The Green Party of PEI is proposing innovative agriculture policies that will market a distinct ‘Island Made’ brand, diversify the range of Island crops, and invest in new farmers.
“Prince Edward Island’s rich agricultural heritage is one of its defining features, but the status quo is failing Island farmers,” says Green Party of PEI Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “Building on the Island’s unique opportunities and strengths, the Green Party wants to foster agriculture in the province that is both sustainable and profitable.”
The Green Party propose a Local Food Security Act that will establish an 'Island Made' label for locally produced foods and require Island institutions to buy a certain quota of Island-produced food. The ‘Island Made’ brand will also be used to target new markets for healthy, sustainably produced foods.
“A thriving sustainable agriculture sector will work alongside our tourism strategy to promote the Island as a pristine and desirable place to visit,” says Bevan-Baker. “Visitors to the Island want an authentic experience, and there’s no better way to do that than by making sure Island farmers’ produce is being served on tourists’ plates.”
This week, the United Nations' World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is holding a World Forum on Food Tourism in Spain focused on how food and tourism can be linked to support culture, local economic development, sustainable practices and food experiences.
“Getting a taste of local cuisine has become an essential part of the traveling experience, and as such gastronomy presents a vital opportunity to enrich the tourism offer and stimulate economic development in destinations all around the world, not the least in rural communities," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, praising food tourism's ability to "create local job opportunities and spur renewed interest in traditional cultural heritage.”
In order to promote greater crop diversity under the ‘Island Made’ brand, the Green Party of PEI also proposes creating an Island Farmland Trust to help new farmers buy farmland and a New Homesteaders' Plan that will make key investments in small-scale farms.
“Past provincial governments have had little regard for land stewardship, and the result has been erosion, and diminishing quality soil,” says Bevan-Baker. “The Green Party of PEI will invest in small farmers, as we recognize their important role as part of the Island’s small business community.”
“The Green Party wants to ensure that a new generation of Island farmers can make a living and carry on the Island’s proud agricultural tradition,” says Bevan-Baker.
A full description of the Green Party of PEI’s agriculture policies is available in their election platform “Real Change 2015” at http://www.greenparty.pe.ca/policy .
For more information:
Becka Viau, President - Green Party of PEI
902 314 0772
To schedule interviews please contact:
The Green Party of PEI is proposing innovative agriculture policies that will market a distinct ‘Island Made’ brand, diversify the range of Island crops, and invest in new farmers.
Ms. May will be greeted by supporters at the Airport and take brief questions from the press. Ms. May will proceed to downtown Charlottetown to give a talk at 9:30 a.m. on Real Change - at St. Paul's Church on Grafton St.
- limited seating -
She will then have a meeting with the PEI Green Party Council before departing for a previously booked speaking engagement later that evening.
Some of Elizabeth May's honours include:
- Parliamentarian of the Year 2012
- Hardest Working MP 2013
- Best Orator in the House 2014
- May is also a member of the Order of Canada
For more information contact: Becka Viau, President, Green Party of PEI
Web Site: BECKA VIAU | CHARLOTTETOWN
The Green Party believes Prince Edward Island has the foundations for a strong and sustainable local economy based on farming, fishing, arts, culture and tourism.
The Green Party will strengthen local economies in our cities and our rural communities by focusing on small businesses - existing and start-ups - where over 75% of all new jobs are created.
We will invest in the growing “green” economy, creating new jobs and promoting the development of new technology and IT systems:
Supplying Local Food
Retrofitting and Constructing Energy-Efficient “Green” Buildings
Producing Local and Small-Scale Renewable Energy
Using Forest Resources Sustainably
Investing in new “green” jobs will expand the tax base, critical to the overall fiscal health of the Island, and the IT sector will be instrumental to this growth.
Arts, tourism and recreation will also be essential elements of our strategy for economic growth
Our long-term goal: Creating new jobs in growth industries with global demand, supporting a strong, vibrant local economy in all parts of PEI, and enhancing the quality of life for all Islanders.
Highlights of the Green Party’s policy on strengthening local communities:
Targeted investment in small business, new and sustainable agriculture, renewable energy systems, information technology, forestry and environmental conservation
High speed Internet access for all parts of PEI
Increase the effectiveness and efficiency of Innovation PEI
Promote “import substitution” to support local agriculture and industries
You’ll find the complete policy here: www.greenparty.pe.ca/policy
The Green Party stands for the idea that environmental sustainability, social justice, economic development and democracy are not issues that can be resolved in isolation, but must be considered as connected parts of everything we do.
Conatct: Becka Viau, President - Green Party of PEI - Phone# 902 314 0772 / email firstname.lastname@example.org
REAL CHANGE 2015
Peter Bevan-Baker draws clear lines from poverty to health care - April 20 2015
A NEW, COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO HEALTH CARE
Prince Edward Island’s health care challenges include reducing wait times for medical treatment and diagnostic tests, and improving mental health and addiction care, and primary health care delivery.
The Green Party believes the best health care for Islanders can be achieved through a collaborative model that integrates health care providers into networks to deliver Primary Health Care.
It’s a new approach. Our focus will be on “health” care rather than “illness” care.
Highlights of the Green Party’s better health care policy:
Recognize the profound role that economic, social and environmental factors play in health and wellness
Increase proactive wellness promotion and illness prevention
More front-line healthcare workers, to cut waiting times and improve access to care
Ensure access to appropriate health care services in all parts of PEI
Comprehensive approach to mental health and addictions, with a focus on prevention
The Green Party will establish a women’s sexual and reproductive health clinic on PEI. It will eliminate unfair barriers, save our province money, and provide all the services that Island women need and deserve, including abortion.
The Green Party would integrate Health, Social Services and Justice into a single and collaborative structure, reducing overall healthcare costs and producing better short-term and long-term outcomes.
Primary Health Care delivery will support at-home care whenever possible, to help older Islanders maintain their independence and quality of life, and reduce demand for long-term institutional care.
Primary Health Care networks for addictions and mental health will include physicians, psychologists, social workers, counsellors, dieticians, life-coaches and nurses in a collaborative and highly communicative model.
The strategy is twofold:
Work to prevent addictions and mental health problems in the first place
Provide 24-hour, in-time care for emergency mental health and addictions
Other areas of focus for collaboration and communication: Early Childhood Education, Family Services and Nutrition Education & Skills.
You’ll find the complete policy here: http://www.greenparty.pe.ca/policy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coon and Hyer lend support to growing Green campaign
The Green Party of PEI is delighted to welcome David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, and Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada, to Prince Edward Island.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have David and Bruce join us,” said Green Party of PEI Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “They both exemplify what electing Green representatives, even just one MLA, could bring to the PEI legislature: collaboration, practical results, and effective representation. I hope to do the same as the first Green MLA in the PEI legislature.”
Both Coon and Hyer will be arriving in PEI Thursday April 16th to lend their aid to the local Greens, in what promises to be an historic election for the Green Party of PEI.
Coon, Hyer and Bevan-Baker will be available for media interviews Friday morning, April 17th. A schedule of events for the duration of Coon’s and Hyer’s visit is attached.
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For more information and to schedule interviews please contact;Patrick Leveque
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Coon and Hyer lend support to growing Green campaign
The Green Party of PEI is delighted to welcome David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, and Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North and deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada, to Prince Edward Island.
“I am absolutely thrilled to have David and Bruce join us,” said Green Party of PEI Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “They both exemplify what electing Green representatives, even just one MLA, could bring to the PEI legislature: collaboration, practical results, and effective representation. I hope to do the same as the first Green MLA in the PEI legislature.”
Both Coon and Hyer will be arriving in PEI Thursday April 16th to lend their aid to the local Greens, in what promises to be an historic election for the Green Party of PEI.
Coon, Hyer and Bevan-Baker will be available for media interviews Friday morning, April 17th. A schedule of events for the duration of Coon’s and Hyer’s visit is attached.
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For more information and to schedule interviews please contact;
The Green Party of PEI is disappointed by recent acts of vandalism against several signs promoting Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.
Sometime during the night of April 13th-14th, three large Bevan-Baker signs in Bonshaw, New Haven and Kingston were deliberately demolished by unknown individuals.
Tire tracks leading up to the signs suggest a pickup truck was used in their destruction.
Only Bevan-Baker’s signs seemed to have been targeted. “It is truly disheartening to see this kind of behaviour in what should be a time for serious and respectful discussion on the issues that affect Islanders,” said Bevan-Baker. “However, we will not let this incident distract us or define the campaign. We will rebuild our signs. We will continue to put forward our positive message of Real Change to Islanders.”
The RCMP have been notified about the incident.
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For more information please contact; Patrick Leveque Campaign Manager 902-658-2041 (office) 902-213-9184 (cell) email@example.com
GREEN PARTY OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND EXEMPLIFIES THE RESPONSIBLE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDING
New headquarters opens in downtown Charlottetown.
A new, action-packed, Green office and communication centre has opened in the storefront at 211 Euston Street on the corner of Euston and Upper Hillsborough. It will serve as home to all five Charlottetown Area Candidates, Districts 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Greens believe in small business, diversity of all kinds, and, true to our principles, are subletting the space from a young couple whose legal enterprise, Taboo, has been closed by City Council. The business had signed a lease and were still paying rent on a space they could not use. We are happy to assist each other.
Every dollar spent on election campaigns is rebated by the Province at varying amounts from 33 -75%. By choosing this one economical space from which to manage our communication and campaign, staffed by volunteers, we are saving taxpayers’ money. Greens believe firmly that government is public service, much can be accomplished with modest means, and that living within a budget is a serious responsibility. We are proud to take a stand for conscientious use of public funding.
Unlike other political entities, the Green Party accepts no corporate donations or sponsorship. All of our efforts toward building the society that lives up to our fully integrated ideas for moving into a prosperous and sustainable future are funded by citizen’s donations.
We are holding a meet the Candidates - open house on Saturday April 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
For further information:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND’S CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY
Among all of Canada’s provinces, PEI is most at risk from the impacts of climate change.
Yet, as Ontario joins BC and Quebec this week by introducing a provincial carbon tax on fossil fuels, and Saskatchewan moves forward with its carbon capture and storage strategy, it appears PEI has no plan to deal with this issue that’s so critically important to our future.
The Green Party urges Islanders, and the other political parties, to take a look at its straightforward climate change policies, released in its election platform “Real Change 2015” on March 20th.
“We can’t sit on the sidelines, when we face a huge risk from the impact of rising sea levels, and more severe hurricanes, blizzards and droughts” says Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “Clearly, with Ottawa only making empty promises on climate change, it’s up to the provinces to act. Our fee and dividend plan provides the Island Carbon Solution.”
Highlights of the Green Party’s policy on climate change and energy self-reliance:
- Greenhouse Gas emissions to be reduced by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2020, with carbon neutrality by 2050.
