stratford Town Talk entitled “Why Cosmetic Pesticides Are A Bad Idea”:

Long-term effects include: impaired blood clotting; impaired immune system; genetic damage; linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers.

Lastly, cosmetic spraying has been used to achieve perfection in our surrounding – but no one needs a perfect lawn. We need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink in order to stay healthy. Continued spraying will negate both of these.

Let's not be “P.E.I. The Pesticide Province”.

David Ing, Stratford

Good people, near and far, speaking out.

July 12, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

The 2014 Farmers' Market schedule, but today add Stratford, 9AM to 1PM, Cotton Centre, Bunbury Road.

unable to upload :( check facebook for photo.

Until the government website gets the "2014 Fresh Products Directory" on-line, here is a photo of the Farmers' Market schedule from a paper copy.

Meanwhile in Nova Scotia....

Cape Breton University has been hired to conduct a review of some aspects of the fracking issue for that province.  Here is a link to the  "Hydraulic Fracturing Review" page with various subpages and other links.

Below is a published commentary, from last month; a look at what is *supposed* to be an objective and critical look at some aspects of fracking in Nova Scotia.
From it:

"Nova Scotia has had a moratorium on fracking since 2012, but wants to assess the public health and environmental risks to communities before the industry is permitted to unlock natural gas trapped in shale formations across the province."

Among those who have been around the block with these kinds of reviews (especially for projects in the oil and gas industry), there is a feeling that it's a "elaborate masquerade", to paraphrase Roy Johnstone's eloquent assessment of the Environmental Impact Assessment process for Plan B.


Fracking's long-term impacts still poorly understood - Cape Breton Post article by Jim Guy

Published 17 June 2014

The fracking panel led by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler has published two draft reports confirming an anticipated conclusion — that fracking should be permissible and is "safe" provided we watch it very carefully.

Considering the fracking industry’s history in Canada and elsewhere, this is not a confidence-building message. In almost every part of the country where fracking is licensed, this industry has been observed at least ignoring, if not violating, government regulations to get oil or gas — come hell or high water.

The impacts of other industrial practices that have threatened public health and environmental integrity in Cape Breton over the years are known full well and remain deep in the collective memory of families all over the island. All communities need to take a penetrating glance at what fracking can mean for them over the short term and long term.

Since the announcement that the provincial government wanted an independent review panel to examine fracking for all of Nova Scotia, there have been many strongly expressed opinions reflecting doubts about this panel's objectivity and impartiality. As its chair, Wheeler may well have achieved the independence and credibility he wanted for the job at hand. But the optics on the panel's impartiality have suggested otherwise.

For the provincial panel to endorse hydraulic fracking as safe with the condition that it be monitored is simply not supported as definitive by peer-reviewed research. In fact, there is no way of saying that with either the confidence of experience or of science. Monitoring shale gas exploration is different from monitoring other industrial activities, such as mining.

The Council of Canadian Academies, an independent research body that supports rigorous study projects and conducts expert assessments on science matters, has published reports on the fracking issue. Its panel's reports have pointed to problems with hydraulic fracturing, highlighting risks to surface water and groundwater quality, and threats to public health from air emissions and ultimately to the climate.

Even if fracking was "carefully monitored," the CCA observes that the industry does not know how to do it so as to prevent well leakage. In fact, the CCA observes that neither the industry nor governments claiming to monitor the geology around fracking can answer questions about its long-term effects.

Nova Scotia has had a moratorium on fracking since 2012, but wants to assess the public health and environmental risks to communities before the industry is permitted to unlock natural gas trapped in shale formations across the province.

Without a doubt, the policy implications on fracking will bring the water-energy nexus to the fore in a province that currently has one of Canada's most extensive source water protection programs. The political implications will also be significant if fracking is endorsed; they will be controversial and likely divisive in rural communities.

The millions of litres of water used at any fracking site is not returned to the hydrologic cycle. And unlike other water uses — in agriculture, privately or commercially — the water used for fracking is considered a permanent toxic withdrawal. The industry downplays these effects under the pretense of science, pointing to little or no risks involved.

While one of the draft papers presented by the provincial panel on fracking confirms the integrity of well bores, and dismisses risks of contaminants migrating through underground water, evidence in other provinces contradicts this position, showing that well bores predictably leak and leak a lot.

University of Waterloo professor emeritus John Cherry, a contaminant hydrologist who chaired the expert federal panel on fracking in Canada, has called the shale gas industry a "mess" and has criticized the lack of science on the methods and technologies being used to gain access to natural gas.

The business of fracking for natural gas is replete with contradictory evidence about risks to public health and environmental damage.

The CCA notes that many critical issues around fracking are still poorly understood. We don't yet know how to improve hydraulic fracturing techniques to avoid the kind of harm that might only become evident after decades of fracturing.

Jim Guy, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science and international law at Cape Breton University.

July 11, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

In the middle of the June 28 PEI newspapers was the 2014 "Fresh Products Directory".  It looks like a small sunny-coloured map, and it is a publication of the Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

One side is a map with numbers and the other is a list of producers and what they have.  There are symbols for type of produce or products, farm-gate or farmers' market, for U-pick, Community Shared Agriculture, and Certified Organic.  Unfortunately, the last two symbols are multi-coloured and similar in shape (one is a basket of vegetables, the other a logo of some sort) they really don't help the consumer.  The letters "CSA" and "ORG" might be clearer.

