Media Releases

Sat, Jun 7th, 2014 at 8:53 pm

VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS IN 83 SECONDS

Sometimes a simple visual makes everything so clear, like this quick cartoon outlining the history of climate change negotiations.

Basic story: everybody agrees that carbon emissions should be cut, but no one wants to make painful cuts by themselves, and the problem gets shuffled around.


http://iacknowledge.net/video-the-history-of-international-climate-change-negotiations-in-83-seconds/

Although this video was released on YouTube a year ago by the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, the latest round of climate negotiations have proved just as fruitless as the previous attempts.

The Warsaw negotiations were an embarrassing step backwards in some ways, with countries backing away from making “commitments” to cutting their carbon emissions (which might necessitate serious action) to agreeing to make “contributions” to international efforts to cut emissions.

It’s currently unclear whether those contributions will be more or less stringent than the cuts previous deals required. But the wording change is significant as it blurs a “20-year-old distinction between the obligations of rich and poor nations”, as Reuters notes.

The announcement that a deal had been reached was met with cheers in the conference hall, climate news website, RTCC, reports. The BBC says the compromise has allowed countries to save face. It says the US and EU can insist everyone is on the same page, while China and India can claim they are doing something different from the richer countries.

Wed, May 28th, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Sign the petition for:

Robert Ghiz' Provincial Liberal Government of PEI, Canada: Ban GMOs and Roundup, phase out pesticides, promote Organic

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Robert_Ghiz_and_the_Provincial_Liberal_Government_of_PEI_Canada_Ban_Roundup_phase_out_all_pesticides_promote_Organic_Far/?dOnRpdb&pv=0

Prince Edward Island, Canada. The images that come to mind may be that of picturesque landscapes and Anne of Green Gables, but what you may not see is the pesticide contamination. Every year, as tourists from near and far flock to our province, a chemical assault begins. Whether or not a sprayer is visible, you are being exposed to unsafe levels of pesticides. Environment Canada air monitoring tests revealed high levels of carcinogenic pesticides in our air, even in locations away from potato fields. As Canada's most densely populated province, it's not uncommon for homes and villages to be completely surrounded by sprayed fields, and most schools have potato fields in close proximity.

Our once pristine landscape has been polluted by the potato industry and neither government nor industry has shown remorse. On the contrary, government has consistently disregarded the concerns of the people and sponsored "expert" speakers to tell us pesticides are safe. And yet, about 80% of these sprays are known to be carcinogenic and about 70% are known endocrine disruptors. The average PEI potato that will end up on the table has been exposed to as many as 20 applications of spray.


Tourist accommodations, children outside playing and hospitals all receive the toxic by-product of this unsustainable and unsafe farming. As cancer rates continue to creep up (both rare cancers and cancers in children) the potato industry, sheltered by a government traditionally dominated by farmers, has shown no motivation to make changes. Latest CCS report: PEI has prostate cancer rate 35% higher than Can. average; breast +28%, skin +50%!

We need your help. There are a growing number of organic farms popping up on Prince Edward Island. Many citizens are seeing the error of this mono crop culture and are making sustainable changes that better the lives of our population and the Earth!

It’s time to ban glyphosate and other pesticides. It’s time to ban GMO’s. It’s time to bring our government back in line with the will of the people and promote organic farms. 

Sat, May 24th, 2014 at 10:20 pm

The Green Party of Prince Edward Island is saddened to hear of the passing today of Island icon, Jack MacAndrew.

“Jack was a larger-than-life character who lived a full and wonderful life,” said Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker. “He advocated passionately for all sorts of worthy causes, from the well-being of the CBC, to quality live Canadian theatre, to environmental causes. Jack taught me so much about politics, writing and life, and he will be sadly missed by many, many Islanders and people all across this country he loved so much.”

Jack was a long-time personal friend of Elizabeth May, federal Green Party leader, and they worked on many issues together over the years both on PEI and beyond.

“Jack was a deep thinker with a huge heart and wicked sense of humour. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was so committed to the idea of being Canadian. He was a true patriot, but not in the chest-beating, tribal sense: more so as a champion for a place he loved deeply and for which he had such high hopes," concluded Bevan-Baker.