- Fee & Dividend plan, with direct monthly payments to Islanders to offset marginally higher gasoline, propane and furnace oil prices
- Remove HST from all renewable energy sources and water-saving devices
- Interest-free loans for converting from radiant electric heat to air-source heat pumps
- Increase utilization of forest resources for biomass heating, improve health of the forests
- Incentives for renewable energy installations: solar electric, solar thermal, wind and hydro
- Ban all oil and gas exploration in the province
- Conduct energy audits on all government buildings and implement changes to save energy
- Convert government buildings to use renewable energy sources
You’ll find the complete policy here: www.greenparty.pe.ca/policy
GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTIONS / “FEE & DIVIDEND” CARBON PLAN
The Green Party of PEI’s climate change plan sets hard targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our province, in line with global efforts to stabilize the climate. It will remove the HST on renewable energy sources, and place a fee on fossil fuels. The money collected from that fee will be paid directly back to Islanders in monthly “dividend” payments.
The carbon plan will be what’s called a “Fee and Dividend” system. It is a much simpler system than the complex “Cap and Trade” carbon taxes in Quebec and Ontario. British Columbia introduced a similar carbon tax in 2008, calling it a Carbon Tax Shift. The BC government uses its carbon tax revenues to reduce provincial income taxes, and it has been remarkably successful.*
Rather than using carbon tax revenues to reduce income taxes, the Green Party’s Fee & Dividend plan for PEI would see that money paid directly back to Islanders as a ”dividend” on a monthly basis.
The Fee & Dividend plan is tax neutral. It sets the initial carbon fee at $15/ton on the CO2 content of fossil fuels, which works out to about 3.5 cents per liter of gasoline. The tax rate would rise by $10/ton every year, which is approximately an additional 2 cents/liter of gasoline each year.
So, the Fee & Dividend carbon tax adds a few pennies each year to the price of gasoline, propane and furnace oil. But the “dividend” payments will directly offset those increased fuel costs for Islanders.
Of course, as Islanders shift to more fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric vehicles, and convert from using furnace oil to renewable heat sources, the more it becomes a win-win. The more people use fossil fuels, the more it will cost each year, and those higher fossil fuel prices will increase demand and lower prices for sustainable energy technology. That will promote growth and create jobs in the renewable energy technology industry, which will be one of the driving economic forces of the 21st century.
And, most important for our future - for our children and grandchildren - greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced, and the Island becomes less dependent on fossil fuels.
For more information or to schedule a meeting with Peter Bevan-Baker please contact;
Election campaigns cost money. Unlike other parties, the Green Party only accepts money from voters, not businesses because businesses don't vote. Our support comes from ordinary people who believe the Green Party should be represented in the Legislature.
Donations to political parties are eligible for a provincial tax rebate.
Your Net Cost
Please visit http://greenparty.pe.ca/donate for more information.
How to donate
You'll be happy to know we can accept a donation in almost any format.
Send a cheque to: Green Party of Prince Edward Island, 15 Mermaid Lane, Mermaid PE C1B 3B3
Make an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org (We use our favourite colour and party as a password).
Use PayPal on our web-site: http://greenparty.pe.ca/donate
Over the phone using a credit card: call Darcie Lanthier @ 902-569-2068
In person with cash, cheque, or credit card at our campaign office or by calling Darcie
There is lots to do, and you do not need to live in Peter's district to help out. We will assign you something that you are comfortable with. There are tasks to do that require contact with voters and task that do not.
Contact the campaign by phone or email (see below), drop in to the office in Hampton, or talk to Peter directly. Our volunteer coordinators contact you to see how you can best help out.
Taking a sign
Show your support for Peter by taking a lawn sign. Just contact the campaign (see below) and we will come by and put up a sign on your property.
Contact the campaign
If you have any questions at all about the campaign or to offer your support, just give us a call or email, or drop in to the campaign office.
Campaign Office, Bites Cafe
19566 TCH, Hampton
Thanks so much for your support!
for a change, with energetic candidates stepping up to offer public service.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island introduces integrity in government to the voters of district 19.
Ranald Macfarlane takes a stand for his values to run in Borden-Kinkora
Ranald is a professional farmer living with his wife Melanie and son, Oliver, in Fernwood. He is taking a stand for his values and our future by running for the Green Party, although, in truth he never thought it would come to this.
As Ranald says:
“It is time for debate on many issues and situations affecting all Islanders. Dependency on the ‘banana republic’ style of corporate indentured agriculture is short-term thinking, and the Green Party promotes alternatives now, rather than when the point of complete destruction of our agricultural and social fabric has been reached.”
Not restricted to farming, his views and concerns extend to anything involving the state of the human condition in this world, and he will respond to and represent his constituency in district 19 wholeheartedly.
Says PEI Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker:
“Ranald has been a tireless advocate for sustainable farming for all of his life, and I am thrilled to have him as part of our Green team in this election. He brings extensive knowledge of agriculture and husbandry, and is a great representative for the people in district #19"
While Premier MacLauchlan’s announcement today that long time Liberal insider Brooke MacMillan’s contract is being rescinded is the right thing to do, the Green Party wonders why it has taken over six years for the Liberal Government to make this move, and how the Party MacLauchlan now leads could have ended up with the sorts of hiring practices it prefers.
“Despite the Auditor General’s opinion in 2009 that Mr. MacMillan’s involvement in the Provincial Nominee Program was inappropriate, he remained in a lofty and lucrative position in government until the Premier’s half-hearted removal today. I’m still unclear as to exactly why he was let go, and if he is indeed completely removed from government,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party. “It would have been much better had the Premier made a categorical statement as to the reasons behind today’s action and what Mr. MacMillan’s future prospects are.”
The underlying problem in this and all the other scandalous revelations surrounding the Liberal administration is the nature of hiring practices within the civil service. It is time to put an end to patronage appointments at all levels of government and to hire people who are appropriately qualified for their position and who earn their jobs through proper hiring protocols.
“Islanders want some very simple, straight-forward things from government: integrity and competence, and an honest effort to find the best solutions that will improve the lives of all Islanders. We need real change to accomplish that,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Sometime during the fall of 2014 a group of concerned Islanders decided something had to be done. Convinced that the Island, the place we all cared about, was on a most hazardous course, we went to work and began crafting a new, non-partisan, vision for the Island. Further, our ongoing commitment is to persist in promoting creative public discourse about what is possible. After countless discussions around kitchen tables we came up with talking points, along with a longer document we call the ‘Kitchen Table Manifesto.’
We do not support any political party, but are very willing to have any or all of those parties adopt some of the principles we have enunciated. We also are prepared to speak out in a cautionary manner when any politician or political party advocates a position at variance with our stated principles.
Objectives of the group are stated succinctly in the talking points below. We did not take form to affect the outcome of the pending election. Our objectives are much more long term than that. We have formed in order to help promote a more creative discourse across the Island when it come to the future of our province and we will be happy to welcome into the group any who would like to be a part of that process.
“Integrity.” Without it everything that follows becomes corrupted.
“Transformative vision.” The present system has failed on many fronts. No amount of tinkering will do. Electing a different party to govern will not do. The old paradigm simply is not working for the majority of Islanders.
“A 20-year perspective.” Here is the crux of the matter. If we begin to implement the new vision now, in 20 years we will be on the way to a vibrant new society and economy. If we carry on as we have for the past 20 years we will cease to exist as a separate jurisdiction. It’s just that critical.
“Be excellent or go under!” For us it’s not a matter of ‘go big or go home’. That option is not plausible for this Island, and the attempt to move in that direction has been disastrous. It is a matter of ‘be excellent or go under’.
“Our size is our strength.” “Our smallness and insularity are not liabilities, rather opportunities, and need to the very source of our inspiration.”
“Pride of place is our primary resource.” From tip to tip Islanders believe passionately that P.E.I. is a wonderful place. That, combined with innovative thinking and bold action, will draw forth the best in all of us.
“Clean water and air, and healthy soil, are non-negotiable.” We could have the most progressive environmental laws in North America, and why should we aspire to less? Our wellness depends on it, and our success requires it.
“The ‘copy-cat’ never excels.” Our natural advantages are squandered when we try to be like everyone else, and become imitators rather than innovators. The reformation begins with confidence, creativity and imagination. We don’t have to be afraid of what is new, but it is foolish to embrace it just because it is. We need to know it, measure it, then accept or reject it on our terms.
“Time to stop the bleeding.” What if we continue on our present path? The certain results: unprofitable farming and fishing operations; environmental degradation that compromises the health of Islanders and damages tourism; the ongoing exodus of young persons and young families in droves; a potentially lethal debt; and eventually cynicism and despair.
“Energy self-sufficiency.” Continuing dependency on uncertain sources for our energy is a formula for ongoing insecurity and prohibitive cost. The only thing blocking the path to energy self-sufficiency is a lack of vision and confidence.
“Time to kick old political habits.” When success of Party is more important than the issues facing Islanders it is a formula for mediocrity and ultimately for failure. We need a reformed political system, and we need it soon.
“We have the gift of jurisdiction, let’s unwrap it.” Perhaps our most extraordinary resource is the gift of jurisdiction. But if we don’t use it wisely we will surely lose it.
“Imagine a rising tide of prosperity that lifts all the boats.” You can have a concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few, or you can have democracy. Never both.
“It’s not just patronage, it’s corruption.” Let’s call a spade a spade. What we politely call patronage is a form of moral and political dry rot.
“Town and country are a team.” Imagine an economy where urban and rural development are recognized as being entirely complementary.
“Plain-talk, not double-speak.” Public life is impoverished by the numbing effects of political spin. Without forthrightness people live in a fog.
“To complain, or to create, that is the question.” Do we choose to continue in complaint mode for another ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? Or do we choose to create something exceptional?
By David Weale (guest opinion)
A big thank you to all the organizers and performers at this afternoon's International Women's Day Coffee House at St. Peter's Hall in Charlottetown.
A great afternoon of celebration and reflection hosted by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island supports women in every endeavour. The Party was founded by a woman and in 2011 ran 58% women candidates - a Canadian record.
Happening now at UPEI! "Difficult Dialogues 2" - a student conference organized by UPEI's Diversity & Social Justice department. Many young leaders from across the Maritimes discussing 'the elephants in the room'.
Education is in a state of transformation around the world as we realize that the industrial model of education favoured for over a century is not meeting the variety of needs of many students.
The Green Party envisions an education system whose ultimate goal is to produce engaged, informed and enthusiastic young people, whose curiosity has been sparked and are ready to become contributing members of society.
"All Islanders are asking for is a few good people of intelligence, integrity and vigour to offer themselves as a new, untainted alternative, but Islanders must also be ready to step up and take responsibility for the government they elect. We stand at a pivotal moment in Island history. Our competence to govern is in question and the reputation of 164 years of responsible government is in jeopardy. It is time to re-establish integrity in government on Prince Edward Island and to once more govern ourselves with pride and care."
"I see a place with a flourishing, sustainable economy; where agriculture thrives and value-added products bear the label 'Made in PEI' as a badge not only of honour but of exceptional quality and purity. I see revitalized rural communities, self-sufficient in many areas and magnets for people from all over the world. I see a transparent, capable government that is accountable to the people, and which balances fiscal prudence with ecological wisdom and social progressiveness. I see clean air, water and soil. I see a province that governs itself with care and pride.