Anyway, I think the producer has to pay to be included in the Directory, and it's late enough in the year that a lot of CSAs are full.  But the box listing of Farmers' Markets is great (Cardigan, Old train Station, today from 10AM - 4PM).  But it is a good effort.

It is also available at liquor stores, Access PEI centres, visitor information centres, and the Department offices, or you can call 1(866) PEI-FARM (734-3276).

It is supposed to be on-line (according to the "FarmNet" column in June 30th's Guardian) at PEIFarmFresh.ca which immediate goes here:

and the selection for the Directory takes you here:
which only has last year's guide.  :-/

Screenshot of website this morning with last year's directory:

temporarily unable to upload.  Please check facebook for photo.


Tomorrow the Stratford Farmers' market opens in the Robert Cotton Park off Bunbury Road (it was supposed to open last week but was delayed due to Hurricane Arthur).

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party is at the Farm Centre tonight:

July 10, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

A mixed bag today:

Anne Gallant's hard-hitting letter from Tuesday's paper:

Chemicals Damages Many Life Forms - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published July 8th, 2014

Re: The Need to Compete in Saturday’s paper, explains the good side of potato farming to the media. I have yet to see anything positive about the large potato industry we have here on P.E.I. We are told that in order to compete we must have access to our deep-water well. Mr. Lawless, how about the survival of our families and the environment?

How about giving the future generations a healthy environment and clean water to drink. Giving the potato industry access to our deep water will be just another step in the destruction of the living environment on the Island. I am not a scientist; I am just a well-informed and well-read Islander who tries to live life in a sustainable manner. I do not understand the ins and outs of the production of potatoes, nor do I understand the science behind the living environment.

But, I do know that chemicals damage many life forms and it stays in our environment for a long time. Any person with a conscience and average intelligence knows that spraying these chemicals in our environment and on our food is terribly wrong for so many reasons.

Little P.E.I. has a cancer rate that is higher than the national average. That does not surprise me because potato producers are allowed to spray chemicals very close to our properties and our schools. Buffer zones simply are not enough.

Finding the perfect cancer cure will never happen because we are not doing anything about the cause. As long as we ignore the cause, we will live with this illness for a very long time. Why doesn’t our government or the potato industry do something about it? Money!

For them it is all about the bottom dollar and not about the environment or people’s health. Producers and governments have been brainwashed into believing that these chemicals are safe by the very corporation that sells them these chemicals.

Anne Gallant, Kensington

And it's a Lewis Carroll time of year:

Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Friday, July 11th, 2014, 6PM, Farm Centre Legacy Gardens, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown.  Call 892-3419 for more information or to reserve tickets. Adults $10 Children $7 (5 and under free)
"While the Father's of Confederation were meeting in 1864 Lewis Carroll was putting the finishing touches to his enduring classic novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Farm Centre Legacy Garden will feature fresh picked strawberries from Penny's Farm and Garden and Cow's ice-cream, WI shortcake, Purity Dairy chocolate milk, Caledonia House gourmet roasted coffees and Lady Baker's Teas. 'We’re serving the best the Island has to offer to celebrate strawberry season,” says Farm Centre GM Phil Ferraro. “People with thirsty gardens will even be able to learn how to make nutrient rich garden teas!' "
More details:

Coro Dolce is performing three times in the next couple of weeks.
Sunday, July 13th, 7:30PM, (not sure of price), Bonshaw Hall
Coro Dolce is the Island's classical choir under the direction of Carl Mathis.  Among the beautiful selections is an original piece by Terry Pratt, a "setting of JABBERWOCKY from ALICE IN WONDERLAND."
The same concert can be heard in Charlottetown on Thursday, July 24, at St. Peters Cathedral, and on Sunday, July 27, at St. John's Anglican Church in Milton, both at 7:30.

"Lego: Everything is NOT Awesome" is the title of this one-minute, 45-second film-message from Greenpeace regarding Shell Oil's partnering with children's block maker Lego, packaged with a bit of a background article from EcoWatch. The actual YouTube link is below the EcoWatch, but the YouTube comments are pretty pathetic.

If you anthropomorphize little Lego people, and animals, just beware things don't go well once Shell Oil starts digging in the Lego Arctic.

July 9, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Last summer, many people who gave *so* much fighting the Plan B highway got busy with their "other" jobs of being fantastic actors or musicians or artists.  I was thrilled and humbled by their talents.  This summer it is no different, and I am giving a bias and incomplete listing of a few productions.

The art exhibit is free; the performance productions require tickets. There is so much going on this summer, and so many free offerings from 2014-related monies, that it's likely hard to fill the seats. But worth supporting local artistic endeavors, to help keep them here next year and the next, when the 2014 Gravy Train is gone.

Sarah Saunders' exhibit Salt is at the Farmers' Market (and a reminder that the Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open today!).

Cathy Grant stars as the mother of one of the leads in Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun,  playing in Victoria.  Patricia Stunden Smith has ably taken the reins as Managing Director.

