UPDATES‎ > ‎

October-November-December

Contents

  1. 1 December 31, 2013
  2. 2 December 29, 2013
  3. 3 December 28, 2013
  4. 4 December 27, 2013
  5. 5 December 24, 2013
  6. 6 December 23, 2013
  7. 7 December 22, 2013
  8. 8 December 21, 2013
  9. 9 December 20, 2013
  10. 10 December 19, 2013
  11. 11 December 18, 2013
  12. 12 December 17, 2013
  13. 13 December 16, 2013
  14. 14 December 15, 2013
  15. 15 December 14, 2013
  16. 16 December 13, 2013
  17. 17 December 12, 2013
  18. 18 December 11, 2013
  19. 19 December 10, 2013
  20. 20 December 9, 2013
  21. 21 December 8, 2013
  22. 22 December 7, 2013
  23. 23 December 6, 2013
  24. 24 December 5, 2013
  25. 25 December 4, 2013
  26. 26 December 3, 2013
  27. 27 December 2, 2013
  28. 28 November 26, 2013
  29. 29 November 25, 2013
  30. 30 November 24, 2013
  31. 31 November 23, 2013
  32. 32 November 22, 2013
  33. 33 November 21, 2013
  34. 34 November 20, 2013
  35. 35 November 18, 2013
  36. 36 November 17, 2013
  37. 37 November 16, 2013
  38. 38 November 15, 2013
  39. 39 November 14, 2013
  40. 40 November 13, 2013
  41. 41 November 12, 2013
  42. 42 November 11, 2013
  43. 43 November 10, 2013
  44. 44 November 9. 2013
  45. 45 November 8, 2013
  46. 46 November 7, 2013
  47. 47 November 6, 2013
  48. 48 November 5, 2013
  49. 49 November 4, 2013
  50. 50 November 2, 2013
  51. 51 November 1, 2013
  52. 52 October 31, 2013
  53. 53 October 30, 2013
  54. 54 October 29, 2013
  55. 55 October 28, 2013
  56. 56 October 27, 2013
  57. 57 October 26, 2013
  58. 58 October 25, 2013
  59. 59 October 24, 2013
  60. 60 October 23, 2013
  61. 61 October 22, 2013
  62. 62 October 21, 2013
  63. 63 October 19, 2013
  64. 64 October 18, 2013
  65. 65 October 17, 2013
  66. 66 October 16, 2013
  67. 67 October 15, 2013
  68. 68 October 14, 2013
  69. 69 October 13, 2013
  70. 70 October 12, 2013
  71. 71 October 11, 2013
  72. 72 October 10, 2013
  73. 73 October 9, 2013
  74. 74 October 8, 2013
  75. 75 October 7, 2013
  76. 76 October 6, 2013
  77. 77 October 5, 2013
  78. 78 October 4, 2013
  79. 79 October 3, 2013
  80. 80 October 2, 2013
  81. 81 October 1, 2013

December 31, 2013

Hi, everyone,

(Yesterday the power was out, but thanks to the Maritime Electric crews, we were one of the people who did get back later last evening.)

Jack MacAndrew is set to address Plan B and other issues in his year-end column in today's Eastern Graphic (being published a day early due to New Year's).  I'll print the text and link tomorrow after it is published if you don't have a chance to get it today.

What some of our Federal Parties are chatting about during the holidays:

Green Party of Canada
Elizabeth May,
leader of the Federal Green Party, wrote her year-end remarks here:
http://www.greenparty.ca/year-end-letter-2013?utm_campaign=C13.EHL&utm_source=massmail&utm_medium=email

A notable excerpt on democracy:

I knew on election night (in 2011) that, as happy as I was, as over-joyed as were the hundreds of volunteers and supporters celebrating at our Saanich-Gulf Islands victory party, that the election was a disaster.  I was devastated by the news of  a Conservative majority, a “false majority,” a majority of seats with only 39% of the vote.  Such a result was only possible due to our archaic “winner take all” voting system.  And I knew, because I have known Stephen Harper for years, that our country was in for a beating.  I knew our environmental laws would be targets, that climate policy would remain hostage to oil sands interests, and that our very nature and national character would be sorely tested.

What I have experienced since May 2011 has only confirmed my resolve that we have to break out of the hyper-partisanship which is now accepted as “normal.”  We have to replace “first past the post” with a voting system that ensures that every vote counts.  And we must find a way to reject the toxic politics that allow back-room strategists to set a course for power.

What I see daily as an MP is routine contempt for all our parliamentary institutions. Bills are forced through with time allocations, breaking all historical records for shutting down debate.  In the forty year period from 1917-1957, I found 7 examples of time allocation.  In the last two years, it has happened 50 times.  The abuse of process in massive omnibus bills, also forced through with limited debate, without a single amendment being allowed, is also contempt of the legislative process itself.  When I had worked in the Office of the Minister of Environment in the 1980s, all the bills that went through the House were amended.  Some of the government bills, such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act were substantially changed through helpful amendments proposed by opposition MPs.

No longer.  Somehow Stephen Harper seems to think that even the slightest amendment to a government bill is a political defeat which he will not tolerate.  What used to be largely non-partisan exercises – the review of bills, listening to expert witnesses and citizen groups, to consider improvements -  has degenerated into a scripted exercise, an extension of the non-stop partisan warfare.   It is offensive to every principle of democratic governance that the spring 2012 omnibus budget bill, C-38 – a monstrous assault on decades of environmental law -  all 440 pages, attacking, gutting and repealing 70 other pieces of legislation was passed without a single change between First Reading and Royal Assent.  Even drafting errors that were spotted were left intact – and had to be corrected by later government legislation.>>



The National Post has a decent interview with NDP Leader
Tom Mulcair:
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/10/09/john-ivison-thomas-mulcair-keeps-faith-in-opinion-polls-and-policies-that-resonate/
and analysis by the very knowledgeable columnist Chantel Hebert:
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/12/18/mulcair_must_target_ontario_not_justin_trudeau_hbert.html

This spring, an interview from rabble.ca, very thorough and interesting:
http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/christophermajka/2013/05/mind-mulcair-leader-ndp-on-energy-climate-change-and-elector
A few excerpts on the environment:

<<<
We have a development model that unfortunately is more akin to what one sees in third-world countries where you let a foreign power and companies come in and take what they want. We let all companies -- foreign and not -- use the air and water as an unlimited dumping ground. We don't internalize costs, in other words we're not including environmental costs, we're not making the polluter pay. It's as simple as that. We think we can do better. And we believe that the government of Canada can play a positive role in obtaining that result. The Conservatives have pulled away from all of that. They make a lovely slip of the tongue: instead of referring to the environmental assessment process, you often hear them talk of an environmental approval process. So the result is pre-ordained. And cabinet has even arrogated the right to change any condition that's been laid down. So that's what we've got to escape from.>>>
<<<
What's always been missing in Ottawa is an overarching approach, a systemic approach, to sustainable development. We don't have that in Ottawa. So, we would apply basic principles of sustainable development, like polluter pay. Like the internalization of costs over the lifecycle of a product. Like consulting with people before a big project goes up and having meaningful consultation, because you cannot -- in this day and age -- go from the top down. And that's what the Conservatives don't understand. They think they can shove projects down people's throats. >>

and on electoral reform of the "democratic deficit":
Well, the first thing that you have to know is that the NDP is extremely serious about going to a mixed proportional system. But, as I often say, and I have to say with a smile to our enthusiasts in the NDP, I have to win under the current system: I can't change it. The other thing that people have to understand is that even if it's not constitutional change per se, it is profound democratic change, and precisely because of that, it's not they type of thing that you can do either by just snapping your fingers the day after an election, or without profound consultation. People have to be brought in. It's a little like any form of development -- this is democratic development -- and it has to be from the base up. People have to agree with it. You can't shove it down people's throats. But I think that it's the only way, for us to get away from the first-past-the-post system, which has proven its inability to represent us.>>

The Liberals are holding a policy convention in Montreal in February, and one resolution being considered is one to discuss democratic reform including proportional representation.  I know there are a lot of "ifs" with this, but the amazing thing is that *the Liberals* are discussing and exploring this.
from Anita Nickerson of Fair Vote Canada (sorry for the small print size):

Today (December 17tth) we have received news that the Liberal Party of Canada caucus (the Liberal MPs) have brought forth a resolution which will go to a vote at the Liberal Policy convention in Montreal in February, 2014. The resolution states the party will, immediately after the next election, initiate an all-party process including experts and citizens to study all electoral reform options, including proportional representation, and report back to Parliament with a recommendation within 12 months. If the resolution passes in Montreal, it will make the Liberal Party officially open to considering a form of proportional representation, rather than endorsing only another winner-take-all system (Alternative Vote).

If you are a Liberal member, please join the resolution website - www.electoralreformforcanada.ca - or share it with Liberals you know.

Um, well, no words of wisdom from the ruling party.

Today being New Year's Eve is the last day to make contributions to the party of your choice for 2013.

Stay warm and have a great New Year's Eve,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 29, 2013

Hi, all,

Just a couple of short(ish) items, one a repeat:

The Watershed Alliance publicized the link to the Survery Results from the Land Use Policy Task Force here:
http://www.peiwatershedalliance.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/fema_LUPsurvey.pdf

It illustrated the 15 or so questions on Islanders' priorities very nicely, and then has the summarized date towards the end.

From the summary page:
"The information from this survey supports the feedback that was received by the Task Force at seven public meetings. The survey captured a snapshot of the concerns and perceptions about land use issues on Prince Edward Island."

And hopefully will guide the Task Force in what it suggests the province does with any Land Use policy, which wouldn't be presented as any sort of legislation until at least Fall of 2014.

Guesses:  This spring's Legislative Assembly sitting will have the Lands Protection Act recommendations as legislation (more later)
This fall would have any sort of Land Use Policy legislation (at the earliest) based on the January 2014 report to government.
Next spring would have any changes to the Municipalities Act.

----------
Since this was buried at the end of Friday's Update, and there might be time in front of the computer today or tomorrow, here is a repeat:
And here is more regarding the importance of the NDP and Greens making themselves known in their province, this from a Moncton blog, regarding who has power in New Brunswick and what can happen during their election in Fall 2014:

Graeme Decarie is an 80-year old academic, writer, and commentator in New Brunswick:
http://themonctongrimes-dripdrain.blogspot.ca/2013/12/dec22-most-important-provincial.html

Full blog (with typos corrected by me, some parts in bold that seemed especially cogent):


Dec.22: The most important provincial election ever......

by Graeme Decarie

....and, no, the big issue is not the provincial budget.
It's not Mr. Alward's fault (not directly) that we have a deficit. Anyway, he doesn't have an answer for that problem.
It's not Mr. Gallant's fault, either. In fact, Mr. Gallant's Liberals are quite devoid of any thought about anything.  That's their policy, their only policy. They know they have nothing to say that would win the election - and they know they don't have to say anything. They'll just let the Conservatives lose, trusting the the old, New Brunswick style of electing one party because they're mad at the other, then electing the other when they get mad at the first one.
In any case, there's no point in discussing policies because it doesn't matter a damn what policy either the Libeals or the Conservatiives have. Take the budget, for example.
I said it's not Mr. Alward's fault we're in a deficit. Of course not. Alward gave up financial control of the province at least three years ago. Remember?
That was when Mr. Irving announced he was in coalition with the government - that is, that he was a member of the government. That was when Mr. Irving had the arrogance not only to announce he was in the government without bothering to get elected, but he was holding a great conference to plan the economic future of New Brunswick.
Get that. Not only was he not elected, but we had elected a government to do just that, the economic future . And Mr. Irving dismissed all that, and there wasn't a whimper.
So he held his farcical conference, most of whose members (including Mr. Irving) had no qualifications whatever to plan a provincial budget. Indeed, it was quite shameful for most of the people at the conference to take part in that farce.
We were never told the details of what plan emerged. Why should we be? It's quite obvious that Mr. Irving and his press have nothing but contempt for us.
No, he just handed Mr. Alward a list of the names he was to accept as official advisors to the Minister of Finance.
In other words, Mr. Irving has been running the economy of this province throughout the Alward years. He will also run them throughout any term that Gallant might serve. The man responsible for our deficit, then, is Mr. Irving. That's what government is about. The person who runs a department is the one who gets the blame when it doesn't work. Think about it, Norbert. or.....well.... just try to think.
And I'm sure those were very good budgets for Mr. Irving. He is, after all, not in the business of looking after provincial budgets. He's in the business of getting provincial revenues into his own pocket.
Why on earth would he want a budget surplus - or even a balanced budget? In either case, that would just mean our money that wasn't going into his pocket. But he lives on getting our money into his pocket. He lives on running up a deficit in the form of tax cuts and favours, and cutting our services so there's more for him.
And if New Brunswick goes broke and the people of this province suffer, why should he care? He doesn't have to pay off the deficit. We do.
Similarly, he openly interferes in education, though he knows nothing about it. He openly interferes in health care.  He strangles our news, not because that helps us in any way but because it helps him. He pushes hard for fracking - because it's good for him.
As a democracy, New Brunswick is a farce. That's why there's no use in discussing any issues in the coming campaign. No matter whether Liberals or Conservatives are elected, Mr. Irving will set the agenda.
Well - what it means is there is an issue, just one issue It's just one issue because nothing else can be done unless we first deal with this issue.
We have to get big business out of government. Until we do that, it couldn't matter less what else we plan. Unless we can restore democracy, there's really no point in even having elections, and no point in staying in this province..
Not all Liberals and Conservatives are sell-outs. Some are muppets -well-intentioned but clueless and obedient to the party.
A very high proportion of the voters is, alas, in the same category. Tens of thousands, probably more, will vote Liberal or Conservative simply because their families always have voted that way. And some have (quite false) ideas that Conservative means being careful with money, or that Liberal means sort of broad-minded when really, both the Liberals and the Conservatives are just sock puppets for major corporations.
As well, this is a province of frightened people. It isn't noticed here; but it's obvious to a newcomer. People will suffer enormous abuse and contempt. They're scared. They might not admit it even to themselves, but they're scared.
There is virtually no public discussion of public issues. Many people simply plod wherever they are ordered to plod - rather like a prison camp.
That has to be dealt with. Now - the parties..........
There is no point whatever in voting either Liberal or Conservative. If we do, then we might just as well appoint Mr. Irving emperor (It's amazing how many people put trust in corporate leaders to operate areas like public service of which they know nothing, and which are not in their interest to operate properly anyway.)
That leaves us with two parties, the NDP and the Greens. You don't like them? Tough. Since 1867, this province has been run as if we were sheep and the rich were our owners. For this election, at least, there are no other parties to choose from. They are the only parties that can be trusted to deal with New Brunswick's central problems - the greed and dictatorship of the corporate bosses, and the timidity of the New Burnswick people.
So we have two large and wealthy parties that will sell us out. We have two smaller and poorer parties which are the only ones that will represent us.
So we split out forces by running them separately. 
What?
We split the minority to face what is already a very powerful majority?
This is crazy. Both of those parties, for now, have the same objective. Nothing either of them wants can be achieved so long as those old parties are still in power and still obey the corporations.
And we split their vote? This is madness.
The second thing both the NDP and the Greens have to do is to imprint themselves on the consciousness of the voters....NOW.
Most voters have pretty feeble ideas of what the NDP and the Greens are about. The very little they do know comes in very small and infrequent stories in a press that is highly prejudiced.
The NDP and the Greens have to plant themselves in the provincial consciousness. And you cannot do that in the final months of a campaign. And you cannot trust the Irving press to do the job for you. It's already late.
The Greens and the NDP have to get on their horses. They have to look now for opportunities to speak to church groups, schools boards, unions, parents' groups, whoever they can find.
And they have to hammer at the central theme. What's at stake here is the government by the people that we love to pretend we have. That's the issue.
We may not get a second chance. The history of periods like this is that if we don't re-establish a confidence in democracy, then the turn that all the anger takes is toward rage, violence and hatred. We're seeing it now spreading in Europe through fascist and racist groups
Ever wonder why so many Torontonians will still vote for Rob Ford? That's the group that has already gone into anger and rage.
And, yes, it can happen even among the super-meek people of New Brunswick. The NDP and the Greens have to hit the ground running - now. And they have to drive home the theme that what's at stake here is democracy itself which, for all its faults, is far better than rule by corporations and individuals made mad by greed and power.


----------
Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 28, 2013

Hello, everyone,

We had a nice time at the Plan B party last night, and it was good to see so many of you.  If you weren't able to make it, I am sure we will plan something within the next couple of months!

The Guardian printed this letter yesterday from Walter Wilkins, to-the-point, well-written, sardonic.  The more I read it, the more brilliantly it gets its message across:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-27/article-3557796/Whose-HST-is-it-really%3F/1

Whose HST is it really?
Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on December 27, 2013
Editor:
Their penchant for idioms aside, Mr. Ghiz and Mr. Sheridan may be correct when they say, “It puts us on a level playing field.” That is, as long as the “us” being referred to are people like themselves and big business —maybe.
But, if the “us” heʼs referring to is something other than that, then Iʼd like it explained how the HST is level or, for that matter, even a playing field. Itʼs not very level, and thereʼs not much of a field left to play on, if youʼre an “us” that canʼt afford to buy healthy food, secure decent shelter and find meaningful employment.
As Aristotle says, “The biggest injustice is to treat equally things which are unequal.” Bottom line is that the “us” that controls political decisions appears to have secured their way, but from where I sit that “us” doesnʼt reflect the majority of Islanders.
And Mr. Ghiz not only enabled this to happen, heʼs darn proud of it. It hurts to say it, but is this what “Liberal” really looks like?
Walter Wilkins,
Stratford


----------

And The Guardian printed a commentary I wrote, but they changed it a bit (inexplicably eliminating the bolded section headings, which were there for a reason as they spelled out the "awkward truths")  ;-) 
link: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-27/article-3557715/The-emblem-of-poor-government-decision-making/1

Here is what I sent, with the photos:

Looking west towards Bonshaw at Crawford's Hill, from spring 2012 (top), and December 2013 (bottom)

Commentary

Plan B: The Emblem of Poor Government Decision-Making
This week some Island newspapers and CBC will feature friendly year-end interviews with Premier Robert Ghiz.  This makes it a good time to remember some "awkward truths" about this government, especially as it's been exactly two years since the Plan B highway project was announced.

It's Not Done
The asphalt is down, the guard rails up -- it's not just a "done-deal", as TIR Minister Robert Vessey said at the onset, but it looks *done.*  Not quite!  There are still many steep bare hillsides underneath snow and a bit of mulched hay, which will bear watching when winter rains and the spring melt occur; it is likely to overwhelm the mitigations and allow sediment to enter the West River, as has happened numerous times in the past year.

"It is valuable to continue to bear witness to the environmental impact of Plan B," said Island ecologist Gary Schneider in November of 2012, after Plan B construction started.  Nobody is living in a tipi by the project this winter, but people are watching for the rains, and the long-term health of the remaining trees next to the road.

Why did people get so involved in Plan B?  What made us literally wake up and venture from our comfortable homes to stand on the roadside with signs or camp in the woods, be criticized and ridiculed by some government and media people and sever the previously carefree relationships with our elected officials?

Like a majority of Islanders, we were disturbed that government decided to run a highway we can't afford through land and homes we can't replace and over people's rights to be consulted with and desire to be listened to.  Plan B was such an egregious example of a bad decision not being recanted that many of us got involved.

It's Based on Two Lies
The government repeated two justifications for Plan B, which were both proved blatantly false:
1) "It's all about safety," as the segment was described as the most dangerous stretch of road, due to design -- but only after the Atlantic Gateway money was announced.   Hence the expensive over-reaction realignment, against countless letters imploring and illustrating cheaper and more effective solutions.
The real causes of accidents -- when the data were finally released in Fall 2012 -- were slippery roads and driving too fast for conditions, factors Plan B is not going to solve.  The Guardian from October 2012 on causes:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-10-22/article-3104496/Slippery-roads%2C-speed-are-factors-in-accidents/1
and a CBC Radio story about intersections counted more than once which increased the rates, and government's ignoring of another stretch of road with more collisions (September 2012):
http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2012/09/09/a-dangerous-stretch-of-road/

2) "Islanders told us to go north" in feedback for the original plan to go through Strathgartney Park, which the TIR insisted counted as consultation for a completely new Plan B.  In fact, out of over 300 submissions in Fall of 2011, not one suggested the route be changed to cut into the untouched hillside north of the CBC tower on western end and Fairyland on the eastern side. 
http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/GatewayFeedback.pdf

It Made the RCMP Be the Bad Guys
The Robert Ghiz government ignored or denigrated a petition, rallies, a citizen-initiated plebiscite, countless letters, over 200 Environmental Impact Assessment submissions, and finally people at the site, by calling in the national police force to pull out a couple of women keeping vigil by the ill-fated hemlock forest in the pouring rain. 

(Premier Ghiz) apparently remains unmoved by the spectacle of RCMP officers hoisting and hustling citizens off their own land, and unconscious of the harm he is doing to the RCMP, his own government and the very essence of democracy itself. -- columnist Jack MacAndrew, October 2012.

This part has been hard to explain to kids.

It's Not an Outlier
Plan B is not an extreme example, but one of the worst of many poor decisions.  For instance, the implementation of the HST has been hailed by Mr. Ghiz as one of his greatest achievements of 2013.  He said it's not great policy -- he is right, as it is merely a tax grab -- but it is neither great policy nor politics to run for office without mentioning something as important as implementing the HST. 

A new "wilderness" park isn't going to erase Plan B -- though no wilderness by far, it's still a lovely area -- but if the Ghiz government had actually wanted to protect environmentally-sensitive land (a term set out by Environment Minister Sherry in her conditional approval of Plan B), they would not have bulldozed right through the Bonshaw Hills to make this road in the first place.

It Has Caused Some Small Good
Will Plan B opponents ever let it go?  For the most part, we are a pretty positive bunch.  We've channeled some of the energy into the fledgling Citizens' Alliance of PEI, a non-partisan voice for Islanders to bring forth those "awkward truths", especially concerning environmental and democratic issues.

Plan B has reinforced that we -- all Islanders -- need to take care of our Island, both our land and our democracy.
Keeping both healthy will encourage our young people to be here making a living and dropping the cynicism that their participation isn't necessary.  And that should be Plan A.

Chris Ortenburger lives in Bonshaw and is a member of the Citizens' Alliance of PEI.

----------
Have a great Saturday,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 27, 2013

Hi, all,

I hope you had a great Christmas enjoying some time away from "regular" things, and enjoying what really matters.

OK, back to regular stuff ;-), first announcements:

  • The Plan B (now) Holidays party is tonight, unless the weather turns and driving conditions would be poor.  Then we will e-mail an announcement (call if you are uncertain -- 675-2239).  Come anytime after 7PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre, bring some munchie food and/or drink to share.
  • I think today's Guardian has possibly printed a commentary by me about Plan B and what it says about government's decision-making.  There is also likely a succinct letter about HST by Walter Wilkins, if you are inclined to get a print version (electronic versions in tomorrow's Update).

----------
and regular stuff, but still somewhat Christmasy:

A scene from the movie often played at Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life:

(people at dinner table, ceiling fixture rocking, thumping noises from upstairs from brothers goofing around)
Mrs. Bailey (calling out):
George! Harry! You're shaking the house down!  Stop it!

I was reminded of this when I read the rebuttal to the rebuttal to the original letter elaborating on a snippet of an editorial in The Guardian about changing the number of MLAs; letters on ideas from two talented and dedicated men on this Island, Mike Redmond and Peter Bevan-Baker.

I am paraphrasing, and the original letters are below.
First, the final part of a
Guardian editorial on December 6th (the top part regarding Olive Crane's suggestion to change the number of MLAs):
<snip>
Then we have Island New Democrat Leader Mike Redmond saying the number of MLAs should be reduced to a mere 15. Mr. Redmond says a premier and five cabinet members could to the job (sic) and seems to think that four recent massive majority governments are the reason for a litany of problems facing the Island.
And what would a fractured, tiny government, with the workload on just six people bring, but dysfunction and gridlock?

Mike Redmond, leader of the PEI NDP, wrote explaining his argument:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-12/article-3540765/Partisanship-crushing-P.E.I./1

Partisanship crushing P.E.I.
Letter to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on December 12, 2013
Editor: Thank you for your December 6 editorial that discusses my long-standing proposal of a total of 15 MLAs for the P.E.I. legislative assembly.
You suggest that I have stated a provincial cabinet must have six ministers. Actually in my recent response to a Journal-Pioneer editorial I stated that five — the premier and four others — could do the job. Your editorial encourages me to review my recent arguments to The Journal-Pioneer on this topic.
The number 15 provides more than enough people to be cabinet ministers and other MLAs to do committee work. A premier, whose caucus has eight or less MLAs, can choose cabinet ministers from the other MLAs outside of his or her own caucus. Excessive partisanship has given us patronage, bad policy decisions, huge public debt, and failed programs. A mixed cabinet could focus government on the business of the public rather than the back room priorities of a political party.
Large government caucuses and cabinets have not served Islanders well. After almost seven years in power, the misguided and self-serving Ghiz government of 23 MLAs with 13 in cabinet has brought us to a very low point. The debt is crippling, a billion dollars added by the Liberals over six budgets. The Ghiz government has responded to their record of mismanagement with the HST, increased small business taxation, higher fees on many services, and deep cuts to the pensions of public sector workers.
We have the worst educational outcomes in Canada and in the whole western world, among a long list of negatives for P.E.I. Your conclusion that my proposal would bring dysfunction and gridlock gives more credit than deserved to what has actually been done by governments and legislatures over the last several decades in this province.
Partisanship is crushing us. And when it comes to political representation bigger is definitely not better. We need a serious debate about changing the size and role of the legislature.
Thanks for moving this debate along.
Mike Redmond,
Leader, NDP P.E.I.

Then Peter Bevan-Baker of the Green Party of PEI wrote:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-16/article-3545217/Proportional-electoral-system-best-option-for-P.E.I./1

Proportional electoral system best option for P.E.I.
Letter to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on December 16, 2013
Commentary by Peter Bevan-Baker
I could not agree more with the headline that accompanied Mike Redmondʼs recent letter — “Partisanship crushing P.E.I.”  I could not disagree more, however with his suggested remedy — to reduce the number of MLAs.
Our Island is indeed small, in population not much more than a large town, and yet we have the gift of jurisdiction that comes with being a province. In our Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, a goodly number of opposition members and government back-benchers are necessary for the system to work effectively — for there to be adequate checks and balances on the power of the Premierʼs Office. When we look at other small-island jurisdictions, some with populations significantly smaller than P.E.I., itʼs very rare to find a legislature or parliament with fewer than 30 members. In the Isle of Man, for example, the Parliament (the Tynwald) has 35 members for a population of 86,000 people.
A reduction in the number of elected members, with the implied reduction of government costs and improved efficiency, may be a popular position to promote politically, but for the well-being of a functional democracy on P.E.I., it is a dreadful idea. The disproportionately high cost of government in any small jurisdiction is not a result of the direct costs associated with its elected members, rather it is the result of a monstrous bureaucracy behind the scenes. I would much rather see the number of elected MLAs retained (though put there under a more modern voting system) and a significant reduction in the size of the bureaucracy associated with our government.
We should follow the lead of Iceland, a sovereign country with about twice the population of P.E.I., where they have an elected Parliament, the Althing, of 63 members (proportionately more elected representatives per population than P.E.I.). If we were to emulate Iceland — a jurisdiction with far fewer agencies, boards and commissions than P.E.I. — we would perhaps start to value our elected representatives, but also demand much more of them. I believe our Island MLAs are overpaid and underutilized. With elected privilege should come profound responsibility. Instead we have a situation on P.E.I. where ministers are shielded from their responsibilities by unelected boards and commissions who do little more than provide outlets for partisan appointments and muddy the waters of accountability.
It is disingenuous of Mr. Redmond to ascribe all the ills he lists in his letter to size of government, not to mention what masters of partisanship the NDP has become in Ottawa and beyond. Our poor performance and record on all the issues he quite rightly laments — from educational shortcomings to economic insecurity — are more likely the result of a profound lack of political vision, and the predominant patterns on P.E.I. of patronage and nepotism which get in the way of good governance.
The way out of our often dysfunctional political past and present is to adopt a proportional electoral system, to reduce government bureaucracy while creating a prosperous economy that will absorb the many people who consequently would be looking for work, and to demand more of our elected representatives.


On Christmas Eve, The Guardian published Mike response:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-24/article-3555800/Letter-ignores-problem-of-partisan-interests/1
Letter ignores problem of partisan interests
Letter to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on December 24, 2013

Editor: Peter Bevan-Bakerʼs December 16 letter criticizing my proposal for a reduction to 15 MLAs, makes an argument for proportional representation, without acknowledging the biggest problem of P.E.I. politics — too many politicians serving partisan political interests, and wasting resources and opportunities.
Mr. Bevan-Baker imagines that a large number of MLAs provides a check on the power of the Premierʼs Office, a misconception of the last several decades of P.E.I. political history. Large cabinets expend huge resources horse trading among themselves, and catering to the whims of MLAs for support and applause in the legislature.
He cites a lack of political vision and patronage as contributors to poor performance in government, but fails to understand what causes these problems. For decades, the election of a new majority government has meant enriching a few key power holders. Cabinet ministers and MLAs scramble to serve the power brokers who have financed them and will look out for them in the future.
Not only wasteful, it is harmful to the reputation of our provincial public sector. The ruling party distracts the public service from the best options for Islanders and toward benefits for special interests — the PNP cash grab, the Plan B manipulation, the HST deception, and so on.
In all these cases, better options were available, but the premier and cabinet chose those that served special interests. Liberal MLAs clapped along with every one of these moves. As for Mr. Bevan-Bakerʼs aspersions to problems with our “bureaucracy”, it is not justifiable to blame public sector workers for the actions of a domineering political party.
We must change what being an MLA on P.E.I. means. We must reduce the size of the legislature. We want smaller cabinets working harder, too busy solving problems to cater to vested interests. We want fewer MLAs cheering and waiting for cabinet promotions. We want a few dedicated back-bench MLAs focusing on legislation and accountability.
Mike Redmond,
Leader, NDP P.E.I.

It is very good for discussions to take place, for these issues to get some serious discussion in the press.  That's how Islanders can become informed on these topic, consider options, and demand change.

I have *tremendous* respect for Mike and Peter and can hardly estimate the amount of time and effort is involved in their jobs as leaders of the "third-parties".  Both men understood that Plan B was not just a political game to bluster about, that it was really poor government decision-making (previous party leaders, interim leaders, and party presidents get a lot of credit for paying attention, too).  Peter, of course, was especially involved in opposing Plan B, whether it was attending countless meetings, writing satirical songs, or literally crossing boundaries to make the point that Islanders did not want Plan B.   Seeing these two gentlemen in MLAs' seats in 2016 would be great, and is doable.

It is good to hear the NDP and Green Party leaders tell us in what areas their parties are different.  So often people just shrug and say, "There is no difference; they should merge," without realizing that there is history and differences that may make this close to impossible -- but they should still be acutely respectful in their language as not to look like they are picking fights or casting aspersions.  What both parties have in common is worth discussing, too.