But to get from where we are now to that vision will require a lot of work, and in some cases patience and time. Fixing our many problems isn't going to happen overnight, but it can start tonight, and I invite you to join the Party that is once again going to lift Prince Edward Island to the soaring heights it deserves to attain."
- Peter Bevan-Baker
Governing is complicated and involves difficult decisions every day on such things as spending priorities. Meeting unlimited needs with limited resources requires that hard choices be made, but the recent revelations regarding $5 million left unspent by the department of community services and seniors at a time when one in five Island children is food insecure, is inexplicably shameful.
"This situation reveals many distasteful things about our current administration," said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of PEI. "It shows how uncoordinated and dysfunctional intergovernmental communication is, it demonstrates a very warped sense of priorities of the government as a whole, and it reveals just how ineffective Valerie Docherty has been in managing of her portfolio.”
“Not only does this unspent money mean that the neediest and most vulnerable Islanders - many of them children - will have suffered needlessly, it will have had a long-term negative impact on things like health and well-being, causing further government expenditures in the future."
The Green Party notes that a similar amount of money is at jeopardy due to the Minister of finance's decision to invest in gambling businesses.
"If we needed a clear example of how the Liberals have lost their way, it is right here. They have quite literally gambled the welfare of PEI's poorest children away. PEI must adopt a co-ordinated approach to alleviate poverty, and make this of utmost importance for the good of the Islanders involved and also for the long-term economic and social well-being of the entire province," continued Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party observes that there seems to be an all out assault on the poor; HST applied to the basic necessities; clothing, boots, electricity; a Basic Personal exemption that is the lowest in Canada and hasn't increased since the Liberals have been in power, and a Minister who seems unable to stand up for her department.
"Every volunteer on the Island who has donated, collected or harvested food to try and help Island parents feed their children, every person who has knit or purchased hats, mitts and socks to warm the homeless, everyone who has cleaned and donated coats to keep out the cold or been to a benefit or a fundraiser should be just furious with this Minister,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Wes Sheridan is once more claiming to be steering our province’s finances to a safe and secure place. He cites the recent audited financial statements, where the annual deficit is estimated to be $45.8 million as good news for PEI. This is apparently $13 million less than he had anticipated, and therefore, we should all be celebrating the province’s “march” (more like a stumble or lurch) towards fiscal balance.
“We need to look behind the numbers to understand what has really happened on PEI over the last fiscal year,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. “Revenues are up for two reasons – HST, in the form of $32 million in new taxes paid by Islanders, and a one-time $25 million transfer from the federal government as part of the deal for bringing in the HST last year. The other windfall into provincial coffers is due to increased collections from income tax. The most likely reason for this is the number of Islanders working out West who are earning high incomes and paying income tax in their home province of PEI.”
Without the income from HST, the deficit would have ballooned to over $100 million. The primary role of any government is to improve the welfare of all its citizens, and the HST as introduced by the Liberals last year placed a disproportionate burden on low and middle income Islanders. And the social impacts of so many Island families being fractured by the necessity of one or more of them leaving home to find work out of province are profound.
“An economy isn’t just measured by adding up numbers; it has to be assessed by how it impacts the quality of life of all Islanders. I believe that Prince Edward Island is significantly worse off, not only in strictly fiscal terms, but also socially as a result of this administration’s policies,” continued Bevan-Baker. “A Green government legislates for balanced budgets and shapes an economy where small businesses create real jobs, increasing the tax base and revitalizing rural communities. We are the Party which is offering Islanders something other than the ping-pong politics of the past, and I can’t wait to introduce our platform to Islanders over the coming weeks. I think a lot of Islanders will realize, when they hear what we have to say, that they are more Green than they think.”
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island wonders why it has taken over seven years for Doug Currie and the department of Health and Wellness to come up with their three year wellness strategy.
With disease, you have acute and chronic problems; an acute problem like a heart attack requires immediate attention, a chronic illness needs a different approach.
In health care delivery, there are also acute and chronic problems. The most pressing acute problem in health care delivery on PEI is access to timely care. Thousands of Islanders have no family doctor, and wait times whether it’s in the E.R., or for diagnostic testing, or for some treatment itself are unacceptable. “It is clear that more resources need to be channelled to front line health care providers,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of PEI “And that has to happen immediately.”
A chronic problem with health care delivery on PEI is this government’s limited understanding that social, environmental and economic factors are significant contributors to health problems, and therefore play a critical role in improving health outcomes. As an example, social services Minister Valerie Docherty left $2.3 million unspent last year in social assistance – a clear indication that this present administration is not capable of joining up the dots when it comes to health and wellness.
True wellness can only be attained if we create the environment in which people can become and remain healthy. That means doing such things as eliminating poverty and food insecurity, and removing known toxins from our food and environment.
"We need to reinvent the way that health care is delivered on PEI, and to get away from the reactive, treatment based method to a more pro-active, wellness and prevention approach. We must develop a co-ordinated system in which all the government departments which impact health and wellness work together collaboratively. Only then will we create a system that is sustainable economically, helps Islanders stay healthier for longer, and increases their quality of life. ” concluded Bevan Baker.
For executive director of the Federation of Agriculture John Jamieson to conclude, as he did in comments today, that the Green Party agricultural policy is being forged in a vacuum, is arrogance of the highest order. It suggests that the Federation of Agriculture represents the one and only source of information on agricultural policy on PEI, and without it, one is working blind.
“Since I became leader two years ago, I have had one-on-one meetings with international food supply expert Mark Lapping, who advised president Clinton, bureaucrats here on PEI, Island farmers from tip to tip, both conventional and others such as organic producers, mixed farmers, micro-winery producers, micro-brewers and cheese makers,” stated Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. “These producers are farmers and are also part of what a sustainable, vibrant and robust future agricultural industry will look like on PEI. The Federation of Agriculture represents one approach to farming, but it is not the only vision of what agriculture might look like into the future on PEI.”
The Green Party will be releasing its full platform within weeks, and like all policies, whether they be economic development and job creation, education, health care, energy, governance or any other issue, the agricultural plan has been developed in consultation with, and to best serve Islanders.
“I think that some Islanders will be surprised at the depth and breadth of our platform, and at how much of it will speak to their concerns,” continued Bevan-Baker. “We are the Party which is offering Islanders something other than the ping-pong politics of the past, and I can’t wait to introduce our platform to Islanders over the coming months. I think a lot of Islanders will realise, when they hear what we have to say, that they are more Green than they think.”
Green Party of Prince Edward Island leader, Peter Bevan-Baker is questioning the self-serving claims of outgoing ministers Sheridan and Webster as they announced their retirement from politics.
“For Wes Sheridan and George Webster to offer Islanders their slanted self-assessment, and to speak proudly of their accomplishments while holding the financial and agricultural portfolios does not bear up to scrutiny,” said Bevan-Baker.
“Minister Sheridan leaves his post having made a string of bad investments, some highly questionable decisions and run up eight consecutive deficits and piling up debt to the tune of $2.7 billion. It’s nice for him to award himself such a great review of his work in office, but I have yet to hear the same from the public. No one is saying ‘great job on the economy’ except for Wes himself. What does it say about the accountability of this Liberal MLA that despite all these failures, he does not see that he did not succeed in office? What does it say that he is the only one patting himself on the back?
“The status for farmers and the overall picture for agriculture has also worsened. For agriculture Minister Webster to say that he is ‘pleased to have made substantial improvements’ is absurd. Are those improvements in farmer’s income and financial security? I don’t think so. Are those improvements in creating a more diverse and robust agricultural industry on PEI? I don’t think so. Are those improvements to the water, soil and air of our province? Again, I don’t think so. I have no idea what he is referring to.”
It is customary to thank outgoing politicians for their years of public service; and indeed the willingness to put your name forward to be an elected representative carries with it an enormous commitment. But the measure of a politician must be not only in their readiness to come forward, but also in an evaluation of how they performed in whatever position they held. The Green Party finds it odd that they assess themselves, and seem to be blind to the fact that they were not successful and let down the general public.
“By any objective measure, this Liberal administration, whether we are talking fiscally, socially or environmentally, has provided Prince Edward Island with poor governance. We need proper performance measures to determine how our government and its individual Ministers are carrying out their duties, not the self-serving and distorted assessments of the Ministers themselves. Accountability and performance are central to good business practices, and should be fundamental to good governance also. The Green Party is dedicated to serving Islanders’ best interests, and to responsible and transparent government” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Green Party sees a need for a Provincial museum, but not in Fanningbank.
The Green Party of PEI believes that PEI needs a provincial museum, and that a carefully administered government could afford to create one whilst taking care of other critical needs.
“It is regretful that successive Liberal and Tory administrations have failed to build a provincial museum. Instead of putting public funds towards something which would archive, protect and celebrate our precious heritage, and create a tangible legacy for generations to come, they have squandered millions of dollars on other projects which have left Islanders with nothing more than a massive debt and a bad taste in their mouths,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of PEI.
The Green Party believes that recent suggestions to house a provincial museum in Fanningbank have not been carefully thought through. A museum’s needs are very particular, and the costs associated with renovating an existing space –if it were even possible - may be prohibitive.
It seems to me that this idea is more about disregard for our governing institutions than saving money,” continued Bevan-Baker. “The costs associated with the Lieutenant Governor amount to about $3 per Islander every year. There are so many other places where our provincial government could make far more significant savings. To put this in perspective, a saving of less than 0.1% of the health care budget would pay for the position. I’m no blind traditionalist, but I respect the institutions on which our government is founded, and feel that we just can’t simply deconstruct them thoughtlessly.”
Prince Edward Island needs a purpose-built provincial museum, and it is something that deserves a higher priority than current and previous administrations have given it. A Green government would live within our means, legislating for balanced budgets and making sure that every tax dollar collected from Islanders is spent carefully.
In a year-end interview, Premier Ghiz has called the introduction of fixed election dates the greatest blunder of his tenure as Premier. "Bah, humbug!!" says Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Island Green Party.
In his own year-end statement, Bevan-Baker goes on to say that our democratic institutions – flawed though they are – are at their essence a series of rules and conventions designed to ensure that the will of the people is reflected in the legislature they elect.
“The Westminster style of democracy we adopted here in Canada came from a desire to take power away from an unopposed monarch and pass it to the people. Over centuries we have arrived at the electoral system we now use where every adult citizen has an opportunity every four years or so to elect the people they prefer to make our collective decisions. The painful irony of our current situation on PEI is that by political sleight of hand, Liberals, in crowning King Wade, are effectively restoring the unrestricted regal power our democracy sought to eliminate,” said Bevan-Baker.
As Thomas Connor recently pointed out in his excellent letter of December 27th, Alberta - which has an almost identical situation - has seen no need to return to the polls to allow their new premier Jim Prentice to rule with legitimacy.
“The PEI Liberal attempts to explain the “need for an election” are all bogus nonsense, and have no basis in democratic principles. I only wish that more Islanders would recognise it for what it is: naked political opportunism,” continued Bevan-Baker.