Wed, May 14th, 2014 at 6:21 pm

WHERE: Charlottetown Rodd Hotel
WHEN: Thursday May 29th at 7pm

Maureen Kerr wrote:

We have reserved a room at the Charlottetown Rodd Hotel for Thursday May 29th at 7pm for a forum on cosmetic pesticides. I'll have more details to provide but we hope to get a good turn out and rattle the cages a bit more as we have gotten NO RESPONSE from our repeated follow-ups with the chief public health office since our meeting in January.
We are very disappointed in this and feel like we have come to a fork in the road. Joan Diamond wrote the following letter and we are hoping to release a letter writing campaign and wondered if you could help by writing one as well. If you would consider doing so, perhaps you could let myself and/or Joan know so that we can coordinate the dates so as to provide a steady stream to the newspapers and government officials?

No pesticides

Joan's email address is: Jjoandiamond4@gmail.com

Her letter:

As a Prince Edward Islander I am increasingly concerned about the pesticides we are being bombarded with every summer. It is difficult to know how to get the attention of the government, but it is important we find ways to raise our concerns about farming practices here on our beautiful Island.

I believe if we can gather up enough concerned Islanders, we can organize a letter writing blitz and in doing so, start an awareness campaign. With a provincial election not so far off, the timing may be right to make this a central issue next time around. If you will agree to write one letter, I will send you an assigned date on which you should send your letter, along with the email addresses to send it to. By assigning dates, we will ensure our local papers are sure to get at least 5 letters weekly pertaining to pesticide use.

As far as topics, I am sure each of us has our own ideas, but it will be important to keep an eye on your local papers in order to follow up on commentaries which have already been published. Will you agree to take part in this important initiative? If so, please respond and you will receive your assigned date.

Thu, Apr 10th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

Today's statement by The Federal Green Party on the Passing of Jim Flaherty.

OTTAWA - On behalf of the Green Party, our members, staff and volunteers, we wish to extend deepest condolences to the family of Jim Flaherty.

He was a rare partisan, able to extend a mischievous twinkle to a rejoinder in Question Period. He was a dedicated public servant and a genuinely kind man. He will be missed.

Wed, Apr 9th, 2014 at 9:12 pm
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Bold new approach needed to achieve financial health on PEI, says Green Party. It is customary on budget day for opposition parties to spew bluster at the governing party for their incompetence, massaging of the numbers and general lack of economic responsibility. It is also traditional for the governing party to pat themselves on the back for the wonderful job they are doing in running the economy of PEI. The Green Party on this day prefers to take a step back and look at the broader picture of the PEI economy and where it is headed.
 
"When I look at the bumpy economic road that lies ahead for PEI, Wes Sheridan is, like work crews all over the Island right now, just filling pot holes," said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party. "We need a better plan; a more comprehensive plan: one with bolder leadership that has a clear vision of how to build a new and different economy here on PEI; an economy that is resilient, diverse and will provide prosperity long into the future."
 
The Green Party feels that the current administration has geared its economic plan not for the benefit of ordinary Islanders, but in order to try and secure re-election in 2016, with a projected surplus in that fiscal year of $100,000. Such a wafer-thin surplus is nothing more than crafty politics and there will be no real turn-around in the PEI economy until some structural problems are addressed.
 
"When Minister Sheridan tells us that the public service pension problem is "fixed", I have to disagree. Until we have a civil service on PEI whose size is in proper proportion to our population, the problem is not "fixed".  Until we have a more robust and sustainable economy which is less reliant on federal dollars, our vulnerability will remain. Until we have an administration that has a clear vision of a new kind of Island economy, one which will put an end to our brightest and best leaving to become economic exiles in other provinces, we will never be fiscally stable," continued Bevan-Baker. The Green Party has a long term plan to reduce our economy's reliance on the public purse and to build an Island economy that will take advantage of PEI's inherent advantages. We need economic activity which flows from our uniqueness and relative isolation: we must create an island “brand” that shouts purity and excellence. This is something we can choose to do if we encourage producers – farmers, fishers, artisans, entrepreneurs – who take advantage of the distinctive qualities that make PEI such a special place. "This budget shows ineffectual leadership and a fear to make the necessary changes to lead PEI into prosperity. Only when Islanders can stay on PEI working at real jobs that flow from our unique strengths will we be able to say that the economic future of PEI is secure and rosy," concluded Bevan-Baker. 

Mon, Apr 7th, 2014 at 5:16 pm
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Green Party calls for Royal Commission on Water Resources.