I'd say, Please tell us how and why your parties are different, but don't shake the house down doing it.
----------

And here is more regarding the importance of the NDP and Greens making themselves known in their province, this from a Moncton blog, regarding who has power in New Brunswick and what can happen during their election in Fall 2014:

Graeme Decarie is an 80-year old academic, writer, and commentator:
http://themonctongrimes-dripdrain.blogspot.ca/2013/12/dec22-most-important-provincial.html

Full blog (with typos corrected by me, some parts in bold that seemed especially cogent):

Dec.22: The most important provincial election ever......

by Graeme Decarie

....and, no, the big issue is not the provincial budget.
It's not Mr. Alward's fault (not directly) that we have a deficit. Anyway, he doesn't have an answer for that problem.
It's not Mr. Gallant's fault, either. In fact, Mr. Gallant's Liberals are quite devoid of any thought about anything.  That's their policy, their only policy. They know they have nothing to say that would win the election - and they know they don't have to say anything. They'll just let the Conservatives lose, trusting the the old, New Brunswick style of electing one party because they're mad at the other, then electing the other when they get mad at the first one.
In any case, there's no point in discussing policies because it doesn't matter a damn what policy either the Libeals or the Conservatiives have. Take the budget, for example.
I said it's not Mr. Alward's fault we're in a deficit. Of course not. Alward gave up financial control of the province at least three years ago. Remember?
That was when Mr. Irving announced he was in coalition with the government - that is, that he was a member of the government. That was when Mr. Irving had the arrogance not only to announce he was in the government without bothering to get elected, but he was holding a great conference to plan the economic future of New Brunswick.
Get that. Not only was he not elected, but we had elected a government to do just that, the economic future . And Mr. Irving dismissed all that, and there wasn't a whimper.
So he held his farcical conference, most of whose members (including Mr. Irving) had no qualifications whatever to plan a provincial budget. Indeed, it was quite shameful for most of the people at the conference to take part in that farce.
We were never told the details of what plan emerged. Why should we be? It's quite obvious that Mr. Irving and his press have nothing but contempt for us.
No, he just handed Mr. Alward a list of the names he was to accept as official advisors to the Minister of Finance.
In other words, Mr. Irving has been running the economy of this province throughout the Alward years. He will also run them throughout any term that Gallant might serve. The man responsible for our deficit, then, is Mr. Irving. That's what government is about. The person who runs a department is the one who gets the blame when it doesn't work. Think about it, Norbert. or.....well.... just try to think.
And I'm sure those were very good budgets for Mr. Irving. He is, after all, not in the business of looking after provincial budgets. He's in the business of getting provincial revenues into his own pocket.
Why on earth would he want a budget surplus - or even a balanced budget? In either case, that would just mean our money that wasn't going into his pocket. But he lives on getting our money into his pocket. He lives on running up a deficit in the form of tax cuts and favours, and cutting our services so there's more for him.
And if New Brunswick goes broke and the people of this province suffer, why should he care? He doesn't have to pay off the deficit. We do.
Similarly, he openly interferes in education, though he knows nothing about it. He openly interferes in health care.  He strangles our news, not because that helps us in any way but because it helps him. He pushes hard for fracking - because it's good for him.
As a democracy, New Brunswick is a farce. That's why there's no use in discussing any issues in the coming campaign. No matter whether Liberals or Conservatives are elected, Mr. Irving will set the agenda.
Well - what it means is there is an issue, just one issue It's just one issue because nothing else can be done unless we first deal with this issue.
We have to get big business out of government. Until we do that, it couldn't matter less what else we plan. Unless we can restore democracy, there's really no point in even having elections, and no point in staying in this province..
Not all Liberals and Conservatives are sell-outs. Some are muppets -well-intentioned but clueless and obedient to the party.
A very high proportion of the voters is, alas, in the same category. Tens of thousands, probably more, will vote Liberal or Conservative simply because their families always have voted that way. And some have (quite false) ideas that Conservative means being careful with money, or that Liberal means sort of broad-minded when really, both the Liberals and the Conservatives are just sock puppets for major corporations.
As well, this is a province of frightened people. It isn't noticed here; but it's obvious to a newcomer. People will suffer enormous abuse and contempt. They're scared. They might not admit it even to themselves, but they're scared.
There is virtually no public discussion of public issues. Many people simply plod wherever they are ordered to plod - rather like a prison camp.
That has to be dealt with. Now - the parties..........
There is no point whatever in voting either Liberal or Conservative. If we do, then we might just as well appoint Mr. Irving emperor (It's amazing how many people put trust in corporate leaders to operate areas like public service of which they know nothing, and which are not in their interest to operate properly anyway.)
That leaves us with two parties, the NDP and the Greens. You don't like them? Tough. Since 1867, this province has been run as if we were sheep and the rich were our owners. For this election, at least, there are no other parties to choose from. They are the only parties that can be trusted to deal with New Brunswick's central problems - the greed and dictatorship of the corporate bosses, and the timidity of the New Burnswick people.
So we have two large and wealthy parties that will sell us out. We have two smaller and poorer parties which are the only ones that will represent us.
So we split out forces by running them separately. 
What?
We split the minority to face what is already a very powerful majority?
This is crazy. Both of those parties, for now, have the same objective. Nothing either of them wants can be achieved so long as those old parties are still in power and still obey the corporations.
And we split their vote? This is madness.
The second thing both the NDP and the Greens have to do is to imprint themselves on the consciousness of the voters....NOW.
Most voters have pretty feeble ideas of what the NDP and the Greens are about. The very little they do know comes in very small and infrequent stories in a press that is highly prejudiced.
The NDP and the Greens have to plant themselves in the provincial consciousness. And you cannot do that in the final months of a campaign. And you cannot trust the Irving press to do the job for you. It's already late.
The Greens and the NDP have to get on their horses. They have to look now for opportunities to speak to church groups, schools boards, unions, parents' groups, whoever they can find.
And they have to hammer at the central theme. What's at stake here is the government by the people that we love to pretend we have. That's the issue.
We may not get a second chance. The history of periods like this is that if we don't re-establish a confidence in democracy, then the turn that all the anger takes is toward rage, violence and hatred. We're seeing it now spreading in Europe through fascist and racist groups
Ever wonder why so many Torontonians will still vote for Rob Ford? That's the group that has already gone into anger and rage.
And, yes, it can happen even among the super-meek people of New Brunswick. The NDP and the Greens have to hit the ground running - now. And they have to drive home the theme that what's at stake here is democracy itself which, for all its faults, is far better than rule by corporations and individuals made mad by greed and power.

Lots to think about there!

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 24, 2013

Hi, everyone,

If time permits in the next couple of days, here are two little items, that are worth watching or listening to (again, if you have been passed them already).  Each are just a couple of minutes long:

David Mitchell is a British, spending two minutes being funny about a serious topic, our environment (video):

http://www.upworthy.com/ok-we-admit-it-being-grotesquely-irresponsible-is-really-fun-sadly-its-time-to-grow-up?g=2&c=gp1

Torquil Campbell is the CBC Radio show Q's "roving cultural correspondent".  Even though host Jian Ghomeshi is heard goofing around at the introduction about how emotionally-charged Torquil is, Campbell comes across as completely sincere about the topic at hand -- what these proposed changes at Canada Post say about Canada (audio):

http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2013/12/19/torquils-rant-what-has-happened-to-canada/

Wishing everyone safe travels, even if it is just to their (still there) mailbox or further afield, and a Merry Christmas!

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

PS The Plan B Christmas Party is still rescheduled for Friday, 7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre, and let's hope the forecast improves!

December 23, 2013

Hi, all,

A news article worth passing on, applying global to local:

The United Nations' Conference on Trade and Development issued a report this fall on world food issues.  Here is an excerpt from a press release with the link to the document:
http://unctad.org/en/pages/PressRelease.aspx?OriginalVersionID=154

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). - See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilizers and other inputs, greater support for small-scale farmers, and more locally focused production and consumption of food, a new UNCTAD report recommends.

The Trade and Environment Report 2013 warns that continuing rural poverty, persistent hunger around the world, growing populations, and mounting environmental concerns must be treated as a collective crisis. It says that urgent and far-reaching action is needed before climate change begins to cause major disruptions to agriculture, especially in developing countries.

The report, subtitled Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate, was released today. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report’s analysis of the topic. The study notes that the sheer scale at which production methods would have to be modified under these proposals would pose considerable challenges. In addition, it would be necessary to correct existing imbalances between where food is produced and where it is needed, to reduce the power asymmetries that exist in agricultural input and food-processing markets, and to adjust current trade rules for agriculture.

The Trade and Environment Report 2013 recommends a rapid and significant shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food that depends heavily on external inputs such as fertilizer, agro-chemicals, and concentrate feed. Instead, it says that the goal should be “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development”. The report stresses that governments must find ways to factor in and reward farmers for currently unpaid public goods they provide – such as clean water, soil and landscape preservation, protection of biodiversity, and recreation.

<<snip>>

Just the title is a transferable message here on PEI:
Wake before it's too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a a changing climate.

and one would have to think hard about whether deep-well irrigation for one crop is sustainable or advisable.

To see the argument "for", from Friday night's Compass:
Gary Linkletter of the PEI Potato Board demands an immediate lifting of the moratorium on this type of irrigation and justifies the need for this irrigation with numbers minimizing the effects:
(starts about 14 minutes 10 seconds in, about 3 1/2 minutes long)
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2425923990/

Hope you have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effec

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). - See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effec

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the tipping point for the policy transformation that must take place “before it’s too late.”

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.lE1VxHlY.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the tipping point for the policy transformation that must take place “before it’s too late.”

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.lE1VxHlY.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the tipping point for the policy transformation that must take place “before it’s too late.”

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.0y91rcEX.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the tipping point for the policy transformation that must take place “before it’s too late.”

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.lE1VxHlY.dpuf

Transformative changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems in order to increase diversity on farms, reduce our use of fertilizer and other inputs, support small-scale farmers and create strong local food systems. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable new publication from the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report, Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before it is Too Late, included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world (including a commentary from IATP). The report includes in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

The report links global security and escalating conflicts with the urgent need to transform agriculture toward what it calls “ecological intensification.” The report concludes, “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”

The UNCTAD report identified key indicators for the transformation needed in agriculture:

  • Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation of agroforestry and wild vegetation
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of livestock production
  • Reduction of GHGs through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland management
  • Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture
  • Reduction of waste throughout the food chains
  • Changing dietary patterns toward climate-friendly food consumption
  • Reform of the international trade regime for food and agriculture

IATP’s contribution focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

In 2007, another important report out of the multilateral system, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), with contributions from experts from over 100 countries (and endorsed by nearly 60 countries), came to very similar conclusions. The IAASTD report concluded that “Business as Usual is Not an Option,” and the shift toward agroecological approaches was urgent and necessary for food security and climate resilience. Unfortunately, business as usual has largely continued. Maybe this new UNCTAD report will provide the tipping point for the policy transformation that must take place “before it’s too late.”

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/blog/201309/new-un-report-calls-for-transformation-in-agriculture#sthash.lE1VxHlY.dpuf

December 22, 2013

Hi, everybody,

Some letters in the paper this week worth finding or rereading:

Cathy Grant argues for the mayor and council of Cornwall to wake up and join the 21st century
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-21/article-3551973/Cornwall-council-must-back-transit/1

*Cornwall Council Must Back Transit*
Published on December 21, 2013//, in/ The Guardian.

Editor:
I have just heard that the council is voting tonight (Dec. 18) on whether to end its contract with the transit system. I cannot 
believe that council would make such a shortsighted decision. There are obvious environmental concerns: reduced greenhouse
gas emissions and the reduction of reliance of one or more vehicles per family living in Cornwall to name just two.
Cornwall is a growing community, and from some recent planning / zoning decisions is apparently planning to open up increased
development to multi-family dwellings. For example, the recent subdivision on the York Point Road was approved with much
concern by current residents about the increased traffic and the drain on municipal services.
I also see that many other new housing developments in our area are duplex rather than single family dwelling, and council
recently approved a zoning change from a single family dwelling to a duplex in Cornwall. Taking away the transit system will also compromise the Cornwall municipality's ability to accommodate student travel to UPEI, Holland College and other institutions, not to mention the
accommodation of newcomers and their families.
I urge the Cornwall council to join the 21st century and continue to support a transit system.
Cathy Grant,Meadow Bank.
---------- A chain of letters originated with one by Catherine O'Brien about the fast-and-loose approval of GM salmon, and has moved
around about local, small versus factory farming, and back to this topic: http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-20/article-3551302/Sustainability-key-as-opposed-to-growth/1
*Sustainability Key as Opposed to Growth* /printed on December 20th, 2013 in /The Guardian Editor: In response to the letter by S. John Newman on "Genetic modification ensures future of salmon stocks:"
Regarding a so-called lack of knowledge, it is amazing the amount of information that has been generated by some very
knowledgeable people regarding the safety concerns of this technology. Scientists such as David Suzuki (a geneticist with an
Honours BA in Biology) indicated the premature application of biotechnology is downright dangerous; Dr. Arpad Pusztai
(world-leading nutritional science expert, Rowett Research Institute) showed that GE potatoes cause serious health problems in
rats; and Gilles-Eric Se?ralini (professor of molecular biology, University of Caen in France) found that animals fed GM corn had
increased mortality and more tumors than a control group.
Garbage in equals garbage out. An analogy that can be used to describe genetic engineering would be like adding an ad hoc
command to a very complex computer program not really knowing what may happen at all of the various points of operations
down the line. David Suzuki explains that the context within which the new gene finds itself has been changed; therefore we
cannot say what the behavior of the new gene will be . . .
For instance, corn that has the pesticide Bt engineered into its genetic makeup to make it resistant to certain pests --- Bt is a
natural pesticide, but it would never naturally find its way into corn seed. It does not make sense to me that we should expect to
NOT be harmed, for example, by eating a plant that has been modified to include a pesticide in each and every cell of that plant.
GMOs cannot be recalled from the environment after they?ve been released since they are integrated further by cross
pollination, breeding, or ingested making it impossible to contain. I find it to be fundamentally wrong to release such a technology
without being able to retrieve it at will (unlike stopping the action of applying pesticides, etc.)
Regarding factory farms, it does not make sense to me that we should keep going in the direction of industrial farming when it is
proven that our ecological framework does not work with such simplistic views of biology. It makes more sense to work with
nature and do what works, such as organic farming --- better for the air, soil, water --- therefore better health and quality of life for
all living creatures --- on land and/or at sea.
At the expense of the family farm, transnational corporations use their market power by reducing prices to producers, raising
input costs, shutting out competitors, and pooling patented technologies.Much information indicates that the world already has
plenty of food to go around. The problem is that (1) it is not fairly distributed, and (2) the poor cannot pay to purchase what they
need. Growing more food is not going to solve these problems, particularly for the poor. Solving poverty will be needed before we
can solve the problem of hunger. Solving poverty may have to be to encourage much smaller family units --- decrease the world
population. There is such a thing as a saturation point where Earth only has a certain capacity; space and resources. At the
same time, we need to stop kidding ourselves and stop polluting our air, water, and soil.
Instead of having one large corporation mass producing something, it would be better to have many individual smaller operations
producing quality.In the case of organic farming, if all farms would be organic, there would be a need for many smaller farms. This would create more equality by removing the large corporate farms, providing more people with an opportunity to do what they
love. More jobs and a cleaner environment (better air, water, and soil) --- as a result, better health. Healthier people mean more
productive societies, less crime. This could be applied to everything that we make (products) and do (services) whether it is
farming, fishing, transportation, housing, medical, energy, research, communication, etc --- there is room for improvement on
everything!
The key is sustainability as opposed to growth. We do not need to be zillionaires to be happy --- zillionaires have far more than
they need to retire yet they still want more . . . when is enough, enough? I can't imagine that some generation down the road not
be affected to the point of no return --- there is no time like the present to turn things around --- quality versus quantity --- working
towards a cleaner planet is a better way, for one, to ensure the future of salmon stocks.

Joanne LeBlanc, Wellington
---------- And please make note of two events that happen to include film screenings in January: *Tuesday, January 14th:* ECO-PEI's annual general meeting, and a screening of two short films, including Millefiore
Clarke's /Island Green/, about an organic PEI. There will be discussion afterwards. (The PEI Organic Growers' is also considering screening the movie sometime in 2014.) *Tuesday, January 21st*, The Citizens' Alliance is co-hosting with Cinema Politica the movie /Occupy Love/, which looks at the
global economy and change from a powerful, people-oriented society. Have a(nother) great snow day, Chris O., Bonshaw

December 21, 2013

Hi, everyone,

Minister Sherry said in remarks on CBC Radio later this week regarding the request from the PEI Potato Board and Cavendish Farms to lift the ban on deep irrigation wells for potato fields that she needs to "hear the science."

It reminded me that science, even rocket science, is not above *anybody's* understanding, if basic concepts are first explained and more complicated information layered in context (without bias!).  There is a pleasant physician named Peter Lin on CBC's Island Morning and other CBC programs who is able to use examples and analogies to explain almost anything clearly.

American astrophysicist Carl Sagan had this gift in spades, but he also delivered some dire warnings about "our species' future."  In 1980, he talked of "nuclear winter" happening if the US got into an atomic tussle with the Soviet Union (then quite a threat), and conversely mentioned global warming being the outcome of unrestrained fossil fuel burning.  He said, "We'll end up as if we were living on the planet Venus."

In the last part of his life (May 1996), fighting bone-marrow cancer, he talked with broadcaster Charlie Rose about many things; this excerpt about the peril of letting the understanding of science fall through the cracks --especially regarding politicians making decisions affecting us all -- strikes clearly today (2 and a half minute excerpt):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iyFw8UF85A

and the full interview (if you are storm-stayed this weekend):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8HEwO-2L4w
Carl Sagan died December 20, 1996.

Understanding the science, and being able to sweep away both the froth from those with financial interests and the bits of exaggeration from truly caring but not-quite-accurate opponents is always the challenge.  Some science education and a whole lot of critical thinking among politicians and non-elected citizens is a must.

Here is an issue affecting the nation, in which "the science" is said to be what is going to determine the eventual fate:  the Enbridge "Northern Gateway" pipeline approval (but with more hurdles to come).
David Suzuki shares his opinion:
http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/stand-with-the-dene

and a wry piece from columnist Stephen Hume with the Vancouver Sun
http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/Stephen+Hume+Northern+Gateway+approval+Theatre+Absurd/9308196/story.html

As an aside, fyi:
Enbridge gave 4-H Canada over a quarter of a million dollars for their centennial celebrations for 2013, and is called a "national sponsor."
http://www.agcanada.com/albertafarmer/2011/08/01/enbridge-makes-large-donation-to-4h-canada/
There are lots of materials given to 4-H kids across the country with Enbridge's logo in the corner for various contests and celebrations.
Bayer Canada (makers of the controversial neonicotinoid pesticide Imidacloprid -- "Admire" -- that has been implicated in being part of Colony Collapse Disorder among bees) is also a national sponsor.

Have a great solstice day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

PS  The Plan B Christmas Party has been rescheduled to Friday, December 27, 7PM, Bonshaw.  Drive safely this weekend.

December 20, 2013

Hi, all,

Plan B was announced two years ago today.  You may remember, Minister Vessey making the surprise and surprising announcement of a completely new plan to use all the Atlantic Gateway money on a revised and expanded TCH realignment now stretching from Bonshaw to New Haven.  This was several weeks earlier than expected and just a few short weeks after consultation on the three original Atlantic Gateway proposals closed.  Vessey said the comments from those consultations said don't go through Strathgartney, but do go north of the CBC tower.

When all the comments where finally released -- well after Plan B started -- there were no indications urging the province to go north of the CBC tower. 

The Guardian
inadvertently marks the occasional in the lead of yesterday's editorial, with a pat on the back to Cornwall Mayor Barney Fullerton for clapping Robert Vessey on the back about Plan B.  The editorial writer thinks it odd that so few have taken that such a vocal stand.  Odd.

**And on CBC Radio this morning about 7:40AM**, there will be a bit of coverage of a meeting yesterday.  Cindy will be speaking about it with the hosts.

Meetings were called for independently after the rains of December 4th by both Peter Bevan-Baker and by Cindy and me on behalf of the Citizens' Alliance and the public monitors.  Minister Sherry batched us together, as it was the same group that met with her last year in January about failing mitigations then.  We wanted to know their plans for specific areas that were left a mess by such late construction this fall and plans for the spring melt.

The bottom line is that Minister Sherry is aware of most of the concerns, has asked for TIR's plans, and we'll talk again in January when they get that. 
----------

The forecast looks a bit messy for tonight, but we'll go ahead with the Plan B Christmas party (in case it changes to be much worse and then we will postpone until after Christmas).  7PM, Bonshaw Community Centre.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 19, 2013

Hi, folks,

Heading south for a few minutes (just pretend we're following some Snow Birds):

Here is a three page-article in recent Rolling Stone about how US President Obama really works (or doesn't) to end climate change:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/obama-and-climate-change-the-real-story-20131217

----------

There is an international organization that you may already know about called Avaaz that brings to light campaigns regarding various issues around the world.  They pay a lot of attention to climate change, and send a lot of petitions around, and get people thinking and talking.

from their website:
Avaaz—meaning "voice" in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.

Anyway, they are thinking about and preparing for the March 2016 climate change conference in Paris.  It could be (needs to be!)  a turning point in actually dealing with it, if organized, which is what they wish to do. (They are asking for small pledges.)  This was originally produced in July of this year. FYI
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/30_months_loc_donate/?fp

----------

And back to local --
and local cranberries:
proceeds go to help the Wheatley River Hall expansion
$3 per pound fresh or $8 per pound dried.
 To order and figure out delivery or pick-up,
contact booksandblooms@bellaliant.com or call (902) 621-0718

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 18, 2013

Hi, everyone,

If you are having a snow day, and have a bit of time, here are some articles about our forests and our use of them:

From the Chronicle-Herald, the Novascotian section, this article from Nova Scotia biologist Bob Bancroft:
http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/1174135-seed-trees-determine-future-of-ns-forests

Seed Trees Determine the Future of NS Forests
published on December 14, 2013

A National Geographic film crew flew to the Halifax airport several years ago, hired a vehicle and drove to my place east of Antigonish. These world travellers came to discuss coyotes, but the cameraman’s first question was: “What’s wrong with your forests? They’re scruffy and scrawny.”

After clearing or clearcutting land, forest regrowth requires seed sources from nearby trees. When I purchased old farmland in 1975, nature had already been busy reclaiming a little over 22 hectares in eastern Nova Scotia. Different from the original forest, the new tree species growing here were mostly poplars, spruces, red maple, fir and wire birch. Able to grow on dry land exposed to sun, they colonize clearcuts, abandoned old fields and pastures, replenishing the soil with fallen leaves and needles.

Many decades earlier a few relics from the original forest had been left to provide summer shade for pastured farm animals. These yellow birch, sugar maple, eastern hemlock, white pine and white ash became vital seed sources. They can germinate and grow in the partial or full shade of a forest.

Over the next four decades I favoured their seedlings wherever they grew under the poplar and old field spruce forests. Many sites had no such trees nearby for seed.  Planting was the only way to re-establish a more diverse forest. More diversity means a more resilient woods and wildlife.

Ninety-nine per cent of the early seedlings or saplings that I first planted were eaten by common woodland animals. Protecting each planted tree with stakes and wire became a necessity for its survival. Those young trees and their cages continue to require regular tending as the trees grow, and openings in the forest have to be enlarged to let more sunlight reach them. The process is time-consuming and expensive, but it works.

Many forests in Nova Scotia have been repeatedly harvested without much concern for the following generations of trees. For some reason, we tolerate the privatizing of profits to the forest industry, while ignoring the ecological costs or leaving the public purse to pay for rehabilitating the degraded forest.

The pulp industry, supported by taxpayer subsidies, has spent decades cutting down complex forest ecosystems, replacing them with even-age, single-species softwoods. Discussions about biodiversity and species richness have become a farce in the face of this thrust to produce one cheap commodity — pulp.

The red spruce is Nova Scotia’s provincial tree, growing in shady sites, and living for 150 to 200 years. How does this square with the 30-year-old sticks on tractor-trailer loads headed for mills? The government’s own harvest guidelines recommend leaving a significant mature forest component.  Old trees have become rare, although they are sought out by many wildlife species that need them for shelter or nesting. Are we caretakers of our forests?

Forests have become targets of large biomass producers. Some forest material was once left to rot and replenish forest soils after a harvest. Now it’s hauled, ground up and burned. This further degrades our forests, soils and wildlife habitats to subsidize industry energy costs.

A recent government-industry agreement for wood on Crown land in western Nova Scotia set the price at $8.20 a tonne. That’s roughly a $16.40-per-cord cost to the industry. A cord of firewood to heat my wood stove costs $120 delivered, with a 60 per cent-plus energy efficiency. The more than 50 tractor-trailer loads of former forest being delivered daily to Nova Scotia Power’s biomass plant in Point Tupper produce electrical energy at a 21.5 per cent rate of efficiency.

Yellow birch stands on Crown land in eastern Nova Scotia have become subject to biomass grinding. Is this wise use? What will the industry justify next?   This industrial-strength forestry is too tough on the land. It’s not green.

The fibre giveaways spell doom for many wildlife species and their habitats. They adversely affect fish in nearby streams, eliminate more valuable, local seed trees and render the sites unsuitable for the new growth of many valuable tree species. The current pace of tree removal severely limits future opportunities to rehabilitate forests cost-effectively.

Restoring healthy forests and their wildlife habitats will be more costly without a source of local seed trees. Rehabilitation is needed, not continued ecological degradation of our forests. Nova Scotia needs to restore many valuable, site-suited native trees.

To truly sustain ourselves as a species, as well as the wildlife with whom we share this place, the tide of abuse and overuse must be turned. It’s time for us to work along with nature.

Bob Bancroft write clearly and knowledgeably; and PEI has very similar issues, but more intensified since our land base is smaller.  We are fortunate to have talented people such as Gary Schneider and Darrell Guignion and others working in the woods, trying methods on their own property, leading workshops, etc.

I meant to highlight these videos (below) earlier this fall, a year after Gary Schneider of the MacPhail Woods Forestry Project came to Plan B a few days after major tree chopping and bulldozing had started (Friday, October 26th, 2012).

This is a beautiful video montage, but heartbreaking, the photos and soft music produced by Island woodsman and photographer Bruno Peripoli.  It's about seven minutes long and records the day Gary led a walk in the Churchill area of Plan B.  "It is sadly ironic that these machines have just cut a stand of 15-year old Acadian forest that I planted," Gary is quoted as saying.  Yes, it was.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNYNakCz-mw

Here are two "live" short videos recording part of the walk and Gary's comments:
Starting out:
http://www.frequency.com/video/ecologist-gary-/64416478

A second part by a mixed pile of trees tossed in a stack.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqZdyAKo33Y
The wood is unfortunately useless, Gary says, unless it was taken and sorted.  Time has passed, and I have lost track -- it is a good question about what happened to those trees.

Too late for the Plan B roadbed, but a fantastic resource for anyone in our area with a bit of woods or just interested in it is Restoring the Acadian Forest, by Jamie Simpson, reviewed here: http://ecopei.ca/Book_review_by_David_Coon.htm  (The link to purchase it appears dead, but you can ask a local bookseller to order it or purchase it on-line.)

Forest cutting for illogical reasons like biomass, roads going through good land, issues like fracking -- comments about land use and protection that the Land Use Policy Task Force would be happy to hear before writing its report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
landuse@gov.pe.ca

And a note that there will be a Plan B Christmas party, coinciding with the "anniversary" that the thing was announced two years ago, on Friday, December 20th, starting at 7PM, at the Bonshaw Community Centre.  Bring a snack to share and come have a visit! 

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 17, 2013

Hi, everyone,

There are always great articles out here to read and reread, and 
background to dig up:

*Fracking in New Brunswick:*
Ralph Surrette is a freelance journalist who lives in Yarmouth County, 
NS, and wrote this piece for the Halifax /Chronicle-Herald /(bold is mine):

http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1173949-surette-fracking-is-fool-s-gold

*Fracking is Fool's Gold
*/published on December 13, 2013/*

With anti-fracking protests ongoing in New Brunswick, Premier David 
Alward has been going around with a strangely blissful look on his face, 
proclaiming his determination to forge ahead because of the gusher of 
tax revenues and jobs he claims will surely follow.

New Brunswick, running deficits of over a half billion dollars a year, 
is especially desperate, which is unfortunately what all this is about. 
But the issue reverberates in other provinces, including Nova Scotia.

The protests are over the environment but, alas, there's a deeper source 
of trouble afoot for the fracking industry: it's from the heart of the 
financial world where billions of dollars are being lost and the sense 
of having been suckered by hype is setting in.

Some saw it coming. The conservative business magazine Forbes argued a 
while back that the profitability of fracking was a fantasy and that "we 
can expect some staggering investment errors" because what it's all 
about is "some very stupid money chasing an illusion that will surely 
end in tears."

The tears are now flowing. The head of Shell Oil said recently that 
investing $24 billion in fracking was one of his biggest regrets, as he 
writes down huge losses. Other operators are doing the same --- names 
like H.P. Billiton, Chesapeake, Encana. Some CEOs have lost their jobs 
over it. Apparently the ones who made money are those who sold out to 
"stupid money" before the jig was up.

Hydraulic fracturing, like extracting tar sands oil, is very expensive. 
It is also very short-lived. A fracked well is not like a regular 
natural gas (or oil) deposit. Production declines by as much as 50 per 
cent or more in the first year, as much as 80 per cent by the second, 
after which it's a dribble. To keep gas coming you have to keep 
fracking. And with the gold-rush mentality surrounding it, and cheap 
financing, the industry --- even at a loss --- has flooded North America 
and driven prices below the cost of production.

The next step was supposed to be LNG terminals to ship gas to Asia, 
where gas prices are four or five times higher than here. Alas, again, 
sober voices are saying there may not be enough to export. The gas that 
was supposed to keep the U.S. awash in the stuff for 100 years is now, 
according to some accounts, due to peak within the decade.

The Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania, first hyped as containing 
as much a 500 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, has now been 
reduced by the U.S. Geological Survey to perhaps as little as 80 tcf. 
And the California government, like David Alward's, had itself briefly 
in ecstasy at the prospect, according to early estimates, of $25 billion 
in tax revenue and three million jobs by 2020 from its Monterey 
formation. The geologists took a second look and the story now is: with 
present technology, forget it.

As for the environment, just two points. The effects will only be known 
slowly because most U.S. fracking happens on private lands, where owners 
have to sign confidentiality agreements. In other words, no wimping and 
whining about polluted rivers and dead cattle. And, according to 
reports, lobbying money from the fracking industry is pouring into the 
U.S. Congress in unprecedented amounts to snuff a measure that would 
force frackers to disclose what chemicals they use in their operations.