Tonight and the next four Wednesdays is The Master's Wife: A Theatrical Celebration,  at Orwell Corner Hall.  Harry Baglole has been a driving force behind this, and Roy Johnstone is in the musical chorus.

Story sounds so evocative -- it has been created by some folks whose love of this place and concern for its future fill my heart near to bursting.
"Writer/Storyteller, David Weale and Musician/Producer, Colin Buchanan collaborate to marry stories, song and film to create a storytelling show like you've never seen before; an intergenerational portrait of the inherent spirit of Islanders."

I was given a free ticket to The Ballad of Stompin' Tom, but would have gone regardless; and may go again.  (Cam MacDuffee is fantastic as Tom Connors; no matter how you feel about Stompin' Tom's music, MacDuffee makes it enjoyable.)  Catherine O'Brien directs.  And what theatre lets you walk right outside on a boardwalk on the harbour at intermission? 

And because tables are fun:
How some Plan B People Spend Their Summer 2014; info for the rest of us:

Production Title




Until When

More info

Salt (this town is small)

art exhibit

Wednesday and Saturdays, 9AM to 2PM

Charlottetown Farmers' Market

July 19


Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun


daily except Monday (Sunday matinee, other evenings)

Victoria Playhouse, Victoria

August 3rd


The Master's Wife: A Theatrical Celebration

play, music

Wednesday evenings, likely going to a few community halls in Fall

Orwell Historical Village Hall, Orwell

August 6th




Sunday matinees,
Monday and Tuesday evenings

Arts Guild, Charlottetown

August 26th


The Ballad of Stompin' Tom

play with music

Every night but Monday

Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside

August 30th


apologies for any errors

July 8, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Some events this week:

Tonight: The Transition Information Series begins at the Farm Centre, 7PM, Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue, Charlottetown.  This series of three free lectures is on alternate Tuesdays until August 5th.

"Environment session to be held in Charlottetown Tuesday.  There will be a free information session on the international transition movement and transition surrounding the province in Charlottetown.
The session takes place at 7 p.m. in the Farm Centre on University Avenue.
The transition movement is happening in thousands of communities across the world. It is a community-led process, to grow towns and cities stronger and happier by building resilience to address the global challenges of peak oil, climate change, increasing energy costs, economic instability and resource depletion.
Robert Larsen, a student from Summerside Intermediate School, will speak about the work he and his classmates did in Prince County by planting approximately 1000 native trees.
The public is invited to attend this first of three sessions to be held at the Farm Centre."

Tomorrow night (Wednesday) is a Pesticide Free PEI meeting.  It is at 7PM at the Trinity United Church Hall, corner of Richmond and Prince Streets, Charlottetown.

from yesterday's Guardian:

Farm tour not balanced? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Journalists like ‘balance’ in reporting. Here are suggestions for the Toxic Tours series of the Island. We welcome the media to Tracadie to witness the violation of the Crop Rotation Act.

Reporters could drop by the QEH Cancer Centre to get testimony from Islanders suffering from rare diseases. A visit to graveyards in the ‘Potato Belt’ would also be very informative.

The June 28 story didn’t fool anyone. We don’t want our tax dollars used to fund media tours promoting dangerous industrial farming practices? Enough already.

Marian White, Tracadie

July 7, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

On Thursday, July 3rd, The Guardian published this letter:

Another kind of media tour? - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 3rd, 2014

Teresa Wright wrote about a media tour set up by Agriculture P.E.I. designed to fight back against negative PR farmers were getting in the paper’s opinion page recently. Wright explained that although Andrew Lawless didn’t realize they were coming, he was good enough to interrupt his spraying to explain that fungicides and herbicides are applied much more carefully and strategically than in the past and that he didn’t spray unless he had to, a claim made earlier this month by Gary Linkletter.  I would like to ask Linkletter and Lawless: If this is so, why have the pesticide sales for P.E.I. not been published since 2008?  Surely, they would want to show Islanders how much less is being used in comparison to past years. I would think the responsible and sustainable practice would be reactive to problems as opposed to routinely spraying every week.

Fish kills, declining bees, butterflies and birds should all be considered ‘canaries in the coal mine’.  Anyone who doesn’t see the connection of their decline to the declining health of Islanders is either in denial or simply too far removed from nature.  I am all for sustainable farming and realize change will not happen overnight, but the time has come for government to enforce sustainable farming by significantly reducing our pesticides and doing much more to encourage organic farming.  This is the only ethical and sustainable solution.

I wonder if we could organize a media tour to go around the various farming communities and talk to people like me who are faced with the choice of either staying inside on a beautiful summer day or risking being poisoned simply by breathing air, and who are afraid to drink the water from our own wells.  We promise not to be spraying when you arrive.