With the release of the standing committee’s report on high-capacity wells on Friday, there was a deep sense of relief felt by the vast majority of Islanders who had expressed concerns about the potential lifting of the moratorium.

“A great number of people and organisations had spent hundreds of hours compiling submissions to the standing committee telling them that we have insufficient information to make a decision with potentially profound and irreversible outcomes,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. “I am relieved and pleased that the committee has recommended to maintain the moratorium at this time. The wording of the report, however suggests that when the submissions which were postponed by the recent storms are heard, a different recommendation could be made.”

A less ambiguous recommendation from the committee was that the government develop a Water Act for Prince Edward Island. The Green Party and some other groups specifically called for this in their presentations to the committee, and are delighted that this has been recommended so forcefully in the report.

“An obvious first step towards this end would be a Public Commission of Inquiry, to assess research already done, consult with Islanders in their communities from tip to tip, call expert witnesses and perhaps advocate for more research to be done,” continued Bevan-Baker. “We have had Royal Commissions on land ownership and use but never a comparable one on water resources. Its findings would be used to inform the Water Act, which would include a water policy for the Island. Such a process would provide invaluable information not only for a fully informed decision on such issues as high-capacity wells, but to guide us in how to protect the quality and quantity of this precious and irreplaceable resource into the future.”

Bevan-Baker suggests that Nova Scotia’s “Water for Life” act could be a useful template from which PEI could start the work to develop our own Water Act, which would be unique and tailored to our particular geological and hydrological situation.

Mon, Mar 31st, 2014 at 5:58 pm
Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker on the streets of Charlottetown

To honour the anniversary of the arrival of HST, here's a video that Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker made to highlight our provincial finance minister's poor track record. The HST, as predicted, has hurt ordinary Islanders - the increase in energy costs on PEI was FIVE TIMES the national average since the HST was brought in.

And we are edging ever closer to that fiscal place of no return. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG_83K7gbsM

Wed, Mar 26th, 2014 at 12:32 pm
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If you have been promoting ‘Green” ideas for a quarter of a century, as I have, you almost expect your warnings of imminent crisis to be politely ignored or gently ridiculed. Such was the case last week when Darcie Lanthier and I made a presentation to the standing committee which is receiving submissions on the high capacity well issue.

It is clear that this matter has struck a chord with Islanders who fear for the safety of their water, but this issue goes much, much deeper than the underground aquifer at the centre of the debate. Prince Edward Island is on the cusp of an important decision: one that will shape the agricultural, social and economic future of our province. For many decades, when it comes to agriculture, PEI has followed the conventional industrial pattern of consolidation, monoculture, dependence on fossil-fuel inputs and competing in a global market place. Successive Island governments have welcomed, aided and abetted this model, embracing the economic activity and jobs which flowed from it. But we have also paid a high price. Rural Prince Edward Island has been decimated, farmers bankrupted, farmland damaged, drinking water contaminated, rivers and estuaries spoiled, and Islanders’ health compromised. Somehow we have accepted all these problems as a tolerable cost of doing business. But for how much longer should, or even can we do this?

We have other options: choices which promise not only to reverse the ills of the current model but which will forge a future for PEI which is safe, prosperous and sustainable. Proponents of the industrial model like to talk about how it is such a sophisticated approach to food production. The Federation of Agriculture repeatedly talked about conventional agriculture as not simply the only hope to grow food for an expanding population, but also the most precise, efficient, refined approach. On both counts they are absolutely wrong. Growing more Russet Burbanks of consistent size has nothing to do with feeding the world, and everything to do with feeding a voracious corporate master that cares nothing for the land from which their product comes, nor the well-being of those who provide it for minimal return. And there is nothing sophisticated about planting a single variety of crop over thousands of acres and then continuously dousing it in chemical-based fertilisers and pesticides so that it survives to maturity. Real sophistication in agriculture comes from developing systems over hundreds of generations that work with nature, not war against it; building up soil health; planting multiple varieties of different crops in long rotations; practising mixed farming using natural, home-grown inputs; and producing high-quality, safe, nutritious food.