*But here are two bigger points. Irrational energy illusions are nothing 
new as we seek the magic potion that will relieve us of our dreary duty 
to seriously change our ways --- use less, use it more efficiently, and 
seek the alternatives.*

**

Nuclear was supposed to be, by now, "too cheap to meter," according to 
the head of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in the mid-1950s. Ethanol 
mixed with gasoline, another of many hyped saviours that flashed by, is 
now suspected to be damaging engines, and lawsuits are at the ready in 
the U.S.

Meanwhile, here in Nova Scotia, fracking is one of those notions that 
creeps into the economic development debate. More and more commentators 
raise opposition to fracking --- which is under moratorium here --- as 
more evidence of our entrepreneurial backwardness and our government's 
lack of Alberta (and New Brunswick)-style "political courage."

Further, a U.S. report by a Montana institute called Headwaters 
Economics, which has studied western U.S. counties that had oil and gas 
plays from 1980 to 2011, just fell into my lap.

It found that the effect of this mostly temporary activity left these 
counties with higher crime rates and lower educational achievement than 
their neighbours, and with declining per capita incomes.

As we struggle with our own economic future, here's hoping that the 
Ivany Commission, which is studying the rural economy in Nova Scotia, 
keeps all this in perspective.

And an eye-brow raiser from the CBC archives (thanks to Cathy Grant 
noticing it).  It is two years old -- and I dug what little I could find 
on it below:
http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/canada/new-brunswick/story/1.1007171


  Southwestern Energy faces fracking lawsuit

        Posted: May 24, 2011

A U.S. company that is seeking to drill for natural gas in New Brunswick 
is facing a class-action lawsuit in Arkansas over its use of the 
controversial hydro-fracking procedure.
Southwestern Energy has committed to invest $49 million into the 
province as a part of a three-year licence to search for oil and gas.But 
in the United States it is already facing a claim for damages from about 
a dozen families in Pennsylvania. Now, another law firm has launched a 
class-action suit in Arkansas.Tim Holton, the lead lawyer on the case, 
said hundreds of people could be included in the latest lawsuit. Holton 
said the case started when one family's water well was turned into a gas 
well allegedly because of nearby fracking.

"The water well next door to their house began to spew methane. So much 
so that they ended up putting a flare in the person's backyard," Holton 
said. Holton said other families have started coming forward with 
claims.  The lawyer said other people say their water wells have also 
been contaminated with chemicals, which they blame on the fracking 
procedure.

The debated hydro-fracking --- also known as hydraulic fracturing --- 
has caused many New Brunswick communities to discuss the strength of the 
province's mining rules.  Hydro-fracturing is a process where 
exploration companies inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into 
the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations. That process 
allows companies to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise 
go untapped.

The New Brunswick government has hosted a public meeting on the mining 
procedure.  As well, Southwestern Energy has hosted a series of open 
sessions to explain its plans.  Holton said the New Brunswick government 
should be careful before allowing Southwestern Energy to use the 
contentious drilling technique in the province.  "There are rules, there 
are regulations. The question is: are they being enforced," Holton 
said.  "And I think to a large extent people wonder exactly how much do 
we know about what is being done to the earth when you hydraulically 
frack rock."

The lawsuit asks for millions of dollars in damages.  It also asks the 
court to order the drilling companies to pay for an independent 
monitoring of the water supply and health of the families.  The lawsuit 
was filed last week. The allegations have not been proven in court. 
Southwestern Energy has not yet filed a statement of defence.

Here is a screen shot of a pdf regarding some cases, interpretation of 
which is probably interesting:
from:

 Hydraulic fracturing case chart - Arnold & Porter LLP <http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.arnoldporter.com%2Fresources%2Fdocuments%2FHydraulic%2520Fracturing%2520Case%2520Chart.pdf&ei=edOvUra7FujesAT48oKgBg&usg=AFQjCNE-eyLg8vT09FVRAHtJFW83fX9Wgw&sig2=fXk_3DDGNCcIJ7fq40DiOw&bvm=bv.57967247,d.cWc> www.arnoldporter.com/.../Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Case%20Chart.p...? Jul 11, 2013 - /Southwestern/ Energy Production Co.,. 10-CV-1981 *....* Air Act with respect to the /oil/ and gas industries) *.....* Freedom /of Information Lawsuits/. And, if you have made it this far, here is SWN's (Southwestern Energy)'s website. http://www.swn.com/Pages/default.aspx and if you go to the right hand corner "Quick Links" you have a choice of SWN's animation and explanation: "Video: Learn About Horizontal Drilling". Indeed! It is actually a good, detailed but /chilling/ explanation, about 6 minutes long. Take care, Chris O., Bonshaw

December 16, 2013

Hope you had a good snow day!

Here is a two-minute video, made by the folks at the David Suzuki Foundation, about the concept of Environmental Rights legislation, and the need for it, narrated by environmental lawyer and writer David Boyd:
http://youtu.be/JnOlxeRHigE

The Citizens' Alliance of PEI would also like to see this happen.

and the article it is from (sorry, the links from the article didn't transfer over, but the original article is here):
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2013/12/we-can-make-canadas-reality-match-its-image/?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokuajOZKXonjHpfsX56OUoXa6ylMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4DSsJnI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFS7jNMbZkz7gOXRE%3D

We can make Canada's reality match its image


Canada is blessed with some of the last vestiges of pristine nature on Earth - unbroken forests, coastlines and prairies, thousands of rivers, streams and lakes, open skies, abundant fresh air. Many of us live in urban areas, but our spectacular landscapes are embedded in our history and culture. They define and shape us as people.

We are also defined by our Constitution, which is far more than a set of legal prescriptions. It embodies our highest aspirations and values. As our nation's top law, one would expect it to reflect our connection to the land, air, water and wildlife that keep us alive and healthy. Our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of expression, equal protection from discrimination and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But it doesn't mention the environment. How can we fully enjoy our freedoms without the right to live in a healthy environment? 

Some Canadians are further ahead than others. Quebec's Environmental Quality Act and Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms both include environmental rights. Other provinces and territories - including Ontario, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut - provide limited environmental rights. Worldwide, 110 countries enjoy constitutional rights to a healthy environment, and 181 of 193 UN member countries support recognition of such a right. Canada and the U.S. are among the exceptions. 

The sad truth is that Canada fares poorly among wealthy nations on environmental performance. A recent ranking by the Washington-based Center for Global Development puts Canada last of 27 industrialized nations. The Conference Board of Canada rated our country 15th out of 17 industrialized nations for standards on air pollution, climate change, water and other environmental factors. And the World Health Organization reports that 36,800 premature deaths a year and 13 per cent of illnesses and injuries in Canada are related to exposure to environmental hazards - costing us tens of billions a year in health-care expenses and lost productivity. 

The benefits of constitutional protection of the environment are many and the drawbacks few. In places with such a right, people have legal avenues to protect them from activities that pollute the environment and put human health at risk.

For example, Argentina's constitutional environmental-rights protection was used in a case where industrial pollution was seriously affecting the health of people along the Matanza-Riachuelo River. After residents sued the national, provincial and municipal governments and 44 corporations, Argentina's government established clean-up, restoration and regional environmental health plans. It has increased the number of environmental inspectors in the region from three to 250, and created 139 water, air and soil quality monitoring points. There's still much to be done, but three new water-treatment plants and 11 new sewage-treatment plants mean millions of people now have access to clean water and sanitation. Many garbage dumps and polluting industries were shut down. And the local economy benefited. 

A legal right to a healthy environment is not about hamstringing corporations; it's about ensuring they're run responsibly and that people's health and well-being come first. It's also about ensuring laws are enforced and penalties imposed when they're violated. The total amount of fines imposed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act from 1988 through 2010 (about $2.4 million) amounted to less than what the Toronto Public Library collected in overdue-book fines in one year, 2009 (about $2.7 million)! And it's not a right-versus-left political issue. Jacques Chirac, France's conservative president from 1995 to 2007, made constitutional recognition of the right to a healthy environment one of his priorities. More than 70,000 French citizens attended public hearings on the issue and France's Charter for the Environment was later enacted with broad support from all political parties.

Evidence suggests that stronger environmental regulation spurs innovation and competitiveness, so the right to a healthy environment can benefit the economy. In the aftermath of the Walkerton disaster, Ontario strengthened its drinking-water legislation, which stimulated development and growth of the water-treatment technology sector. Countries with constitutional environmental protection, such as Norway, often enjoy high economic and environmental standards. 

It won't be easy to get the right to a healthy environment enshrined in Canada's Constitution. But with public support and small steps along the way - such as encouraging legal protection from municipal, regional and provincial governments - we can make it happen.

Watch a short video about Right to a Healthy Environment.

By David Suzuki with contributions from Ian Hanington, Senior Editor

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 15, 2013

Hi, everyone,

Today it is likely to snow heavily and many of us will stay put, but thanks to our good friends at the Department of Transportation, here is a virtual way to see Plan B:

The Hemlock Grove Cam:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/roadCameras/roadCamera.php?source=BO

The camera is positioned facing west, so when you check it after the sun is up, you can see how they bulldozed that road right through the middle of the Bonshaw Hills, to paraphrase the Opposition Leader; Crawford's Stream and the Grove are in the valley of the view of the road. 

(Of course, the cameras and their weather stations are fine and helpful enough -- I am not mocking that, just other decisions TIR has made.)

Even though the department doesn't note this, the camera isn't in Bonshaw anymore, it's in Churchill --no, wait, that community lost all its members and is apparently not even on official Island maps anymore.  I think that makes it in New Haven, by default, and hope they will change the website accordingly. 

The tower with the new camera and weather station is at the corner of Plan B and the connector (that was once called by us "new South Peter's Road") and the sign reads "ERIC'S CROSS Road", which is likely named after the very knowledgeable local resident Eric MacPhail (though he was not informed of TIR's decision to do this).  Though adamantly against the damage to land and community, the cost and the lack of consultation of Plan B, he had the lovely thought that the connector would be a "crossroads" between the old and new, on many levels.  This whole community is enriched by the presence and caring of such a gentleman as Mr. Eric MacPhail.
---------
According to the thumbnail on this page of all the cameras, it is still on the bucolic road by Strathgartney Homestead in the community of Bonshaw:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/index.php3?number=1016836

Map of Plan B with Road Cameras locations (in yellow):

The camera station in Bonshaw has been removed.

You can also find the road cameras through the 511 road condition pages:
http://511.gov.pe.ca/en/map_report.html
(and you have to play with the settings in the upper right hand corner to "enable"  camera locations and also the outdated construction warnings....)

Have a good snow day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 14, 2013

Hi, everybody,

Some bits to note:

Regarding the Gulf of St. Lawrence:
The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Oil Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), which "manages the petroleum resources in the Newfoundland Offshore area on behalf of the federal and provincial government" says no to off-shore drilling on the west coast area and near Gros Morne park.

From Sylvain Archambault, who came to PEI in October to discuss this issue:
"The CNLOPB has refused to give Shoal Point Energy a one-year extension on their 1097R lease (from Corner Brook to way north of Gros Morne).   Shoal Point tried hard to negociate, but the CNLOPB stuck to its decision."


And in a state that is heavily supportive of oil and gas development:
The city of Dallas, Texas, places enough restrictions on fracking to effectively ban it:
http://rt.com/usa/dallas-passes-fracking-restrictions-178/

This letter in Friday's Guardian was very uplifting but also brought tears to my eyes.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-13/article-3542423/Better-solution-to-factory-farms/1


Better Solution to Factory Farms
published in The Guardian on Friday, December 13, 2013

Editor: In your "Letter of the Day" Mr. S. John Newman suggests large factory farms are a solution to satisfy the ever-increasing consumer demand for affordable food.

Well, I have found a simpler and better solution. For the past 10 or 15 years we have bought our beef and pork from the small family farm of David and Edith Ling. The Lings have made a good living, for many years, by growing high-quality, organic beef and pork and selling directly to the consumer.

There are many plusses to this simple solution. It is environmentally friendly. It is more humane. We get a better product at a price significantly cheaper than supermarket prices. The farmer gets a fair return for his or her labour, and the money stays in our local economy. What could be better?

This solution suggests that we must find a way to connect more and more consumers directly to those who grow the food for us.

Sadly, David Ling has recently passed away — but his farming legacy lives on and I hope, as time heals, Edith Ling will remain active in our farming community.

Brian Pollard, Charlottetown

Take care this weekend,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 13, 2013

Hi, all,

Another string of interesting letters worth a second look:

Catherine O'Brien got the discussion going about the risks of genetically modified (GM) salmon as the production facility for eggs is here on PEI:

December 2, 2013
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-02/article-3526801/Bureaucrats-continue-to-rubber-stamp-unproven-GMs/1

Bureaucrats Continue to Rubber-Stamp Unproven GMs

Editor: Environment Canada has said it sees no problem with AquaBounty Tech producing its genetically modified salmon eggs at its hatchery in Bay Fortune. Once approval comes from Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration it will be able to start selling these eggs to hatcheries throughout North America.

The USFDA has already ruled the fish/eggs posed no "significant" environmental threat, but public response was so loud it has extended the comments period to allow more debate.

The problem is the very significant chance of these salmon escaping and polluting the wild stock. These are Atlantic salmon we are talking about, a species that has been decimated in the wild, and especially in its former territory in North America (every stream and river in Eastern Canada, all the way up to Southern Ontario, once had wild spawning populations; Atlantic salmon also spawn in Iceland, Scotland, Norway, etc.).

They are so fragile, and shaky standards in the aquaculture industry have introduced more problems to the wild stock. The escape and spawning of one of these GM salmon could mean the permanent introduction of those genetics into the wild stock; there would be no turning back. There is no ocean-based aquaculture farm that has not lost fish at some point. It will eventually happen.

These salmon eggs were developed in Canada, and are produced at the hatchery in Bay Fortune. (Yet the company behind it all is American!).

To be clear, the salmon eggs are already being produced in Bay Fortune, and salmon have already been raised; the waited-for approvals are just to allow them to sell their eggs, to whoever wants them. AquaBounty is sending eggs for testing to Panama.

The Panamanian test site does not have a great record. In 2008, a storm destroyed part of the facility, according to a filing to the FDA. In 2010, an entire batch of fingerlings died in transit, according to Panamanian officials. The National Environmental Authority in Panama conducted an inspection of the AquaBounty operation in 2012 found violations including failures to submit monitoring reports every three months and a failure to obtain permits for wastewater discharge.

Our government is being cavalier about genetic modification.

The ramifications of such genetic manipulation would need to be studied for years, even decades, to truly know what the long-term effects will be, yet bureaucrats continue to rubber-stamp GMs based on little or no science other than that of the companies applying for the approval.

Like so many other environmental crimes, Canada leads the world in GMs, both research and use. This is not an area I feel comfortable being a leader in.

Catherine O'Brien, Pownal

A few days later came this letter with additional concerns about the fish and plans for other genetically modified animals:
December 7, 2013
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-07/article-3533817/Get-informed-about-GM-issues/1

Get Informed About GM Issues

Editor: The letter by Catherine O’Brien on Dec. 2 should set off a siren and a series of flashing red lights. The letter contained a lot of facts that apply to GMO produced salmon such as the absence of studies that are of sufficient length to clearly indicate the absolute safety of these products for consumption.

A GMO mini-summit was held last month in the U.S. which outlined many serious problems with genetically-modified organisms. This letter is a follow up to Ms. O’Brien’s letter of Monday. Jeffrey Smith, who was both an interview and an interviewer at the summit, is a world authority on the dangers of GMOs. Regarding GMO salmon he said, “a genetically engineered fish was tested by the Canadian government and when it was put into tanks with other 'Frankenfish' or natural salmon and there was sufficient food, everything was fine. But as soon as they reduced the amount of available food, these ravenous ‘Frankenfish’ started killing and consuming their competitors.

He adds … “when Aqua Bounty submitted its research, even the pro-GM FDA asked them to redo it. Then they assembled a team that was handpicked to approve it and to recommend the salmon. Even that team couldn’t recommend it based on the shoddy science and they sent it back for more research.

But that hasn’t stopped the FDA from saying, “We have enough research to approve it.” Hopefully they won’t end up approving it. Right now we have more and more supermarkets saying that if it is approved, they will not sell it. Further, in referring to Monsanto and GMOs, Smith says “they have many types of fish in the pipeline waiting to be introduced. They have pigs. They have cows. They want to genetically engineer the mothering instinct out of livestock to put them into factory farms. They basically want to replace nature in its entirety.”

In response to the possibility of some of these GMO fish escaping to the ocean Smith said, “if that happens, you might have roving gangs of very aggressive fish completely changing the ecosystem.” People, get informed about GMO products.

Dave Campbell, Charlottetown

And Mr. Campbell's letter prompted this diatribe, that when the smoke clears, does (perhaps not intended) raise a good point-- namely that the demand for cheap food has propelled both the decline of the family farm *and* the market for GMO-producing corporations to step in with what they claim are solutions:

Published on December 11, 2013
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-11/article-3539237/Genetic-
modification-ensures-future-of-salmon-stocks/1

Genetic Modifications Insure Future of Salmon Stock

Editor: Regarding David Campbell’s letter (Get informed about G.M. on December 7) just makes me shake my head at the lack of knowledge of the uninformed general public, who spout forth the mantra of the anti-genetic modification brigade — against every foodstuff they are able to name.

He speaks irreverently of salmon stocks being farmed. If Mr. Campbell wants to consume salmon, along with millions of other inhabitants of this planet, then in a very short time Mr. Campbell, Greenpeace and every tree hugger in the western world would be demanding the fishing of both commercial and recreational salmon stock be banned and or prohibited by all nations. Through the skills of modern science and genetic modification, man has created the ability to end the danger of fishing salmon stocks to extinction.

Mr. Campbell’s idea and image of farming fish stock for the benefit of mankind, and the well-being of our planet’s aquatic fellow occupants of the world, appear to be very selfish. He seems to hold the position it is totally irrelevant that we continue to take in unlimited quantities of the commodity from the wild that will lead eventually to the point of their extinction, without any regard or thought for reproducing the species. By farming and protecting the salmon, we ensure the future of the species, for our fellow man.

Mr. Campbell then continues to heap scorn on the farmers of livestock. Has Mr. Campbell ever worked 12 or more hours a day, seven days a week, for 40 or 50 years, as most farmers left in the business of agriculture are of that age group? He speaks of factory farming — removing the mothering instinct from pigs and cows. I think Mr. Campbell should first of all understand what he is talking about. All of us in agriculture know he is just spouting male bovine faeces. Just come to our farm or any farm on the Island, the Atlantic provinces, Canada or North America, and see nature’s instincts at work.

Let us look at his concept of factory farming. His concept is: the mass rearing or growing of livestock for huge profits by large, multinational conglomerates. The motor industry consists of a handful of manufactures of automobiles. Small companies could not compete with the cheap price of Henry F. and his cronies’ assembly lines, and they fell by the wayside in the ’50s and ’60s.

Look at our poor Island’s condition of the small family farm. Hundreds and hundreds of destitute and derelict farms scatter the sides of every rural road. Why? Because the consumer (buyer of groceries) wants cheap vegetables, cheap milk and cheap meat. Has Mr. Campbell ever tried to grow for his personal use, a chicken, a cow or pig? No. And he has no intention of ever doing that, because it is too difficult and the cost is more than the animal is worth.

That is why our farms and agricultural way of life is in decline, leading to bigger “factory” farms that are taking over the production of food for the public: small profit per unit, compensated by huge numbers of livestock or acres of production. What option does the small farmer have, other than to cease production before / after bankruptcy?

Mr. Campbell, as do most of the protesters against factory farming, has absolutely no qualms against “factory fast food” farms. The golden arches, red haired burger girl, hundreds of pizza joints and deceased hockey player coffee shops. All these establishments are selling mass produced prepared food and drink.

Where does the meat, vegetables, and doughnut mixture originate? We just know it comes from “somewhere else” — and don’t ask where. Mr. Campbell and all the anti-G.M. followers are nothing else than blind faith hypocrites, wallowing in self-righteousness, regurgitating the words of others who profess to know just what is right for mankind.

S. John Newman, Springfield

A bit more information is found here:
http://www.watchpei.org/links

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 12, 2013

Hi, all,

Letters to The Guardian bring viewpoints that the editorials seldom consider, and this past week had several fantastic ones.

The oozingly positive review of Plan B by Cornwall mayor Barney Fullerton in the November 1st Guardian brought two significant responses:


Randy Campbell took exception to the quote from the Cornwall mayor about government "persevering" despite the opposition:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-05/article-3531059/Best-politicians-listen-to-voters/1

Best Politicians Listen to Voters
published on December 12, 2013

Editor: This letter is in response to Mayor Fullerton’s comments on Plan B, and his commendation to Premier Robert Ghiz and his entire cabinet “for sticking to their vision in the face of considerable opposition.”

I’m saddened to see a politician describe ignoring the public as something to be commended. Whether you agree with Plan B or not, I think we can mostly agree that the best politicians are the ones that listen carefully to the electorate. They understand that, though they may  be “experts” in “spending public money,” the citizens experience the brunt and grace of political decisions. We are experts in the consequences of political decisions. You are servants. It takes strength and humility to listen carefully. It takes stubbornness and arrogance to “stick to your vision in the face of considerable opposition.” We have no need for condescending leadership. We have a great need for humble leadership, with genuine consultation, genuine public debate and plebiscites for controversial issues.

Randy Campbell,
Charlottetown


Lloyd Pickering also makes the point of what legacy would be much more useful to Islanders:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-11/article-3539205/Plan-B-highway-receives-C-or-D/1


Plan B highway receives C or D
Published on December 11, 2013 Editor: I read Mayor Fullerton of Cornwall, his editorial “Plan B deserves an A” recently in Saturday’s Guardian on November 30.

Well, I for one certainly disagree with his view of this expensive project and I suspect many more will in the days ahead. Instead of an “A”, maybe it should receive a “C” or “D” as people were also put out of their homes for this project.

I think instead of this Plan B Highway by Robert Vessey and the rest of the Liberal Ghiz gang, we now could’ve had a central provincial museum for the province. The province, with its rich history, and especially with the 2014 events coming up, would have been of a “common sense” approach in my opinion. Unfortunately, the foresight didn’t seem to be there for a worthwhile project like this one by this government.

I certainly believe the Plan B Highway was not a step in the right direction. I really think our tax dollars should have been spent more wisely by the provincial government from the offset.

In the end I think we all need to stand up to the dictators wherever they be. As one gentleman said, “Canada, land of the free because of the brave.” Merry Christmas to all of us who fit into this latter description.

Lloyd Pickering,
Sea View

Andy Robb also calls for the establishment of a Provincial Museum, something much more substantial that 2014 money could have gone for:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-02/article-3526996/Heritage-blues-back-on-agenda/1
----------

And related to issues of sidestepping democracy and pushing an agenda through:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-09/article-3536255/No-ombudsman-means-no-answers/1

No Ombudsman Means No Answers
published on December 9th, 2013

Editor: I contacted the English school board so I can speak at the public meeting in Summerside on December 17, 2013. I had no response.

Students are allowed to pass Grade 12 without studying. They just have to show up for class. There is no provincial ombudsman to investigate the practice of passing students from one grade to the next.

The Ghiz government won’t hold school board elections until the next provincial election. Now the Ghiz government is delaying the provincial election until 2016.

The Ghiz government changed the Election Act to maintain the two-party system. P.E.I. has no system of recalling politicians. The commission that determines MLAs salaries is fully aware that the Liberals changed the Election Act to require more signatures for a candidate to run in an election yet allowed MLAs a pay raise. Island students score the lowest in Canada.

I can’t speak at a public meeting to question the delay in school board elections or the Ghiz government reneging on its promise for a provincial ombudsman.

John W.A. Curtis,
Summerside

------------

Ron Kelly of Charlottetown writes about the pension reform and circumventing legal challenges:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-05/article-3531063/Government-bullies-unions/1

Government Bullies Unions
published on December 5, 2013

Editor: Comments have been made before about the hypocrisy demonstrated by many members of the legislative assembly in their superficial support for anti-bullying measures in our society. After all, we have seen many instances in the provincial legislature where a form of bullying behaviour has been on clear display.

In addition, all current MLAs represent political parties that have benefited from — and continue to employ — a patronage system that is the political equivalent of bullying.

Now we have a government introducing legislation that attempts to protect it from the legal effects of its efforts to unilaterally reduce pension benefits and break contracts. In other words, we have a government that is saying: “We’re going to do whatever we want and there’s nothing you can do to stop us! And we don’t care if we have the moral or legal right to do this; we’re going to use our control of the legislative assembly to protect ourselves from any legal challenges to our actions!”

Is this not the very definition of a bully?

It should be noted, too, that if the Ghiz government really felt that its actions to reduce pension benefits were legal, it would not have to pass legislation protecting itself from legal challenges.

That being the case, shouldn’t all Islanders who support the principles of democracy and the rule of law — including Liberal Party members and supporters — be demanding that the Ghiz government resist the temptation to hide behind its intended legislative strong-arm measure and, instead, let the chips fall where they may? If the government is confident that its actions are legal, why not let the courts decide that?

Ron Kelly,
Charlottetown
----------

And Carl Mathis spins a silly and sticky senate story:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-12-09/article-3536264/Invisible-%26lsquo%3Bduck%26rsquo%3B-tape-missing-from-rope/1

Invisible "Duck" Tape Missing From Rope
published on December 9, 2013

Editor: So far, no one has asked why the PMO got involved with leaving Ms. Wallin and Mr. Brazeau to dangle on their own ropes, while trying to make Mr. Duffy’s rope invisible. So:

Why? Did Mr. Wright imagine the wrong solution, all by himself? Did Mr. Duffy go ask for Invisible Duck Tape for his rope, the better to duck his responsibility for what he had done? The result, of course, is that the Invisible Duck Tape was not transparent.

Why not? Ms. Wallin and Mr. Brazeau did not use Invisible Duck Tape and get only an occasional mention in the media. They have made restitution gestures, Ms. Wallin’s’ restitution being larger than Mr. Duffy’s would have been, and have become translucent, if not transparent. If there had been no Invisible Duck Tape, would Mr. Duffy have become transparent? Wrong metaphor?

It is not the size of the offence. Being government, the government wastes more money every second than Mr. Duffy cheated out of us over his years in the Senate. Was it the verb, cheat, or was it the attempt to Invisible Duck Tape it over, that caused the furor?

By the way, if you look for Invisible Duck Tape at Canadian Tire, you won’t see it.

Carl Mathis,
Charlottetown
----------

More on the genetically modified salmon concerns (and corporate interests) expressed in letters tomorrow -- the Guardian needs to get the first one that raised the issue recently on-line.

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 11, 2013

Hello, all,

John Morris is an Island photographer, visual artist, web designer and photojournalist who spent a lot of time at Hemlock Grove last year, camping, hiking and documenting.

He also used a buzzy flying thing with a "GoPro" camera attached to film this 5 minute (unedited) fly-around the Churchill road cut part of Plan B this summer before any gravel was put down -- you can see the seepy spring areas that just didn't go away when the road was placed over them.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuDNbq7d8rQ
John's gallery of Plan B photos can be found here:
http://www.lensmakeapicture.com/gallery/PlanB

This article was passed on to me about the federal government's closure of most of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries (specifically about the one in Manitoba), which were used by researchers and you can guess contained a wealth of information:
http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/12/09/Dismantling-Fishery-Library/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=091213

Tonight:

Cinema Politica Charlottetown and CUPE PEI will host the screening of the film, Capitalism is the Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity,
tonight:
Wednesday, December 11 at 7 p.m., at Murphy's Community Centre.

from Facebook:
Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity examines the ideological roots of the austerity agenda and proposes revolutionary paths out of the current crisis. The film features original interviews with Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, Michael Hardt, Peter Gelderloos, Leo Panitch, David McNally, Richard J.F. Day, Imre Szeman, Wayne Price, and many more. The 2008 “financial crisis” in the United States was a systemic fraud in which the wealthy finance capitalists stole trillions of public dollars. No one was jailed for this crime, the largest theft of public money in history. Instead, the rich forced working people across the globe to pay for their “crisis” through punitive “austerity” programs that gutted public services and repealed workers’ rights. Austerity was named “Word of the Year” for 2010.This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future. Special attention is devoted to the crisis in Greece, the 2010 G20 Summit protest in Toronto, Canada, and the remarkable surge of solidarity in Madison, Wisconsin.

Have a good (cold) day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 10, 2013

Hi, all,

A look back:

They are coming: From late October, 2012, the excavator appears in upper right corner.
Planted Acadian forest in foreground gets first cut.

from December 2012.  "Bulldozing right through the centre of the Bonshaw Hills." (Excavating, but you get the point.)
Looking west from Peter's Road over Crawford's Brook towards Churchill. (CO photo)

And this is worth a re-read:

We can stop Plan B

Published on September 25, 2012, in The Guardian

Editor:

I am not a tree hugger. In fact over the last 25 years, I have clear cut hundreds of acres of woods on this Island. It is general practice not to cut pine, hemlock, and oak. They are left to hopefully seed a new generation.  

I can honestly say I have cut maybe 12 in total of these species over my time. Plan B will destroy more of these ancient trees than I have cut in my whole career. The larch, hemlock and pine in the path of Plan B are rare, born in the 1800s. They may be as old as Canada. I challenge the silent majority to walk this planned highway. Stop and relax under these trees, linger there, think, then walk out and let them be dozed; or speak, say no, and stop this plan.

There are many reasons to stop Plan B. This one is closest to my heart. If I can help save this unique part of this Island, I would be glad to be called a tree-hugger.  

Dana Jeffrey, Long Creek

Dana and his wife Deb are heroes of Plan B, dedicating many, many hours to environmental monitoring and building Camp Vision.

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 9, 2013

Hi, everyone,

On Friday the 29th of November, after some heady praise of the group that made up the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee, the Premier announced that Cabinet had accepted the recommendations of the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee including the formation of a "wilderness park".  (By the way, the word "wilderness" does not appear in the draft document, found here: http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills )

Opposition Leader Stephen Myers immediately made the following response (bolding mine):
"I also want Islanders to remember that the only reason that this is happening is because the transportation minister drove a bulldozer through the centre of Prince Edward Island.   His Plan A was to drive a bulldozer through the park. His Plan B was to put a bulldozer through the centre of one of the most scenic drives of Prince Edward Island that his own tourism department used for their pictures for some of their advertisement.  Now the Premier is going to try to save the transportation minister’s reputation here today.  I know he’s doing it because he wants him to be the next leader.  But Islanders will not forget Plan B and they will not forget the bulldozers going through the centre of Prince Edward Island."

Well, hats off to Stephen for that!

He also had an exchange later with the Finance Minister about the costs of upgrading the computers used by Island schoolchildren.  He asked if the free and open source operation system Linux had been considered, which it hadn't.  So he offered some information about it.

Leader of the Opposition: Can I give you a suggestion, in all seriousness, and it’s a place where you could actually save money?
Have some people have a look into Linux because it’s free, it’s fast, it’s built by IT professionals who want to see an operating system that’s flexible and fast. I know my young fellow runs it at home. You wouldn’t know it from any other operating system. It does all the same things and it has –
Mr. Sheridan: Who uses it?  Which companies use Linux now?
Leader of the Opposition: You do, in treasury. 