To a large extent it appears that people have lost trust and faith in their politicians. And who can blame them? The consistently bad behaviour of some elected officials – whether it is abuse of our money or of their power - is never far from the front page. Dr. Connor points out absolutely correctly that the arrival of a new Island premier brought about by Mr Ghiz’s unexpected resignation in no way whatsoever necessitates an immediate election. A few Liberals – Wes Sheridan, Doug Currie and George Webster chief among them – have twisted themselves into festive wreaths trying to justify such a thing. What they are doing, in a tradition perfected by the old parties, is to defend an entirely self-serving and antidemocratic series of choices by claiming they are the necessary, even noble path to take.
For Premier Ghiz to call fixed election dates his “biggest mistake” in the context of PNP, Plan B and the Geosweep debacle, is baffling to say the least. Fixed election dates are a definite improvement to our democracy; evening the playing field, removing the political opportunism available to governing parties in the past, allowing all parties to prepare financially and otherwise, and encouraging a wider array of potential candidates to come forward. Far from his biggest mistake, it could be looked upon as one small glimmer of good governance in an otherwise fairly dismal two terms in office.
“How about a New Year’s resolution for all Islanders to give up once and for all a really bad habit; one that we have developed over many elections and passed from one generation to the next. Let’s quit voting for people and parties who, above all, look after themselves, and have consistently let us down. It’s time to elect parliamentarians who will carry out their roles as they were originally designed – to represent their constituents first and foremost, and abandon mindless slavery to their party,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Prince Edward Island needs comprehensive energy policy, says Green Party.
On the same day that the storm clouds gathered over Prince Edward Island to herald an unprecedented rain storm that will end up costing the Province millions of dollars, Wes Sheridan was joyfully celebrating the prospect of increased fossil fuel use on PEI.
“This situation is just one more revealing example of the backward attitudes of this government,” said Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “There is near unanimity from scientists all over the world that climate change is real and is caused by humanity’s burning of fossil fuels. And models show that direct results will include weather events like the torrential downpour the Maritimes experienced this week. It is hard to imagine any elected official, never mind an energy minister, making such a thoughtless statement.”
But the Green Party is not surprised that a minister of this Liberal administration appears to be so out of touch with reality. One of the pieces of legislation that died when the most recent sitting of the legislature was prematurely abandoned was a plan to gut the Renewable Energy Act. A comprehensive energy policy would include efficiency upgrades, an end to subsidies on fossil fuels, further investment in renewables and a move towards energy self-sufficiency.
“A comprehensive Residential Energy strategy would look at the built infrastructure (80% of which will still be occupied in 2050), start with a formula that would consider the least efficient homes and the income of the occupants and work from there up. A pool of money invested in owner occupied homes would be a long term investment in poverty reduction as well as energy efficiency,” added deputy leader Darcie Lanthier.
Prince Edward Island would benefit enormously from some thoughtful governance including a comprehensive energy policy, where the needs of Islanders, the environment and the economy could be improved with good public policy rather than harmed by the mishmash scattershot of programs currently favoured by the Liberals.
What an incredible weekend! It was wonderful to spend time with the Island's Green Party supporters, Peter Bevan Baker Leader of the Green Party of PEI and the Green Party of Canada's Deputy Leader - Bruce Hyer, MP.
There is a reason why this province has been called the "green isle," Islanders do care very much about the environment, the state of our democracy and our communities.
I am thrilled to be the federal candidate in the Charlottetown riding. Being selected and announced with plenty of time before the set election date in October lets the Island community know that the Greens are a force of fiscally conservative, socially minded and environmentally focused people. Truly an honour to be running alongside Lynne Lund the candidate for Malpeque and I look forward to meeting everyone.
Bites Cafe, 19566 Trans Canada Hwy, Hampton
Meet Bruce Hyer, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada - Parti vert du Canada. Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the PEI Greens will host. Greet the nomination contestants for the Federal ridings of Charlottetown and Malpeque.
Admission is $20 and that will include two glasses of locally sourced wine and some delicious Artisan Bread & Cheese. There will also be a pay-as-you-go Oyster Bar and Vegetarian Sushi. Then we dance! Music provided by Jon Rehder and company.
Green Party wishes Wade MacLauchlan well in his leadership bid.
“If betting on political races were a regulated activity on PEI, I’d feel pretty confident laying down a large fistful of cash that Wade MacLauchlan will be our new Premier come next March,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party. "But whether he'll be able to bring about transformational change is a horse of a different colour."
Despite Mr. MacLauchlan’s lack of official political pedigree, the pictures from the opening scenes of his apparent coronation, as he was piped in to stand surrounded by Party faithful, suggest that although MacLauchlan may be new, the Liberal Party machine which he aspires to inherit hasn’t changed.
“The reason I got involved in politics is because I have a deep belief that things need to change profoundly if Prince Edward Island is ever reach its full potential,” continued Bevan-Baker. “I liked a lot of what Mr. MacLauchlan said in his speech – the need to face our challenges head on, to put our best foot forward and to call on our better selves when engaging politically. Just perhaps with new leadership in the "old-line" parties comes the possibility of fresh ideas and change, and that we could indeed be entering an interesting period in Island political history. If this is the case, Wade will have to present a compelling and coherent vision of an Island which has moved beyond the cronyism and petty partisanship of the past. We need to deal quickly with our fiscal situation, to improve social and economic justice for all Islanders, to repair and protect our environment and to reimagine our democratic system."
Mr. Bevan-Baker concluded: "It remains to be seen if such a sea change in attitude and policy can occur from inside the traditionally suffocating confines of the Liberal Party of Prince Edward Island.”
The Green Party believes that Islanders truly want a breath of fresh air injected into their stagnant political atmosphere, and offers its insights and support for such a recovery. The Party also expects that its innovative platform of a long-term vision for a healthy, just and prosperous Island will resonate with voters.
What we're doing
Preparing for 2015 and beyond
On the Big Green Weekend we intend to nominate our four Candidates for MP. On Friday, we'll meet Bruce Hyer, Deputy Leader of the Green Party and hear from our Charlottetown Candidate for MP. We'll travel across the Island for the other three nomination meetings and we'll hear from David Coon, Leader GP-NB about his experience winning a seat in NB. We're also looking to identify Candidates for our Provincial Election, which is also not far off.
You can help
Everything is possible with time and money
We are calling on our Members, Provincial and Federal to come together and use our time, our talents and our money to help PEI and Canada move forward in a smart, strong, sustainable, democratic Green way. Greens spend less to do more and we are the only party that does not take donations from Corporations. Why? Because corporations don't vote!
What will change?
Everything must change.
Elizabeth May has been so effective in Ottawa the Conservatives are trying to change the rules to slow her down. David Coon brings Green Vision to the NB Legislature as Andrew Weaver does in BC. In Canada, 32 Greens have been elected to Municipal, Provincial and Federal Office and we all expect that these two upcoming elections will add to that list.
Our mailing address is:
Green Party of PEI
101 Kent Street, Suite 104Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2Canada
Green Party exasperated at Liberal non-position on abortion access on PEI.
On PEI it is 2014, just like everywhere else, but the mentality of our politicians is locked into the mid-1950s.
“Shamefully, PEI is the only province where women cannot access safe legal abortions. Even when legal scholars come from all corners of the world and state frankly, “you’re making a mess of this file,” the PEI government does nothing, avoids commenting and hides. They say that “PEI pays for abortion in other provinces” but this totally overlooks the fact that there is a massive medico-religious-bureaucratic gate-keeping system erected unnecessarily to make it difficult - not to mention expensive - to access this simple medical procedure,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of PEI.
A recently exposed report shows that some bureaucrats had recommended setting up access to reproductive services on PEI which would not only bring PEI into line with the Canada Health Act, but would save the province tens of thousands of dollars. The recommendation was quashed by Doug Currie, minister of Health and Wellness, in a decision supported by other government departments right up to the Premier's office.
"We all know why this is the case on PEI. The truth is: our administration hasn’t the guts to draft and enforce logical public policy; scared of the political fallout of adopting such a position. The status quo of the PEI government is a non-position justified by political spin in order to protect votes; it’s a simple and shameful as that,” added Bevan-Baker.
Darcie Lanthier, Deputy Leader of the Green Party went on to say "The status-quo is patently unfair because it restricts access to a time-sensitive medical service. At times this delay is so long that women are forced to travel to Montreal instead of Halifax. A woman with transportation, the flexibility to travel, money for the trip, timely access to a pro-choice Doctor, a person to travel with, time off for blood tests and an ultrasound might not have an enormous challenge getting an abortion, however, many women are not in this situation. In the past five years over 600 women have left Prince Edward Island to have an abortion, the current policy does not prevent abortion it just needlessly burdens Island women.”
The Liberals keep defending their non-position on abortion by saying that they do fund it, and that it equates some other procedures like heart surgery that must be done off-Island for cost reasons. But this financial argument makes no sense in light of the fact that providing the service here on PEI is the cheaper option. The Green Party, if elected, would ensure that women on PEI would have easy and timely access to all reproductive services on the Island.
Green Party of PEI inspired by New Brunswick success.
Following New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon’s victory last night, the Island Green Party is hoping to take a page out of their neighbour’s book and elect their first MLAs in the next PEI provincial election.
“David’s success was no accident. He has been working extremely hard ever since he became leader two years ago, and his victory came as a result of combining his undeniable charm, decades of activism and knowledge with a great campaign team and a smart platform,” said Island Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker. “Yesterday’s result is great for the Party, but also it’s a victory for the people of Fredericton South and New Brunswick in general who now have a voice in the legislature promoting social justice, sustainable economic prosperity and ecological wisdom.”
Coon becomes the second Green Party candidate elected to a provincial legislature, following Andrew Weaver’s victory last year in British Columbia. The Green Party also has two sitting members in the federal House of Commons, leader Elizabeth May and deputy leader, Bruce Hyer.
“The Greens are a Party on the move, and David’s historic win is a breakthrough for the Party in Atlantic Canada. All emerging parties go through many years of maturation before they have the structure and people in place to be serious political contenders,” continued Bevan-Baker. But as the Party has grown and changed, some things have remained constant, and he remains devoted to the Party’s policies and values. “The issues I was talking about when I first ran for the Greens over 20 years ago are as relevant today as they ever have been. The Green Party platform in New Brunswick is compatible with the one here on PEI and our national policies. That’s one of the lovely things about our Party – the consistency and timelessness of the message.”
“The ping-pong politics of PEI, where the legislature gets batted back and forth between the Conservatives and Liberals, is going to come to an end. Like New Brunswick, where the red and blue teams have held court for decades, Prince Edward Island is ready to move on to something less divisive, and more progressive and hopeful. I’m extremely optimistic about our chances of having Greens elected in the next provincial election,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Island Greens participate in successful national convention.
Several Island Green Party delegates celebrated a productive weekend of rebuilding Canadian democracy at the Party’s national convention in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Hundreds of Green delegates gathered from July 18 to 20 for policy debates, workshops, discussion panels and speeches from special guests including former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page and world-renowned climate scientist Tom Duck.
"This was a great weekend for grassroots democracy," said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. "The ideas that we discussed and the policy resolutions that were passed will be crucial in guiding our party toward the next election."