Joan Diamond, Fairview

On Saturday,The Guardian opined on farming and food and criticism:

Farmers fight back against unfair attacks - The Guardian main editorial

Published on July 05, 2014

Media tour shows kinder, gentler side of agriculture

Hold it for a minute. Farmers are getting a bad rap these days. The recent flood of comment against deep-water wells and pesticide spraying is painting an unflattering picture of farmers as greedy abusers of the land. The P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture is so concerned that it helped organize a media tour of farm operations around the province to allow members of the press to see for themselves what is happening on the family farm and tell other Islanders about the kinder, gentler side of farming.
Farmers are much more concerned than their urban neighbours in safeguarding the land as a legacy for future generations. They are reluctant to apply pesticides and only do so as a last resort in order to protect their crops and investments. More and more, farmers are using the latest technology to operate more efficiently. Farmers are already heavily regulated in each and every thing they do — how many acres they can own, where they can cultivate, what they can plant and how often they must rotate their crops.
It just takes one or two hot button issues like water and spraying to paint an unfortunate, negative picture of the entire industry. Let’s not forget that farmers are our friends and neighbours who chair rink boards, serve as elders in our churches etc. and remain the cornerstone of rural P.E.I. Most importantly, they are producers of the fresh and safe food we consume each and every day.
It's amazing how few Islanders are aware where their food comes from and how it’s produced. We walk into a store or supermarket and there it is — all cheaply priced, neatly packaged and garden fresh.

Do we care how much time, money and labour were invested in that product?  Yet, we still expect that cheap and plentiful food supply to keep appearing, as if by magic.

Weekend thoughts

<<snip  (a short editorial on Brad Richards, and on beer)  >>

The story of some hens living in penthouse luxury in Freetown has ruffled some feathers in other chicken coops across the province. A poultry farm operated by the Burns family has installed the latest housing cages for their hens. For the bashful Rhode Island Red, there is a private, curtained-off area for laying eggs, while the leggy White Leghorn gets a scratching board to keep those pointed nails in perfect conformity. Alas for the Plymouth Rock which is heading for the kitchen crock-pot.

I found the tone of the last one so ridiculous, and incongruous with the serious sentiments in the first editorial.
And on the same page:

More lessons on pesticides - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published on July 5th, 2014

I want to thank Gary Linkletter for the lesson on pesticide application in The Guardian, June 12th, 2014, in which he offered to “dispel myths about pesticide application on P.E.I.” I would like to add to this ongoing lesson.

1. There are no buffer zones for humans, only for fish.  

2. Farmers do not have to notify property owners, schools, nursing homes or hospitals about when or what they will be spraying.

3. There are two types of pesticide drift: particle (off target movement during application), and vapour drift (off target movement when evaporation occurs), which accounts for 40 per cent of all drift.

4. Last year 89,000 acres received 15-20 applications of pesticides. When Mr. Linkletter speaks of 1 kg per acre, he forgets to mention the mind-boggling magnitude of the total annual amount, and the cumulative effect on our soil, ecosystem, and human health.

5. Mr. Linkletter states “Potato growers are diligent with responsible pesticide use on P.E.I.” In fact, the 2010 State of the Environment reports that only 40.9 per cent of farmers have adopted the government endorsed environmental farm plans, down from 2009.

6. Although he predicts dire consequences if we stopped using them, our soil biodiversity continues to be depleted each year, due in large part to our industrial farming practices.  

Mr. Linkletter finished off his lesson by informing us “Regulated and safe application of pesticides, which have been reviewed and approved by Health Canada, is an integral tool in producing only the best quality potatoes for Islanders.”  In fact Health Canada relies on the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), as does our provincial government.   Here are essential lessons on the PMRA:  

•  it relies upon studies financed by the pesticide industry

• 25 per cent of the PMRA's funding comes from the pesticide industry

• pesticide regulation was transferred to Health Canada to ensure protection of health, but the PMRA is yet to resolve its conflicting dual roles of approving pesticides while also protecting human health.

Blair Cowan, Charlottetown

The pun is too easy: Food for thought.

July 6, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Hope you survived the winds (and what rain there was) with minimal damage.

The Legislative Assembly website recently posted the transcript of the meeting of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry from June 25th.  Presenters that day were hydrologist Cathy Ryan, the Aquaculture Alliance executive director, two concerned citizens, and Cindy Richards and I representing the Citizens' Alliance.

The pdf of the transcript is here:

Dr. Cathy Ryan starts on page 38  (it's one of those documents that continues during a session and starts on page 38....)

Ann Worth from Aquaculture Alliance starts on page 45

Bill Trainor's talk starts on page 49

Re. Karen MacRae's on page 51

Citizens' Alliance on page 55

But is it Bill Trainor's that was the most profound.   I have copied from the Hansard transcipt, below. 

seems long due to the narrow paragraph copying, but was really quite short, and it does says it all.  Hope you can find time to read it.

Bill Trainor's Presentation to The Standing Committee on High Capacity Wells

My name is Bill Trainor and I’m presenting as individual.

First of all, I’d like to say that I talk in a very monotone voice and my family accuses me of mumbling, so if you do not hear what I’m saying just stop me and I’ll speak up.

I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts today. I asked for an opportunity to appear before this committee around my concerns on water and land use. I applaud this committee’s
decision to follow through on a recommendation that was made to them in establishing of a water act.

Also, our government’s recent decision that no further consideration will be given to lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation until the water act and regulations are in place.