Three cheers for the interim Leaders, like Stephen Myers, like James Rodd for a while with the NDP, and like Darcie Lanthier, who did a fine job as Leader of the Green Party of PEI last year.  These are the the standard-bearers at a time when their party needs somebody to keep things going.

The caring and funny Darcie Lanthier, October 30, 2013, at a talk about the myths of fracking.  Darcie was reminding the audience that the first R of the "waste hierarchy" stands for reducing what we use, and increased energy efficiency would reduce the amount of fuels we need to heat our homes.

On the display in the lower right of this photo is a map regarding fracking in New Brunswick, which I think is further expanded here:
map of New Brunswick from the "No Shale Gas" folks:
http://noshalegasnb.ca/news/about-fracking/nb-fracking/

For those wishing to donate to the legal costs of those in Elsipogtog fighting fracking:
http://www.gofundme.com/Saving-Mother-Earth

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 8, 2013

Hello, everyone,

Some Sunday news bits:

Whew, the company testing for shale gas near Rexton, NB, has packed up and gone away.  I don't think they were totally done, but they said this part is over and they have promised to be back; and they obviously got the message they were not welcome.
Sadly, Premier Alward seems to think that the $40+million investment will get New Brunswick out of deficit and keep jobs there.  One opponent named Ann Pohl clearly explains why that is not so (towards end of this CTV news clip).
http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1055936&binId=1.1145463&playlistPageNum=1

Passive Solar homes explained in a 90 second video (if you weren't able to make it to the workshop):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDOSxPz7228&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DTDOSxPz7228&app=desktop

Somebody unnamed at CBC put together a background story on the public sector pension situation (article):
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/8-steps-to-understanding-the-public-pension-debate-1.2453768
----------

And I have copied the article from yesterday's Herald Magazine on Plan B.  What little background I know: the photographer (a young woman who grew up on PEI but now lives in England does some work for the Chronicle-Herald and pitched the story to them) came over in summer, the paper did some background, and sent the writer in mid-October; there were enough time lapses that I assumed that the idea was shelved.  But here it is, and it is reasonably accurate, though Mr. DeMont did "buy" the safety argument, and we'll have to clear that up with the paper.

(To recap the truth about the "the safety card": the government released several incomplete sets of data which were in no way consistent, refused to release causation until the day the hemlocks were cut, and an engineer with the department admitted to CBC Radio double-counting sections to make the figures higher.  Our government *lied* about safety to sway public opinion and justify Plan B -- utterly reprehensible. This is laid out in this 6 minute documentary from April 2012, even before all the facts were known.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocwKp_9cyo    )

Anyway, despite the safety bit, the article catches *so much* of the real issues and what we were doing, and looks toward the future with the Citizens' Alliance, which the local media hasn't really picked up on ;-)  , and introduces it to the Maritime audience.  An early Christmas present.

Here is the link and the text of the article.
The Herald Magazine link:
http://thechronicleherald.ca/heraldmagazine/1169902-new-road-alignment-divides-islanders


New Road Alignment Divides Islanders
by John DeMont, publishes in The Herald Magazine, Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Cindy Richards sees the world differently than you and I do. Need proof? On a recent fall day, there she stood, a petite, somewhat forlorn figure next to a chunk of fresh blacktop 20 minutes west of Charlottetown.

Behind her, dump trucks rattled and hummed by on the new highway. If she looked to her right, she could see a big pile of red Island boulders. If she looked down, over the shiny new guardrail, she could see half a football field of man-made ground cover, sloping at a 45-degree angle.

“It’s hard to imagine, I know, but none of this was here before,” she says over the clatter of 18-wheelers. “There’s 100 feet of rock over what used to be just stream and trees.”

Her voice has a wistful tone. To a passing tourist, the geography — stands of beech and hemlock, low rolling hills, the occasional iconic Island farmhouse — is not inspiring, by the province’s elevated standards. Richards’ sense of loss is nevertheless deep.

She doesn’t like that a chunk of natural landscape in a tiny province where land is dear was bisected by a highway extension. But it’s the “how” as much as the “what” that turned the Trans-Canada Highway realignment into one of the most divisive issues on the Island since the creation of the Confederation Bridge.

For folks like Richards and the realignment’s other opponents, the P.E.I. government’s decision to sink $12 million into the project wasn’t just a waste of money.

“It’s plain stupid on a whole bunch of levels,” says Chris Ortenburger, who, along with Richards, was one of the driving forces behind the citizen-based Stop Plan B coalition.

The province says it had no choice. Safety is always at the forefront of any discussion about the Plan B project — as it has been dubbed — with P.E.I. Transportation Minister Robert Vessey.

After all, RCMP statistics show there were 63 crashes from 2001 to 2010 along the highway section being rerouted. That accounts for about 3.5 per cent of the total collisions on P.E.I.’s leg of the Trans-Canada during that period. More worrisome is that the crash rate along the Plan B section was 50 per cent higher than on the rest of the highway on Island soil.

Vessey says the rejigged highway will be safer because 28 accesses have been removed, along with substandard curves and slopes on the road.

“I think when people drive the alignment, they’ll realize and judge the whole process on the finished product,” he said in an interview.

The plan, though, was a hard sell to Islanders. Two years ago, the government asked the public what it thought of three Trans-Canada Highway realignment proposals put forward under the aegis of the federal government’s Atlantic Gateway Project, set up to improve transportation infrastructure throughout the region.

At first, the province opted to spend the Gateway funding from the feds on a new stretch of highway that would have bisected Strathgartney Provincial Park, the island’s oldest, known for lovely stands of beech trees.

The outcry was loud enough to drive the Robert Ghiz government back to the drawing board. Eventually, it returned with what became known as Plan B, going around the park instead of through it.

That sounds simpler than it is. The top-ography in the area, though gentle, is complex. In some places, heavy machinery had to dig into hills in the road’s path to bring the route down to the right grade. In other areas, hundreds of tonnes of rock had to be used to fill in valleys and build the route up.

The upshot: a stretch of highway that sometimes runs between thick walls of rock and at other times features long slopes leading down into deep valleys.

On the busiest days, construction crews moved 1,000 loads of dirt and stone. All in all, it’s estimated that trucks hauled more than 70,000 40-ton loads by the time the new highway opened for traffic this fall.

Projects like this don’t happen every day in Prince Edward Island, a province with a population of about 145,000 but a debt load of nearly $1.4 billion.

The provincial government split the $16-million cost of building the six-kilometre stretch of highway with the feds.

That doesn’t include the estimated $4 million the province spent on buying more than 25 properties that stood in the extension’s way.

“Plan B,” says Ortenburger, a mother of four, “is an expensive overreaction to fix a couple of curves in a small, indebted province.”

It’s not just the suggested lack of fiscal prudence that raised hackles. Plan B’s opponents say the property owners — many of them older matriarchs and patriarchs of the community — felt they had no choice but to sell. Then there was the lack of public consultation throughout the planning process. And last but not least, the environmental fallout: the way the government blasted through some old-growth forest during the construction phase, and the silt run-off that sometimes appeared when it rained.

The opponents haven’t taken it sitting down. Placard-waving protesters picketed the legislature. More than 4,000 citizens signed a petition against the project.

On a rainy afternoon in October 2012, Richards was handcuffed and in tears as the RCMP cleared out protesters from a camp that was in the road’s path. They weren’t done yet. A teepee was erected on land overlooking the highway construction, and from the encampment — dubbed Camp Vision — Richards and a rotating crew of others kept a year-round watch on the work site.

Deep bonds were forged during those long days and nights.

“It seems more real than a lot of friendships,” says Larry Cosgrave, one of the group. “Especially the teepee life. You get right down to the basics of survival, and if you can relate and get along that way, I think it’s pretty solid. It’s morphed into ‘Plan Beyond.’”

In October, with the entire stretch of new highway open, the teepee came down. The issue, though, lives on. A small group of environmental monitors shows up when it rains to check for sediment running from the construction site into rivers and streams.

Equally important, in the view of some of the project’s opponents, is that Plan B has spawned a new enough-is-enough attitude on the Island. As proof, they point to the way that Stop Plan B’s successor, the Citizens Alliance of P.E.I. — described by its organizers as “advocating and organizing for environmental rights and improved democratic process” — seems to be gathering steam on the island.

“First, it was Stop Plan B,” says Island environmentalist Daphne Davey. “Now it is Watch Plan B. Then it will be Remember Plan B.”

With files by freelance writer Ryan Ross.

(jdemont@herald.ca)

John DeMont is senior writer and columnist for The Chronicle Herald.

----------

Have a great Sunday, and don't forget the Plan B Christmas Party is Friday, December 20, in Bonshaw (details to follow):
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 7, 2013

Hi, everyone,

Yesterday, Cindy Richards posted a mini-documentary video summarizing what the public heard from government and the actual efficacy of mitigations resulting from the rain December 3rd and 4th (3 minutes):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOBoXjpUjys&feature=youtube_gdata

----------

A Little Legislature Math:

The 4th session of the 64th General Assembly ended yesterday, a bit after 11AM. You could tell Thursday that these people were getting ready to head home for the holidays in that things went into what could be described in football as the three-minute warning -- everybody starts playing very focused and fast. Friday morning when some MLAs started thanking their staff, the real work was done.

The Legislature sat from November 12th until December 6th -- that was 16 days (four days a week) and about 63 hours total (five hours Tuesdays and Thursdays, three hours Wednesdays and Fridays)

Question Period (QP) is the one major time each day the Opposition (and Independents and Government members) can challenge the Government with inquiries.

Question Period lasts about 45 minutes, but a few of those minutes are devoted to questions from Government members that tend to be "kissy questions" -- a thinly disguised question to a Minister which elicits an announcement which is greeted with great thumping and cheering.

So that leaves about 40 minutes times 16 days, or about 15 hours, for serious one-on-one questioning, No, we didn't factor the ratio of specific questions to rhetorical questions, as that resulting number would be *really* low ;-)

But that's it -- no more direct, accountable questioning by Opposition members to the Government in a public setting. Answers to questions which couldn't be answered in previous QPs were just handed in yesterday like late homework, with the citizen having no idea what the answers were.

After the theatrics of losing two members of the Opposition, the remaining three worked very hard. Steven Myers enjoys the sparring but still gets to the point and listens and responds to the answer he is given -- kudos to him for his work as Interim Leader. Olive Crane continues to ask very pointed questions nobody else will. Hal Perry of the Liberals was cosseted like a wobbly new puppy.

When the house was winding down today, Steven Myers was doggedly following a trail asking about the Transportation Department's acquisition of an 88-acre farm in Brackley (for half a million dollars over the assessed value). He obviously knew where and exactly how much it was bought for, but he wanted Minister Vessey to explain. Perhaps this is the site where Transportation will move "the Government Garage" that is currently by the Hillsborough Bridge? (This new location is not that centrally located, but it is in Mr. Vessey's district). Well, this kind of illumination with government members being put on the spot by Opposition and media right there won't continue until April when the Legislature resumes sitting.

It is worth considering how some kind of representation by proportion could improve discussion and accountability when our current system often results in lopsided majorities that do not accurately reflect the voters' concerns.

----------

Last year Santa greeted the MLAs on the last day of the Legislature and gave the Premier a photo of the beautiful woodcut (below) , but this year, especially after the announcement that the Liberals are pushing the provincial election back six months until Spring 2016, perhaps a visit by Krampus would have been more appropriate (Sinterklaas's elf-like helper who catches the children who misbehaved).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus


Island craftsman Gary Loo's woodcut, depicting the Fractured Flag after Plan B.

Have a great day,

Chris O.,

Bonshaw

December 6, 2013

Hi, all,

A year ago today CBC got the results of survey they commissioned that showed over half of Islanders were against Plan B.  It was a bit
tardy that they commissioned a poll a couple of months after construction started, but they wanted their own proof of the numbers, which of course echoed those from the citizen-initiated plebiscite and other measures; all of which government chose to ignore.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/45-opposed-to-trans-canada-re-route-poll-1.1129650

Continuing to highlight poor decision-making skills of elected representatives in the PEI government, we have a Transportation Minister who likes the wardrobe, the smart buddies, and the office...

Screenshots taken this week of Minister Vessey at Plan B from the TIR website, with Chief Engineer/pitchman for Plan B Stephen Yeo (above) and a clip from a recent Compass TV interview about the Cornwall Bypass plans (below).  I don't think the charming photos of slashed land behind Mr. Vessey are from Plan B.

....
but who spent a packet of money we don't have and justifying it by safety claims (when cheaper options were offered).

Minister Vessey stood in the Legislature a week ago and read out the numbers:


Mr. Vessey: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The summer and fall –
Some Hon. Members: (Indistinct).
Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has the floor.
Mr. Vessey: The summer and fall are busy times for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal as it is the height of our highway construction season.
As minister responsible for building and maintaining Island highways and bridges, I would like to provide the House with a brief update on the work we accomplished during the 2013 construction season.
Government has paved a total of 92 kilometres of roadway throughout the province, including the 6.3 kilometre Trans- Canada Highway realignment between New Haven and Bonshaw. Approximately $12 million in highway projects was tendered, which, combined with $5 million in matching funds from the federal government, amounted to a total of $17 million in contracts that were awarded.
Some of these projects were completed this season and others will be finished next year. We also completed other critical jobs during the season that are important to maintain and improving our road infrastructure, such as installing culvert liners and storm sewers.
We replaced or repaired nine different bridges in our province including the Canoe Cove, Crapaud, Emerald, Kentyre Road and Marie bridges.
Six more contracts were issued for bridge maintenance, or a total of $5.2 million that was tendered during this past season.
As some of you may know, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is responsible for maintaining
5,338 kilometres of roadways on Prince Edward Island. We also look after 1,389 bridges and highway structures throughout our province.
It is important for the safety of every motorist that travels our Island’s roadways that our highways are in the best possible condition.
To report a problem on one of our roadways, such as a knocked-down road sign or traffic light, a pothole, or a shoulder or bridge wash-out, visit our website at government.pe.ca/tir. You can also visit 511.gov.pe.ca or call 511 on a touch-tone phone to check on current roadway conditions.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Speaker: Responding to the ministerial statement, the hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Leader of the Opposition: Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I did honestly believe that the minister was going to get up and announce (Indistinct) there but it didn’t happen.
Anyway, I know that there’s a heavy capital burden on the transportation department, and I know when the capital budget comes down we’re going to be looking for a lot of different projects to see if they’re in the capital budget or not. <snip>

----------


Minister Vessey got in another CBC article yesterday, explaining "recycling":
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/rocks-from-plan-b-highway-to-protect-shoreline-1.2452580
It's meant to be a feel-good story -- some "good" coming out of project, and even Minister Vessey admitting the rocks are surprising unyielding. 
“The sandstone out there is very hard, probably the hardest sandstone I think the contractor has ever run up against." 
(Yes, I think the excavator operators who replaced the worn teeth -- estimated at costing $10,000 per week --  would confirm this.  This hardness could have been tested beforehand and factored into rejecting Plan B.)

----------

"The coastline of Prince Edward Island is characterized by easily erodible sedimentary rock, composed mostly of sandstones and claystones.  Erosion is the natural wearing away of soil by the action of water, wind, and ice."
from The Department of Environment's website on Shoreline Erosion
Hard to break or not, neighbours have heard that already Plan B rock sent to shore up around a lighthouse location isn't rising to the challenge.

----------
Tomorrow at the Confederation Centre Public Library from 2-4PM is a "Seedy Saturday":
https://www.facebook.com/events/420471678079263/
"A public seed swap will take place on December 7th at the Confederation Centre Public library from 2-4pm. Come along and learn about seed saving and sharing initiatives in PEI and around the world. Bring in seeds that you have saved from your own garden, or extra seeds you have left over from this year's planting season. Please make sure that your seeds are labeled with the variety and the year they were harvested and/or purchased."

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 5, 2013

Hello, everyone,

The Legislature met yesterday afternoon, even though government offices were closed.  While several MLAs who are ministers drive taxpayer-funded SUVs and pickup trucks, and some may have stayed in town, it was still surprising they didn't close for the day with the state of the roads.  It's likely government has a plan for closing the Legislature this week (someone suggested that "important people" must have holiday travel tickets bought).  Today and tomorrow the Legislature sits, starting at 2PM today and 10AM Friday morning, if you would like to attend.

Sometimes the Premier says things that could make anyone question his decision-making:
from Hansard's debate in the Legislature (the discussion was about insulin pumps), Thursday, November 21st, 2013
"A couple of things that I just wanted to talk about, and I don’t want to question anybody here, and I probably said it before when I’ve sat down and we’ve been at the meetings in the past, because I go to so many meetings any everybody says: Fund this and we’ll save you money. Every meeting I go to I hear that exact same line. I say: If I funded everything that everybody told me we were going to save money on, we wouldn’t need a budget in the Province of Prince Edward Island because everything would be free, whether or not it’s tourism says spend more money here, agriculture and health care I hear."

OK, so our Premier has just admitted he pretty much turns a deaf ear to people who attempt to justify a particular idea with the rational argument of prevention.   He admitted this same disregard a while back in relation to criticism of "50cent dollars" of federal money for Plan B -- anyone who said they were a bad idea was tuned-out.

----------

From yesterday's "pan-Plan B" mitigation failures:

Some mitigation failure locations that were documented yesterday.

Striking failures allowing sediment from Plan B to flow into the watercourses, morning of December 4, 2013; all photos and video from Cindy Richards and Dana Jeffery:

Crawford's Stream both upstream and downstream:

Hemlock Grove (Crawford's Stream) up and downstream of arch culvert

Crawford's Brook is especially troubling as the water cascaded into the concrete boxes, dissipates, and resurfaces mid-box:
Top of Crawford's Brook going into box culvert, yesterday morning.

(looking towards entrance) The water and sediment going into the boxes from above picture and dissipating

(looking towards the exit downstream) The water and sediment reappear and continue out the box (right picture)

Across from Crosby's ravine, the fill-storage area released sediment into the West River alongside Green Road by the little footbridge:

"Crosby ravine" sediment from flowing in near little footbridge, Bonshaw, clearly contributing to the sediment load in the river.

Sediment-rich water was flowing into the (Bonshaw) West River at the Bonshaw TCH bridge and into the Church.
video here:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10153559905565557&set=o.220834614673617&type=2&theater
(I"ll try to get a non-facebook version if you can't access it)

----------

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 4, 2013

Hi, all,

My power was out this morning for a bit, so everything is a bit delayed.

Cindy and Dana have been out checking Plan B, and sadly but as expected, *every mitigation* has failed.

Sediment is running in under the little footbridge in Bonshaw (from the "waste" fill area), at the Bonshaw West River Bridge at Plan B (apparently the little church is pretty much surrounded by run-off coming from up the hill by the equestrian park), the upstream end of Crawford's Brook at the box culvert is swamped and undermining the boxes, sediment from where the old highway was cut is making its way to Crawford's Stream.....it's nauseating and infuriating.
Minister Vessey asserted Plan B was on time, but perhaps he was referring to the asphalt; certainly not the stabilization of the exposed hillside where a handful of old hay isn't going to cut it.  This falls back in the Environment Minister's hands.
----------

More on fracking, since folks in New Brunswick are still protesting the "thumper" trucks using seismic testing to scope out sites for the potential for drilling.

This is from Aljazeera America new service, and it's as complete as anything I have read on what's going on in Elpisogtog:
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/12/2/canada-anti-frackingprotestersanswerinjunctionextensionwithblock.html


Some (eye-opening) observations about the potential of fracking in Newfoundland from a oil company executive who would like to retire back there.
http://www.thetelegram.com/Opinion/Letter-to-the-editor/2013-12-03/article-3527362/Some-truth-about-fracking-wouldn%26rsquo%3Bt-hurt/1


Some truth about fracking wouldn't hurt
by Syd Peters, Calgary resident
published in the St. John's Telegram, December 3, 2013

As a former oil and gas engineer and one who has managed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in Western Canada and the U.S. for 28 years, I am following the situation in your province with keen interest, having a family connection in Newfoundland. I feel an obligation to bring to your attention some facts from the industry.

I support the government with its recent decision for a moratorium on fracking.

Contrary to Natural Resources Minister Derek Dalley’s belief, the people are not emotional, but rather motivated to do the right thing for their communities.

Actually, obtaining a permanent ban on fracking would be advisable.

Although the intent of an internal government review is to gather information, it would be good practice, even best practice, to have it independent, open and based on peer-review science.

The claim by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Black Spruce Energy that 175,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured without water contamination is totally false.

From experience, companies deal with such situations by coercing landowners to sign confidentiality agreements or by promising towns and local organizations money for projects, therefore silencing them and avoiding costly litigation and protecting their public image.

Everywhere I worked in the U.S. or in Western Canada, those techniques were and are still used today to silence farmers, landowners and municipalities.

This is what is coming to Newfoundland if fracking is allowed.

Wells by fracking do leak, either during the operation or shortly after, into the aquifer, and all wells will leak over time, again, into your source of drinking water.

By the time the people are sick from the contamination and the chemicals, governments and local politicians have changed, companies gone, money is longer available, jobs are gone.

The reality of jobs related to fracking, in terms of numbers, is very different than offshore (platform) drilling exploration.

Fracking involves a lot fewer jobs at exploration and production stage.

We usually sub-contract the work to bring qualified, experienced crews for a short period of time and hire a few locals to perform low-paying jobs such as maintenance, snowclearing and security. Hardly worth the talk about an economic boom if you compare it to what the west coast of Newfoundland will be losing in tourism and fisheries revenues.

People working in the industry are people who have mortgages, kids at school and responsibilities, and often turn the other direction when they leave the problems behind. After all, it is not their town.

That is why the residents in a posh suburb north of Calgary, where a lot of oil executives live, do not want fracking next to their homes.

This has been an issue at home for me as it proves that it is acceptable and safe for others to live with flares, truck traffic, 24-hour noise, the smell of methane — but not for their families.

There is something to learn from this.

People like me want to retire to Newfoundland and not find that fracking has destroyed the communities and families we left behind.

The province is not Alberta and has more to lose than to win with fracking.

A permanent ban on fracking looks good from where I stand.

----------

And Monday was a hastily called Day of Action to support the folks in Elsipogtog, near Rexton, NB, and a group of dedicated Islanders handed out leaflets and took a photo later:
oh, power's out again.  Take care,
Chris

PEI supporters against fracking, December 2nd, 2013, UPEI campus

December 3, 2013

Hi, all,

A few interesting things today:

The Cornwall Bypass resurfaces:  Apparently, there has been talk by government, and $45 million needed.  Not sure which "plan" is being talked about, but the mayor has certainly been talking (Guardian letter Saturday saying "Plan B gets an 'A" " and quoted in article yesterday saying public transportation in Cornwall should be scrapped).

The same issues are here:  the real cost with "fifty-cent" dollars, no specific map shown, farmland and woodlands permanently converted to pavement, what are the real safety issues involved, etc.  So it bears watching.
----------
But sometimes our elected officials look at the whole picture:
Standing Committee recommends a moratorium on fracking and on off-shore drilling:
Last Tuesday, MLA Paula Biggar, who is Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry, tabled a report for this sitting of the Legislature based on what they have been doing in the past few months.

Committee Members:
Paula Biggar, Chair (District 23, Tyne Valley‐Linkletter)
James Aylward (District 6, Stratford‐Kinlock) (Opposition)
Kathleen Casey (District 14, Charlottetown‐Lewis Point)
Bush Dumville (District 15, West Royalty‐Springvale)
Pat Murphy (District 26, Alberton‐Roseville)
Hon. Steven Myers (District 2, Georgetown‐St. Peters) (Opposition)
Hal Perry (District 27, Tignish‐Palmer Road)
Buck Watts (District 8, Tracadie‐Hillsborough Park)
Sonny Gallant (District 24, Evangeline‐Miscouche) also served as a substitute member.

They have been meeting, and *listening*.  They have had presentations by Don't Frack PEI and by Save Our Seas and Shores about the concerns regarding fracking and off-shore drilling in the Gulf, pluis ones on what to do for energy when you reduce fossil fuels, and a special presentation by Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition.

(I was at one of the earlier meeting this summer and one of the members asked a really un-bright question saying something like fracking could be done safely, right?  That's what the corporations said, after all.)

But since then they have heard more and sat around and discussed things; and tabled their report, here:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/committees/getCommittees.php?cnumber=11
(under Committee Reports)


Here are the recommendations from the November 26 report (bolding mine):

1. Your committee recommends that Government declare a moratorium on high volume hydraulic fracturing on Prince Edward Island.
Your committee is very concerned that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for shale gas extraction has not been shown to be safe and is in fact a significant threat to health and the environment. Information provided to your committee indicated that the fluid pumped into the ground in the fracturing process contains numerous different combinations of chemicals, some of which may be toxic and/or carcinogenic. The likelihood of leaks from extraction wells and the permeability of PEI’s sandstone mean that these fluids can spread easily, including into the aquifers Islanders rely on for drinking water. Interaction of contaminated groundwater with surface water would threaten aquatic habitats and fisheries. Hydraulic fracturing also uses volumes of fresh water on par with the weekly usage of a city like Charlottetown just to pump one well. Heavy truck traffic is required to bring water to a well site and to remove the chemical
water waste mixture after the well is pumped, which raises the potential for spills, not to mention the question of waste disposal. It has been reported to your committee that discussions on fracking in Island communities have revealed a great deal of fear and concern over this method of resource extraction. Indeed, frackingrelated leaks, spills and accidents would be catastrophic for our province, and your committee believes it would be best to prohibit this form of underground gas extraction. Your committee also notes that Newfoundland and Labrador recently declared such a moratorium.

2.    A) Your committee recommends that Government declare a moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in Prince Edward Island’s territorial waters.
B) Your committee recommends that Government collaborate with the governments of Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec to establish a comprehensive management plan for the Gulf of St. Lawrence that puts a priority on protection of the marine ecosystem.
An oil spill or blowout in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would be devastating for the Gulf’s 6,000 marine species, fisheries, coastal communities, and the tourism and seafood industries. Despite advanced technology and learning, there is still no way to guarantee that such a catastrophcan be prevented; the recent blowout in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates that even an experienced global petroleum concern such as BP cannot negate the possibility of disaster.
At present your committee is not aware of any proposals to explore for oil in PEI’s immediate offshore area, though exploration did take place off East Point in the 1970s. A moratorium would demonstrate commitment to protect our part of the Gulf, and your committee notes that Quebec already has a moratorium in place in part of its Gulf waters. However, true protection from the effects of oil spills in the Gulf can only be gained through a joint effort of the five provinces who share it and the federal government. An environmental assessment is currently underway at the Old Harry prospect off the west coast of Newfoundland, and exploration and drilling may occur in the next few years. Old Harry is in the Laurentian trench, a deepwater area where migratory fish and whales come in out of the Gulf; a spill or blowout there would affect many species. The Gulf current patterns carry water (and any contaminants it may hold) from that area southward around the Magdalene Islands and PEI. Spills would not dissipate quickly as it takes roughly eleven months for water to flush out of the Gulf and into the Atlantic.
The environmental assessment of the Old Harry prospect is being carried out by the Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which has been criticized for its conflicting mandate of promoting oil exploration while also ensuring environmental protection. Even if it had a more straightforward mandate, the board is a oneprovince entity and should not be tasked with making decisions for a body of water shared by five provinces. For this reason your committee encourages Government to work with the governments of Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec to establish a plan for the entire Gulf that minimizes threats to its sustainability and the people, animals and industries that currently depend on it.

3. Your committee recommends that the Energy Strategy and 10 Point Plan for Wind Energy documents be updated to guide action over the next five years and beyond.
These strategy documents were released in 2008 and several of the actions they called for included a 2013 deadline. The worldwide economic downturn certainly affected the capacity to follow through on plans in energy and other sectors, and it would be worthwhile to examine which actions have been completed, which need further work, and which new directions are worth pursuing.

4. Your committee recommends that updated energy policies place an even greater emphasis on promotion of alternative, renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels.
It is well known that fossil fuels are major factors in air pollution and climate change. A significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels would benefit our air, water, soil and human health by removing a source of pollution. The burden on our economy would diminish as air pollution takes less of a toll on human health and we become less reliant on imported fuel. In place of fossil fuels, a commitment to renewable energy could position the Island as an energy leader among North American jurisdictions. That commitment must include all aspects of energy management, from generation to distribution to storage. But in doing so the Island
would create new economic and employment opportunity, retain our young people, strengthen our communities, attract more visitors and newcomers, and boost our image around the world.

5. Your committee recommends that energy policies put a high priority on conservation and efficiency.
Eliminating wasted energy is just as important as generating it in a renewable manner. Public education efforts to promote energy efficient choices at home and at work must continue. Your committee suggests that an expansion of the programs offered by the Office of Energy Efficiency should be considered.

6. Your committee recommends that Government assist however it can in the development of storage technology for wind
generated energy, and in the promotion of that technology’s usage.
PEI is now taking advantage of its capacity to generate energy by harnessing the wind. But the wind does not always blow, and sometimes it blows more than our energy needs require. Methods for storing excess energy for later use as electricity or heat are emerging. Your committee encourages Government to support municipal programs that promote the use of ceramic and hot water heaters for this purpose and to investigate the feasibility of a provincial program. Other means of energy storage, such as in large cement slabs beneath public buildings or refurbished electric vehicle batteries, have been suggested to your committee and are worth investigating for their efficacy and possible use on Prince Edward Island.

7. Your committee recommends that standards of energy efficiency for new construction be established and implemented under the Provincial Building Code Act.
Until we are able to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, we can expect the cost of heating and electrifying public and private structures to continue to rise. Establishing a minimum level of efficiency that is in line with current knowledge and technology will allow the buildings we construct today to better retain the energy put into them in the future.

8. Your committee recommends that Government assist in the development of Island
owned businesses which find innovative uses for naturally occurring resources.
Your committee thoroughly enjoyed hearing of the success that North Atlantic Organics Ltd. has achieved in developing a multi
purpose agricultural supplement out of the mixed seaweed that is commonly found on Island beaches. Island business people will provide the drive and innovation to bring creative natural products to market. Your committee encourages Government representatives to stay in close contact with these businesses so that timely assistance is available when needed, whether it is in applying for program funding, eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic delays, or providing relevant expertise and advice.

Conclusion
Your committee extends its thanks to the various individuals and organizations that shared their views in the past several months. It is reassuring to see Islanders putting so much time and energy into issues of environmental protection, renewable resources and conservation. We all have the responsibility of stewardship on behalf of our children and grandchildren.

In that last paragraph, she means dedicated, smart Islanders including Ellie Reddin, Irene Novaczek, Andrew Lush, Tony Reddin, Matt McCarville, and others. 

Ellie Reddin, from October 2013,, spending countless hours organizing getting government and the public up-to-speed about the real costs of fossil fuel exploration in our area, thinking about her children and grandchildren.

The whole report is worth looking at because it also copies the correspondence, including letters sent to PetroWorth and Corridor Resources, trying to figure out who holds what leases (to which it does not appear they have gotten any responses).

BUT, government has ignored Committee recommendations before, so people will need to keep this in mind and contact their MLAs with their opinions to see this recommendation is acted on (presumably in the next year).