Green delegates voted strongly in favour of policy proposals calling for responsible economic growth, expanding environmental protection, and strengthening Canadian democracy. Delegates rejected a motion to weaken the party’s anti-GMO stance, and reaffirmed the party’s support for dairy supply management. The party also formally adopted a prohibition of whipped votes for Green MPs.
Island delegates to the convention included provincial leader Peter Bevan-Baker and deputy leader Darcie Lanthier as well as other Island Greens. The Green Party of Canada honoured Darcie Lanthier with the 2014 Community Involvement Award for her active participation in many community groups; Pesticide Free PEI, Voluntary Resource Council, Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, Home & School Association, Women's Institute, Citizen's Alliance, PEI Food Exchange, Legacy Garden, Green Drinks Charlottetown in addition to serving at both the federal and provincial levels of the Green Party.
“The energy and optimism at the convention was inspiring,” said Lanthier, “it was a great opportunity to network with other Greens from across Canada. PEI has fallen behind the rest of the country in so many key areas; energy, education, finance, agriculture, health and of course environmental protection. The issue of cosmetic pesticide use was discussed, and it was both helpful and frustrating to speak with people from other provinces where bans already exist."
Bevan-Baker, who has been a Party member for over 20 years was delighted at the spirit of the convention. “I have seen this Party grow and mature to a place where we are now poised to be a significant force in Canadian politics. Building a political party takes care and time, and I believe we are about to see the fruits of decades of smart policy development and true grassroots democracy,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Green Party calls for less blaming and more smart policies.
The Green Party shares Islander’s shame and anger at the latest massive fish kill, and sees the immediate need for a new vision for agriculture on Prince Edward Island.
“Rather than singling out the farmers as the problem here, we need to look at a system of food production which demands amongst other things, the continuous use of poisons to stay viable. We need to make a choice on PEI: do we want to continue on with a model which causes this sort of annual devastation, or are we ready to try something better?” said Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party questions the attitude that we don’t have a choice but to put up with such events if we want agriculture to remain as our province’s economic driver. Indeed the Irvings wasted no time in threatening us with an ultimatum on deep water wells. As devastating as these events have been, let us not exacerbate it with a knee-jerk reaction to the Irving intimidation. The consequences could be irreversible and disastrous. Our water resources are too precious to risk.
“In one week we have seen a massive fish kill, an employer having to close its doors in the face of the economic realities of their industry and yet another employer threatening to leave unless we agree to jeopardize our future ground water supplies. It is clearer than ever that a new vision and approach are essential to our future. The public has had enough of a system that does not work for the farmers, the consumers, the economy of PEI, and the health of our soil and water. Fish kills like this are intolerable and shameful. We need new leadership with a clear vision of how we can build an agricultural model on PEI that is sustainable, safe and prosperous,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Green Party saddened but not surprised by McCain closure.
The Green Party of PEI is deeply saddened for the workers, families and communities which will be adversely affected by the closure of the McCain factory in Borden Carleton. But the news of closure was entirely predictable given the economic factors at play.
“Our thoughts are with all those people who will lose their employment, and the ripple effects such losses will have throughout families, businesses and communities in the area,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. “Any time such a large number of jobs is lost on our Island, it will have a devastating impact on some households and a measurable effect on the entire provincial economy.”
The Green Party believes that this closure is just the latest casualty of an economic approach in which PEI attempts to compete in a global market place despite some significant and insurmountable disadvantages. Being far from markets, having a shorter growing season and inferior soils, and growing for a market where the advantages of scale provide benefits to ever-larger growers create substantial handicaps for PEI producers.
“As long as PEI continues to pursue this model and places its economic future in the hands of corporations competing globally, we will be vulnerable to such closures. It is critical that we develop a new approach to our Provincial economic future where development is suited to our situation,” continued Bevan-Baker. “I believe that an approach committed to high quality, specialised, predominantly organic production is the path that agriculture has to take if we are to thrive into the future. Our opportunities lie in taking advantage of our strengths – the fact that we are a distinct island jurisdiction, the existing infrastructure which would support many small-scale, mixed farms, and the growing demand for food that is local, healthy and uncontaminated.”
The Green Party believes that a government commitment to such an economic development policy will provide thousands of jobs, revive rural communities and protect our environment.
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.
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.
Sign the petition for:
Robert Ghiz' Provincial Liberal Government of PEI, Canada: Ban GMOs and Roundup, phase out pesticides, promote Organic
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.
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.
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?
Joan's email address is: Jjoandiamond4@gmail.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Submission by the
Green Party of Prince Edward Island
Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry
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.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island.
March 6th 2014.
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.
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.
Contact: Peter Bevan-Baker 393-8101 email@example.com
Originally published as a Letter to the Editor, "The Guardian" Charlottetown, P.E.I.
I could not agree more with the headline that accompanied Mike Redmond’s 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 Premier’s Office. When we look at other small-island jurisdictions, some with populations significantly smaller than P.E.I., it’s 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.
Green Party recommends a different approach to mental health and addiction issues.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island, while pleased that the government has made a first step towards combatting the current addiction and mental health epidemic on PEI, feels that too little attention is being paid to the underlying issues which have created this long-standing and devastating set of problems.
“This is not a new issue, it is an old problem with a new face,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party. “The new face is the opioids, which are the current drugs of choice for dealing with the deep-seated pain with which so many young Islanders live. If we approach this concern primarily as a medical or criminal issue without addressing the social and economic problems that underlie it, we will continue to fail to make any headway. Real solutions will lie in giving hope to those thousands of Islanders who see none in their current situation. We need to make education and meaningful careers, not “jobs” the priority. Our current government has shown a complete lack of vision when it comes to providing an economy of hope for young people.”
The Green Party recognises that the immediate mental health and addiction problems must be addressed promptly. The Party also understands that moving Prince Edward Island away from our current economy of dependency and unsustainability is an enormous task, but that until we accept some systemic problems and address them appropriately, short term solutions will never properly address the real problems.
“We must offer our youth hope, not just methadone; vision, not just reactionary policies,” continued Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party would not stall, contemplate or wait any longer to make effective policy changes that are meaningful to the families that are devastated by mental health and addictions problems – a Green government would act. Over the next year, the Green Party will release its comprehensive vision for a new Island economy which will take advantage of emerging markets, provide long-term careers based on traditional Island industries, and which will reinvigorate rural communities and restore the health of the land.
“Our plan will offer reasons for young Islanders to stay on PEI, and will restore hope for our youth. Only when there is a real sense of possibility and optimism will problems such as mental health and addiction be truly combatted,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
Contact: Peter Bevan-Baker 393-8101 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Green Party is calling for a thorough review of the systems which determine the price which is offered to fishers for lobster on PEI. In the short term the Green Party is calling on the Provincial government to conduct an inquiry into possible price fixing and settle this issue once and for all. In the longer term the Green Party would like to see the Provincial government brand and promote the excellence of our seafood and agricultural products - including arguably the best lobsters in the world - far better than they currently do.
"It is clear that the economic system in this case is simply not working," stated Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party. "Primary producers - whether they be potato farmers, lobster fishers or beef producers - are all struggling just to meet their costs of production; that simply would not happen in a functional, fair economy. Sometimes it seems like it is the lobster fishers themselves who are trapped in an unjust system."
The Green Party believes that the economy is there to serve the people, not the other way around, and that when a situation like this arises, it exposes some deep flaws in our existing system. In an increasingly integrated global economy, the trend towards centralisation and consolidation has been devastating on small producers who are at the mercy of large, well organised buyers. What PEI must do is develop an exclusive Island reputation for top quality, from a clean environment, and become known for being the best so as to command top price in the market place.
"Our Island faces many challenges, and due to our economy's heavy reliance on primary producers, the price which is paid for these commodities is critical to the health of our Island society. We need to look at alternative ways of structuring our local economy to ensure that producers can make a decent living. All our farmers and fishers work hard and they deserve nothing less," continued Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party believes it is time for the government of PEI to stand behind their fishers like Islanders across the province are doing today so that fairness and decency can return to the market place. A Green government will both promote Island produce more assertively, and consult with Island fishers about setting up other systems that might better serve the industry here on PEI.
For a video statement from Peter Bevan-Baker go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtH4PcedFTg
The Green Party has reiterated its concerns about the potential corrupting influence of unchecked corporate donations on the political process.
“There is a deep cynicism about politics today, and part of that stems from the view that there is corporate influence on political decision making. Limiting donations from corporations is the only way to remove this perception,” stated Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker.
Prince Edward Island has no legislation limiting either personal or corporate donations to political parties, and this is something that the Green Party is actively involved in changing.
“Islanders are continuously telling me that we need to change not only some of our politicians, but the system in which they work. It is critical that new, fresh voices on PEI are serious and sincere when they offer to change the way we do politics here on the Island,” continued Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party believes that every time a political party dilutes its principles, it reduces its ability to offer a truly new voice. While there are many ethical and responsible corporations both on and off Prince Edward Island, the Green Party of PEI believes that there should be rules limiting corporate donations in order to maintain integrity and trust in the electoral system.
“If the lust for power becomes so strong that a party is prepared to compromise its core values, it may find that it arrives in power only to have become that which it so strongly criticised and deplored from outside the rail,” concluded Bevan-baker.
The Green Party believes that votes and minds can be won with a clear vision, sound policies and hard work – none of which require corporate money.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island is concerned that focusing on MLA salaries obscures the bigger picture - the overall cost of government here on PEI. There has been a lot of posturing from other parties on this issue as they try to endear themselves to voters, but until any of them shows a clear understanding and commitment to dealing with the overall structure and cost of government, their words are largely meaningless.
Rather than simply abolishing the Indemnities and Allowances commission, the Green Party urges a more comprehensive approach through a review of its selection process and mandate.
"Whether we keep the Indemnities and Allowances commission, or follow a plan to tie MLA salaries to selected measures of performance, or adopt some other mechanism, the reality is that because it represents such a small percentage of overall costs, the issue of how we determine MLA salaries is largely symbolic," stated Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Green Party. "I believe that if the public truly felt that they were getting value for money from their MLAs they would not have a problem paying them well. The bigger cost to tax payers and the more contentious issue is the gold-plated pension scheme that MLAs currently access, and the overall cost of government in this province."
The Green Party foresees some serious potential problems with the suggestion of tying MLA salaries to some measure of performance, and sees the proposal as an impractical suggestion for a number of reasons. If economic performance is one metric in use, it must be noted that many of the forces at play on the provincial economy are largely outside the control of the provincial government. Punishing or rewarding MLAs for a situation that may have little to do with their wisdom and foresight, or lack of it, makes no sense. Secondly, governing by its very nature involves making difficult decisions which will please some constituents while upsetting others. By measuring only certain criteria, there would be a temptation for unprincipled MLAs to make decisions that improve the criteria used to determine their “performance” rather than assessing the common good.