In our presentation, we cited several global systems which are showing signs of overwhelming stress – energy, water and food supplies, and climatic and economic stability. If any one of these parts of our human support system were to collapse, we are in deep trouble. Following our submission, there was not one question from any committee member related to this central part of our presentation. As I said, you get used to being ignored. Less than a week later, a report commissioned by NASA, based on concerns in exactly the same areas as Darcie and I had highlighted, stated the following: “closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." It is less easy for members of the standing committee and Islanders in general to ignore these sorts of warnings when they come from institutions such as NASA, and writers like Jared Diamond, whose book “Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” written in 2005 predicted many of our current day problems.

PEI has an enviable opportunity: to be ahead of the rest of the world, and to embrace a future that will provide us with more jobs, more prosperity, better products and rejuvenated rural communities. This is about more than water, it is about choosing the future of our province we prefer; one that will succeed. 

Peter Bevan-Baker

Thu, Mar 6th, 2014 at 1:00 am
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Submission by the
Green Party of Prince Edward Island
to the
Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry
of the
Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly
March 6th 2014.

“I understood when I was just a child that without water, everything dies. I didn't understand until much later that no one "owns" water. It might rise on your property, but it just passes through. You can use it, or abuse it, but it is not yours to own. It is part of the global commons, not "property" but part of our life support system”

Marq de Villiers, Nova Scotian writer and journalist

Last month, a group of esteemed scientists at the University of California analysed findings of satellites which are tracking the world’s water reserves. They did so with a rising sense of dread. All over the world, from California to the Middle East to North Africa to South Asia the picture is disturbing. These hydrologists concluded that we are at a crisis point, and that the areas in most danger of imminent, acute, irreversible water shortages are those places where there have been decades of bad management and overuse.  The profound consequences of acute water shortages are many and varied – for water is the lifeblood not only of our bodies, but also our economy, our communities and our well-being.

But so what, you may ask. These are places far away and with no relevance to water-rich, little old PEI. Not so. California is not naturally a drought region; many of the other areas on the brink of water crises have become so as a direct result of mismanagement. At the top of the list of activities that have endangered water reserves in these areas is crop irrigation, closely followed by fracking and urban sprawl. PEI is no more immune to our own water crisis than we are to the ravages of climate change. As many parts of the world struggle to adapt to a future without adequate water, we here on PEI have an invaluable asset - a largely undisturbed, though acutely vulnerable reserve of groundwater.

The Green Party of PEI wishes to endorse all of the recommendations of The Coalition to Protect PEI Water, of which we are a member. We endorse the submission wholeheartedly and feel no need to reiterate the very comprehensive and compelling arguments put forward on behalf of the group last week. Instead we plan to expand on some of the ideas presented, and to look at the issue of high capacity wells and the future of agriculture from a holistic, Green perspective. We shall approach the issue from 3 separate but interconnected angles; firstly, what has come to be known as “the science”; secondly, the economics, and ecology of the agricultural model from which this request comes; and thirdly, the uncertain future we face, and the ecological circumstances in which all decisions we make today will play out.

1.     “The science”

Like many words, “science” is slippery. It means different things to different people, but when uttered by people in positions of power and authority, like Ministers of a Province for example, it carries a gravitas which can intimidate others and shut down debate. The crux of Minister Sherry and the potato board’s shared position is that “the science” supports a lifting of the ban. But science is not a package of carefully filtered information presented as a final, incontestable truth; science is a dynamic, continuously unfolding process. Science is the ongoing clash of differing ideas from which the light of truth temporarily shines, until newer and better information illuminates the issue further. Science, in recent memory, declared DDT safe. Scientific research sold us on the benefits of toxic additives being introduced into almost everything we use and eat. Commercial science is most often sponsored opinion, and although it is not easy to stand one's ground against the pressures of corporate strategies and the desire to embrace new technologies for economic gain in a competitive marketplace, we must also be responsible to future generations and make key decisions with due diligence to their inherent implications in the very long term. Water is more than a commodity, it is life itself. Good science is public, unbiased, evidence-based, and peer-reviewed; what we have had from the Department of Environment is none of these. When it comes to groundwater on PEI, we know so very little. Claims such as the oft-uttered “We currently only use 7% of the available groundwater Island-wide” is designed to calm any fears we may have about over-extraction, but is highly misleading.  If one has a well, as I do, there is no way to determine how much water is available or used on Mermaid Lane and this is the reality for our precious water resource across the Island. Once the wells are in place there is no monitoring done and unless your neighbours’ wells dry up or the streams run dry you can continue to pump as much water as you want.  Comparing extraction to recharge rates is basically useless for evaluation of the water conditions in any one part of the island, and therefore useless for setting water policy on the whole.  Evaluation of potential water use should be at the very least be focused to the particular watershed, and it is clear that some watersheds on the island are already overstressed. The Department of the Environment tells us there is plenty of water, yet every year streams dry up and when they do the fish in those streams are just as dead as those that float to the surface when we have a ‘Fish Kill’.  Dry streams, creeks and brooks are a regular summer occurrence even though we are apparently using only 7% of our available supply.  The Winter River, for example has already experienced negative environmental impacts such as dry stream beds and degraded habitat as a result of extraction by Charlottetown’s existing deep wells. At least Municipalities keep records, so we know that in Charlottetown the 35,000 residents, 1686 businesses and many institutions along with their employees, students, patients, guests and tourists use an average of 20 million liters of water per day.  Summerside uses over 8 million liters per day and Montague’s 6,000 residents use just under half a million liters per day.