----------

And a great thing about PEI is when the happy ending of a lost dog story.  This dog happens to be owned by Maureen Kerr, who has been working like crazy to get discussions going about the risks of constant exposure to cosmetic lawns pesticides, and trying to tease out whether or not a jurisdiction has the authority to pass a ban.  Relief and happiness at your news, Maureen.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-12-02/article-3527343/Doggone-good-tale/1

Best wishes, and let's hope that heavy rain forecast doesn't materialize,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

December 2, 2013

Hello, everyone,

It's good to be back, and apparently a lot happened last week in the Legislature which can be looked at again this week.

First, a few things seen this weekend:

Saturday, November 30th, 2013, late afternoon.  The Air Canada plane's approach from the south side of PEI welcomed me back with a view of Plan B, of all things. The two light-coloured spots in the red circle are the exposed (but hay-mulched) sides of Plan B in Bonshaw.  (The left bit is the steep cliff facing Green Road, and the right or eastern side is that wide area now used to hold unwanted "waste" fill and rock; the dark vertical Plan B line bisects the mulched part.) (photo by CO)

Yesterday we had an inch or so of snow, and much salt was spread, and the plows were out.

Unfortunately, the little island at the corner of Green Road and the TCH didn't fair so well:

Concrete island with now-bent sign separating right-hand turn lane from TCH onto Green Road, Bonshaw Hall in background, late afternoon, Bonshaw, Sunday, December 1, 2013. (The right-hand turn lane is useful and likely better than their original plans for an extra lane in the opposite direction.)

And a closeup of the island after one little snow:


Cracked concrete curb, Sunday, December 1, 2013, corner of Green Road and TCH, Bonshaw.
A bit of damage after an inch of snow.  I am sure the Transportation Association of Canada guidelines** recommend this kind of island for this kind of intersection, but this kind of island on this kind of (snowy) Island is going to be pretty beat-up by plows by spring.  Broken chunks will undoubtedly end up on some of the roads...hey, that's not safe.

But it was nice to be home.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

** The TAC Guidelines were apparently referenced for Plan B, due to the federal money component.  We never saw the Guidelines, as we and the Opposition members were told at the beginning of all this by a member of the Department of Transportation that it would cost us over a thousand dollars to get a copy of if we wanted to see it for ourselves.

November 26, 2013

Hello, everyone,

Here is a rather incomplete list of events coming up in the next few days:

During the Legislature sitting (Thursday) later this week, I am told the government plans to table the Capital Budget. Perhaps this is where the Opposition can ask how the books make Plan B "on budget", and what are their capital plans about highways in the Tryon and Crapaud regions.
Friday is likely to have an announcement about the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee and where they go from here (10AM to 1PM). Visitors are always welcome in the gallery, so feel free to attend for part of Question Period or when you can, or watch of listen from home:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/
------------

Thursday, November 28th:
Gold Fever: The Movie, 7PM, Chaplaincy, UPEI campus.
"Gold Fever shines a light on the harms to health, community and environment caused by transnational industrial mining and the resource extraction industry worldwide. It also profiles three courageous Maya women who are leaders of the resistance to gold mining in their Guatemalan community of San Miguel."
For trailer, and more information: www.goldfevermovie.com

For local information 902-368-3207

Sunday, December 1st, daytime,is the day the Farmers' Market in Charlottetown is open for craft selling, only. It's a great time to try some new things from the vendors and really and truly buy local.

Sunday, 7:30PM,

THE VINLAND SOCIETY presents....

an illustrated public lecture at the Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall), on North River Road;
presented by Dr. David Cairns

Time: Sunday, Dec. 1st, 7:30

Title: The Natural World of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as seen by Leif the Lucky

Description: Viking adventurer Leif the Lucky will be your guide on a tour of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, as seen by Leif and his friends a thousand years ago. Leif's longship will skirt the
Gulf's barren north coast that Cartier later called "The Land God gave Cain," will pause at a
seabird island where you can scarcely walk without stepping on eggs, will strand on the
mudflats of Anticosti Island, and will beach on a headland covered with deer. Leif's ship will
finally come to rest in a land, rich in the bounties of nature, Cartier's "fairest land tis possible
to see," that is the legendary Vinland the Good.

Speaker: Leif will be assisted in this presentation by David Cairns. David is a marine
biologist, resident of Stratford, who has a peculiar affinity for places that are cold and wet.
This predilection has taken him to many remote and often desolate places, including those
that line the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Have a great week! I am heading to spend a few days with my mom and siblings in Virginia, but if time permits, anything interesting will be posted on the updates page of the Stop Plan B website and the Facebook group:
http://www.stopplanb.org/updates
through the multi-talented Donna Sears.

Take care of one another,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 25, 2013

Hi, all,

Perhaps is it time for yet another update on those three land committees:

Horace Carver and the Lands Protection Act  (LPA) revisions-- this Act covers more *how much?* than *what are you using it for?* among other issues.
Status: done, but waiting for its release

Mr. Carver was the only person (along with a small staff) and he went everywhere earlier this year, listening to presentations and recommendations.
He submitted his report on should land holdings limits be increased and any other concerns in late June of this year.
Cabinet has finally discussed his report, which will be released in some sort of announcement in Legislature any day now. 

 

LPA Commissioner Horace Carver making introductory remarks, Englewood School gym, Crapaud, Spring 2013.
more here: http://www.gov.pe.ca/lpa/


and sharing a laugh with me over the suggestion that public engagement would be increased if there were an open bar, Englewood School gym, Crapaud, Spring 2013.

more here: http://www.gov.pe.ca/lpa/

Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee (BHPLC) --
Status:  one part done, and a second part beginning.
This committee was struck by Minister of Transportation Robert Vessey after construction started on Plan B in Fall of 2012 to meet Minister Sherry's conditional approval, that certain lands acquired for the road be protected and a plan in place.
The group was made of representatives from environmental groups (Island Nature Trust, Nature Conservancy of Canada) and the local watershed, and sports and trail groups, the community council chairs (who had both just been recently elected), and folks from government, among others.  They completed the first part, the Big Dream if you will, and came up with a document saying the area should be protected and segments enhanced a bit to encourage active living.  Certainly one part has been seized and the idea of something government is calling a Wilderness Park has been mentioned in the Speech from the Throne.  There will possibly be more made of this during the Legislature one day this sitting.

The second part, the How That Happens if you will, will have to get going to meet Minister Sherry's condition about an implementation plan ready in the next eleven months.  The committee will likely trim down to representatives from government and from the groups able to manage the lands.  But before the first group disbanded, Minister Vessey invited them all for a thank-you:

Here is Minister Vessey and some members of the BHPLC Experimental Farm grounds in Charlottetown, November 2013.  Minister Vessey is holding a photo of part of the Bonshaw Hills, to be given to each committee member (that photo originally taken by John Sylvester).  This group photo was plucked by me from Facebook.  I do not know the photographer.

The photo used on the framed picture is also on the cover of this document:


temporarily unable to upload check facebook site for photo
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=631103336952939&set=pcb.541240542633021&type=1&theater


and is by Island photographer John Sylvester, a talented man who cares deeply about our Island land and its future.  I believe it was taken  a few years ago, and is quite striking (so is all his work).  You can still see that lone tree from way above it when you are on the Plan B highway (look northwest when sailing by between the CBC tower and the descent into Bonshaw).
More info on the BHPLC, and image of Recommendations document from TIR's website):
http://www.gov.pe.ca/tir/bonshawhills
 and on John Sylvester:
http://www.johnsylvester.com/favorites.php


Land Use Policy Task Force  -- a group of five tasked with the job of creating some goals or vision statements regarding land use and any sorts of policies, listening to Islanders, and submitting a report, now due in January.
They held some meetings in spring, had a survey on-line, another meeting on Saturday, and are still asking for *any* comments in the next few weeks before they finish their report to send to Minister Sheridan. 

The reason the Citizens' Alliance stuck our nose in and made that Public Service Announcement
(here:  http://www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance/ )
and made such encouraging noise to promote the meetings and feedback channels is because it *is* a land committee we should be paying attention to, of all the recommendations in the "Judge Thompson Report" from a few years back.    Statements for land planning on such a tiny place as PEI seem critical, and while everyone wants to see good land stewardship, there are still big gaps in consensus over what that means.  We can only encourage you to write a little note about what you think is critical to protect, be it water, soil, air quality, farmland, etc.

The more voices they hear stating what we must protect, versus the polished corporate mantras, the more they will listen, and this can help make for truly decent land use guidelines.
Your thoughts to them:  landuse@gov.pe.ca

more info:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance/

Well, that's plenty for now.

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 24, 2013

Hello, all,

Red sign green sign, what does it mean?

Going east towards New Haven, Peter's Road on left in top picture, barely indistinguishable Hemlock Grove at bottom of dip, November 2013.

In various parts of the vapid Plan B layout, where guard rails have had to be installed in the event of drifting off the road or crashing down ravines, this week there appeared a curious pattern of red signs at one end of the rail, and green at the other.  At night they are *very* reflective, and a bit confusing, odd red or green rectangles appearing out of the mist.
It is likely they are for the snow plow -- red means lift wing blade and green means to lower it again.

----------

And a big award for being a hardworking hero:

Mary Boyd receives Order of Canada

photo copyright THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

in Saturday's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-11-22/article-3498185/Mary-Boyd-invested-into-the-Order-of-Canada/1

Governor General David Johnston invests Mary Boyd, from Mount Stewart, PEI, into the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall Friday November 22, 2013 in Ottawa.

Mary Boyd, from Mount Stewart, P.E.I., was invested into the Order of Canada during a ceremony at Rideau Hall Friday.

Boyd, who lives in Blooming Point, was made a member in the social service category. Her citation singled out "her contribution to the social justice movement, notably by introducing community-based initiatives to fight homelessness, poverty and underemployment.''  Boyd remains active in forwarding many social causes.

Earlier this year, former P.E.I. premier Alex Campbell was one of 34 Canadians named on June 28 as officers of the order, the second-highest grade. He was premier from 1966 to 1978.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 23, 2013

Hello, everyone,

Thanks for all the kind remarks from yesterday regarding the Samara Everyday Political Citizen.
It's great to be a part of a community that is supportive, is paying attention to the things that aren't working or are just plain wrong, and wants things to get better.
That Samara campaign is inspiring because it is *easily* finding 308 people across this country who are stand-ins for the many, many others who get involved in some way.
----------

If you can't make it to the today's public meeting in Emerald (I'd say drop in any time between 9AM and noon if you can) for the Land Use policy,
consider:
 viewing this public service announcement the Citizens' Alliance did to introduce the idea, or pass it on:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--wN0Wyw5JU&feature=youtu.be

and make a little time to write the Task Force, or call
:
Task Force on Land Use Policy, 3 Brighton Road, PO Box 2000, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
Email: landuse@gov.pe.ca
Phone:  620-3558
Today's event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/316837125121585/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Land Use policy website info:
A consultation draft is available on the website: www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance

Issues they want to hear about which you might mention:
fracking
pesticide use
other factors (nitrates, sediment) affecting our water and our land and our air
division of family farms for expensive subdivisions
public access to beaches and to vistas
encouraging our ability to grow food to feed ourselves / insuring we protect farmland (perhaps not giant farms, but farmable land)
etc.

They are wrapping up and getting their recommendations to government in January, so probably it's best to comment soon.
----------

If you are in town, consider joining the PEI Food Exchange for discussion of where to go from here.  All welcome!
10AM- noon, Trinity Church at Richmond and Prince in Charlottetown.    (wish I could be in two places!)

Have a great weekend,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 22, 2013

Hello, all,

Things to cheer about regarding the efforts of people who opposed Plan B:

Kathleen Romans was instrumental in getting the government to agree to fund insulin pumps, (which they just did yesterday).  She smilingly whirled around everywhere getting signatures for the petition, and I can only guess at the many hours spent networking with people to get it to this point.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/p-e-i-to-fund-insulin-pumps-premier-says-1.2435635

The Samara Everyday Political Citizen Project highlights at least one person from each federal riding, and Ann Wheatley, an unsung giver who glues so much together for positive change on this island, nominated me:
http://everydaypoliticalcitizen.tumblr.com/post/67063728949/nominee-chris-ortenburger-nominator-ann

Richard Baker has been awarded a very prestigious national teaching award, and the description of how hard he works and of his positive outlook is amazing but also of course spot-on:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/pmate-ppmee.nsf/eng/wz02057.html

----------

Events this weekend:

(Last) Public Meeting on Land Use Policy, Saturday morning, November 23
Time:   Open House from 9:00 – 10:00am

Location: Emerald Community Centre, 1910 Nodd Rd, Emerald, PEI
Presentation and discussion from 10:00 – 12:00 noon

IComments and suggestions are also welcome by email, letter or telephone.

 A consultation draft is available on the website: www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance
Contact: Task Force on Land Use Policy, 3 Brighton Road, PO Box 2000, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8  /  Email: landuse@gov.pe.ca / Phone:  620-3558
https://www.facebook.com/events/316837125121585/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Open Meeting for PEI Food Exchange, Saturday, 10AM to noon, Trinity United Church Hall, Charlottetown
https://www.facebook.com/events/1433432440201529/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Introduction to Fermented Vegetables workshop with Sharon Labchuk hosted by the PEI Food Exchange, Saturday, 12:30 to 2:30PM, Trinity United Church
https://www.facebook.com/events/492437124188481/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Bonshaw Ceilidh, Sunday, November 24th, 7-9PM, Bonshaw Hall

Guests include 'Full Circle' from Summerside, the Forever Young step-dancers, pianist Herb MacDonald and others. Admission is by donation with proceeds this month going to the PEI Diabetes Association.

https://www.facebook.com/events/735605383120957/

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 21, 2013

Hi, everyone,

Farming and Fishing:

Farming:
A charming 6-minute video exploring the question of "Do we need industrial agriculture to feed the world?" -- information to welcome 2014 as the International Year of the Family Farm:
http://www.familyfarmingcampaign.net/media/ver.asp?id=en&Nvideo=408200051

----------
Regarding the concerns in the lobster sector:

David Weale's "Commentary" piece, which is better investigative journalism than anything our local conventional media has been able to produce.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-11-20/article-3487695/Lobster-Trap/1


Lobster Trap
by David Weale
originally published in The Guardian
November 20, 2013

We are led to believe by certain elements within the lobster industry that the cripplingly low prices being paid to lobster fishermen these last few years is the result of the natural functioning of the “free” market. But is it really? Is it a free market, or an increasingly “controlled” one? Demand for lobster in many parts of the world is strong, consumers are still willing to pay high prices for the product, and we have never had a transportation system so able to move product worldwide as we do today. So what’s up?

It might be an over-simplification of the situation to single out one factor, but it does seem that the most serious problem is not with the so-called ‘glut’ that we hear so much about these days, or with the commission buyers, or even with the processors. The problem, it seems, is with the brokerage part of the equation, where activity is overwhelming dominated by one massive firm. In a word, we are talking monopolization.

According to my information this firm, Orion Seafood International, based in New Hampshire, markets approximately 70 per cent of all the lobster caught and processed in the Maritimes and Maine.

In addition, Orion is also the lifeline for a number of these processing plants, in many instances bankrolling their day to day operations in order to keep them afloat. Orion effectively has a stranglehold on the industry, and because of that is able to control the price paid to the processors for their finished product, which in turn determines the price processors are able to pay the commission buyers on the wharf, and hence the fishermen.

Or, as one informant remarked, “If any of Orion’s plants pay a little extra money on the shore, Orion simply tightens their cash flow until they fall back into line. And the same thing happens if these same plants attempt to market some of their finished product on their own, or through other, smaller brokers.”

It’s a scenario that is all too familiar: the corporate middlemen between primary producers and consumers thrive. The consumers might or might not receive the benefit of lower prices, while the primary producers — in this case the fishers — are squeezed within an inch of their lives.

Island farmers, and former Island farmers, of which there are many,  know all about it.

The obvious answer is more competition, but when such an entity has so much control it is difficult, bordering on impossible, for competition to gain a toehold.

One suggestion is that the Canadian Competition Bureau needs to take a hard look at the situation.

Their mandate, after all, is “to give small and medium businesses an equitable chance to compete and participate in the economy.” (official website) That is clearly not the case in the Maritime lobster industry today.

They need to determine as well whether the domineering actions of this one company are detrimental to the industry, and to the individuals and communities whose livelihoods depend upon receiving a fair price for their catch.

Incidentally, on its official website Orion trumpets the fact that they are the “driving force” responsible for importing Maine lobsters into the Maritimes for processing.
----------

The conventional media is criticizing MLA Charlie McGeoghegan for expressing his constituents' concerns regarding a tariff.  I am not sure the right plan here, but an MLA should be able to voice his constituents' concerns, no?  Also, McGeoghegan is paying attention to long-term fishing concerns such as oil and gas exploration in waters around us.

----------

An interesting excerpt from a blog by Brent Patterson on the Council of Canadian's website (November 19, 2013):

http://canadians.org/blog/neb-coordinated-intelligence-gathering-advocacy-groups-including-us

The Vancouver Observer reports, "Before the National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel hearings on the proposed Enbridge (Northern Gateway) oil pipeline, the NEB coordinated the gathering of intelligence on opponents to the oil sands. The groups of interest are independent advocacy organizations that oppose the Harper government's policies and work for environmental protections and democratic rights, including Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People's Summit."
----------

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 20, 2013

Hi, all,

On priorities:

In the Legislature yesterday, during Question Period, the Opposition was asking about the sale of Crowbush Cove Golf Course. It has apparently hit a "snag" as the government did not consult with the Island's aboriginal peoples (to the best of my recollection, unlike what they said about the Plan B region, the Crowbush area is more traditionally important to them).  Government has indicated there may be a "land swap" to settle this. That government appears to have forgotten to consult is interesting, and what land is swapped bears watching.

Other questions brought up asked if two 60-acre parcels of land adjacent and nearby are related to the deal to sell the course.   Opposition House Leader James Aylward asked if they would be developed, to which the Premier nearly crowed that Of course they would be developed! We needed development!  And when asked about Environmental Assessment, he simply said that hurdle would be dealt with.*

And that's likely all that Islanders, citizens in addition to taxpayers, may hear about this until it is a "done deal."  Let's hope the Opposition and independent MLAs keep asking questions, the media provide accurate details, and that all of us let our MLAs (and the land use policy people) know what our priorities are concerning our Island land.

The Legislature sits today between 2-5PM.
MLA contact info is found on a link on this page:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3?number=1024555&lang=E
and comments about the Land Use Policy can be sent here:
landuse@gov.pe.ca

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

(*My apologies if I am paraphrasing inaccurately.)

November 18, 2013

Hello, all,

Just over a year ago, Gary Schneider of MacPhail Woods Ecological Project, along with the Island Nature Trust (INT), put into action a great idea -- to plant some hemlock seedlings and other native species on a property managed by the Nature Trust near Winslow.

Gary was upfront that this was not tit-for-tat, trying to make up for all the hemlocks and other trees that had been so recently cut for Plan B, but it was a bit of good that people could come out and do together.

And it was.  More about Gary's positive attitude and energy later.

left to right: (Two guys I can't name), Gary Schneider, Jackie Waddell and Shannon Mader of INT, and Ruth DeLong with some trail info brochures she helped create.  November 17, 2012, near Winsloe.

Yours truly,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 17, 2013

Hi, all,

It's easy to say, "The new highway is ridiculous."   So we need some balanced coverage:

Well, once again:

Here are the Top Ten Reasons why people say they LIKE Plan B:

10: I wasn't paying attention when 'driver-ed' covered "steering".

9: It makes it faster to move my harvester from grove to grove.

8: Best darn stretch o' pavement my staff ever dreamed up.

7: I'm not that fussy about scenery. Oh yeah, and that global warming thing...don't make me laugh!

6: When CN pulled out in '89, my dad got $200 million for new highways. I just know I can beat that!

5: It brings back fond memories of kicking protester a**.

4: I'm so excited about how much faster I'll be getting to that red light in Cornwall.

3: I just love to cruise on shale from my own pit.

2: Got a 351 hemi under the hood. Can't wait to see what this baby will do on a decent straightaway.

1: At last... PEI is just like Toronto!

This was written about a year ago by Doug Millington, who could possibly be described as poet Will Nixon once was: a droll, suave curmudgeon.  But he might be grouchy about the last word, and I apologize if that's the case.

Anyway, Doug brought out this carefree list during a wonderful event about this time last year at the Murphy Centre, "A Concert for Change", organized by Catherine O'Brien and emceed by herself and Doug.  It was a lovely evening of music, poetry, song, and spoofs, in a room transformed by creative folks and inventive use of snow fence, trespass notices, hardhats, and tree boughs.  The idea of the Citizens' Alliance was introduced, and we all got to smile, cry, raise money for legal fees, dance and reconnect.

a few photos here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/220834614673617/permalink/368564136567330/

and a YouTube of a beautiful and energetic lament with Roy Johnstone playing fiddle, John Redher's vocals, and Reg Ballagh (doppelganger for a certain construction project manager) on drums.  Some happy but frenetic dancing towards the end blocks the view of Roy :-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR1gOBmsowE&feature=youtu.be

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 16, 2013

Hi, all,

The movie /Island Green/ was absolutely beautiful and inspiring (the other three Island-made films were great, too). Kudos to 
director Mille Clarke for vision and skills capturing that. I have heard that ECO-PEI may try to arrange a screening, if you haven't had the chance to see it. --------- This is taken out of context from a longer piece he wrote, but it stands out: "For many of you 1914 probably seems like a long time ago but I'll be 91 next year, so it feels recent. Today, we have allowed
monolithic corporate institutions to set our national agenda. We have allowed vitriol to replace earnest debate and we have
somehow deluded ourselves into thinking that wealth is wisdom. But by far the worst error we have made as a people is to
think ourselves as taxpayers first and citizens second." /--- Harry Leslie Smith, British WWII veteran, historian and social activist, November 2013/ from http://www.theguardian.com/profile/harry-leslie-smith (The *other/* //Guardian)/ Take care, Chris O., Bonshaw

November 15, 2013

Hello, all,

A few events coming up:
Today, the Legislature sits from 10AM to 1PM.  It's usually a fun morning, as the MLAs are ready for the weekend (!); the Gallery often has a school class attending, but usually room for more visitors.

Tonight is the film "Island Green" as part of the Island Media Arts Council presentation of short, Island-made films.
Arts Guild, 7:30PM, doors open around 7PM, $5

Saturday, November 16th, 1PM:
Defend Our Climate/Defend our Communities Rallies, 1PM.  The purpose is to demand that government recognize the dangers of continued fossil fuel dependence and its ramifications.
 I think there are two events planned for PEI at two MPs' offices-
- Charlottetown (outside Sean Casey's office, 75 Fitzroy)
-Summer, (outside Gail Shea's office, 250 Water Street)
http://www.defendourclimate.ca/map/?province=PE

Next Saturday, November 23, about 9AM to noon:
from the Task Force announcement:

Public Meeting on Land Use Policy

The Task Force on Land Use Policy was formed to recommend provincial land use policies.  Public discussion and feedback is important. Islanders are encouraged to share their ideas at an open house.  The meeting format will be the same as the meetings held in May and June, with a short presentation and small group discussion.  Early results of the public opinion survey will be available.

Date: Saturday morning, November 23 

Time: Open House from 9:00 – 10:00am 

Presentation and discussion from 10:00 – 12:00 noon 

Location: Emerald Community Centre

1910 Nodd Rd,
Emerald, PE

Comments and suggestions are also welcome by email, letter or telephone.

A consultation draft is available on the website: www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance,

Contact:

Task Force on Land Use Policy
3 Brighton Road
PO Box 2000
C1A 7N8

Email: landuse@gov.pe.ca
Phone: 620-3558

If you weren't able to get to the ones last Spring (and that is most of us), consider going next Saturday.

And if you want to see why the idea of a land use policy is important, in less than two minutes, see the Citizerns' Alliance PSA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--wN0Wyw5JU&feature=youtu.be

Have a great day,
Chris O.,

Bonshaw

November 14, 2013

Hello, all,

In the PEI Legislature yesterday:
It was mostly reaction to the Speech from the Throne, of course split along party lines. There was a normal question period of almost an hour, where new Liberal Hal Perry asked an easy-peasy question of government and was heartily cheered by his new friends.

Olive Crane, independent PC MLA, was not given the opportunity to ask a question.

Later in the afternoon, Members can speak at length; often several Members have departed, or changed chairs, or are passing notes when not actively talking, and of course texting -- it looks like they are bowing their heads for prayer -- Opposition House Leader James Aylward made his critique of the Speech and what the government has done, including a comment about the "$22 million Plan B."

To which Transportation Minister Vessey heckled, "Get your facts straight!"

Oh, yes, that would be wonderful, Minister.  It would be easier to get the facts straight if the Minister releases a break-down of all the Plan B costs.

--------

Today is Question Period from about 2-3PM, and sessions until 5PM, and 7-9PM.  Apparently, according to the news, today there is a renewed focus on The Environment and waterway health.

From CBC's coverage yesterday:

As part of its environmental initiatives, the government announced it will launch a model watershed pilot project. One of the province's 31 watershed groups will be chosen for this pilot. Government will work with this group to put together a detailed inventory of the land, water, and wildlife resources under the protection of the group, and develop a plan for those resources.
If successful, the pilot project's approach could be applied across the province.

Well, OK, let's see what they are actually planning.

---------

Tomorrow night is the screening of Island Green, a short documentary about PEI becoming organic (now *that* would revitalize and make our agriculture sector more unique than other nice ideas like coloured-coded bags of potatoes and lobster paste) at the Arts Guild at 7:30PM.

There are no advance tickets, but the doors to the theatre open about 7PM, and somebody there at the desk after 6:30, I think.  Admission is $5

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 13, 2013

Hello, all,

Back to politics:
Tuesday afternoon:

The Speech from the Throne:
Text here -- and worth the few minutes to look through it -- open it by clicking cover of speech picture
http://www.gov.pe.ca/premier/index.php3?number=1029929

It appears the government has a few main objectives, and the environment is now one of them.  Even without being too cynical, this does look like they are hoping money for a watershed here and trees and a certain park there will cover over the misdeeds of Plan B.  That could happen, if memories are short. Or is there an expression about "grab the bait and spit out the hook"?

Both CBC and The Guardian provided observant, detailed coverage; good.  But it doesn't appear they mentioned this about the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee: (from
Speech from the Throne, page 7-8):

In October of this year, the Bonshaw Hills Public Lands Committee made recommendations with respect to the long-term management and protection of environmentally sensitive lands in the Bonshaw Hills area. The Committee was comprised of volunteers with extensive shared experience in the areas of land use, conservation, recreation, and environmental stewardship.
In response to the recommendations put forward by this impressive committee, Government will establish the Bonshaw Hills Wilderness Park, the first of its kind in the province. Initially, the park will combine the existing Strathgartney and Bonshaw provincial parks, together with other environmentally sensitive public lands in the immediate area. The long-term plan will be to seek further extensions to the park through private land purchases and connectivity agreements.
Three core principles will guide the management and development of the Bonshaw Hills Wilderness Park – conservation of sensitive lands, recreation through active living, and nature education for all ages. This all season park will offer Island families excellent recreation opportunities including hiking, nature walks, biking, snowshoeing, wilderness cross country skiing, and canoe/kayaking.

Yeah, for keeping some of the land acquired fro Plan B from becoming subdivisions and shale pits, but, Ack, they are actually planning on calling it the Bonshaw Hills Wilderness Park.  Right, wilderness right next to a highway that digs 60 feet down intro bedrock or piles shale 60 feet over streams. Right, wilderness right next to a community now opened up for viewing by Plan B like a dollhouse.** 

(** I thank my neighbours nearby, who now look upon and are looked upon by Plan B everyday, for the painfully accurate dollhouse simile.)

----------

Well, there is much more to comment on, for another day.  There is time.  Presumably the sitting will last a few weeks or until Santa Claus comes.

My favorite line of bibble-babble from the speech:

"A roadmap has been developed that will guide the conversion of the existing website." (page 5)
----------
And an excellent comment on the CBC website from Andrew Lush, representing Don't Frack PEI:
"What a missed opportunity - we could have put a moratorium on fracking as Newfoundland & Labrador did last week. That would really have sent a 'green island' message to the world. Shame."
----------

Tuesday morning:
Listening to Hal Perry churble on CBC Radio's Island Morning about the joy of joining the Liberal caucus, about how they greeted him and will listen to his voice and concerns (unlike that other party), reminding me of the lyrics to the Eagles' song, "Hotel California."

<<Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis >>

Sorry to date myself, and you can search for the song to get that creepy feeling of being with the "in-crowd."
----------
OK, back to the real world of people who care about our Island:

Tonight:
Pruning Workshop hosted by Gary Schneider of MacPhail Woods Forestry Project
Sponsored by the Garden Club of PEI
Wednesday, November 13, 7PM at the Farm Centre
"It will be of interest to all those who work with and enjoy woody plants. Proper pruning maintains and improves the health and value of plants, whether in a commercial forest, a watershed, a private woodlot or just around your home."
The Farm Centre is on University Avenue next to Sobeys. Please use the rear entrance. Yearly memberships for the Garden Club will be available at the door and everyone is welcome.
For more information, please call Joan @892-7807 or Ken @ 892-2224

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 12, 2013

Hi, all,

Plan B mitigation problems continue.  Yesterday was a steady rain, out here probably a little over 20 mm, and many Plan B mitigations failed.  Of course, being Remembrance Day, the usual contacts where not in offices.

Plan B rough map: Black arrows indicate where sediment was getting into waterways (the left arrow) and the causes (right arrow).

The worst parts were sediment getting into clearly from near the footbridge in Bonshaw (from excess fill storage site) and sediment flowing into Crawford's stream at Hemlock Grove.

View near Bonshaw footbridge (by West River); sediment coming from this sediment pond (below) (up Crosby's ravine),
which is being drained into under Plan B from excess material (rock and shale) in Bonshaw by new McManus Road. November 11, 2013

Hemlock Grove (Crawford's Stream)

Churchill
: sediment running into stream from (above) drainage from Plan B coming eastward from where Plan B cut into old TCH (by Kingfisher cliff). November 11, 2013.

Apparently yet again no plans were made for how to deal with a large amount of rainfall over a holiday.  A Transportation Department environment person spoken to later that morning said his phone was off the charger.

But Cindy Richards was out early, sensing trouble, and other volunteers were there at various times. Finding that no one was coming out to do any mitigation repair, she and another person worked on the Crosby part.
YouTube video of their efforts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNayVbsyN9M&feature=youtu.be

Of course, fall ploughing and shale roads contribute to sediment, but both of these areas are caused by Plan B.

I really don't know how they can spend over $20 million on this road and *fail* to plan for the rainy days.   They have had a whole year to practice, and with the slopes the way they are, there is another six months of potential rain events.
---------
The PEI Legislature opens with the Speech from the Throne just after 2PM today --  you can watch it live-streamed on the internet by following links at:
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 11, 2013

Hi, all,

A year ago a very generous gift was made to the people resisting Plan B -- a small airplane flyover of the area to document the changes in the landscape.  Some friends of friends against Plan B came over to PEI and took a few of us along around the area. 