“Governing is a difficult balancing act involving the careful weighing of competing needs. The measure of any elected representative should be their commitment to the job, their honesty, and their demonstration of intellectual independence and critical thinking skills displayed consistently over time. I think the electorate instinctively knows when a representative is there primarily because of a desire to serve or for some less honourable reason,” continued Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island is strongly opposed to hydraulic fracturing - more commonly called fracking - and will do everything possible within its power, whether in government, in opposition, or simply as a voice of reason and principle, to outlaw its use on the Island.
“Green Parties throughout North America and the world have long spoken out about the profound risks to people and the environment posed by fracking, and we have been at the forefront of the movement opposed to this dangerous practice. The risks to Prince Edward Island from fracking are particularly worrisome because 100% of our potable water comes from groundwater,” said Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker.
Fracking involves drilling into bedrock and then injecting a secret cocktail of chemicals and water under tremendous pressure into the hole to shatter the rock and release the hydrocarbons trapped there. Not only is the release of this chemical stew into the ground of enormous concern itself, but each frack uses between 3 and 9 million gallons of water. That volume of water could profoundly impact water table levels all over PEI, which could have devastating effects on private wells, on city water utilities, and farmers’ abilities to irrigate their crops and provide water to their livestock. The Green Party believes that a top priority of any provincial government is to protect the health and integrity of its air, water and land, and that opening up PEI to fracking has the potential to permanently damage these irreplaceable resources.
If that were not enough, the huge quantities of water and chemicals necessary to frack a well must be trucked to the drilling site. It has been estimated that the truck traffic needed to deliver water to a single fracking well causes as much damage to local roads as nearly 3.5 million car trips. Obviously this would have a profound effect on our fragile Island road system and such a volume of traffic would ruin peaceful communities all across the province.
“Fracking is a new, extremely powerful technology, and the scope and duration of its impacts may well be unprecedented,” Bevan-Baker continued. “I don’t believe that anybody, including the industry itself fully understands the implications of the process.”
Opening up PEI to fracking will change the lives of Islanders and their families forever. The Green Party of Prince Edward Island would follow the precautionary principle when it comes to fracking and would place a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing in our province. The move towards greater regional energy independence, and the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in the future will require that we decrease, not increase our dependence on fossil fuels. As a government, the Green Party of Prince Edward Island would support and encourage development of cleaner, sustainable forms of energy such as wind, solar, tidal and biomass.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island is expressing support for the changes to health care services announced yesterday by Health Minister Doug Currie, but remains concerned about the overall direction and sustainability of health care on the Island.
“It is almost expected that opposition parties will instinctively react to any and all government initiatives with criticism and scorn,” said Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker, “but there are some ideas put forward by Doug Currie yesterday that make perfect sense to me.”
The Green Party is particularly pleased with the choice to maintain dialysis services in outlying areas – a decision that makes sense both from a human and fiscal perspective. The Green Party would like to see similar decisions which bring about the most effective and efficient means of providing health services to all Islanders from tip to tip. There was some reference in yesterday’s announcement to an increased awareness of the expanding burden of chronic disease in our system, and often a preventive approach is the most effective one for reducing this human and financial cost.
“There is no area of governance where the maxim “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is truer than in health care,” continued Bevan-Baker. “Continually expanding services to pay for sick care rather than investing in the health of Islanders with preventive programs is unsustainable.”
The Green Party would also like to take a close look at all aspects of health care spending on PEI, particularly the administrative structure, where a recent study has shown that health care administrative spending on PEI is three times more than the national average. Having parallel bodies – Health PEI and the Department of Health and Wellness – carrying out overlapping duties should be looked at.
“It is critical that all Islanders have equal access to the health services we all need, but maintaining all our hospitals in the manner in which they currently exist may not be the most efficient or effective way to accomplish this. Having facilities in appropriate places delivering appropriate services by appropriate personnel is what we need.” concluded Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island supports preservation of the senate with some improvements in the mechanism to select its members. It has recently become fashionable to attack the senate, and to rant vigorously on its failings. Unfortunately Canadians are generally unaware of the important work that the senate has performed over the years, and the Green Party of Prince Edward Island believes that it can still play a critical role in Canadian democracy.
“While I can’t defend the recent behaviour of some of our senators, I believe we need to think very carefully before we start suggesting radical reforms or abolition of the senate”, said Green Party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker. “It strikes me that the problems we have seen recently are less to do with the structure of the senate itself, and more the behaviour of some of its inhabitants.”
Originally modelled on the British House of Lords, our senate was designed to offer a place to moderate any ill-conceived or hastily passed legislation originating in the House of Commons. Another critical function the senate plays is that of representing regional interests, and this is of particular concern to Islanders. As the late Island premier Angus MacLean used to say, “More than the people need to be represented in Parliament. The land itself, and natural and economic interests need to be represented too!” Without a senate, any ability to act on such thoughts would be greatly diminished. In the Canada of today, where the Maritimes are increasingly being marginalized, PEI should seek to strengthen rather than abolish the Senate.
“I’d like to see a senate made up of stellar, independent citizens from a wide variety of backgrounds who could cast a wise and non-partisan eye over legislation.” continued Bevan-Baker. “If we carry on down the road where House of Commons legislation like the Tory omnibus bills are becoming increasingly partisan and poorly debated, we will need a capable and activist senate.”
As an outlay to the people of Canada, the senate represents a tiny cost -$3 each per year. Abolishing it will save very little money and concentrate even more power in the House of Commons, which is to say, the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Green Party believes that instead of trying to score political points by making the senate a whipping boy, we should concentrate on ways to improve the selection process and maintain our provincial quota of senators on which our number of seats in the House of Commons is based. Constitutionally, a province cannot have fewer Members of Parliament than it has senators. Based on population, it is conceivable that abolishment of the senate could reduce the number of PEI seats in the House of Commons from 4 to 1.
“Rather than put in jeopardy our provincial interests, we should be ensuring that they are strengthened and preserved,” concluded Bevan-Baker. “Maintenance of the senate, with improvements in the selection process, will restore the public’s confidence in the institution and protect our regional influence.”
Hands up all those who like paying taxes. I thought so. Politics has become so dysfunctional recently that it is virtual electoral suicide to utter the T word during a campaign - it's why Mr. Ghiz assured us during the last election, that the HST was not coming to PEI. The problem is that if we want good government, the lifeblood of that critical part of society is the income it gets from taxation. We could, of course cease collecting all taxes and dispense with government entirely, but I don't think we'd like the results. As U.S. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said - "I don't mind paying taxes, it buys me civilisation".
There is certainly an argument to be made that the recent behaviour of governments - be they provincial or federal - is enough for us to begrudge giving them anything, but that is a behavioural problem, not a structural one. I don't think people would mind paying taxes if two things existed - that they were collected in a thoughtful and equitable way, and that the proceeds were spent wisely.
As far as reckless expenditure here on PEI is concerned - take your pick; Plan B, the Borden hills, Holman Grand Hotel, brand new ministerial vehicles, or any number of failed government-backed enterprises. If we must pay taxes - and we do - let's demand that the stewards of our money treat this public revenue with the care it deserves.
Here on PEI we have current issues that highlight a deficiency on both the collection and expenditure sides of the equation. I look at government as succession planning on a large scale. It is the role and responsibility of governments to look into the future with the best information and analysis available to them and to make collective decisions that steer the boat they are captaining on the safest possible course. That way, when they pass on control to whomever follows, their job is not hampered.
Taxation policy can be used by imaginative, thoughtful governments to influence behaviour and shape the society they prefer. What Premier Ghiz refers to as a loss of “wiggle room” in adopting the HST, is in actuality a loss of our autonomy to create a tax system which reflects the values of islanders. It is yet another surrendering of the precious powers that come with being a sovereign jurisdiction. For this reason alone (and there are many other powerful and valid ones), we should not have adopted the HST.
HST creates winners and losers - as all taxes do. Some people and sectors of society will benefit, some will pay the price - literally. I'd prefer a government that used the powerful tool of taxation to shape society for the betterment of all - both present and future citizens.
But another recent story might point us in an economic direction that could finally provide PEI with a development plan that could create prosperity on our near bankrupt island, and help us avoid any future tax increases. Pigs apparently do fly – or at least a thousand island hogs with the help of a jet liner are winging their way to China. They are sought after because of the fact that we are an isolated, small jurisdiction – two features of commercial life on PEI that have forever placed us at an economic disadvantage in a world where scale and proximity to markets provide a fiscal edge. We have never been able – nor will we ever – to compete in a global market place against other regions where labour costs, environmental standards, size and geography give them an insurmountable competitive edge. What we must do, if we want to create a prosperous, sustainable and clean economy on PEI is to take advantage of the unique characteristics that exist here and create products – whether they be pigs, pottery or potatoes that are unique and of exceptional quality. I want to be clear that I don’t necessarily support the specific example of transporting hundreds of pigs across the globe on airliners, rather that this type of economic activity which flows from our uniqueness and relative isolation are where we should be focusing our fiscal energy. 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 unique qualities that make PEI such a special place. This, of course would require creative, bold political leadership with vision and courage, and that is apparently not going to come from those that have held the reins of power here for so long. What we need is a new way to govern; an administration that is transparent and accountable, has a wise long-term vision, treats all islanders with equal respect, and uses our inherent strengths in a way that builds a better, stronger PEI.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island has come out in strong opposition to Senator Duffy’s recent suggestion of Maritime Union, referring to the idea as “jurisdictional suicide.” Prince Edward Island can boast of a long democratic tradition, beginning with Representative Government (the convening of our first Legislative Assembly) in 1773 and Responsible Government in 1851. Last year, the Island celebrated the 160th anniversary of Responsible Government.
“One of PEI’s more precious assets is its status as a province, and the idea that we should consider surrendering this for the possibility of some cost-savings is completely misguided,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Green Party leader. “Our gift of jurisdiction gives us the capacity to develop creative policies to help us excel, economically, socially and culturally.”
The Green Party recognises the potential of cost savings by entering into purchase agreements with the other Maritime Provinces, but suggests that this would not require political union.
“Instead of Senator Duffy floating such nonsensical ideas, why is he not fighting to save the estimated 500 federal jobs that our province is slated to lose in the next year and which will have a devastating impact on the island economy?” continued Bevan-Baker. “It is astonishing for me to hear a born and bred islander talking of voluntarily surrendering our provincial privileges for something so mundane.”
The Green Party believes that PEI should be taking advantage of its jurisdictional independence and growing parts of its economy that reflect our uniqueness, and opportunities that flow from our ability to develop distinct, quality island brands.
In contrast, the Green Party expresses its sadness at the passing of Gilbert Clements, a politician who was widely respected and could be aptly described as PEI’s first green politician. “Much of the innovative legislation which was passed during his term as environment minister could never be enacted if we were to lose our provincial status. The enormous benefits that come from having the autonomy of a province is something we should not give up lightly,” concluded Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party is also shocked at Senator Duffy’s statements that seniors returning to PEI are a burden on our provincial treasury when in fact they have and will continue to make valuable contributions to our economy and our Island as a whole. Greens would welcome back all islanders, and indeed any retirees who would like to move here.
Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker is promising, if elected in 2015 to call for a full-scale public inquiry into the Provincial Nominee Program. In doing so, he is endorsing a Guardian Editorial published just over a year ago.