 

According to the numbers published by The Department of the Environment, PEI uses 73,225,000 (seventy-three million, two hundred and twenty-five thousand) liters of water per day, again we have no way of knowing how accurate that number is.  Would it surprise you if I told you that the Irving potato processing plant uses more than 12% of that amount?  Yes, the New-Annan Plant uses high capacity wells to draw 9,000,000 (nine million) liters of water per day, every day.  That’s more than the City of Summerside! The potato industry is currently using deep water, high capacity and residential wells along with surface water to irrigate potatoes in the summer while the potato washing, packing and processing businesses use water every day.  How much of our shared resource do they use in total?  Shockingly, we have no idea.  89,000 acres of potatoes were planted on PEI in 2013.  Do we want to water them?

 

Because of the potentially catastrophic and irreversible consequences of disrupting our ground water, we must follow the precautionary principle and be absolutely certain that any drawdown of water is not threatening the integrity of the aquatic ecosystems in the vicinity. In order to do this, we need far more detailed studies on individual watersheds than currently exist and a cumulative prediction of what the potential implications for the entire PEI aquifer are if more high capacity wells are to be added.

 

I wish to say a few words about the domination of science over essential human values and integrity; of logic over intuition. It has been stated that we must make decisions based on the facts only, and not let emotions get in the way, as if in the debate between the head and the heart, only one of these offers true and useful information. I think this is wrong. I don’t disregard science – I think it has an enormously important role to play in making smart, informed decisions, but I don’t disregard the information I receive from my heart either, and I think everyone in this room knows what I mean. Intuition is about instinctive awareness; what we sometimes refer to as a gut instinct. Personally speaking, my intuition has rarely let me down in important decisions in my life. If something feels right, or someone feels trustworthy, it is almost always borne out in reality – and vice versa. I am certain that when Islanders are asked whether it is worth risking the long-term health of an irreplaceable resource, and the long-term security of their and their children's access to ample water, simply in order to grow bigger potatoes, they will say that it just doesn’t feel right. It is intuitively wrong. Don’t think that this level of knowing is somehow worthless, it is a deep understanding that should not be ignored. As renowned Canadian author and thinker Malcolm Gladwell says: “There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”

So let us do the science properly, remembering that good science is public, unbiased, evidence-based, and peer-reviewed; and let us be cautious and make a decision only after we have gathered enough information to know with a very high degree of certainty that our water is safe. But let us also not ignore the deluge of public sentiment that says; “not only does this not make sense to me, this simply feels wrong; don’t do it”.

 

                                     

2.     The economics and ecology of agribusiness.

A common thread in the arguments of the lobby to lift the moratorium is the need for PEI potato producers to remain competitive in a cutthroat global marketplace. There are so many aspects of potato production in which PEI is at a competitive disadvantage - distance from markets, shorter growing season, thinner, poorer soils, the economies of scale, to name a few - that the lack of irrigation will never overcome all these inherent disadvantages. Even regionally, Island producers are significantly less profitable than their counterparts in New Brunswick, and could never hope to compete with the potato producers in places like Washington and Idaho. It is the opinion of the Green Party of PEI that the model of agricultural production which is heavily dependent on fossil-fuel inputs, monocropping, pesticides, is highly mechanised and capitalised is quickly becoming obsolete. The costs of inputs, vulnerability to disease, climatic instability and reliance on long-distance transportation mean that it will be increasingly difficult to grow our food in this manner and make a profit. This is not just a PEI problem of course, all over the world the notion of “peak food” is prompting wholesale changes in agricultural practices. Many farmers have already recognised this and have made the transition to more sustainable, ecologically benign and predictably prosperous practices. It is not only farmers that are heavily invested and committed to this agricultural model; several large processors on the Island, and our provincial government hold large stakes.