It was only four weeks after construction began, and you can see the whole track exposed.
"Flight Over Plan B" from November 2012:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3VZvNeqqaA


Fairyland, November 11, 2012, taken from about 1000 feet overhead. (CO photo)

From the end of the narration: "Plan B:  20 million dollars, an environmental mess, to modernize a few curves in a short highway section of a small, indebted province."

Many thanks to those who made the flight and the film possible.

To note, from August 2013, a series of photos taken by Stephen DesRoches from another flight over the area:
http://www.focusedonlight.com/2013/08/a-new-island-highway-is-born/

Wishing you a very thoughtful Remembrance Day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 10, 2013

Hi, everyone,

Award-winning:
Yesterday's Voluntary Resource Council's Breakfast and Banter was a lot of fun.   Karen Mair was a gracious emcee, and the VRC staff were exemplary organizers!  And the stories of honoured volunteers humbled me.

Cindy Richards and a display of photos of environmental monitors at work, made by caring and crafty friends, November 9th, 2013.
-----------
And another kind of award-winner or two:


From RED: The Island Story book Volume Seven: Fall&Winter 2013/2014, page 36:

Minister Sherry -- RED BRICK AWARD
    The dream, the wish, the hope...words from Environment Minister Janice Sherry in September of this year.  Was she channeling her inner Martin Luther King, or writing to Santa Claus?  Sadly, she was referring to the effectiveness of measures to prevent silt from running into the streams at the Plan B highway site.
    We wish, hope...and probably dream...that she read the Environmental Protection Act, and took her role as Minister seriously, standing up for the environment when Cabinet is making decisions, instead of deferring to First Minister Ghiz and his party henchmen, and dreaming about her MLA and ministerial pensions.
    Sherry's approval a year ago of Plan B, with tough-gal conditions, but with no follow-through besides the wringing of bejeweled hands, typified a weak Minister playing gun moll with the big boys who say this highway project as the perfect way to reward a whole lot of the party faithful by connecting dots on a map.  Sherry had the opportunity to rise above the patronage and make the right decision for our island and our children, and she waved it away.
    CLUNK! 


Well, there you go, but I heard Minister Sherry's officials did consider shutting one segment of construction down until a problem with runoff was fixed this fall.  A gesture, but too little, too late.

And *I* would have added a chunk of that award for our lachrymose local MLA gun moll in that getaway car, too.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 9. 2013

Hello, all,

A bunch of events to consider:

Today is the "Breakfast and Banter" for the Voluntary Resource Centre at the Murphy Community Centre from 8:30-10:30AM. I suspect there are some tickets at the door, and you can be there to honour outstanding volunteers like Cindy Richards.

Sourcing local food: There will be beef from the Loo family farms at the Farmers' Market in Charlottetown, 9AM - 2PM.

Tonight:
Doubt will be performed at the Bonshaw Hall at 7:30PM, a two-act play with musical introductions by Coro Dolce.  It is a fundraiser for the Hall (completely independent of any plans the Department of Transportation does or does not have to raise and move the Hall next year).

Tuesday, November 12 -- The PEI Legislature Opens, with the Speech from the Throne at 2PM.
The public can attend any time the House is in session:
    Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays 2-5PM
    Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7-9PM
    Friday mornings 10AM to 1PM
    Question Period is after welcoming remarks during the first session of the day.
    Seating for the public is on the third floor Gallery of Province House.
But where are Olive Crane and Hal Perry sitting? 
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php3?number=1024555&lang=E
a pdf of the seating plan is the first choice on the left hand sidebar.

Friday, November 15th-  Charlottetown showing of the films
Island Green by Millefiore Clarkes (a "poetic documentary" about PEI becoming organic) and others, Arts Guild, 7:30PM, admission is $5

Saturday, November 16th -- Climate Change rallies across Canada, 1PM
http://www.defendourclimate.ca/map/
It looks like plans are for these to be at the three Liberal MPs offices.  More details to follow.

Saturday, November 23, 10AM - 12noon- Meet the Land Use Policy Task Force!!  (just announced)
One of the final public meetings, at the Emerald Community Centre.   These are the five people working on the idea of a Land Use Policy for PEI, and have to report to government in the next few months.
Here's the wry, two-minute public service announcement made by the Citizens' Alliance on land use planning.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--wN0Wyw5JU&feature=youtu.be
The Task Force will be sharing the results of the survey, discussing their goals, and listening to the people there.
http://www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance/

Sunday, November 24th --
David Suzuki talk, Duffy Science Amphitheatre, $22
https://www.eventbrite.ca/event/8878992305
(it is listed as sold out -- unfortunately, it is not that big a venue)

Sunday, December 1st - 7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (former Benevolent Irish Society)
The Vinland Society is hosting a talk "The Natural World of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as seen by Leif the Lucky".
Biologist David Cairns will help the audience imagine the natural world of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and PEI a thousand years ago.

That's enough for now, though I am sure I forgot many things!

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 8, 2013

Hi, all,

Another issue of RED: The Island Story Book came out recently.
In the REDitorial, David Weale crafts brutal honesty with lyric beauty about the decisions we make regarding our Island's future.

an excerpt:
<<
The resistance to Plan B over the past year is a hopeful sign that some Islanders are in the process of drawing that line: of saying enough!  There are others who are puzzled, even irritated, by the actions of the Plan B resistors.  Why such a fuss over a small project they wonder. Well, I can't speak for the protestors, but I know from being among them that Plan B is a powerful symbol of our willingness to rip open the countryside in order to accommodate the corporate agenda: the symbol of a much larger assault on the environment that is occurring world-wide; and, at an even deeper level, the symbol of a dog-eat-dog world-view that has run roughshod over the spirit of reverence, the way those huge machines are running roughshod over the hills of Bonshaw.
>>

Tucked in and peeping out are other references to Plan B and its effects (I'll highlight another one tomorrow).
RED: The Island Storybook Volume Seven is available at bookstores and many smaller stores.
----------

Today and this weekend is PEI Crafts Council Christmas Craft Fair (among others) at the Confed Centre, featuring many wonderful local artisans.
https://www.facebook.com/events/438086906297928/
Fair Hours:
Friday, November 8th 11AM - 9PM
Saturday, 9th 10AM - 5PM
Sunday, 10th 12PM - 5PM
admission is $3

And tomorrow's Voluntary Resource Council breakfast may still have space -- call 368-7337 to check.

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 7, 2013

Hello, all,

Work to "realign" the intersection of Green Road by the TCH at Plan B continues....but unfortunately not without another "unforeseen" incident.  The television cable line was accidentally cut affecting local residents starting early Tuesday and not fixed until the end of the day Wednesday. 
----------

News came last week of the unexpected death of Katherine Clough in Ontario.  Clough lived on PEI for a time and co-authored Wildflowers of Prince Edward Island, still the easiest-to-use and lightest-to-carry wildflower guidebook for this region. I had the pleasure of attending a mushroom identification walk at Mac Phail Woods a couple of years ago led by Katherine.  A funny and informative time.

Here is a letter she wrote to The Guardian in 2012 about Plan B -- it said so much, so beautifully:

An evocative look to the future 

published on April 18, 2012 in The Guardian

Re Plan B to re-route the Trans-Canada Highway: It is sometimes said that even paradise is fraught with serpents. I lived on Prince Edward Island for many years, learned to love its quirks and warmed to the magnificent remnants of the landscape that once was.

Another CFA once said to me when we were talking about our adopted home that it was "paradise with serpents." That phrase resonated with me throughout my many years on P.E.I. The recent storm about re-routing the TCH in Bonshaw is precisely one of those serpents, feeding itself and existing on short-term single-issue thinking and opportunistic use of government funds.

I am not advocating a return to the past but rather an evocative look to a future where the strengths and values of both the human and non-human inhabitants can thrive in a vision for P.E.I. a hundred years from now.

The steady erosion of rural life and the natural environment it depends on has not gone too far; there is time to choose another way. Time to rise up and tell the serpents this isn't good enough. Wake up and smell those few remaining pines and hemlocks, walk on those hills and meet the inhabitants so beautifully described by Ian MacQuarrie in his 1989 book, The Bonshaw Hills.

Spend the money on a Cornwall bypass and post, then enforce, reasonable speed limits on the Bonshaw Hills section of the highway. Those trucks laden with inventory for fast-food outlets and the box stores would still make it to Charlottetown safely and on time.

Katherine Clough,
Halifax, N.S.
----------

from the notice in the local papers:
CLOUGH, Dr. Katherine S.

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understandings with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints in our heart, and we are never ever the same.”
Family and friends are mourning the sudden passing of an exceptional woman, Dr. Katherine Clough.  Just shy of her 67th birthday, she spent her final day doing one of her favourite things... hiking with a friend near Ottawa. She died unexpectedly yet peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday evening, October 29, 2013.
Katherine was born in Yorkshire and attended the University of Bristol. She got her Masters and received her PhD in plant pathology from University of Toronto in 1975. She was the devoted mother of Linnea Clough, currently of Montreal, formerly of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. She is also survived by her brother Fred Clough, his wife Sara and nieces Isabel and Olivia and Linnea’s father, Tim Bliss, all residing in England.
To all who knew her, Katherine was a brilliant, vibrant, social, resourceful and thoughtful woman who took great joy in all aspects of learning and exploring the world around her and did so with delight, wit and fun. She was passionately interested in so much; music, kayaking, tennis, scrabble, food, ecology and the wonders of the natural world. And she always came from a place of knowledge and caring. Whether she was skillfully organizing a group hike at a moment’s notice or finding new paths to explore while waiting for the locksmith after locking her keys in her camper van in Scotland, Katherine had a zest for life that was both natural and contagious. Her sense of adventure enticed many a friend to join her on trips they might never have otherwise taken. She was an active community gardener, a volunteer with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, a member of the Seton Cantata Choir and the You Gotta Sing! community choir in Halifax and a treasured member of the Gaia Singers and the Indian River Festival Choir in P.E.I.  Friends adored her dinner party invitations as the quality of her cooking was a match for her ability to converse. Katherine loved to travel and never lacked the courage to pick up and visit a place for the very sake of experiencing something new.
One of her favourite quotes was "Roots hold you close, wings set you free.
A botanist by profession, she authored the book Wildflowers of Prince Edward Island in 1992. She spent nearly a decade as the Director of Policy and Planning for the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Before that she worked at the ARK in Spry Point in the late 1970’s. She also worked for the P.E.I. town of Stratford as their Sustainability Planner, before moving to Halifax to begin the next part of her life’s adventure. Most recently she taught courses on The Flora of Nova Scotia for the Biology Department of Dalhousie University and conducted a survey on the endangered botanical species for the Muskrat Falls project in Newfoundland & Labrador.
As one of her close friends has written: “She awed me, challenged me, made me think, made me laugh, made me better, made this world better. An amazing smart funny lovely singing woman - a friend to many, and we will all miss her.”
A memorial gathering will be held at the Universalist Unitarian Church, Inglis Street, Halifax, Sunday, November 10 at 2 p.m. The family requests attendees dress in colorful outfits with headlamps and hiking boots encouraged! Family flowers only.
A gathering is being planned for P.E.I. and details will be posted on Katherine’s Facebook page.

---------
Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 6, 2013

Hello, everyone,

Just an update of fracking, near and far, through some headlines.

Yesterday, over 400 people rallied at the New Brunswick Legislature against fracking.
The New Brunswick government Speech from the Throne said full steam ahead with fracking, as the economy needs it.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced a moratorium on fracking Monday.

Friday night Prime Minister Harper said, "We will not let environmental protection stand in the way of economic progress." (That what I thought I heard on the radio -- haven't been able to find a text of the speech.)

Nova Scotia has a new Liberal government. 

On PEI, last Wednesday over 70 people attended a talk on "Debunking the Myths of Fracking."  While no one in the room likely needed "converting" to the idea that hydraulic fracturing of our porous, crumbly rock layers -- and going beneath our water table --  is a bad idea, it was good to see explanations of commonly professed glossy reasons fracking is safe and needed.

Saturday, the Sierra Club put on an additional workshop on getting the message out about these types of environmental insults.  I wasn't able to attend but folks said it was a great opportunity to discuss and network.

Don't Frack PEI announced they will be hosting a similar communications workshop in the next month or two, focusing, obviously, about communicating about fracking.  Details to follow.
Don't Frack PEI's website:
http://dontfrackpei.com/web/

Encana just announced that it is laying off about a quarter of its workforce since natural gas prices have been down recently, due to all the natural gas being produced in certain parts of the US (especially, I think, Pennsylvania and Colorado).
http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/encana-cutting-workforce-by-20-per-cent-as-part-of-restructuring-plan-1.1528427

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 5, 2013

Hi, all,

If you can make the breakfast for the Voluntary Resource Council honouring fantastic Island volunteers --including Plan B public monitor Cindy Richards --  this Saturday morning, there are still tickets available.  Call 368-7337 or e-mail Sylvie at the VRC <vrc@eastlink.ca>   It will be a great time, great food and a great cause.  We are really fortunate to have this organization!
----------

Regarding The Institute of Island Studies review:
The Guardian
lead editorial, Saturday, November 2nd, describes more than a news article would (below, with my bolding), which is helpful to the reader, but stops short of giving a thoughtful, seasoned opinion such as "The Institute of Island Studies makes invaluable connections with Islanders both here and abroad.  It needs to be able to speak up about issues affecting Islands about when no one else is willing.  AND, just like many other parts of a university, it should not be expected to be self-sustaining."


Future of IIS Will Depend on Cold, Hard Cash
Guardian editorial, Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
The report of an external panel commissioned to review the Institute of Island Studies said all the right things this week. The very first of 29 recommendations stated that the IIS should continue to exist, with the same mandate it has now. The only thing missing is money, and lots of it. Unless the institute can generate its own revenue and be self-sustaining within the University of Prince Edward Island community, then its future relevance could be minimal.

The report suggests the institute’s continuing education program should be a revenue generating operation. The conclusion is pretty simple, really. It would be nice to retain the institute as an important addition to UPEI, as long as it pays its own way.

The review was launched following a crisis this spring when UPEI did not renew the contract for Irene Novaczek, the institute’s director, citing cost savings. The institute was founded in June 1985, with a focus on research projects and public engagement activities with an emphasis always on Prince Edward Island, a key element of what makes the university unique.

The report noted the current IIS model is unsustainable and that the institute should refocus and pull back from its roles in advocacy and activism and return to its previous mandate of being “an honest broker.” One could conclude the institute was stepping on some toes and it had better become more pliant and obedient or else.

A final report on the institute isn’t expected until next year, past the university’s next budgeting process. So any hopes for a revived IIS won’t happen until 2015, unless a fiscal miracle happens.

It was suggested by a member of the public on hand for the report’s release that some reasons why the university cannot fund the institute are because of a recent massive building campaign, plus the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars on human rights claims.

--
It sounds perhaps that eventually restructured, details like the costs of continuing education would need to go way up, thus potentially out of reach of many people able to experience their programs and events in the past.  The IIS always looked frugal to me (recall the battered Mr. Coffee maker brought out for lectures) and needs to be supported for its contributions.

----------

A great group with lots of interesting events, including:

Tonight:
The Natural History Society of PEI will hold its next meeting - Tuesday, November 5th, on PEI Offshore Islands, Their Values and Future Prospects - Gerald MacDougall will be the feature speaker. The Society’s meeting starts at 7:30 PM at Beaconsfield’s Carriage House at 2 Kent Street.

http://naturepei.ca/2013/11/04/pei-offshore-islands-their-values-and-future-prospects-gerald-macdougall/

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 4, 2013

Hello, everyone,

A Monday Mix:

From Daphne Davey, reprinted with her permission:

Yesterday at the gas pumps I crossed paths with a man who noticed my Stop Plan B bumper sticker. He asked it that meant the new highway construction, and when I said yes, he said "It's too bad," and made a face. He was in working clothes, 40s, I guess. I mention this because I also met another stranger recently, an older man also in working clothes who was "disgusted." Neither of these people fit the stereotype often promulgated in the media of Plan B opponents. It just highlighted to me how the opposition to this project is widespread in the population, both in age range and "type" of person -- and how the subject continues to bring out strong comments from people.

 ----------

David Suzuki coming to PEI on Sunday, November 24, 2013
http://ic.upei.ca/events/event/2013/10/22/academic-climate-change-atlantic-canada-tour-david-suzuki

Climate Change in Atlantic Canada Tour with David Suzuki

Description: 

Join us Sunday, November 24 for a screening of the documentary film Climate Change in Atlantic Canada and a talk by Canada’s best-known environmentalist: David Suzuki. The event begins at 7:00 pm in the Duffy Amphitheatre of UPEI’s Duffy Science Centre.

The cost is $22 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Kensington North Watershed Association for a new volunteer climate watchers program. The event is part of a tour of Atlantic Canada sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation and locally by UPEI’s Climate Research Lab.

About the film: Across Atlantic Canada, coastlines and communities are already being adversely affected by climate change due to increasing storm intensity, surging sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding. Preparations are now being made for the super storms of the future, but this will not be easy, as ocean levels are expected to increase over one meter globally by the year 2100 due to melting Polar Regions and warmer waters undergoing “thermal expansion.” This film, shot across Atlantic Canada, represents a consultation with more than 100 stakeholders, and documents their real world experiences and efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Despite being on the frontlines, Atlantic Canadians show that solutions to this pressing global issue are within our grasp, provided we decide to act. The film is directed by Ian Mauro, Canada Research Chair, www.climatechangeatlantic.com.

For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit www.davidsuzuki.org/atlantictour.

Additional Event Information  

Location: 

Duffy Science Centre

Price: 

$22.00

----------
And, from Naomi Klein's:   :

How Science is Telling Us All to Revolt
published in The New Statesman on October 29, 2013

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

The rest is here:
http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

----------
Hope you have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

November 2, 2013

Hello, all,

From Cindy Richards, while out there Friday checking all the areas of open ground (and being the one to notice some run-off into Strathgartney):
"OK, so I figured out Vessey's 'on budget' rhetoric; it makes sense when overruns have not been considered yet, and of course 'on schedule' -- meaning able to drive from one side to the other but slow down for construction."

----------
A reminder that today is the workshop on
"Strengthening Our Voice: Syncing Our Communities"
Saturday, November 2nd,  9AM to 1PM
Murphy’s Community Centre -- check for room number at sign in entryway
A four-hour workshop designed to support community action; participants are encouraged to bring their digital devices. Topics will include tips on crafting key messages and on meeting with politicians, and making change happen through social media. Suggested fee is a donation of $10 but there is no minimum donation expected. Light refreshments will be served.
https://www.facebook.com/events/172165772986535/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=calendar&source=1

And today is also the last day to see the exhibit "A Natural Focus", by Ron Arvidson and Brenda Jones at the Arts Guild, noon to 5PM, I think.
----------

A special performance of the production of Doubt, a Parable is being given at the Bonshaw Hall, next Saturday, November 9th.

From the press release:

There will be a special performance by ACT (a community theatre) of DOUBT, A PARABLE by John Patrick Shanley at Bonshaw Hall, Saturday, Nov. 9, 7:30pm.  Each of the two acts will begin with special music performed by ladies of Coro Dolce, under the direction of Carl Mathis.

The play is set in 1964, the Bronx. The drama centers around the strict and conservative principal, Sister Aloysius, a progressive-minded priest, a young, naïve teacher, and Mrs. Muller, the mother of one of the students in the school. A tightly woven mystery, this Pulitzer Prize winner is an eloquent, provocative investigation of elusive truth and terrible consequence.

Directed by: Brenda Porter and Paul Whelan

Music Direction by: Carl Mathis

Featuring: Barbara Rhodenhizer (Sr. Aloysius), Renae Perry (Sr. James), Adam Gauthier (Father Flynn), Tamara Steele (Mrs. Muller), and the ladies of Coro Dolce

“That rarity of rarities, an issue-driven play that is unpreachy, thought-provoking, and so full of high drama that the audience with which I saw it gasped out loud a half-dozen times at its startling twists and turns. Mr. Shanley deserves the highest possible praise: he doesn’t try to talk you into doing anything but thinking hard about the gnarly complexity of human behavior." The Wall Street Journal

Don’t miss this special performance, proceeds of which will be jointly shared by ACT (a community theatre) and the Bonshaw Hall.

Ticket Price: $16 Regular, $14 Discount (students, seniors, unwaged)

Cash only at the door

----------
And, finally, Bruno Peripoli's video from one of the Hemlock Grove days last October.
http://youtu.be/-9i8Bmrrfmc
Beautiful.

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw
(a little early since I am going off-Island to a volunteer commitment this morning)

November 1, 2013

Hi, all,

It was crowded on that new section of Plan B that opened yesterday, with imaginative and imaginary creatures:
Someone dressed up like an environment minister who actually protected vulnerable land, a chief engineer who looked at the terrain and the maps and said Plan B was totally misguided, an MLA who worked for her constituents, a transportation minister who didn't lie about safety, and a Premier who listened.
They pointed to the road and shouted, "Trick or Treat!"  Indeed.  And they would have run into the Haunted Woods at Fairyland, but there are no real woods left.


The last children in the woods, Fairyland ravine, March 2012.  Plan B has the stream at the bottom culverted, the ravine filled in, and asphalt, guard rails and traffic on top.

Surveyor stake in early Fall 2013, on side of the TCH in New Haven where old highway would cross Plan B.  The stake indicates the area must be dug down 13.8 metres (44 feet).  They did.

Compass briefly announces the "controversial Plan B highway...on-budget and on-time" opening, at 2:35min into the broadcast:
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2415503540/

Transportation was quick to send out press releases:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/newsroom/index.php3?number=news&newsnumber=9285&dept=&lang=E
In this they link the TIR "TCH Highway Realignment" Updates, which hasn't been updated for over six weeks....

----------
Today is the LAST DAY to fill out a survey to give your opinions to the Land Use Policy Task Force.  It takes a good ten minutes or more, but it is worth their hearing you care about these things.  You could consider encouraging them to hold another round of public meetings, since the last were in spring during very busy planting times.

The Citizens' Alliance public service announcement on the Land Use Policy Task Force (two minutes):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--wN0Wyw5JU&feature=youtu.be

And the survey:
http://www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance/survey

And what of Horace Carter's Lands Protection Act review?  It's done, but it still hasn't been released to the public, pending French translation and making sure the Premier and Municipal Affairs Minister were familiar with the recommendations.

----------
If you are planning on going to the Voluntary Resource Council breakfast fundraiser next Saturday, November 9th, please contact the VRC to reserve your spot.  It'll be a great time.
The VRC is at 368-7337.

Have a great weekend,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 31, 2013

Hello, all,

From last year,
referring to government and listening to the concerns of Islanders regarding Plan B:
"They refuse to even discuss it with us, and that kind of arrogance is endemic in this government."
--Roy Johnstone
October 22, 2012

This was when some very brave and determined people made yet one more effort to stop the tree-cutting, this time from the beautiful mature maple and birch woods west of Peter's Road (now cut, the hill lowered, with the sweet little brook at the bottom entombed in a concrete box culvert).

The top story from Compass (October 22, 2012):
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2295316257/?page=18


It was a tough day, but these people made their point, much to the gratitude of all of the rest of us.  The flitting media, the stilted police spokesperson, the shifty-eyed chief engineer, all thought we were packing up and heading home.  ;-)

And from last year:


Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 30, 2013

Hi, all,

More related to fracking, as the talk: "Debunking the myths about fracking" is free and at 7PM tonight at Murphy's Community Centre in Charlottetown (220 Richmond St.).

Here is a five-minute illustration of the process and concerns about fracking, from Mother Jones online:
http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/09/video-explain-everything-fracking-five-minutes

and in Monday's Guardian, the lead editorial, is another editorial whose point and logic are a little bit hard to follow. Paragraphs with more than one sentence would be a good start.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Editorials/2013-10-28/article-3449843/National-chief-leaves-little-room-for-compromise/1


National Chief Leaves Little Room for Compromise

Atleo’s comments last week on P.E.I. indicate no support for development

printed in Monday, October 28th, 2013, in The Guardian

The cooling-off period New Brunswick Premier David Alward and that province’s First Nations leaders called for in the wake of violent clashes between protesters and RCMP officers 10 days ago at an anti-fracking road barricade in Rexton, N.B., appears to be coming to an abrupt end.

In remarks Friday on P.E.I. and a day earlier at Elsipogtog First Nation in N.B., the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says Aboriginal peoples will not support resource development at any cost.

Shawn Atleo made those comments after he met Thursday with leaders of the band battling against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick.

No one question people’s legal right to peacefully protest but when cars are destroyed, roads are barricaded, there are alleged threats of violence, and homemade pipe bombs, guns, knives and other weapons are seized by police at the scene, things have gotten way out of hand.

Atleo’s comments on P.E.I. indicate there is not much chance for a compromise between the two sides.

Atleo said all bands’ treaties must be respected while reiterating support for the Elsipogtog First Nation and defending its attempts to assert their treaty rights and responsibilities over lands and waters.

Atleo did hold out a small olive branch when he suggested the situation in New Brunswick provides an opportunity to spark discussion and action on the part of federal and provincial governments.

So perhaps there is an opportunity to forge a new and better way to implement the spirit and intent of treaties which exist with the Mi’kmaq.

What are required then are meaningful talks on a nation-to-nation, treaty-by-treaty basis between the Mi’kmaq nations like Elsipogtog and other levels of government.

Atleo said governments are not fulfilling their treaty obligations now, and even exploration permits for energy companies like what is happening in N.B. are a violation of treaty rights.

The exploration for shale gas includes seismic testing, not the controversial method of fracking at this time.

But wherever exploration companies try to get gas and oil to the surface in this day, fracking is usually the preferred method and aboriginals have good cause to be wary.
----------
And if you are able to attend the release of the review of the Institute of Island Studies, it is today from 4-5PM at Lecture Theatre A at the vet school at UPEI.

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 29, 2013

Hello, all,

Several things going on tomorrow, this weekend, and next:

Wednesday, October 30th:
The independent review of the Institute of Island Studies is being presented to the public from 4-5PM at Lecture Theatre A of the Atlantic Veterinary College.  The public is welcome to attend and show support!
**I have pasted the Executive Summary below this e-mail.**   From just a cursory reading of the executive summary, the summary says: the IIS is great and necessary; tweak it, support it and nurture it.  Great!  Why did the IIS have to go through such uncertainty and upheaval, with all that administration to take care of things at UPEI?

And tomorrow evening, a public talk on:
"Strengthening Our Voice: Sinking the Myths of Fracking"
Wednesday, October 30th,  7-9PM

Room 106, Murphy’s Community Centre
200 Richmond Street, Charlottetown
A free public presentation debunking the myths of fracking with Heidi Verheul of the Atlantic Chapter of Sierra Club Canada.
https://www.facebook.com/events/533022260114543/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular


----------
On Saturday, a workshop:
"Strengthening Our Voice: Syncing Our Communities"
Saturday, November 2nd,  9AM to 1PM
Room 106, Murphy’s Community Centre
A four-hour workshop designed to support community action; participants are encouraged to bring their digital devices. Topics will include tips on crafting key messages and on meeting with politicians, and making change happen through social media. Suggested fee is a donation of $10 but there is no minimum donation expected. Light refreshments will be served.
https://www.facebook.com/events/172165772986535/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=calendar&source=1

----------
Next Saturday, November 9th,
Voluntary Resource Centre's "Breakfast and Banter" event
Saturday, November 9th from 8:30 – 10:30AM
Murphy's Community Centre
Also, the Outstanding Volunteer Awards are to be presented, including to Cindy Richards for her work with Stop Plan B.  It would be great to see a lot of people there!  Tickets are $30 (which includes a $14 tax receipt), with children under six free, and those between 6 and 14 pay $10.  Tickets can be purchased from some members or reserved by calling 368-7337 (They need to know numbers by the end of this week to help have enough food.) "Participants will get to enjoy a great breakfast and partake in wonderful morning banter with some of PEI’s Very Interesting Volunteers who have been nominated by organizations and the community."
https://www.facebook.com/events/176773125845922/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

-------------------------------------

October 14, 2013

External Reviewer’s Recommendations
for the
Institute of Island Studies
University of Prince Edward Island

The three IIS reviewers met in Toronto on September 4, 2013 to review their findings.

Their recommendations were submitted jointly on September 10, 2013. An executive summary subsequently was developed and is provided below.

Reviewers:     Dr. Liette Vasseur
                    Dr. Graham Whitelaw
                    Hon David MacDonald

1.  Overarching recommendations

1.1.  The Institute of Island Studies (IIS) should continue to exist.

1.2.  The mandate of the IIS, as it currently exists, should remain.

1.3.  Activities such as policy forums and positioning the IIS as an honest broker should be reinstated.

1.4.  The Island Press and the International Journal of Island Studies,both of which are functioning well, should remain part of the IIS mandate.

1.5.  Considering the size of the university and the interdisciplinary nature of some units such as the IIS, environmental studies, MAIS, and Climate Lab, UPEI should continue to examine the possibility of a School of Island Studies and Sustainability and develop a three to five year plan to make the School a reality.

1.6.  UPEI should maintain an active, transparent and open line of communication with the internal and external communities with regard to the process being completed under this review and future changes in the organization and structure of the IIS.

1.7.  Discussions with the province should take place relatively soon to develop a potential agreement for policy relevant research activities.

2.  Administration

2.1.  The Director of IIS should be a faculty member, employed for a specified term and with a clear mandate.

2.2.  If the IIS remains independent, as it is currently, reporting should be done not only through the Dean of Arts, but also through the Vice President, Research and Graduate Studies.

2.3.  The Director should not become a member of all the various associations that are interested in having the IIS as a member. It may be more appropriate for the Director to be involved as an observer.

3.  Governance

3.1.  Given that the current governance structure does not position the IIS to be strategic in terms of activities and involvement of faculty members, the IIS should adopt a governance structure consisting of: 1) an Advisory Council; 2) an Executive Committee or Board of Directors, and; 3) Members

3.2.  The Executive committee (or Board of Directors) should include at least (but not limited to) the coordinator of MAIS, a student representative, and two faculty members from the membership.

3.3.  Three levels of membership are suggested: internal, associate, and affiliate.

3.3.  With a strong Membership and an Executive Committee, the Advisory Council should then be able to play its appropriate role of advising the IIS mainly through strategic planning.

3.4.  Faculty members should be encouraged to become active internal members or associates of the IIS and to participate in various projects.

3.5.  Incentives (e.g., recognition as project lead and sharing of overheads) should be provided to faculty members engaged in research relevant to the IIS.

4.  Educational Initiatives

4.1.  MAIS students should be invited to become associates or affiliates of the IIS and activities should be organised by the MAIS coordinator in collaboration with members of the IIS.  The Director should be invited to teach at least one course in order to maintain his/her connection with the students.

4.2.  UPEI should examine the possibility of developing collaborative degree programs at the international level with other island universities.

4.3.  The new initiatives implemented by UPEI regarding space allocation and resource support for the MAIS program, which are most welcome, should be sustained.

4.4.  The IIS should partner with the UPEI administration to reintegrate continuing education as one of the activities of the IIS.