Having said that, the situation still leaves me with a concern about where the issue of deep water wells will go in the future in relation to agriculture and in particular potato production on this Island.

I should tell you a little bit about me for you to fully understand where I am coming from on this important issue for all Islanders. This includes all farmers, big and small, some who are in the circumstances who are unable to speak for themselves. I have lived in the community of Emerald all my life, with the exception of a seven-year stretch where I resided in Alberta, Annapolis Valley and
Charlottetown. I grew up on a mixed farm with potatoes being the bigger source of the family income, and although livestock was secondary, it was felt to be necessary for the proper nurturing of the soil.

Starting with my great-grandfather there have been five generations of farmers in my family. Although my career was not spent in farming I never lost my love for the land and always took holidays around harvest, and to a lesser degree planting season, to help out the family at home.

I have seen in my lifetime crop rotations decrease to a standard three-year rotation, less today on some farms. Proper crop rotation, then, was not in question, it just was. Our soil and water were meant to be
conserved. We looked on our soil, woods and streams much like they do in Europe today, where respecting nature provides the necessary balance to protect the soil, water and wildlife crucial to controlling the insect population.

As a child and youth I swam in the Dunk River, fished there as well with my dad. Skated in winter months on a number of ponds, and with at least one on every farm you didn’t have to walk far. Today a child couldn’t swim in the Dunk in our community as the water depth is not there. As far as fishing, you could fish for days without a bite. For skating on those natural ponds fed by springs, they are hard to find.

In our community, where there used to be a woodlot on most farms, there isn’t anymore, and the natural treed hedges are few as they have been cut and bulldozed out as well to make for bigger fields more conducive to the large machinery that is required in industrial potato farming today. I might add,
this practice is still going on.

Our natural soil conservation methods, I believe, were more effective than berms and grasslands they are promoting today. A lot of those grasslands were wet areas we left and worked around, and the hedgerows along fences we left.

In working the soil we were very cognizant of not overworking it. Instead we cultivated the grass and weeds away from our plants, versus killing all weeds and grass with chemicals that contaminate our soil and water, kill organic matter and, in turn, our soil’s ability to hold water.

Now some farmers are using a new machine they call a sub-soiler that works the land depth to at least 18 inches, loosening up the brick clay bottom. This practice, I believe, as well as others I have talked to, will further reduce the soil’s ability to hold water and in turn the chemicals and pesticides will
reach our water table that much quicker.

The Irvings’ presentation to the committee pointed out they have plants in other growing regions where farmers are enjoying higher yields and more consistent quality with irrigation. In comparison, we are a much smaller land base to the areas they are talking about, with a shorter growing season,
lower soil depth that doesn’t hold the water as well.

This is a much bigger issue than water.

Money talks, as we know, but these types of threats by a processor to pull out further squeezes our farmers to become even more industrialized in their farming practices. PEI soils can’t sustain this in the long haul, and by that I mean just our children and their children’s generation.

There have been numerous articles written in our local papers on the issue of deep water wells including some science, some fact, and some opinion. It is quite evident the majority are against lifting the moratorium, including the majority of the presenters to this committee, and for good reason.

Mr. Irving has said he is at a crossroads without the deep water wells moratorium being lifted in terms of his ability to maintain his level of business here with the quality and quantity of potatoes that are
grown here. I would say we as Islanders are at a crossroads as well in terms of deciding how far we go with this way of farming on our small Island.

I have lived in the centre of one of the biggest potato growing areas on PEI for 60 years and, as I have pointed out, I have seen firsthand the deterioration of our land, river and forest.

We have to ask the following questions:

1: How much further do we go with the industrial model of agriculture? Deep water wells will add to that and reduce our number of farmers.

2: Can we afford the health costs associated with growing the perfect potato with the chemicals and pesticides getting into our water table along with the nutrients and organic matter being depleted in our soils?

3: The negative impact this can have on our tourism and fishing industry in the future.

4: When our soil is completely contaminated and robbed of organic matter and its ability to grow potatoes, how long will the processors be here and what will the economic impact be then if we just look at the short-term profitability of this industry?

It's our children and grandchildren left to deal with all of this. No, not an immediate problem for us here today sitting around this table, but what does it say about us if we allow this to happen?

It doesn’t say much either about us in support of our future farmers. We have a major responsibility to
them and we should take it seriously. Our land and water for them is more important than the short-term goal of a better, more profitable french fry.

I’d like to leave you with my thoughts on a few recommendations: we need to enforce the regulations I understand that are already in place on crop rotation and look at these further in terms of reestablishing and strengthening the organic matter in the soils that is not up to par – and I’m not saying here that there isn’t good farmers out there that keep their soils up to par, but there are problem areas in that; we need to explore other types of farming as well that will put more organic matter back in our soil; support the rejuvenation of our livestock industry; put in place a no tree cutting zone for clearing purposes in high industrial potato growing areas; increase programs to support organic farming;
do not lift the moratorium on deep water wells for the irrigation of agriculture products.

I would like to end my presentation today with a couple of quotes.

The first quote is from an ancient First Nations proverb. It states that: We do not inherit the earth from
our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

The second quote is from Gandhi: Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.

Thank you.
Yes, to everything he said.