“The release of recipients names last week answered one small question surrounding the Provincial Nominee Program, but is leaves so many larger, more important questions unanswered. The level of public interest, and the cloud of suspicion that continues to hang over this issue makes a full-scale public inquiry an absolute necessity,” says Bevan-Baker.
“The authority for conducting such an inquiry is available through current provincial legislation,” continued Bevan-Baker. “The Public Inquiries Act gives a commissioner the power to call any witnesses, who are compelled to testify under oath and produce any documents in their possession. Premier Ghiz could call for such an inquiry immediately, and if he really wanted to get to the bottom of this and clear the air, that’s exactly what he would do.”
“Nobody really knows the extent of the problems surrounding PNP”, Bevan-Baker added, “but the amount of money involved – almost half a billion dollars - is about twice the entire sum associated with the sponsorship scandal in Quebec which brought down Paul Martin and the federal Liberals so humiliatingly a decade ago. If only some of the allegations being made surrounding the program on PEI are true, then PNP issue could well be the biggest uninvestigated political boondoogle in Island history. We need an inquiry to get the facts out.”
Bevan-Baker feels that it is critical, in order that Islanders can have restored faith in the governing structures of this province, that a full public inquiry be held. “Without one, the negative perception held by most Islanders unfairly tarnishes those companies who took proper advantage of a legitimate government program designed to encourage economic development rather than personal enrichment.”
“Until we know who made what decisions and who benefitted, we are left imagining all sorts of very unwholesome thoughts. Accountability and transparency in government are of paramount importance to the Green Party of PEI, and the precious relationship of trust and respect that has to exist between those who govern and those who are governed needs to be nurtured, not undermined. The failings around PNP are also a measure of our jurisdictional competency,” concluded Bevan-Baker: “We need to demonstrate that we are capable of investigating this fairly and thoroughly and putting our provincial house in order.”
The Green Party of PEI is registering its regret at the cancellation of a music program in the Eastern School District which was announced yesterday.
“The cancellation of the highly successful and popular strings program is a short-sighted mistake,” says Green party leader, Peter Bevan-Baker. “It is another example of how the administration in our island education system is marginalising and discounting the value of arts in our schools.”
The Green Party believes that we have to start asking some fundamental questions about the purpose of our education system. The arts offer unparalleled opportunities for children to learn responsibility, teamwork, striving for individual excellence in the context of a co-operative venture, critical thinking skills and creativity. In short, incorporating the arts into our education system creates better citizens. Numerous studies have shown the value of maintaining a strong arts component in an educational system, demonstrating that students are happier and smarter following a curriculum that includes the arts. Music in particular offers a forum within which children learn science, math, geography, history and language arts.
“We are fortunate to have such a well established music program throughout our island school system, and it should be protected and enhanced. I have seen quiet, insecure students blossom into outgoing, confident people as a result of participating in arts programs in our schools,” continued Bevan-Baker.
The Green Party also recognises string playing as an important historical thread in island heritage and culture, and that our fiddle music in particular represents a way of overcoming generational barriers and telling an oral history of ourselves to each other and our visitors. The Green Party calls for the board to revisit this decision and to reinstate the string program in the Eastern School District.
Elizabeth May visits protest camp with Bevan-Baker
The Plan B protest in Bonshaw is no longer about stopping the inevitable highway, rather, highlighting poor government, says Peter Bevan-Baker.
About to be sworn in as provincial leader of the Green Party, he was at the Plan B protest site off the Peters Road in Bonshaw Friday, hosting Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party for a brief visit of the protest camp.
May had just arrived on the Island, here for the provincial Green Party's convention now underway in Charlottetown.
Read more.... From the Guardian
Green Leadership Convention Schedule:
8:30 – 9:15 am Registration/Coffee
9:15 – 9:30 am Introduction to the Day’s Events
9:30 10:00 am Keynote Speaker: George McRobie
10:00 10:15 am Coffee Break
10:15 10:30 am Panel Introduction: Daryl Guignion
10:30 – 11:00 am Panel 1/Q&A: Water
11:00 – 11:30am Panel 2/Q&A: – Land Use
11:30 Lunch Hosted by Peter Bevan-Baker
Green Party of PEI Leadership Convention is set for November 2nd & 3rd at the Guild in Charlottetown.
“The need for a party focused on sustainable economic renewal along with a commitment to the principle of government accountability has never been more apparent. The Green Party provides Prince Edward Island with just such an option.” said Sarah Jones, President of The Green Party of Prince Edward Island.
“In the last election, The Green Party took third place in voter preference. We intend to use the leadership convention to build on this momentum and challenge the current government by electing a dynamic new leader, expanding our membership base and by demonstrating to all Islanders that our goals are not only achievable but will provide a pathway to stability and long-term prosperity” stated Jones.
Peter Bevan-Baker has declared his intention to run for Green Party leadership and filed his nomination papers.
Nominations are being accepted until October 3rd.
The Green Party of PEI is calling on Janice Sherry, Minister of Environment, Labour and Justice to act following a request for review and investigation submitted by PEI residents to her Department regarding its regulation of a shale excavation pit in the Bonshaw area. The government is currently in negotiations to buy or expropriate the site, which is near the proposed Plan B Trans Canada Highway realignment.
“The way that the Plan B highway project is being rushed through without any regard for the public is troubling enough,” says Green Party president Sarah Jones. “But now we learn that Environment’s handling of this large shale pit has raised concerns. Without proper oversight and regulation, this could have significant consequences for the environment. The safety and health of our natural and physical surroundings are matters of public interest. They are vital to our lives and wellbeing. Sacrificing them for the sake of expediency is irresponsible. The public has the right to participate in environmental protection, and the Green Party supports this request for investigation. The Minister needs to examinethis matter and ensure that all activities with environmental consequences comply with environmental regulations. Minister Sherry must ensure that the laws protecting our environment are enforced.” Prince Edward Island has a history of inadequate inspection and regulation of excavation pits. In 1997 the Recommendations of the Round Table on Resource Land Use and Stewardship addressed widespread problems related to the restoration of abandoned excavation pits, including poor oversight and inadequate regulations. Numerous freedom of information requests and judicial reviews have found persistent failures in compliance and enforcement of regulations. The Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance 2009 noted no progress in this area since 1997. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s current website identifies similar problems, including the Department of Environment’s inability to enforce regulations that direct the operation and restoration of excavation pits, and the abandonment of pits for which no permit was issued. The website states that the Department of Environment has the power to order compliance, but it emphasises the importance of public complaints in order to ensure compliance. It concludes: “In our opinion, the first priority should be to deal with active pits in a more acceptable manner.” The opening, operating and restoration of excavation pits in PEI fall under the Environmental Protection Act and Excavation Pit Regulations, which identify the application process for pit permits, requirements for operating and restoring a pit, and penalties for not complying with the legislation. The Department of Environment, Labour and Justice is responsible for enforcing both the Act and Regulations. - 30 -
Peter Bevan-Baker today announced his intention to seek the leadership of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. A dentist by profession, Bevan-Baker is a well-known musician, environmentalist and powerful advocate for his community, province and country. He has been associated with the Green Party for over twenty years, running as a candidate both federally and provincially. His first election in 1993 resulted in him receiving one of the highest vote counts of any Green Party candidate in Canada, and he has maintained a high profile in Green politics ever since.
“After several weeks of discussions with family, friends and supporters from across the province, I have decided that the time is right,” says Bevan-Baker. “I want to challenge Islanders to reassess their voting behaviour. For too long the Liberals and Conservatives have dominated the political scene in Prince Edward Island, with a spectacular record of failure on economic, social, environmental and fiscal issues. The need for fundamental change has never been clearer. I believe the Green Party offers a modern vision and practical approach to governance and economic development that can place Prince Edward Island at the forefront of the profound economic and social changes sweeping the globe. I especially want to see the farming community on PEI prosper while also protecting our environment. We can do it together.”
“The problems I saw developing two decades ago have now matured. I’m not a politician who sugar-coats things and I think the public is acutely aware that something is not quite right on Prince Edward Island. Our province needs leadership that is principled and visionary. I am dismayed by the Ghiz government as they appear to lurch from one crisis to the next, wilfully ignoring the needs and preferences of Islanders. There appears to be no end to their arrogance and no beginning to their vision.”
“My commitment to Green Party principles has not wavered. I have a vision for Prince Edward Island where our young people will want to stay and be able to do so, where our seniors are supported and honoured for their many contributions, where we have an innovative health care system that meets the needs of Islanders, where a healthy environment is seen as a cornerstone of an innovative and sustainable economic model, where our infrastructure development meets the needs of our economy and our citizens, where government spending is controlled, focused and reflects the priorities of its citizens, where government respects the views and opinions of its citizens, and where government is once again respected for doing things right.”
Residents of Hampton, Bevan-Baker and his wife Ann have four children, and recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. “Part of my decision to run for the leadership now is that my job as a Dad is largely done – our kids have all left home and are leading independent lives. Ann and I have taken our role as parents very seriously, and our children have been the centre of our lives for a long time. As they move on to fulfil their own ambitions, I am now ready to offer the members of the Green Party and the people of Prince Edward Island my full commitment to the pursuit of our shared goals and vision.”
Darcie Lanthier is a longtime resident of Mermaid, where along with her husband Peter they built a home for their three sons Ian, Phillip, and David. She is committed to raising a healthy family and building a healthy community. Their property has been pesticide free since day one and Darcie has long been a proponent of organic gardening and landscaping. To connect with her new community, she joined the Mermaid Women's Institute soon after building her home twenty-six years ago. Darcie has since served on the PEI-WI Provincial Board and was recently honoured at Government House with a Life Membership.
Darcie Lanthier ran as a Green Party candidate in Morell/Mermaid, District 7 in the last provincial election. She currently serves on the Green Party of PEI Provincial Council as Treasurer. “The fact that the Green Party is policy based with a compassionate, ethical long-term vision for the future is why I am Green. Other parties create election platforms that don’t seem to mean a thing when the polls close.” says Lanthier. With a strong record of project management, Darcie is proud to have built a record of entrepreneurial success. She was a founding partner of Mermaid Art Inc., the Island’s foremost art publisher, the leading regional supplier of art for hospitality developments and a beautiful gallery specializing in Island art. In 2006 Mermaid Art was awarded the Downtown Charlottetown Inc. Business Improvement of the Year Award for their work on “Thomas’ Old Stand,” the oldest commercial property in the Charlottetown core where they converted the second and third floors into Mermaid Suites, a Canada Select four star hospitality property.
Darcie looks familiar because it’s likely that at some time in the last 25 years she has sold you a raffle ticket or auction item, baked for you, donated something for your auction, served you dinner, organized your event, car-pooled your children or driven you to the polls. She may have welcomed you to the school or congratulated your graduate; certainly she has always encouraged you to take care of our shared environment and exercise your right to vote.