The Green Party believes that PEI needs to make a choice: do we continue down the road of corporate monoculture agribusiness or do we investigate and invest in real futuristic models; methodologies being proven elsewhere that are both sustainable and economically viable? Agricultural practices can improve not diminish the organic content of our soils; can protect our precious water not pollute and degrade it; can produce safe, nutritious food, and provide a good living for farmers, can preserve our rural communities and provide thousands of good jobs, and could really, truly launch PEI into a healthy, prosperous, sustainable future. Everyone eats, and at this key moment, we have the potential to provide real leadership in our own unique way, to develop a vision to provide quality food to an expanding market of aware consumers. It is our belief that PEI needs to start preparing for this transition now. Lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells will perpetuate our commitment to an agricultural model built on borrowed time. While none of us can say with certainty exactly what impacts a lifting of the moratorium may bring, we can look back at what effects certain agricultural practices have already had on our land and water. We have high levels of nitrates in our groundwater, widespread and recurring anoxic conditions, eroding soils with a low organic content, and siltation and fish kills in our streams, not to mention some of the highest cancer rates in the country. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can have billion dollar agricultural businesses providing all the production and jobs required to keep our provincial economy ticking along without all the environmental and social costs.

 

3.     Our unknown and uncertain future.

 

It is not only the future of water availability globally and locally which is in doubt; there are many critical systems upon which society depends that are showing increasing signs of stress. Questionable supplies of food, energy and water, and disruption in the climate and economy all add up to a particularly uncertain future. While it is beyond the scope of a presentation such as this to give a synopsis of the entire gamut of global threats, we feel it is important that this increasingly accepted, mainstream view of our collective future be articulated by someone at these hearings.

Climate change is not only a good example of how the scientific process works, it is also an imminent and real peril to PEI in general and water in particular. The most recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” It is rare to hear such unqualified language in scientific releases (unless you live on PEI). The panel – which consists of hundreds of respected scientists worldwide – raised its level of certainty about climate change being real and that it is caused by human activity from 90% in their previous report in 2012 to 95% in this one released last fall. That is real science – public, unbiased, evidence-based and peer-reviewed. And even at that they are only prepared to say that they are 95% certain. Contrast this with the “science” with which this committee has been presented.

In terms of the matter at hand, climate change hangs over us in two distinct ways; uncertainty over future precipitation amounts and patterns, and sea level rise. As sea levels rise – note not if, but as – the danger of salt water intrusion increases. Any lowering of the water table only accelerates and intensifies this process. Because this province is a porous sand bar surrounded by salt-water, and salt-water is denser than freshwater, the potable water upon which we depend for our daily needs ‘floats’ like a bubble upon a saline mass. That ‘bubble’ comprises two types of water, the upper being replaceable from rain and snow-melt on an annual basis, the lower having had its origins during the Ice Age, several thousands of years ago. This lower layer is known as connate water. Once the connate water begins to be tapped it will be replaced by salt-water drawn from the fringes, leading to contamination of supply. The low-lying areas of this Island where potato farming is most concentrated will be vulnerable to early exhaustion and saline intrusion. The combination of this process and sea level rise creates a potentially profound and irreversible threat to our fresh water reserves. Rain fall patterns, like the weather itself, are inherently unpredictable. However, the trend worldwide is for increasing unpredictability, and rainfall happening more often in torrential downpours related to more frequent and severe storms. Locally in the last few years we have had events when 5 inches of rain have fallen in the Maritimes within 24 hours. This does not lend itself to replenishment of ground water supplies, especially if those rain events occur at a time of year when Island soils are unprotected. Indeed, existing problems such as pesticide run-off and siltation will be exacerbated.