Now it's our job to keep talking about these ideas and moving them along.

July 5, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

On fiscal responsibility:

An excerpt from
Paul MacNeill's editorial, July 2nd, 2014, in The Eastern
and West Prince Graphic:

<< "Prince Edward Island is $3 billion in debt. The Ghiz government has added more than $1 billion to that total since taking office in 2007, an unprecedented attack on the viability of the province and noose around the neck of future generations. It has raised taxes, at last check jacked 434 fees since 2011, bailed out public pension plans to the tune of half a billion dollars with virtually no debate and done nothing substantive to reshape government to reflect our priorities as a province."

the rest of the editorial:

And in yesterday's Guardian:

Party getting out of hand - The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Published July 4th, 2014

Editor: Dear Robert Ghiz and Stephen Harper:

The 2014 Celebration for the 150th anniversary is costing at least $29 million and I will bet my boots it will come in at $35 to $40 million by December 31st. That comes to at least $550,000 a week for 52 weeks.

We hear that the feds are assisting heavily and of course that makes sense since our federal debt is $1.6 trillion and our P.E.I. debt is over $2 billion.  Our elected officials continue to spend like drunken sailors.

Let’s be serious and sensible. We can never get an increased return in tourism spending any way near this amount. But the party continues with no way to reduce or eliminate it al all.  It's so far out of hand, it's a spending avalanche and when all is said and done, a two-day celebration with cake and a band and a flag raising ceremony would have easily satisfied us all.

No one enjoys a good party like we do but this excessive spending is outrageous. By the way everyone we have talked to feels the way we do.

We are told a Grade 1 class at Sherwood Elementary will have 27 students in September - that $29 million would go a long, long way to lower and offer a much better student - teacher ratio...

When will sensible, courageous, competent and future-thinking people take the reins and stop all this nonsense.

Maureen & Bruce Garrity, Charlottetown

July 4, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," said Scrooge, "answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?"

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"

--from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843

The following is about water rights in Texas, a three page article, but worth it. 

A Twenty-First Century Water War Erupts in Texas - Earth Island Journal article exerpt by James William Gibson

Gary Cheatwood grew up near the town of Cuthand, in far northeast Texas, and he always found peace along the wooded banks of Little Mustang Creek. His grandfather had bought 100 acres in 1917 and now Gary’s family owns 600 acres of bottomland near where the creek’s clear waters meet the Sulphur River. He especially loves the woods around the creek—some 70 species of hardwood trees, including a massive Texas honey locust that ranks as official state champion. “This forest is not making money,” says Cheatwood, a retired surveyor and construction manager. “But a lot of things are more important than money. The trees give me pleasure.”

Everything about the land pleases Cheatwood. Still wiry and lean at 75, he walks it every week, always wearing his standard outfit of lace-up work boots, jeans, plaid flannel shirt, and baseball cap. He collects finely crafted Caddo and Cherokee Indian arrowheads. In the spring, blue and yellow wildflowers bloom. He takes pleasure, too, in looking for rare creatures—the American burying beetle, a certain obscure shrew, even the eastern timber rattlesnake.

Yet as he stood on the creek bank this January, he knew his family could have their homestead taken by the state of Texas. If Texas Water Development Board planners have their way, sometime in the next 20 years or so Cheatwood’s land will disappear under Marvin Nichols Reservoir, a proposed 72,000-acre lake meant to provide water to the Dallas-Ft. Worth “Metroplex” 135 miles to the west. Some 4,000 of his neighbors (a few estimates go as high as 10,000 people) will also become refugees, driven off their lands, either for lake bottom or for the hundreds of thousands of acres to be taken as “mitigation.”
Full article here:

Take care today, and planning for rains and wind tomorrow,

July 3, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Two letters and a link to a blog post, dealing with the call to lift the ban on high capacity wells, and the bigger picture:

Toxic economic farming model done on P.E.I. - The Guardian Guest Opinion by John Hopkins

Published on July 2, 2014

Alan Holman’s June 21st, 2014, letter to the Guardian "Is the Island too tiny to embrace change?” with interest.

After digesting these comments, I don’t understand why some Islanders still cannot fathom that the P.E.I. has gone past its environmental breaking point in producing “biggie” fries for the Irvings. The place is a disaster for anyone with eyes: the rivers filled with silt, bees almost all but gone, hundreds of thousands of trout and salmon dead, incredibly high cancer rates likely linked to tons of pesticides being released into the air, putrid nitrates in people’s wells, entire shell fish operations wiped out, sickly green bays and estuaries, and yet … this is the necessary cost of doing business?

And are we as Holman suggests - in his criticism of Islanders as shallow beings incapable of understanding “progress” - to follow his advice and take all of this to the next level of catastrophe by supporting the Irving’s insatiable greed and their fist pounding for more deep water wells? How many billions do they need anyway?

What we really need is a new model to define progress that does not include making Islanders hostage to the Irving model of doing business. Their whipping threats against Islanders to obey them or else, in addition to the 38 mega wells that already exist - if granted - will aggravate this sickly problem to the extreme.