5.  Administrative and Financial Support

5.1.  IIS should be allocated a budget to cover, at a minimum, a course release for the Director, the salary for a full time administrative assistant who would provide support for the IIS and the Island Press, funding to accomplish a few activities and administrative funds for 3-5 years.

5.2.  If and when the School of Island Studies and Sustainability becomes a reality, two administrative assistants should be supported to ensure functionality: one for the teaching components and one for the research and outreach components.

5.3.  Advancement should work closely with the Director and the Executive Committee of the IIS to develop a fundraising strategy and to ensure that endowed funds be secured for the IIS.

5.4.  The continuing education program should be structured is such a way as to be a revenue generating operation.

5.5.  Although seeking funding through grants will remain a large component of the IIS, this role should not be limited to the Director.

5.6.  Technical support should be provided, ideally under the coordination of a communication committee of the IIS, to update the website as soon as possible.

6.  Canada Research and UNESCO Chairs

6.1. The CRC Tier 1 opportunity should be revised to focus on Island Studies and the CRC ad should be posted as soon as possible.

6.2. The proposed terms of reference for the CRC in sustainability and global environmental change should focus on islands as a major vulnerability point for environmental, climate and sustainability issues.  Moreover, they should reemphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the position and indicate the high potential of connecting with the IIS, Climate Lab, MAIS and environmental studies.

6.3.  UPEI should explore the possibility of nominating a faculty member as a UNESCO Chair in Island Studies.

October 28, 2013

Hello, everyone,

Perhaps this sounds like a recording:
The following is a "Plan B update" from about a year ago. 

There was so much good stuff in it I thought it was worth re-airing (with a tiny bit of tidying). 
The "Active History" article is still very interesting and relevant. And remembering the passing of Mr. Oliver MacDonald still makes me sad.

Take care,
Chris O.


-------- Original Message --------

Subject:

Update -- Stop Highway Plan B -- Monday, October 22

Date:

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 06:43:17 -0300

From:

Chris Ortenburger <chris2575@gmail.com>

To:

undisclosed-recipients:;

Hi, everyone, interested in Stop Plan B updates,

Base Camp update:

What an interesting week at the Peter's Road base camp!  The Warrior family of Chief Peter Bernard and his wife, children and grandchildren left Sunday morning.  The sacred fire was blessed, and as it has been more than seven days, it can go out.  Despite the media hype and inaccuracies, the group was here of their own accord and to assess the situation according to their cultural beliefs. 

This weekend many people stopped in to chat with the campers and to head out to see either the hemlock grove area or the Acadian forest to the west of Peter's Road (the steep ravine with maple and birch).  There is tree-chopping equipment parked west of the area, so it's obvious the Province intends to continue its inexorable march through Island forests to cut this road-line.  How ironic it is during what is the peak of Fall colour. 

For the time being we have stopped asking people to be sign-wavers on the highway by the Cameron Road construction entrance. With the installation of guard rails and mud and gunk all over the road, plus constantly moving equipment, it's not easy to drive on this stretch.  The beautiful hillsides contrast too much with the sickening devastation on either side of you.
 
-----------
Media:

Robert Vessey is suddenly interested in active living and furnishing trails on our small islands of woods remaining between highways:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-10-21/article-3103684/Province-looking-at-protecting-hemlock-grove/1

An interesting media day Friday (October 19, 2012), as the Hemlock seedling rally was filled with comments from parents, children, and grandparents urging government to make wise, longterm decisions; the media focused on histrionics. (about 45 seconds into the broadcast):
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/Compass/ID/2294093572/

This "Active History" article is written in a very deliberate, clinical way about the changes in the area of the Plan B highway:
http://activehistory.ca/2012/10/exposing-nature-aerial-photography-as-witness-and-memorial-in-bonshaw-prince-edward-island/
-----------

Of note:
And I would like to mention the passing of one of the New Haven-Riverdale patriarchs, Oliver MacDonald, who lived with his wife in the little yellow house right by Strathgartney.  I only met him a few times, but he was a kind and gentle man, and I am sorry for how this road and the purchase of his house must have affected him and his family this last year.
http://www.inmemoriam.ca/view-announcement-326753-oliver-ollie-percy-macdonald.html

------------
Environmental Complaints:
Sorry we have been slow to get the user-friendly forms out.  This "Complaint Management System" is the process in which citizens can lodge complaints to the government regarding environmental concerns -- it's our opportunity to "Watch Plan B", submit short descriptions of problems, and request information about the resolution of environmental concerns during the construction.  Although not permitted on the actual construction sites, people can still be in the adjacent areas and see what effects are taking place -- especially after rain. 
A flowchart outlining the process and the current form are found here:
https://sites.google.com/site/stopplanbtchbonshawpei/documents

And more information to come this week as we deal with bad choices our government has made -- more in tomorrow's update.

Thanks for everything,
Chris O.
Bonshaw

----------

Letters:
Two letters, of many:

In appreciation of the protesters

Published on October 18, 2012

Editor:

For months I have been reading letters and commentaries in these pages in opposition to Plan B. I mistakenly thought that the volume of letters and commentaries (as well as other initiatives) from both individuals and organizations would be heard and respected by government. Many of those writing expressed well-reasoned and compelling arguments revealing how ill-conceived the project is and how flawed the process has been.

The government's assertion that its only concern is the safety of Islanders has a distinctly hollow ring. Many of us just do not believe that this is the primary driving force behind this project. The revelation of questionable practices with respect to accident statistics and the causes of those accidents is disconcerting.

Over the months, as I read the letters, I watched the left-hand side of the page for editorial comment. I have been disappointed. In a democracy when government fails to listen to the people, traditionally a free press is an ally in that struggle. The subtitle in your Oct. 4 editorial states: "With no environmental damage expected, why would the province not proceed?" Has the editorial writer not been reading the paper over these months? The environmental damage of this project has been more than adequately - and expertly -spelled out. You are aware that it is the government's environment department that has given the go-ahead to the project. Obviously, their assignment was to find the means of justifying proceeding with Plan B.

So all reasoned arguments have fallen on deaf ears and the last resort has been to be at the site in a last-ditch attempt to demonstrate that an irreversible mistake is being made. Those committed protesters are enduring wind and rain not for any personal gain but because they care deeply about our Island. Their efforts are appreciated.

Ron Irving,
Victoria

The battle has just begun

Published on October 19, 2012 

Editor:

You know, this whole Plan B thing is more than just about destroying P.E.I.'s last remaining old-growth forests, trampling on democratic discourse with citizens, wasting precious resources and driving Islanders further into debt, prompting more severe austerity measures, cutting social workers etc.

It's a flashpoint for a growing anger over many years for the complete lack of understanding of how valuable our land resources are: look at nitrates in tap water, putrid green rivers and stinking bays, deep water wells, massive soil erosion, high rates of asthma in Island children, weird and high rates of cancers in the province, hundreds of thousands of trout and salmon in 30 major river kills and on and on and on.

This all has to stop. They may have cut down the hemlocks but they unwittingly have set forth a lasting anger and set alight a sacred fire in us all.

Change is coming to Prince Edward Island and the real battles over the gift of land we have been given has just begun. I thank the Bonshaw hemlocks and their 200 years of life for this opportunity.

John Hopkins.
Breadalbane

October 27, 2013

Hello, all,

A bit of rainy Sunday leisurely reading (!):

The George McRobie lecture last night at MacPhail homestead was informative and very interesting.  Great people organizing it, and a welcoming packed crowd of farmers and concerned eaters.  The lecture will be available on DVD soon, as last year's already is.  Guest speaker Rob Paterson went through some of his outline notes (that I sent out yesterday), and here are some comments he made for people like us to keep things moving in a positive direction (my interpretation, errors are my own):

  • keep talking about the benefits of local food
  • look to a less grain-based diet, with more pasture-fed meats and leafy greens
  • urge government to use local, organic foods at manors, schools, hospitals, and the university
  • broad-spread small-scale organic farming will see PEI through any massive economic upheavals. 
  • instead of subdividing conventional farms into luxury home lots, start at the edges and break off manageable small farms, and transition to organic.
  • entice young couples to come to PEI from the rest of Canada to consider small-scale farming, as land is cheaper, small communities want to be filled again, and wonderful mentors enjoy passing on their knowledge. 
    • Raymond Loo, in whose memory the lecture was given, was excellent at that kind of sharing.

----------

The protest about fracking in New Brunswick has made many of us look up and start to pay attention.  Some others have been paying attention for a while. Here are three letters that address fracking and make us wonder: Where are we with fracking on PEI?


Kevin Arsenault wrote a pointed, loud and clear question to Mr. Ghiz, Mr. Myer, Mr. Redmond, and Mr. Bevan-Baker --

"Will shale gas fracking be allowed in PEI?"
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-10-25/article-3448344/Will-shale-gas-fracking-be-allowed-in-P.E.I.%3F/1
published Friday, October 25, 2013, in The Guardian

Editor: It is time for the leaders of each political party in Prince Edward Island to tell us whether they would permit shale gas fracking in this province if their party was to form the next provincial government.

And such statements must not attempt to deceive us with language such as, “Fracking will not be allowed unless it is proven safe through an environmental review . . .” because no such proof is possible, and no level of risk is acceptable.

In Gasland: Part 2, a recent documentary on shale gas fracking, a pre-eminent expert on fracking, Dr. Tony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering at Cornell University and a former researcher for Schlumberger, the #1 fracking company in the world, explains in plain language why fracking inevitably poisons ground water.

A hydraulic fracturing well is essentially a long steel pipe surrounded by a cement casing designed to prevent natural gas, toxic hydraulic fracking chemicals injected into the well, heavy metals, or methane gas, from migrating into ground water.

He believes it is an absolute certainty that ground water contamination will occur due to the eventual failure of the cement casings. In fact, he states that “With hundreds of thousands of on-shore wells and thousands of off-shore wells there's a probability of 1 in 20 that a cement job will fail immediately . . . five per cent of all jobs will immediately show a failure of a cement job and there will be migration of methane.”

With the 95 per cent of wells which don't experience an immediate cement casing failure, Prof. Ingraffea claims it will eventually happen as the cement casing cracks and crumbles over time; perhaps after 10 years, perhaps long after the well has been abandoned, but it will surely happen at some point in the future as the cement gradually weakens and disintegrates.

Given the fact that ground water contamination is a certainty over time, and given that P.E.I. is 100 per cent dependent on ground water for fresh water, it is clear that such ground water contamination would be both catastrophic and irreversible; no amount of “risk” is therefore acceptable, regardless of whatever environmental protections and economic benefits may be promised. So will the leaders of P.E.I.'s political parties please state publicly their position on this issue so Islanders can vote accordingly?

Kevin J. Arsenault, Ph.D.,
Fort Augustus

----------

from Tony Reddin relating protesting:

Peaceful Protestors are Building Democracy
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-10-24/article-3439823/Peaceful-protesters-are-building-democracy/1
published Thursday, October 24, 2013, in The Guardian

Editor: Regarding the Guardian editorial 'Protest site now history but not cause' Oct. 16th: Many Islanders keep telling me that they are still angered when they see or discuss the Plan B-aloney- which is now a visible testament to the disregard for democracy shown by the Premier and Ministers of the P.E.I. government, including a raid by the RCMP.

Now we see a similar situation in Elsipogtog, NB- a peaceful encampment is attacked by RCMP being used to bully protesters and squelch opposition at the request of a provincial premier. Again the protest is against the greedy and short-sighted corporate control that is causing the destruction of our life-giving natural resources.

Our society has already caused too much damage to our land and water - we can't allow the disaster of fracking.

Some media at Elsipogtog have unfortunately given confusing reports that downplayed the brave sacrifices being made by peaceful protesters to protect the land. Those media reports follow the lead of wealthy large corporations demanding development on their terms.

Their so-called 'infrastructure progress' of fossil fuel development, and also highway expansions, is not progress at all- it is destroying the basic infrastructure of life and wasting scarce dollars that should be funding a transition of our society away from mindless consumption and growth. We don't need faster highways, big machinery, fracking, oil pipelines, or military industries- none of these make our lives safer or happier.

The legacy of the 'Stop Plan B' Camp Vision is that many more people now see through the lies, and will take action to build a true democracy on P.E.I.- one that is free of corruption and based on co-operation. They share a positive goal of clean water, air and energy to restore our Island and give our children a healthy future.

We invite those concerned to attend two upcoming events in Charlottetown: a presentation on debunking the myths of fracking on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 7- 9 p.m., and a workshop on community action Saturday Nov. 2, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Both take place at Murphy’s Community Centre and more information is available at www.atlantic.sierraclub.ca or by phoning 675-4093.

Tony Reddin,
Bonshaw

----------

And John Hopkins' blistering observation:

"Crude" contempt
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-10-23/article-3438750/%26lsquo%3BCrude-contempt%26rsquo%3B/1
published Wednesday, October 23, 2013, in The Guardian

Editor: Premier Alward: while you continue to ignore public concerns into fracking New Brunswick, kicking First Nations in the teeth for trying stop your stupidity and a Texas-based oil company from threatening precious Canadian groundwater;

And all the while you work with Harper and Alberta to build a risky pipeline to carry tar sands derived bitumen — the dirtiest and most polluting oil on earth — across New Brunswick and this province’s pristine Atlantic salmon river watersheds, so that the Irvings can ship millions of barrels of oil out via a planned tax-payer subsidized Irving supertanker port threatening Atlantic Canadian fishing communities in the same way as the Exxon Valdez;

And all while helping push the worst climate change project on the planet through Alberta tar sands based global pollution.

If we spent as much time and money on oil production and distribution of the last reserves available worldwide as we did on truly investing in alternative energy sources, hydro, solar, wind, etc. we’d get somewhere. Right now we are all like bad heroine addicts addicted to black sludge.

Let it be known that your “crude” arrogance and contempt for concerned people and this planet is appalling and shameful.

John Hopkins,
Breadalbane

----------

More info?
http://dontfrackpei.com/web/

http://www.frackfreenb.ca/nofracksites.html
re: New Brunswick, not very current, but I can guess it is hard to stay current in the thick of a protest.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/leanne-simpson/elsipogtog-racism_b_4139367.html
An essay on the Mi'kmaq experience, first person narrative, from Leanne Simpson

An excerpt from the above link applicable to many an environmental issue:
"We start out dissenting and registering our dissent through state-sanctioned mechanisms like environmental impact assessments. Our dissent is ignored. Some of us explore Canadian legal strategies, even though the courts are stacked against us. Slowly but surely we get backed into a corner where the only thing left to do is to put our bodies on the land. The response is always the same -- intimidation, force, violence, media smear campaigns, criminalization, silence, talk, negotiation, "new relationships," promises, placated resistance and then more broken promises. Then the cycle repeats itself."
...but most cruelly to the indigenous peoples.

----------
Tonight is the monthly ceilidh at the Bonshaw Hall, 7PM, admission by donation.

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 26, 2013

Hi, all,

The George McRobie lecture is tonight at MacPhail homestead -- tickets still available ($10 cash at the door).
http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2013/10/back-on-pei-giving-a-talk-at-macphail-saturday-oct-26-at-6pm.html

Why do I keep mentioning this?  Because while we all support healthy local food, we still see an awful lot of food being trucked in to PEI on a certain road I know.  From Rob Paterson's talk, in his own words:

I have become convinced that the connection between health and food, that some see now, will become THE key idea over the next 30 years and will drive not only a change in how and what we eat but of course in how we grow food. In time I think that this may lead to PEI becoming a HAVE province.

In my talk I will:

  • Explain the connection between food and the epidemic of chronic illness that not only affects PEI but of course the world today
  • We will see why those of you who on PEI are growing food in a new/old way will be the key suppliers of what will become a massive demand for genuine quality
  • We will see why such an approach to growing food can only scale using a network of small producers
  • We will see how chefs and restaurants on PEI and elsewhere are the key bridge between the old and the new system
  • We will see how large institutions such as universities will add positive pressure to the shift and expand the infrastructure needed to get into the mainstream
  • We will look at the opportunity for PEI to create a full employment economy and a much healthier society

This lecture series is named in honour of Dr. George McRobie, Patron for The Homestead Farm, the new sustainable agriculture entity operating at the Homestead. George McRobie has long been one of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable agriculture and appropriate small-scale technology.

Register in advance by phoning 902-651-2789, or emailmacphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com.

MacPhail Homestead, Orwell, off MacPhail Park Road, off TCH in Orwell.  Photo from Rob Paterson's blog, below.

----------

Another interesting blog by Rob Paterson:
http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2013/10/why-i-think-that-pei-will-lead-the-food-revolution.html 

and just a reminder that the Farmers' Markets are open in Summerside and Charlottetown (I think the Loo family will have beef today), and
folks are meeting at the Farm Centre at noon to carpool for carrot-gleaning towards Summerside:
https://www.facebook.com/events/528467http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Living/2013-10-25/article-3448358/Natural-source/1127242316/

Ron Arvidson's pottery and Brenda Jones' illustrations, in an exhibit entitled "A Natural Focus", are at the Guild gallery until next Saturday, November 2nd.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Living/2013-10-25/article-3448358/Natural-source/1

Have a great Saturday,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 25, 2013

Hello, all,

Really and truly, the launch of David Weale's book Tale Bearer: More Stories from Them Times and the latest issue of RED magazine (#7) is tonight, 6-9PM, at the Y-Lofts (corner of Prince and Euston), Charlottetown.

Last year, there were lots of people against Plan B, of course, and many letters written and rallies attended; but there were a lot of the "Island intelligentsia" in literature, science and the arts who didn't speak on the record very much.

But David did, and the words ring true today:

An excerpt from a Guardian story from last year, October 11, 2012, by Brian MacInnis, when we were all milling around Hemlock Grove.  Full story here:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-10-11/article-3097663/When-police-move-in-depends-on-sacred-fire/1

David Weale, author and historian, is watching the events unfold and like many protesters says this is about a lot more than the environment.

“This project (the highway realignment) is perhaps the most absurd undertaking in my lifetime on Prince Edward Island,” he said in an interview Thursday while standing near the sacred fire. “And the most poorly handled,” he quickly added.

Weale feels there is no good rationale for the project and everybody knows it. In other words the emperor has no clothes, he said.

“The reasons put forward have no substance whatever…the reasons against it have all kinds of substance and yet it goes ahead as if it was the other way around.”

Weale said he thinks the primary issues for the people in the protest is the environment, “but there is a secondary issue and it may even be the primary issue and that is the disgust of Islanders with how they have been treated, demeaned really, and not been treated with respect…I can’t remember any single politician, any minister whoever acknowledged that these people had anything to say of importance.”

Weale said the term “these people” referred to the protesters, but Islanders in general have gone on record from one end of the province to the other through letters to the editor as being against the highway realignment...”I mean I have been watching the political scene on P.E.I for almost 50 years and I have never seen that kind of sustained anger and interest in an issue and still no response (from government). It is as though ‘we don’t care what you say, it doesn’t matter what you say because this thing is going ahead’ well, that is a slap in the face.”

That “slap in the face” is what Weale sees as the secondary issue or even primary issue for Islanders’ anger.

Weale was front and centre in the debate over the Confederation Bridge, but he could see reason in both sides of the issue. With the highway realignment he is at a loss to see any reason in the decision.

“I don’t understand anything about this project. Nothing that they (the government) says makes any sense…it is smoke and mirrors.”

Weale said when it is all said and done the issue will “stick (to the Liberals) for sure and it will not be forgotten.”

But it may even go deeper than that, he said. In fact, this issue is going to affect the way islanders think of politics in general “because what I hear again and again is ‘well it really doesn’t matter because these kinds of things would happen with either of the two old parties’ and I think that is the ground shift in Island politics right now.”

He said the more Islanders he speaks with the more he hears that people are fed up with “patronage based” Island politics.

There is a huge cynicism especially among young people and he sees that they have no interest in traditional politics. He feels they see it as a dead end and so because of this he anticipates a surge in the third or fourth parties in the next election.
----------

Hemlock Grove from March 2012

And every issue of RED since all this has started has had some sort of article or segment clearly (and very beautifully) spelling out what's really going on with Plan B.  Perhaps this new issue is no different.

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 24, 2013

Hello, all,

It has been a busy week in the large unfinished sections of Plan B (the Bonshaw end to extract the third lane from the hillside, the New Haven end to start connecting a spaghetti bowl of roads together, and the section where the old TCH crossed Plan B near Fairyland and where the kingfishers nested). 

The asphalt plants can't stay open forever, so money for manpower and machines appears thrown about quite liberally.


Gravel from the dock in Charlottetown trucked to Plan B Wednesday, where the old and new highway cross west of Fairyland. The trucks are about 50 feet beneath the former road (which is by concrete barriers in upper left, and where picture is taken in lower right).  Black arrow points to an eroded gully from previous rains.  Wednesday, October 22, 2013.

A long view of this new "scenic overlook".   (Tiny) concrete barriers in upper center and lower right indicate old TCH, which will be made into cul-de-sacs. Wednesday, October 23, 2013, Churchill.   Looks like a giant long stadium.

But it's not all dig-dig-dig....somebody has a sense of humour, some time, and talent with his excavator:
"Little" rock man in shale and rock dumping ground, between CBC tower and McManus Road, Bonshaw, easily seen from Plan B.

A bit of an idea where these things are:


Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 23, 2013

Hi, everyone,

Some short notes:

Tonight, the launch of story-teller David Weale's book Tale-Bearer, at the Y-Lofts (corner of Prince and Euston), 6-9PM. 
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Living/2013-10-17/article-3432694/David-Weale-digs-into-his-cache-of-Prince-Edward-Island-stories-for-sequel/1
----------

The George McRobie talk at MacPhail Homestead in Orwell is this Saturday, October 26th, Rob Peterson on “Food & Health; the PEI Opportunity.” 
From his notes,"I have become convinced that the connection between health and food, that some see now, will become THE key idea over the next 30 years and will drive not only a change in how and what we eat but of course in how we grow food. In time I think that this may lead to PEI becoming a HAVE province."
https://www.facebook.com/pages/MacPhail-Homestead/242362685793351
There aren't many tickets left but to check status of tickets: macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com or call 902 838-4791
Just a note the place takes cash and cheques but no credit/debit ;-)

----------
November 30, Wednesday, has two events of note:
Review of Institute of Island Studies review will be held October 30, 4-5PM, AVC Lecture Theatre A.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/657337534281338/
(the summary is here, too)

"Sinking the Myths about Fracking"
7-9PM, Murphy's Community Centre, sponsored by the Sierra Club
https://www.facebook.com/events/533022260114543/?previousaction=join&source=1
----------
Mark your calendar, November 15th, Friday.
Another chance to see the movie Island Green (about PEI moving to organic agriculture):
http://www.theguildpei.com/calendar_item.php?events_id=400

----------
Gleaning opportunities, both for food for you and to help harvest for other:
PEI Food Exchange
http://peifoodexchange.weebly.com/ or
https://www.facebook.com/groups/621356811219544/

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 22, 2013

Hello, all,

If there is anybody who merits being named Outstanding Volunteer of the Year on PEI, it is Cindy Richards.

Fortunately, the Voluntary Resource Council thinks so, too, accepted the Citizens' Alliance nomination, and Cindy, who has given so much to stopping Plan B and monitoring Plan B, will be honoured with some others from other organizations at their annual breakfast on Saturday, November 9th.


Not snipe-hunting, but maybe looking for the Dedicated Environmental Employee while documenting some late evening mitigation breaches. July 2013, near Crawford's Brook.

All are welcome! The breakfast will be at the Murphy's Community Centre, starting at 8:30AM.  It is over about 10:30, so lots of time to get to the Market and do other errands.  The breakfast is a fundraiser for the VRC, and tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for kids 6-14.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 21, 2013

Hello, all,

Like some bizarre version of Hansel and Gretel, a truck with crushed glass left a trail of shiny "pebbles" from the Charlottetown bypass all the way to outside Gass's store in New Haven sometime around early Saturday.  The glass is dumped at the road bed where Plan B cuts down the old TCH near Cameron Road and Fairyland (where there are issues with seeping water -- surprise!).

Fortunately, this stuff isn't too sharp for car tires, usually.  But it's been kicked by traffic into the shoulder/bike lane (such as it is), and that cannot be fun for any traffic pulling over or cyclists traveling west of Charlottetown on the TCH.

Glass used as a drainage medium (as yet fairly unproven), a few weeks ago, west of TCH in New Haven (that cliff is now cut through), looking east.

Maybe the glass trail goes to here:

Fairyland (Encounter Creek), October 2013, facing east.  A Gingerbread House still in Fairyland, one of those "valuable buildings."  The little chalet is tucked in some remaining trees on the right.
----------

Bonshaw resident Teresa Miller is looking for a ride-share:

I do not drive, and I am looking for a ride from Green Road -Bonshaw to work DVA-Kent St.,  Charlottetown, and home 5 days a week, from 7 to 3, or 8 to 4 and if anyone going that way about that time and could take a passenger, would be a big help.
I will help with gas, and I do not smoke. This would start November 4th and end March 26, 2014. I will be retiring then.
Please call after 5...Teresa Miller 675-2862.
Thank you.

Have a good week,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 19, 2013

Hi, all,

Yesterday there was one more electric power outage caused by Plan B, about 4:30PM in the rain.

It's likely an articulated dump truck lowering its bed snagged a line on the power poles on the old TCH near being used as yet another dump site for excess or below-standard shale or fill.  The line (likely a lower voltage phone line) pulled at a pole and pulled it over, and power was shut off.  It was out for over an hour while a crew came out from Maritime Electric, put in a new pole, added the lines, tidied things and had power turned back on.

Fortunately, it appears there were no injuries, and Maritime Electric has these late afternoon power knock-out repairs down to a drill, which the hapless local residents (apparently over 400 households affected yesterday) appreciate.

Maritime Electric fixing lines on one pole, while another truck finishes putting in new pole (down road).  Old TCH (now Strathgartney Road, by equestrian park), Bonshaw, Friday, October 18, 2013.

A formerly pretty patch of land, now a dump site for excess material, with power line, October 2013.

Same location, looking east, October 2013.

Hope you have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 18, 2013

Hi, all,

Events:
Tonight is the last presentation of "Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk", in Charlottetown, at 7PM, at the Farm Centre, 420 University Avenue (free).
You could still make Oktoberfest fundraiser for Young at Heart musical theatre for seniors at or after 8PM at Memorial Hall at the Confederation Centre ($20).
Saturday has a "Cooking with Squash" session at Trinity United Church (corner of Prince and Richmond Streets, Charlottetown) at 1PM (free).
https://www.facebook.com/events/166033183592271/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming
And Saturday evening the Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island presents speaker Dr. Gisli Sigurdsson from Iceland on the topic: "Vinland As It Was Remembered in the Icelandic Sagas."  7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall) on North River Road (free event, memberships available).
http://www.buzzon.com/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2013/10/19/39659/202/the-vinland-society-of-pei

Other events going on from PEI Council on the Status of Women:
http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b9407fb045791ad0a86185b8f&id=418f3f3d5e&e=2f19cee05b

Today is the last day to make comments regarding the MLAs' salaries, benefits and pensions:
assembly@gov.pe.ca

Here is the main editorial from Wednesday's Guardian. 


Protest site now history but not cause

Published on October 16, 2013 in The Guardian

Islanders now have a modern new highway and a greater appreciation of environment


© Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong

Keith Kennedy and Cindy Richards work Friday to take down a teepee that has been a year-round home for Plan B protesters. The protest encampment has closed for good, now that construction of a re-routed Trans-Canada Highway is nearly complete.

The Plan B protest site in the Bonshaw hills once featured a beautiful view of beautiful trees and blue sky, but it now has become a perfect vantage point to look at traffic buzzing up and down a modern four-lane highway. So it is understandable the Plan B protest encampment was taken down late last week.

The encampment was a lightning rod in more ways than one. To some people it was a strong physical symbol that backed up all the talk about protecting the environment. It was manned by dedicated individuals who vowed to keep watch over the controversial Plan B construction work. And they did.

To other Islanders it was a silly little camp in the woods filled with tree huggers and people with nothing better to do. As with most black and white arguments, the truth lies somewhere in between.

Two things are now certain when it comes to the controversy. In spite of all the rallies, media stories, petitions, letters to the editor and protests, the highway project never skipped a beat and work on it plugged along. The final section of the road in New Haven, near the old Fairyland park, will be the last piece of the construction puzzle in the coming days. And what has been built so far is indeed a nice modern highway.

The other indisputable fact is that the protesters showed their determination and commitment and stayed until the end just as they vowed. And to the encampment’s supporters, it was a bitter end.

Dan Jeffery, one of the stalwart Plan B protesters, says the demonstration touched a lot of people. “We have to stop this government from doing stupid, wasteful things like this,” he told a Guardian reporter the day the camp closed. Another strong supporter, Catherine O’Brien, says they will continue to  monitor the highway. “ . . . there are still some problems that are happening with runoff and siltation so we are trying to keep government accountable for that,” she said.

Ms. O’Brien also sees a silver lining in the fact a citizens watchdog group, Citizens Alliance, has been formed out of the protest group. “We are keeping an eye on government decisions and policies and we are going to be around for a long time. I think this group has a lot to offer. We really want to make sure that P.E.I. has a better future and these kinds of decisions won’t be made again,” she said.

At the height of public discontent last fall the Plan B protest had morphed into a catch-all for just about every complaint people had with government — economic, social and cultural ones. But without a doubt the main issue was the environmental debate over the provincial government’s plan to build a highway through the scenic hills and in the process slash down a number of trees.

In the end it was just a highway construction project, although with a price tag of about $20 million a very expensive one. But infrastructure progress is necessary if the province is to maintain and improve our highway system.

But both sides in the argument won if you accept the fact that the Trans-Canada Highway is now a safer place to drive on and Islanders in general have a greater regard and respect for the environment. The protesters called their encampment Camp Vision. That’s a fitting name, and hopefully vision will always be part of the planning when it comes to working towards progress and protecting P.E.I.’s environment.
----------

As one young commentator I know summed it up: A bit wishy-washy and government sucky.

There is a lot that could be said about its slant (the idea the opposition was only environmental as opposed to cost, etc.), but it does acknowledge the issue better than it did a year ago when it gave the project two thumbs up.

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 17, 2013

Hello, everyone,

Sadness at the news of the passing of another PEI organic farming pioneer and giant, David Ling.
http://www.inmemoriam.ca/view-announcement-390082-david-ernest-ling.html

Edith and David Ling, from a Fall Flavours brochure from 2010

For any of you who bought David and Edith's beef at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market, you may remember David for his occasional stand-in as seller.  I admired his quiet humour then, felt his daughters were lucky women to have him as a dad, and last winter listened to him make an excellent rebuttal comment at the Crapaud Lands Protection Act commission meeting regarding hay and forage crops being called "worthless" by speakers from the PEI Potato Board.
Lots of strength to Edith and Kathy and Lisa.