 

The Green Party believes that Prince Edward Island is at a critical time in its history. One of our greatest assets is, as Horace Carver titled his recent report on land use, “The Gift of Jurisdiction”. To a far greater extent than almost any other Island of our size, we have an opportunity to shape our future, and to choose the Prince Edward Island we prefer. We can, and must develop a comprehensive water policy for our province. Our neighbour, Nova Scotia has an excellent template called “Water for Life” upon which an Island water policy could be crafted. As they state in their policy “People will not choose to visit, live or do business here without a good quality, secure supply of water.” I chose to first visit, then live, and ultimately set up a business on Prince Edward Island because it is not the same as everywhere else. The more we strive to copy development patterns in the rest of the world, the more we lose our precious distinctiveness, and the less our children have to inherit. Our greatest resource on Prince Edward Island is not minerals, it is not even our rich though thin topsoil; it is our quality of life. We must protect it, and therefore, we ask that you maintain the moratorium on high capacity wells.

Thank you.

 

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island.

 

March 6th 2014.

 

 

Mon, Mar 3rd, 2014 at 1:00 am

Editor

If the volume and sentiment of recent letters to the editor are indicative of Islanders’ feelings, a vast majority of us breathed a sigh of relief to read that Minister Sherry remains open-minded, and that any decision on high capacity wells will be based on “…informed discussions. We need facts. We need science.”

It appears as if the potential lifting of the moratorium on high capacity wells for irrigation of potato fields may be – excuse the pun – a watershed issue on PEI. The crux of Minister Sherry and the potato board’s shared position is that “the science” supports a lifting of the ban. But science is not a package of carefully filtered information presented as a final, uncontestable truth; it is a dynamic, continuously unfolding process. Science is the ongoing clash of differing ideas from which the light of truth temporarily shines, until newer and better information illuminates the issue further.

When it comes to ground water on PEI, we know so very little. As the saying goes, it’s not that we don’t know all the answers, we don’t even know the right questions to ask. The complexity of Island hydrology, and the importance of water in our lives insists that we proceed with extreme caution.

Many informed experts have already expressed grave concern about lifting the moratorium, and dozens of “ordinary” Islanders with generations of accumulated knowledge seem to be saying that the lifting of this ban represents a line in our red soil that we must not cross.

Unlike some other issues, when it comes to dealing with our only source of drinking water there is no room for potentially disastrous experimentation; there is no Plan B. We must get this right first time. Islanders have an important decision to make; we need farming – indeed I believe that our province’s economic future will depend perhaps more than ever before on farming. But it must be a type of farming that will rebuild our soil, not denude it, will protect our water, not threaten it, and will reinvigorate rural communities and create long-term economic prosperity.

I am not anti-farming – quite the opposite - but I am anti-screwing up our water.  

Peter Bevan-Baker, leader, Green Party of PEI.

Wed, Feb 26th, 2014 at 1:00 am

Rather than tinkering with a failing system, the Green Party has been presenting forward-thinking alternatives to the current EI program for many elections.

“Most of the recent noise I have been hearing on this issue seems to be more concerned with politics than people,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of PEI. “Rather than focusing on partisan interpretations of the proposed changes, I am far more concerned with creating a system that treats Islanders fairly, takes proper care of them when required, and encourages people where possible to become more self-sufficient.”

Prince Edward Island has a unique economy, and crafting an EI program that mirrors what exists in other provinces is neither rational nor fair. PEI is a single integrated economy from tip to tip. Splitting the Island into two zones, as exists in many other provinces where there is a very clear rural/urban divide, makes no sense. 

“What is required in the long-term is a complete overhaul of Canada’s social programs in order to eliminate poverty once and for all,” continued Bevan-Baker. “The Green Party has been advocating for a Guaranteed Liveable Income, also referred to as Basic Income Guarantee for some time, and PEI would be the perfect location for a pilot project of this innovative idea.”

Precedents exist for such an initiative. As the result of a four-year research project in Manitoba in the 1970s which provided a minimum, reliable income source, there were measurable improvements in health, and reduced demand on the health care system, with a decline in hospitalizations for accidents, domestic abuse and mental health issues, as well as better test scores for children and youth, with the result that many remained in school longer.

The existing shame-based system of social supports discourage people from seeking supplementary income, and some economic models suggest a GLI would actually save money over the current uncoordinated maze of social safety nets, while being a real path towards eliminating poverty and making a real difference in quality of life for everyone.

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Contact:               Peter Bevan-Baker         393-8101              leader@greenparty.pe.ca