 And we are to beg Cavendish Farms not to leave, while bankrupting our fast disappearing family farms? Even relatively small-scale traditional potato farmers like the Bests of Tryon are being booted out under the Irving model robustly supported by the P.E.I. Potato Board.

The exodus of the Irvings and their vertically integrated business model, and the backward local mindset supporting them, is actually the most welcome and immediate and long-term news to begin to address these problems with real and implementable solutions.

On the contrary, Islanders are not naive, hicks, backward, or wanting in their desire to protect the only fragile source of water we have - the same groundwater the Irvings and their servants are after. Their mega-wells will suck the land dry when we need it the most - for our homes. Holman's recent article is revealing of everything which is truly regressive in this Province in seeing that Islanders, now and in time their grandchildren, can ever sensibly take back our environment — let alone

vast ranges of once healthy Island land currently under the Irving’s control or ownership.

The absentee landlords have truly returned to P.E.I. as we celebrate 150 years and Confederation which permitted Islanders to reclaim and farm it for themselves in the first place. Truly forward thinking, at this point in our history, would see Islanders making progress to reverse this obvious damage around us, while pursing and developing other economic models, such as happening in California which has fully gone after the exploding global health food market and billions up for grabs.

What goes across the minds of Islanders when they see these products with whole sections devoted to them for sale at Superstore and Sobeys - an Irving company? The only thing backwards in P.E.I. are those who cannot develop or envision anything new other than the existing and very tired, old, and incredibly toxic economic mono-culture model which is frankly “done."

John Hopkins is a media producer/writer living in Breadalbane. Hopkins was hired by CTV’s W5 to investigate and research the situation for the documentary episode “The Perfect Potato.”

Here is a blog post from the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club, by Zack Metcalfe.  There are a few small factual errors, but overall it's a good piece.


And last, a fresh call for consumers to choose not to spend their money on Irving products for the month of July, bold and link added by me.  http://www.journalpioneer.com/Opinion/Letter-to-the-Editor/2014-06-30/article-3781639/Time-to-fight-back/1

Time to fight back - The Journal-Pioneer Letter to the Editor

Published on June 30, 2014

Robert Irving has recently announced that if the government of Prince Edward Island does not lift the moratorium on deep well irrigation his company would no longer purchase potatoes grown here and he might even move his company, Cavendish Farms, elsewhere.

Disappointing words coming from someone who has received a tremendous amount of government money in the past.

The wealthy elite of this country like to think that they hold all of the cards while we taxpayers are completely dependent on them. Nothing could be further from the truth. If Irving did leave there would be a financial vacuum, a vacuum that would be quickly filled by other entrepreneurs who see that there is a profit to be made. This would lead to competition as opposed to a monopoly, which the Irvings currently have, which would be better for everyone as competition is what keeps capitalism healthy.

Furthermore, the wealthy are far more dependent on us consumers than we are on them. We can get our products elsewhere but they rely on us for their money, which they are addicted to. Anyone with more than a billion dollars should be content. The fact that they feel the need to threaten people by saying they will monopolize the resources necessary for life in order to make more money, which will inevitably rot in a foreign bank account, clearly shows that they are consumed by the need to accumulate far more wealth than they will ever need. This is their weakness.

It is time we consumers demonstrate that we are not powerless, as our collective buying power is what makes people wealthy. It is in this that we have a choice. We can allow the ultra rich to take our resources from us, or we can force them to accept that when it comes to the resources necessary for life we will stand together to protect these important resources for all. We can easily do this by carefully choosing who we purchase from, denying them the power to accumulate more wealth.

I would like to challenge all Islanders to be more selective when deciding which companies to patronize for the month of July. When, in August, the profits for some have decreased dramatically, perhaps they will realize that the power is indeed with the people.

I have created a Facebook page under my name (Erman Vis) with more information about my plan. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007580567675&fref=ts

Everyone who is concerned for future generations should acknowledge this effort, because if we allow the wealthy to control our water, they will next want to control the very air that we breathe. Enough is enough. We must act now to save ourselves from incessant greed that threatens to make financial slaves of us all.

Erman Vis, Summerside, P.E.I.

Tonight at 7PM, at the Haviland Club is the Connect meeting regarding FairVote and Leadnow, discussing electoral reform and other issues.  All are welcome; it's a lovely spot near the waterfront, too.

July 2, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

It's Wednesday but it feels like a Monday after a holiday :-)

An Event:
This evening and the next five Wednesday evenings, 7:30PM, Orwell Corner Village Hall, theatrical production: "The Master's Wife: A theatrical Celebration", Tickets $20 (adults) and $15 (students), from tonight until August 6th.
"This is the first-ever dramatic adaptation of Sir Andrew Macphail’s classic memoir The Master’s Wife, set in the community of Orwell in the years just after Confederation. Macphail was born in 1864, the same year as the Charlottetown Conference. The production makes generous use of music, both sacred and secular. The performers/musicians are Melissa Mullen, Rob MacLean, Roy Johnstone, Nancy Whytock, Jack Whytock, Nelleke Plouffe and Sean McQuaid.
This is a production of The Homestead Players, sponsored by the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead Foundation with financial support from the 2014 Fund, as well as from PEI Mutual Insurance Corporation and Gerritt Visser & Sons Farm.
For additional information, please see the Macphail Homestead website, www.macphailhomestead.ca ; and to reserve tickets, e-mail macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com ; or phone (902) 651-8515 or (902) 651-2789.