The visitation is today from 2-4 and 7-9PM, and the funeral is Friday at 2PM, all at the Central Queens Funeral Home in New Glasgow.
----------
Events:
Tonight is the third Save Our Seas and Shores talk, in North Rustico, and Friday is the final presentation at the Farm Centre in Charlottetown:
https://www.facebook.com/events/575211705860496/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

and the Breadalbane Environment Committee is presenting a lot of interesting topics tonight, 7PM, Breadalbane Community Centre:
https://www.facebook.com/events/247385318742829/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

----------
Pensions and comments about pensions:

And I have meant to mention this for a while:


unable to upload :(  check facebook for photo ad in newspaper and on-line.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=610228289040444&set=pcb.521403191283423&type=1&theater

What is this asking?  I had to read it several times to get the gist, but basically it is asking for public input by the end of tomorrow on MLAs' salaries and pensions.  Pensions -- I wonder if they are as underfunded as the rest of the public sector's?  Are the plans to alter them the same as others? 
If you have *any* comments, direct them to:
assemby@gov.pe.ca


unable to upload :(  check facebook for photo a page from Indemnities and Allowances Commission 2012 Report
http://www.assembly.pe.ca/index.php?number=1024567

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=610228349040438&set=pcb.521403191283423&type=1&theater
By the way, that Commission is

(also from the 2012 Report)
----------
And yesterday's Guardian editorial on Plan B begs for some editorial comments here....tomorrow!

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 16, 2013

 Hi, everyone,

Last year, after the RCMP swept through Hemlock Grove and after that lovely rally at Province House, a few of us sat down to try to figure out if we had any grounds for a judicial review, which could have also had an injunction component to stop the work on Plan B.

When you are seriously mad at the government, getting legal help on this island is not easy.  But we managed to talk to some lawyers who didn't back away in terror.   Turns out, we didn't have a judicial case.  (Forgive me if I get some details wrong.)  Because of the Environmental Impact Assessment being so rosy, we couldn't say the project would do irreparable harm.  We couldn't prove Transportation Minister Vessey was incompetent -- the only way to rule on that will be by voting in about two years.  And we couldn't argue that Environment Minister Sherry was being unreasonable about our concerns on the project, since the EIA included the "Complaint Management System (CMS)". 

Having no practical judicial case was, to paraphrase British writer Evelyn Waugh, a blow upon a bruise/,
----------

So we looked at the Complaint Management System.  Basically, the CMS was designed for Transportation to figure out how to communicate with other departments when there is a problem.  But the public was also allowed to submit complaints to the rather overused "Gateway@gov.pe.ca" address (it was the mailbox set up for the original three Gateway projects comments, including Strathgartney, but I digress),

We wanted people to know about it, so we had a little "press conference" -- Jackie Waddell from Island Nature Trust, Green Party candidate for leader Peter Bevan-Baker, and me, on October 15th, 2012.  We said we would be watching the project, and a year later, I can say many of us certainly did and DO watch the project, and encouraged you to, also.

Forms with concerns or complaints that are submitted are eventually answered often with something like, "We know and are attending to it."  They could add the "So, go jump in a lake" but are restrained enough not to. This spring, myself, Cindy Richards and another member of the Citizens' Alliance met with the person attending to the Gateways to deliver complaints and suggestions about the CMS (ironic, no?).  Chief Engineer Yeo invited himself to the meeting.  They listened, said they knew and were attending to it, and could have added, "So, go jump in a lake."  My strongest memory is Yeo getting a little testy when I said people thought he was lying when saying it was only a little bit of discoloured water entering watercourses, which you see everywhere in spring.

So one thing that Citizens' Alliance is seeing quite clearly is that our own environmental rules are being bent and ignored all the time.  Our EIA process, as Roy Johnstone nailed it, is simply a pantomime.  Last year our environment minister admitted (to now Liberal MLA Hal Perry) that she hadn't read the whole Environmental Protection Act, which is only 46 pages.  We know we needed to hold the government accountable and that kept Plan B from being even more of a mess.  Let's continue to work together to see that our Environmental Department doesn't just issue permits and permit destruction of the land or sea.

Recent photos sent to Gateway@gov.pe.ca to document an concern:

temporarily unable to upload, check facebook for photos 

Runoff from recent rain left this gully, Fairyland, October 13th, 2013.

----------

Today is World Food Day and here are some events:

Lunch at Farm Centre (12 to 1PM) featuring food security talk

"Seed Saving" talk -- about organizing a seed library and other seed saving ideas -- at Confed Library (6PM) with Josie Baker.

The movie Diversidad will start late (7PM, AVC Lecture Room A) to accommodate people going to both.

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 15, 2013

Hi, everyone,

A story, published on-line yesterday but likely in today's print Guardian.
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2013-10-14/article-3428264/%26ldquo%3BIt%26rsquo%3Bs-over-now.-We-realize-that.%26rdquo%3B/1

It starts off at a lurch, misspelling people's names and with an alphabet soup of typos, but Nigel Armstrong diligently transcribed some good quotes:

"It's over now.  We realize that."
Plan B protest camp packed up but protesters vow to continue their fight

by Nigel Armstrong

As the Plan B protest encampment came down last week, the protestors reminisced, got angry all over again, and said they are deermined to face new political challenges.

“We are taking the teepee down today because the time has come,” said Dan Jeffery, one of the stalwart Plan B protestors. “We have to continue on with life.”

The encampment in what had been a quiet field now overlooks roaring traffic on the newly realigned TransCanada highway through Churchill and Bonshaw. The protesters call the camp located off Peters Road, Camp Vision.

They walked to a stream Friday, recalled the events of confrontation and lobby, and sat quietly listing to the stream and wind in the trees.

The teepee along with a mobile trailer and a large fire pit was home to protesters all through the winter and up last week.

“It was a rare day when there wasn’t anybody here,” said Jeffery. “It’s over now. We realize that.”

The group said the teepee poles are destined for a special home, a project they are not yet willing to share publicly.

“This is a sad day but look at all the people here,” said Jeffery, looking around at some 30 people coming and going through the site, talking, hugging, sharing stories. “This touched a lot of people,” said Jeffery. “This ain’t over. We have to stop this government from doing stupid, wasteful things like this.”

“I think it has come full circle,” said Cindy Richards of the teepee encampment. “It’s a year later and we are cutting it down.

“It’s a bit bittersweet,” she said. “I spent a great winter here. This camp represented a lot for a lot of people but as this comes down, new things begin and we are excited about those.”

Catherine O’Brien was removed from the area by police one year ago. On the anniversary she is still analyzing protest strategy.

“We were removed and given trespass fines,” she said. “I was one of the ones in the grove when the police came in and I refused to leave so was taken out.

“I wasn’t expecting police because we had just had a conversation with them a few days before, promising us that we would have time, that they would give us notice.

“I regret that we didn’t see what was coming, that we were misled,” said O’Brien.

That rainy day last October when police arrived to clear out protesters from the direct line of construction work, many of the protest group had left to get changed out of rain-soak clothing and get warm.

“Up to that point we were so organized but everybody was tired,” said O’Brien. “We didn’t have a lot of reinforcements.

“I guess I just wish we had a little bit more forward thinking about understanding how to keep our ground and how to try and stay there,” she said. “Whether it would have worked, we might have been taken out regardless, I don’t know.”

Like others taking down the camp Friday, O’Brien is looking with determination to the future.

“We are still monitoring the highway because there are still some problems that are happening with runoff and siltation so we are trying to keep government accountable for that,” she said.

“We also have now the Citizens Alliance, which has been formed out of this group. We are keeping an eye on government decisions and policies and we are going to be around for a long time. I think this group has a lot to offer.

“We really want to make sure that P.E.I. has a better future and these kinds of decisions won’t be made again,” said O’Brien.

Larry Cosgrave got involved after he walked the proposed highway’s survey line two years ago and could not believe what he saw.

“It was going through beautiful land where I did mountain biking and hiking,” said Cosgrave.

“It’s not a handful of people against this,” he said.

“We hit the road with signs and we did the legislature thing. Look at the video, hundreds in a big circle in front of the Legislature, hundreds of people out here in shifts on the road, there was a plebiscite done with 90 per cent against it out of 5,000 people.

“I’m still frustrated and angry, through the whole year, because it’s such a dumb project in all ways, a waste of money, a waste of the environment, waste of what it could have been used to do other good things on the Island,” said Cosgrave. “See, I’m getting angry again.”

photos from The Guardian article:


Cindy and Keith taking down the tipi.   




Folks at the Grove, Friday, October 11, 2013.
photos by Nigel Armstrong

Have a good day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 14, 2013

Hi, all,

A must-share from
Pauline Howard this morning, via the Plan B facebook:
Thanksgiving weekend seems an appropriate time to give thanks to all the people who, in their own way, took action to try to stop the unnecessary construction of the Plan B realignment. The government and the government controlled media (no offense intended to individual journalists) often said there were a “small group of protesters”. Even Premier Ghiz admitted that his government did not realize the level of discontent surrounding Plan B.

Gratitude is extended to the people who gave, in the many ways they did – food, warm clothing, firewood, equipment, money, shelter, encouragement, transportation, expertise, artistic expression, time and effort - in whatever way you extended yourself to try to stop Plan B – thank you.


And I add:  Thanks to that certain landowner of the lovely land we called Base Camp and then Camp Vision, who let a bunch of near-strangers move onto her land for over a year, who brought in things like a portable toilet and gravel to make her land easier for us to be on, and who gently talked away belligerent and ultra-curious fellows who wanted to come see what we were up to. 
She enabled us to be there, to watch, witness and report on what happened.  Thank you.

----------
You'll barely finish putting away leftovers when you can decide on a lot of events this week:

Tonight: PEI Renewable Energy meeting, Summerside, 7PM, Credit Union Place
http://renewableenergypei.weebly.com/

Wednesday: World Food Day, and three events of note:

A webinar will take place from 2-3:30PM at the Voluntary Resource Centre with food leaders from across Canada, and the

Movie: Diversidad documentary, at AVC Lecture Theatre A, 7PM

Tues, Wed, Thurs or Friday:  Save Our Seas and Shores event:  "Cradled on the Waves: The Gulf at Risk"
https://www.facebook.com/events/575211705860496/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Friday night: Oktoberfest fundraiser for Young at Heart Theatre 

Saturday: The Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island presents speaker Dr. Gisli Sigurdsson from Iceland on the topic: "Vinland As It Was Remembered in the Icelandic Sagas."  7:30PM, Irish Cultural Centre (BIS Hall) on North River Road.

Sunday:  Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra -- our local symphony ;-)  Sunday, 2:30PM, Confederation Centre, with Lennie Gallant.
----------
Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 13, 2013

Hi, everyone,

The TV news coverage by Federico Cahais on Maritime Weekend 11PM news from Friday night:
2:20 into the broadcast -- and listen for the uplifting words from the anchor at the end.
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2411723013/

----------
Carl Mathis, who could be a worthy successor of Dr. Seuss, weighs in on Plan B related to concerns about Charlottetown's Victoria Park in Friday's Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-10-11/article-3424771/Multi-modal-OK-for-Plan-B/1


Multi-modal OK for Plan B

Published on Friday, October 11th, 2013

Editor:
Maureen and Bob Hutcheson have written well on the domino effect of the multi-modal model for the Victoria Park boardwalk.

A domino they have not quite touched on, call it domino 3.5, is the beauty of the location. Why is there vehicle traffic along that road? Why do some park and look? Why do some of the walkers amble along? The place is beautiful!

If the multi-modal model will require vigilance on all users, the lovely Victoria Park location is wasted. Imagine what would happen if any of the walkers, runners, cyclists, skateboarders, roller-bladers, ATVers, snowmobilers, SUVers (maybe not all of those) and ice cream eaters should look up from their serious activity to look at a sailboat or the sunset on the water. Chaos! Someone, maybe several someones, would get squished.

Don’t fix what ain’t broke. Leave Victoria Park alone. The multi-modal model needs a new location with no view to distract. May I suggest the almost completed Plan B, where the cuts through the hills are deep enough that one cannot see out? Then, we would just add cars and trucks to the serious walkers, runners, cyclists, skateboarders, roller-bladers, ATVers, snowmobilers, SUVers and ice cream eaters.

Call it the Plan B muddled-multi-modal model.

Carl Mathis,
Charlottetown

----------
(From Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks:
<<When a fox is
in the bottle where
the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles
in a puddle on a
noodle-eating poodle.
THIS is what they call...

...a tweetle beetle
noodle poodle bottles
paddled muddled duddled
fuddled wuddled
fox in socks, sir!>>


----------

Have a great Sunday,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 12, 2013

Hi, all,

Hemlock Grove, Saturday, October 13, 2012 

Today that same view looking south at Hemlock Grove is a culvert with 40 feet of grassed shale heading quite steeply up to the road. (The partially closed shutter was from a rough afternoon at the Grove the day before.)

Here is a link to a beautiful 3 minute documentary about the police closing Peter's Road Friday, October 12, 2012, and the Rally for Democracy the next day (which was, sadly, while tree harvesters were cutting the eastern side of the grove).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVfo8FteaG0

Richard Baker discussing the situation with a police officer on Friday, October 12, 2012:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWduoEkaPfUx
----------

Federico Cahais visited Camp and spoke about it briefly on Compass last night (at 6minutes 15seconds)
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2411696502/
(There was probably more coverage on the Maritime 11PM news.)

But the "Plan-niversary" last night was filled with warmth, sadness at what is lost, but looking at what we have gained, too.  That's due to people like you being involved and staying involved.

Have a great Thanksgiving,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 11, 2013

 

(l to r) Unidentified officer, yellow tree harvester coming in, the big cop "in charge", camper -- Hemlock Grove, Friday, October 12, 2012.

Many of us have a story about that Friday from our particular angle.  Let's share them this afternoon -- meeting around 3:30, at Camp, off Peter's Road, off Plan B, to walk to the Grove -- but come by anytime to toast what we have learned and achieved. 
 (Bring appropriate clothing, and some picnic food and something to drink, a lawn chair, etc.)
----------


Leon's poem

Heading for the Hemlocks

It's raining & I'm heading for the trees
The old growth area
Of huge pines twisted
And shaped by the snows and winds
Of Canada's east coast: forms -
As in my brother's bonsai forest.

In Prince Edward Island there are
Two century old hemlocks
Rooted with the pines
And envious yellow birch.
Holding hands under the earth,
Holding the soil below
Sheltering the birds above.

Spruce & tamarack & maples
Wait & Listen -- you'll hear the birds call:
Clean air we love, trout water,
Salamander land.

Hemlock habitat like that
For two hundred years?
No, more than that!
Trees that grow, die,
And renew - reminding us
Of this holding of hands for a while
Of this intertwining of real roots.

My brother protects a tiny forest
Day after day, sometimes with a mist spray
He studies the shape of sorrow & storms
He's a Bonzai artist who watches forms

And I am heading for the hemlocks
At 130km per hours & I know no Mounties
Will be stopping me for speeding
And I slow a little when blinking away tears.

I'm heading for the the tall hemlocks, pines,
And yellow birch, the spruce, the maples
In this fall foliage of gold & quivering red.
I'm heading to where the trees will soon be dead.

I'm driving for half an hour to see,
To protest the cutting of the Island's oldest trees
these trees that will give no more seeds
Because politicians want a road that no one needs.

--Leon Berrouard
October 2012
in PEI

-----------

And:  This morning, CBC focuses on a facet of the whole Plan B picture:
A Promo on a producer's Facebook page tonight:   https://www.facebook.com/pat.martel.100?fref=ts

The Plan B arrests... one year later. WAS IT WORTH IT???
Island Morning talks to one of the protesters who was charged last October. Also hear about her experience camping in a teepee over the winter.
Friday at 8:15am 96.1 FM
Here's the video from last October.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3kao94LEzc

:-)  to dear Cindy!

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw


October 10, 2013

Hi, all,

Here is a sweet idyll, about an idyllic place, though not without the shadow of the specter. 
"Hemlock Grove - PEI's Newest Gated Community" (1 min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_ezvp3_LOg

(Even the "realtor" looks like he's enjoying more peaceable, well-conditioned times.)
This treasure was put together just about a year ago by two fellows, one who saw more of the cutting edge of the tree-harvester than anyone should.

Hemlock Grove, Churchill, October 10, 2012

Enjoy your day and this fine weather (which looks a little drizzly for tomorrow, which is what we were used to),
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 9, 2013

Hi, all,

When work resumed on the beginnings of Plan B on October 9th, 2012, after the Thanksgiving holiday, things shifted.
People still protested waving signs by the highway, with many, many islanders honking support.

Beautiful and brightly coloured signwavers, early morning, October 2012.

Some opponents went down to stop the tree-harvester in Churchill across from Cameron Road, something which had worked the week before.  This day, the owner-contractor of this machine thought he would have a little fun:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqGglvYHmv4
(video taken morning of October 9, 2012)
The quality is not great, but you can clearly see what his point was.

And despite having a communications officer and several chats between Mounties and protestors, it wasn't communicated to us that the RCMP decided that they were done protecting the protestors; in what can only be described as a haphazard, illogical way, they issued a summons ticket for "not leaving when asked to by an officer" to a handful of protestors and arrested one, much to the media's delight.

----------
Today is the last Farmers' Market in Charlottetown for Wednesday for the season!  You can beat the Thanksgiving crowds on Saturday if you can get there today.

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 8, 2013

Hello, everyone,

A mildly superficial Compass TV article last night about what Camp Vision has accomplished :-)
21:20 into the broadcast
http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/PEI/ID/2410908571/
There is supposed to be more this morning on CBC Island Morning, too.
----------
We will be having a "Plan-niversary" on Friday, October 11th, gathering at Camp off Peter's Road after 3:30PM, heading for Hemlock Grove for 4PM, and back to the Camp for a campfire. Plan to come anytime you can!  More details to follow.
----------

One day a short while back I didn't get a Guardian (but saw Wayne Wright's excellent Mount Rushmore cartoon in The Journal-Pioneer) and missed Marion Copleston's says-it-all letter:
http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/Opinion/Letter-to-editor/2013-09-26/article-3407240/Minister-out-of-touch/1

(I wonder if The Guardian has this particular headline on some sort of permanent setting, as they have had to use it often enough.)

Minister out of touch

Published on September 26, 2013

Editor: In a recent CBC article regarding the opening of a section of the Plan B highway realignment in Bonshaw, Transportation Minister Robert Vessey is quoted as saying that “most Islanders support the project.”

I’m not sure how he can know that, given the province refused to conduct a plebiscite on the issue during the planning stages. An unofficial plebiscite was conducted, however, with more than 90 per cent of respondents expressing opposition to the Plan B proposal.

These results were echoed in a CRA poll conducted in September 2012. I have spoken to hundreds of Islanders over the last year and of those, only two said they supported the project.

Everyone else was completely dismayed at the cost of the project and the environmental destruction it entailed, and they were very skeptical about the safety claims. All were stunned by the lack of democratic process and felt betrayed by their politicians.

Minister Vessey may want to “believe” that most Islanders support Plan B, but only by listening to all Islanders and not just those who have gained financially from the project would he ever know for sure.

Marion Copleston,
Bonshaw
----------
And a year ago there was the beauty and confusion of the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  Once the snow/safety/security fence was installed, we dialed back the roadside sign-waving protest for the holiday, and those first few tents and campers blossomed to a village complete with many structures, visitors, awnings, food, a satellite supply station near Peter's Road -- everything except a milk cow, who was not easy to trailer in. 

On the weekend (details, like my camera photos, are a little blurry) Keptin John Joe Sark came over and lit a sacred fire and performed a smudging ceremony.

Grand Keptin Sark blesses folks at the campsite on October 6, 2012.

Take care,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 7, 2013

Hi, all,

While we were rallying in front of the Windsor Motel October 6th, a year ago, something quiet but monumental was happening at the work site. 

On that Saturday morning, as the workers continued to close in the area around Crawford's Stream --which we call Hemlock Grove -- with snow/safety/security fence, Josie Baker and some others slipped into the area and set up some tents.  Just like that, we went from a group being marginalized by signs and fencing and fairly-nice-but-clearly-nervous-and-therefore-often-unpredictable-security and police people to a peaceful, occupying community; again, showing the government just how serious we were about stopping Plan B.

That would be our home for the next little while, the real heart of the place. 

October 6th, 2012 -- Corner of Peter's Road and the welcoming private property which would become Base Camp.

More later, and have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 6, 2013

Hi, all,

A year ago, faced with a government that wasn't listening, and tree-choppers only paused while safety/security/snow fence was being installed, we did what we did best -- planned a rally -- this time out by the Plan B site, in a safe open location, the parking lot of the Encounter Creek/Fairyland property.

But when we realized our government was going to turn the Fairyland parking lot into a security zone....

unable to upload :( 

New Haven Campground/Encounter Creek/Fairyland parking lot, photo taken October 5th, 2012.

....we moved it to the very pretty and accommodating Windsor Motel across the road:

unable to upload :( 

The ever-accommodating Shona and Matt Holzer welcomed the rally, photo taken October 5, 2012.**

Roy Johnstone was the over-arching force behind this rally, and after speeches we moseyed down the TCH, a gorgeous fluid line of concerned and caring people.

A beautiful 1minute 41 second video by Mille Clarke, of the walk down the TCH -- captures it and sends the message:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91Aakgmd2c4

----------
Marco Lapegna's made a YouTube of part of the rally (Roy's speech):
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8x306fSxzA

and a shorter (5 minutes) part 2, showing the walking and an interview with Roy:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap1ZL8k0Hf0
----------
**Unfortunately, the whole uncertainty of Plan B in the New Haven area was a major contributing factor to the Holzers' decision to put the place up for sale and go back out West.  We wish them the best!

Enjoy the day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 5, 2013

Hello, everyone,

"We'll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create.”
author Chuck Palahniuk

Tree harvester, October 3rd, 2012, delivered at dusk and hidden from view by the contractor in Churchill. 

Approval of the EIA having been given by Minister Sherry, work was set to begin.  Folks started a roadside sign protest next to the entrance to site, and for the next two days, citizens walked up to the machinery so it would be shut down for the safety of the people, a technique that worked until after the Thanksgiving holiday; all the while we continued to call for government to drop the project.

Summerside resident and video-blogger Marco Lapegna filmed interviews with road protesters and added his thoughts on October 5th, 2012 (it is 12 minutes long, but quite interesting):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1Ej8u3lFgM
Marco (who is off-camera) speaks to the ebullient Cathy Grant, the eloquent Eric MacPhail (no truer words than "...a needless expenditure of public money..."), and across the highway you can see Catherine Russell energetically waving a sign (she organized a honk-fest in town the Friday before).  

Hope you have a great Saturday,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 4, 2013

Hi, all,

Hal Perry's crossing of the Legislature floor yesterday was unusual.  It means he now supports the government that cooked up and is currently serving Plan B, and Premier Ghiz with a straight face said he was so glad Hal joined them because as a Robert Ghiz Liberal he wouldn't be muzzled anymore.  Well, not on criticizing the Tories, anyway.

One more bit why PEI would be a great place to implement proportional representation.


----------

from the Eastern Graphic, Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013.  By Greg MacAdam, who was homeschooled ;-)

----------

I wasn't able to make it to the showing of "Island Green" last night, and I do hope City Cinema gets it; but also following in Raymond Loo's footsteps is this year's MacPhail Homestead George McRobie lecture, by Robert Paterson, whose blog posting I shared Wednesday.

Saturday, October 26, 7PM, is the Georgie McRobie Lecture at the MacPhail homestead. $10, call or e-mail to reserve tickets (small room, tickets will go fast). (902) 651-2789, or sending an email to macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com 

Food and Health, Topic of Lecture at Macphail Homestead

The Boards of Directors of the Homestead Farm and the Sir Andrew Macphail  Foundation are pleased to announce  that one of the region’s  leading  authorities on social innovation will  presenting the 3rd Annual George McRobie Lecture at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead in Orwell, on Saturday, October 26th.  The speaker will be Robert Paterson, business analyst, strategy & social media consultant, author, publisher and innovator.

The evening begins at 6:00 p.m. with a reception and cash bar, followed by the lecture at 7:00. The title of Mr. Paterson’s talk will be, “Food & Health; the PEI Opportunity.”

This special lecture series is named in honour of Dr. George McRobie, Patron for The Homestead Farm, the new sustainable agriculture entity operating at the Homestead.

George McRobie has long been one of the world’s leading proponents of sustainable agriculture and appropriate small-scale technology. He was a close friend and colleague of the radical economist E.F. Schumacher, whose landmark book Small Is Possible made such an impact in the latter part of the 20th century.

In his talk at the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead, Robert Paterson will share his experience as an agriculture policy consultant and his recent explorations and research into the connection between the epidemic of chronic illness and the food we consume.  He will discuss how the current global food system impacts community health outcomes, the environment and local economies. 

Robert will help to define for us the connection between food and health and describe why food is the paramount issue. He will also tell us why food that is grown in small operations is key to better health and, further describe how such a food system could scale to meet the demand that will come.

The discussion will lead to a specific conclusion and question:  What are the steps that small growers on PEI can take to be at the forefront of this revolution?

There will be a charge of $10.00 for admission to the lecture. Since space is limited at the Homestead – capacity about 50 people – you should register in advance by phoning (902) 651-2789, or sending an email to macphailhomestead@pei.aibn.com  

----------
Tomorrow, more on how Plan B was going a year ago. And a get-together next Friday afternoon.

Have a lovely day
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 3, 2013

Hi, all,

In Minister Vessey's world of repetitious erroneous claims to prop up this indefensible road decision, he repeats that Plan B has removed 34 accesses to the TCH; meaning that by paying people "fair market value", smushing their homes, and paving over the wrecked bits, there is no fear these lifelong residents will ever carefully enter the highway from their driveways again.**

unable to upload :(  check facebook for photos (3)
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=602622063134400&set=pcb.514506668639742&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=602622126467727&set=pcb.514506668639742&type=1&theater
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=602622196467720&set=pcb.514506668639742&type=1&theater

Former home sites in Churchill, September 29, 2013.  Nice of them to leave a few trees.

He is also counting accesses to fields, and perhaps this:

unable to upload :(  check facebook for photo

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=602622299801043&set=pcb.514506668639742&type=1&theater

Home (empty) along TCH/Plan B in Churchill, north and east of Riverdale Road intersection.  Driveway abruptly ends before ditching.
Not sure how anybody living there could get out to the road.  Or anybody (like a firetruck) get to the house.

----------
A very sad story of an elderly man who figured out the government really wanted his home, too.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/10/01/85-year-old-farmer-loses-land-battle-though-military-grants-him-one-last-harvest/#.Uky4O7QSa6g.facebook
** When the accident data was finally released (after trees were cut), it showed that there were very few driveway access-caused accidents.  (Close-calls, probably, but that can happen anywhere.)  Speeding, drinking, snowing: that's what caused -- and will continue to cause -- the majority of accidents.

Best wishes,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 2, 2013

Hi, all,

I flipped the PEI Federation of Agriculture "Faces of Farming" calendar to October yesterday morning, and smiling at me was a lovely picture of the late Raymond Loo and his sisters Joyce Kelly and Margie Loo.  Every day I will smile back.

Tomorrow, Thursday night, a screening of the film "Island Green" by Millefiore Clarkes, will take place at the King's Playhouse in Georgetown, at 7:30PM. The filming is dedicated to the memory of Raymond, who is featured in this film about PEI going organic.
http://www.buzzon.com/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2013/10/3/39696/-/premiere-of-qisland-greenq-by-millefiore-clarkes

An excerpt from a wonderful blog by Robert Paterson:
http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2013/09/raymond-loo-a-tribute.html

<<
How can we honour (Raymond) him? We can support his family and we can build on his legacy.

Here is how I see his legacy. This is the Raymond Loo model that we can all build on.

  • Direct - farmers will sell to people and have real relationships with their customers
  • Vegetable and meat based - the market for row crops will diminish and the market for vegetables and meat that can be trusted will explode. More and more people will understand the health choices that they are making
  • Customer Financed - With real relationships based on a common vision of health and quality, farmers will move away from bank finance.
  • Small Scale - Raymond used no more than 5 acres for most of his production - other than his feed. The future of food will be small growers working in large networks.
  • Constant improvement of the soil and terrain - How Raymond farmed builds soil quality. He leaves a much better capital base than he inherited.
  • A better PEI - My sense is that his life will inspire more and more people to join this movement. When 15% of PEI do this, the system will tip.

When the tears stop and the hole in our hearts fills back in, as they will, then the work begins. If you grieve, then please act. Build the new system in his memory.
----------

Paterson, a social entrepreneur and business analyst, has contributed to the PEICancer.com website,
http://peicancer.com/2013/06/14/if-the-pei-potato-industry-cannot-survive-why-not-help-it-transition/
and is giving the McRobie Lecture this year at MacPhail Homestead, Saturday, October 26th, titled “Food & Health; the PEI Opportunity.”
http://www.buzzon.com/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2013/10/26/39963/-/george-mcrobie-lecture

-----------
But much sooner:

The Charlottetown Farmers' Market is open today, if you have the opportunity to stop by.

And:
Opening tonight at 7PM at the Arts Guild, running until November 2nd
A Natural Focus -- a new work by Brenda Jones (painting) and Ron Arvidson (pottery),
inspired by the nature and landscape of Prince Edward Island
https://www.facebook.com/events/479477905483809/

Have a great day,
Chris O.,
Bonshaw

October 1, 2013

Hi, all,

On October 1st, 2012, Environment Minister Janice Sherry gave her conditional approval of Plan B, after it went through the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

unable to upload :(  check facebook for photo 

Minister Sherry one year ago.                  

unable to upload :(  check facebook for photo

Fairyland, looking like an open mine pit, last weekend.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/News/Local/2012-10-01/article-3088125/UPDATE%3A-Plan-B-gets-green-light/1

It was an unusually warm day, and we heard from a reporter that the announcement was to be made in the early afternoon, and several of us dropped everything to go to the Jones building, to find out the announcement was closed and only a few reporters let in.  That spoke volumes. 

Then we saw the conditions, and thought they couldn't start work on Plan B until they were all met -- wrong!  Transportation said of course they could, they just had to work towards them.  There was nothing in Minister's Sherry statement saying the 11 conditions had to be met before work could commence.  That spoke volumes.

Minister Sherry had the opportunity to do the right thing -- pull the plug on Plan B for environmental reasons, take the fall for her government and let them start making amends with voters.  That didn't happen.  Instead, she gave it a few finger-wagging warnings, kissed it and sent it out the door.

This, after *hundreds* of submissions from people like you to the EIA process, many of which I had the privilege to read.  I am told several in particular were pointed out to her for their cogent argumentative value.  You would have had to be made of stone not to be moved by them, or have your mind made up (or made up for you) not to be persuaded by them.
-----
Why did we go through the "public consultation process" of EIA, masquerade as it was?   It is supposed to have the outcome of *not* doing the project as a viable option.  But in the face of massive corporate (or in this case government) pressure to approve the project, the project herded through the process by "environmental consultants" like Stantec (their hiring an untendered process, by the way), the public's concerns and clear reasoning get marginalized. 

One objective of the Citizens' Alliance (as we parse out these kinds of things) is to examine how the current environmental protection structures like the EIA process are not working properly and to address these concerns.  All of us can stay tuned and stay informed.

Hope you have a great day,
Chris O.,
Comments