The production will tour the Island in late September and early October.


Something I saw yesterday, from Ecojustice:On Canada Day and Environmental Rights Legislation:

This Canada Day spread the word that environmental laws matter - Ecojustice article by Darcie Bennett

By Darcie Bennett, director of communications and marketing

There is a direct connection between the quality of our laws and the health of our environment. In
Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants us the right to free expression and protects us from discrimination. But it remains silent on the issue of our right to a healthy environment.

Environmental rights encompass things like the right to clean water, pure air, and safe food. They
also include the right to information about proposed laws and the right to ask the government to investigate environmental violations.

Since 1972, the right to a healthy environment has gained global recognition faster than any other human right. From Norway to Nicaragua, 92% of UN member countries now legally recognize their citizens' right to live in a healthy environment. So why doesn't Canada?

While countries around the world are strengthening their environmental laws and recognizing
environmental rights, Canadians are having to fight harder than ever for their right to breathe clean air and to be protected from harmful industrial activities.

Canada has no national drinking water law. And even though the oilsands are one of the biggest industrial projects on the planet,
there is no national law that regulates the resulting pollution. Recognizing environmental rights
would go a long way in rectifying those situations.

Countries that formally recognize environmental rights tend to have smaller ecological footprints
and do a better job of addressing issues such as climate change and air pollution. That is why we are partnering with the David Suzuki Foundation to set our country on the right course.

If you haven’t had the chance, check out A Tale of Two Valleys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1m1k8uCsa0 This two minute video sums up the
difference that a recognized right to a healthy environment could make for residents of one of
Canada’s most polluted communities.

This Canada Day, share the video with your friends and spread the message that strong laws are the best way to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the environment we depend on.

July 1, 2014

Chris Ortenburger's Update

Happy Canada Day!  I hope you have a great time, whether it is at one of the community events, the big Charlottetown events, having some quiet time at home, or some combination of these.


Some news on fracking, from not-so-far and near:
Eco-Watch news (click link for article), June 30, 2014:

In New York State:
New York Court of Appeals rules that its towns can ban fracking

(two excerpts; bold and black text is mine)

"In a precedent-setting case decided today by the New York Court of Appeals, local communities have triumphed over the fracking industry. The court ruled that the towns of Dryden and Middlefield can use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry, including oil and gas production within municipal borders."

And: "In response to the court’s 5-2 decision, John Armstrong of Frack Action and New Yorkers Against Fracking said, ”We applaud the court for once again affirming the right of New Yorkers to ban fracking and its toxic effects from their communities. As Chief Judge Lippman said, you don’t bulldoze over the voice of the people.** But water and air contamination don’t stop at local boundaries, and Governor (Andrew) Cuomo must ban fracking statewide to protect our health and homes from the arrogant and inherently harmful fracking industry.”


Dryden is in the centre of the state, close to Ithaca, which is where Cornell University is.
The photo on the second page of the article shows some community residents, an area lawyer who did a lot of research, and a lawyer from Earthjustice who came in to argue the case.  The Earthjustice lawyer looks pleased, but it's the happiness and *relief* on the residents faces that shines through.
The ten-minute short documentary about Dryden  (toward the end of the article) is pretty interesting.

Just south in Pennsylvania, a very sad example of history repeatedly repeating itself:
Eco-watch commentary on fracking boom in Pennsylvania, specifically the state allowing fracking in public forests.

an excerpt:
"The process (fracking) has been criticized for its contamination of drinking-water wells, 24-7 noise, thousands of miles of new roads scraped out of our forests and fields, caravans of trucks in what had been Penn’s Wood’s most remote enclaves, and dependence on “water buffaloes.” These bulky front-yard tanks filled by trucks are now used to replace once-pristine well-water, which had been the health and pride of rural residents. Now they drink out of a plastic tank, like so many cattle stranded in a hot pasture. Lease agreements with the gas industry often bar the people affected by this plight from complaining."

Examples of "water buffalo tanks."

Ah, water buffalo tanks are good for GDP.

Meanwhile, in New Brunswick:

a notice from the New Brunswick Environmental Network:

Saturday, July 5th, 2014, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Elsipogtog School, 365 Big Cove Road, Elsipogtog, N.B.

Link to event Saturday, organized by the New Brunswick Environmental Network
From the link:

"Calling all people who are concerned about shale gas development! Join us in the spirit of peace and friendship for meeting and sharing. Our goal is to strengthen relationships and prepare ourselves for the upcoming season.

Come and help us celebrate what we have stood for, what we have built together and the journey that we are traveling together. At noon we will share a potluck lunch and at the end of the day we will go to visit the site of a proposed well pad and plant markers to indicate the reclaiming of Mi’Kmaq stewardship of the land.

Things to bring:

·          Your contribution to the potluck lunch
·          Your own cutlery and dishes, if possible
·          An object that is sacred to you

Please RSVP to the New Brunswick Environmental Network at (506) 855-4144 or send us an email at nben@nben.ca