An active and enthusiastic member of the community, Darcie has been an active executive member of the Home & School Association for area schools including Glen Stewart Primary & Elementary, Donagh Regional, and Stonepark Junior High, and is currently serving at Charlottetown Rural. She is a passionate supporter of Prince Edward Island athletics, serving as the President of the PEI Tackle Football League, Manager of the Canada Games Wrestling Team - Female, and the Events Chair for Wrestling PEI. A long time practitioner of the three R’s, Darcie is an advocate for improved nutrition, particularly for children. Her goal is to lead a life as contaminant free as possible, and hopes to help Prince Edward Islanders do the same.
Millvale – Green Party of PEI leader Sharon Labchuk announced today she is stepping down. The party will appoint an interim leader and in due time hold a leadership convention.
Labchuk founded the Green Party in 2005 and under her leadership the party placed third, behind the Conservatives, in both the 2007 and 2011 elections, and increased the party’s votes per district in 2011 despite a drop in voter turnout.
“I’m proud that over the past seven years we’ve established ourselves as a serious party capable of attracting high caliber candidates, “ said Labchuk. “Our election platform encompassed all issues, from environment and economy to democracy and health, and introduced practical, progressive and uniquely green policies that set us apart from the old-line parties.”
The Green Party of PEI is the first party in the history of Canada to have run a slate of candidates with more than 50% women said Labchuk, “ And as far as I know, we’re the first PEI party to have had a MI’kmaq candidate, and a woman at that. We’ve raised the bar and shown young girls and women that at least one political party seeks out and welcomes women candidates.”
Labchuk says she will not be leaving politics entirely as she still works with Elizabeth May as the national Director of Organizing for the federal Green Party.
“But I’m looking forward to getting back to environmental activism with Earth Action. I have unfinished business with the industrial agriculture and pesticide industries,” said Labchuk. “It was the massive fish kills, the cancer-causing potato pesticides in our air, and the relentless contamination of our drinking water with chemical fertilizer that compelled me to start a political party that has advocated for a 100% organic province from day one. The situation remains serious.”
Millvale – The Green Party of PEI is urging Environment Minister Richard Brown to bone up on the causes and effects of climate change and study progressive energy policies in other jurisdictions after Brown announced he is seeking to lower the cost of electricity for high-use Maritime Electric customers. “This is really just beyond belief,” said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. “The life support systems of the planet are rapidly deteriorating, the future of life on Earth is in jeopardy and scientists are telling us only an immediate and radical reduction in climate change gases will avert catastrophe. Government has an obligation to enact policies that cut climate change emissions, not increase them.” Brown said the intent of cheaper electricity rates for high-use customers is to give farm businesses a break. Included in the block of customers that would benefit from lower rates, according to Brown, are about 1,700 high-use residential customers. Statistically, high-use residential customers have higher than average incomes. “Giving cheaper electric rates to farm businesses and higher income consumers means that lower and middle income Islanders and people doing their best to conserve energy are subsidizing big consumers,” said Labchuk. “This is contrary to the polluter pay principle and does nothing to curb energy use. If the Ghiz government wants to do something for agriculture, it can stop subsidizing unsustainable farm businesses that pollute everyone else’s drinking water and air, and start transitioning these farms to organic agriculture.” Labchuk said a Green party government would support time-of-use electric rates like those enjoyed by Ontario residents. Electricity would be priced at different rates throughout the day so energy-conscious people can choose to use electricity when it’s cheapest. “Practical ideas abound for large scale reductions in electricity use and climate change emissions,” said Labchuk. “By not biting the bullet today, we place a major economic burden on our children. They will be forced to deal with the worst consequences of climate change, in effect paying for current government policies that do too little too late.”
Millvale - The Green Party of PEI is opposed to any change in legislation that will force small-scale egg producers out of business and is condemning factory farm egg producers for proposing that virtually all egg production be controlled by the Egg Producers of PEI.
Small-scale egg producers are allowed to keep 300 hens and sell their eggs at farmer’s markets or the farm gate but factory farm egg producers want this number slashed to 50 hens, a move that small farmers say will end the supply of safe, healthy eggs from farms where animal suffering is not a normal farm practice.
“The Egg Producers of PEI are 11 corporate farmers who produce more than 39 million eggs per year with hens kept in the most wretched and brutal of conditions,” said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. “Hens with the ends of their sensitive beaks cut off are crammed into tiny wire cages and stacked in buildings housing thousands of birds. Each hen lives in a space smaller than a sheet of paper, without opportunity to ever go outdoors or experience natural social, feeding, and bedding behaviours.”
Labchuk said many scientists agree the shift in the last century to factory farmed egg production has been an animal welfare disaster, with the United Nations identifying farming methods that crowd huge numbers of animals into small spaces as one of the root causes of the bird flu epidemic. She said factory farming is one of the nation’s worst polluters of air and water and a major contributor to climate change.
“The Green party very much supports the small-scale production of organic food as the best option for providing safe healthy food for Islanders, rejuvenating rural communities, and protecting our drinking water and soil. We would dismantle the unsustainable industrial agriculture system and in particular work to quickly shut down factory farm egg production,” said Labchuk. “There is no way hens can be kept in those inherently cruel concentrations camps without being fed a continuous supply of drugs and antibiotics, and by the time the industry is done with them, after only one year, their poor broken little bodies are completely worn out. Factory farm egg production is truly one of humanity’s low points.”
Labchuk said the Green party would reduce the power of industry groups, like the Egg Producers of PEI, that try to undermine and crush small-scale farmers.
Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262
Cabinet shuffle bad news for environment and human health
Millvale – Premier Ghiz’s cabinet shuffle is bad news for the environment and human health. According to the premier, the shuffle is designed to “ better reflect government’s priorities over the next few years”. The promotion of potato producer and Minister of Agriculture George Webster to deputy premier is a clear signal the Ghiz government intends to ramp up support for industrial agriculture, said Green party leader Sharon Labchuk.
“This appointment comes on the heels of the release of the Commission on Land Use and Local Governance which recommends increased support for industrial agriculture and an exemption for large corporate farms to own more land than what is allowed under the Lands Protection Act,” says Labchuk. “And last month lawn pesticide legislation was passed that does nothing but ban one pesticide and numerous organic products. After all these years of Islanders lobbying and complaining about contaminated groundwater and air, this is what they get.”
Labchuk says it was the Liberal government of the 1980’s, under Premier Joe Ghiz, that encouraged the potato industry through subsidies to expand potato acreage by 70% with a corresponding increase in chemical fertilizer and pesticide use.
“Environment Canada air monitoring tests show PEI’s air is laced with a cocktail of pesticides known to cause cancer. These pesticides are mainly potato fungicides and there is no way to eliminate or even reduce the amount of fungicides used on potatoes grown in this industrial monocrop system,” said Labchuk. “Scientists at the University of Waterloo found that trace amounts of pesticides, too small to even be measured until recently, can wipe out immune systems in animals exactly the way drugs administered to human organ transplant recipients do, so that organs aren’t rejected. Everyone living in PEI breathes agricultural pesticides. The implications for human health, in light of this research and what we already know about the toxicity of agricultural pesticides, are horrifying.”
Scientists said impaired immune systems could lead to humans dying of infections or diseases that a healthy person would be able to resist easily. Combine damaged immune systems with pesticides known to cause cancer and strongly linked to learning disabilities, birth defects, lowered IQ, and reproductive problems, it’s no wonder the levels of cancer, asthma, allergies and other diseases are so high, said Labchuk.
“This latest round of announcements from Premier Ghiz is just so discouraging,” said Labchuk. “Not only has industrial agriculture contaminated the air we breathe but virtually every drop of drinking water in PEI is polluted with chemical fertilizer. He is taking this province further down the path of industrial agriculture when it is so obvious it’s destroying the environment, ruining lives and costing taxpayers a fortune in subsidies and health care costs.”
Labchuk said with the era of fossil fuels coming to a close chemical fertilizers and pesticides produced from fossil fuels will not even be available, so the switch to organic agriculture must happen sooner rather than later if PEI is to avoid economic and social upheaval and have any chance at all of food security.
“The Green party would immediately shift to an organic system of agriculture and dismantle the potato industry,” said Labchuk. “The Department of Agriculture would serve the interests of Islanders, making the production of organic food for local consumption a priority, rather than pandering to the interests of big agriculture.”
Millvale-There is no question PEI needs a land use plan but the Liberal government plan released last week lacks vision, recycles bad policies already in place and guarantees human health, quality of life and the environment will continue to deteriorate, says Green Party of PEI leader Sharon Labchuk.
“The Liberals are clearly going to bat for corporate agriculture, even though agribiz, and the potato industry in particular, are responsible for devastating damage to land, water, soil, air, wildlife, human health and rural economies,” said Labchuk. “The commission’s focal point for a new land use vision, one that would promote a prosperous, unpolluted and healthy Island, should have been recommendations to put up road blocks to industrial agriculture and open doors for organic agriculture.”
Instead, said the Green party, the Commission did an end run around the Lands Protection Act by recommending corporate farms be allowed to own more land than the 3000 acre limit currently imposed on other Islanders. The Commission recommended no increase in the size of hopelessly inadequate 15 metre buffer zones between sprayed fields and streams, said Labchuk, but did recommend increased subsidies to growers who pollute air and water with chemicals.
“Virtually every drop of drinking water in PEI is contaminated with chemical fertilizer and we have yet to see the full extent of pollution from decades of dumping known groundwater polluting pesticides into the environment,” said Labchuk. “We all breathe air laced with a cocktail of cancer-causing pesticides and the situation worsens with each passing year. Coincidentally so does the incidence of cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s and other diseases. No land use recommendations in this report will stop this pollution.”
Some Islanders will remember that prior to 1990 the Island landscape looked very different and the quality of air and water was better. The Liberal government of the time increased subsidies to industrial agriculture so that potato acreage increased by 70%, encroaching on homes, schools, tourist accommodations and watercourses, and pesticide use increased by at least 500%.
“Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour Minister Carolyn Bertram says she will launch public consultations based on the Liberal party vision for the Island,” said Labchuk. “This vision includes continued support for industrial agriculture and guarantees the air Islanders breathe will remain contaminated with toxic levels of pesticides. For many Islanders the Liberal party vision is their worst nightmare.”
The Guardian (Prince Edward Island)
Tuesday December 22, 2009
Imagine Environment Minister Richard Brown sitting at his desk with two piles of paper in front of him. One pile is the Ontario legislation banning 85 pesticide active ingredients for use on lawns and gardens. The other pile is the New Brunswick legislation banning just one pesticide. What to do, he wonders.
By then, Minister Brown has already received a petition from 4,200 Islanders asking for a ban on cosmetic pesticides. And public hearings held by his government resulted in more than 150 presentations from individuals and organizations representing thousands of Islanders demanding a ban.
Well, we all know what Minister Brown decided to do. Instead of opting to copy Ontario's legislation or do even better, he completely betrayed Islanders. He copied New Brunswick's legislation. Why would he do this? Why would he not follow Ontario's example and protect children, pets, wildlife, groundwater and waterways from these dangerous poisons?
Your guess is as good as mine but I think the Ghiz government cares more about the pesticide and industrial agriculture industry than it does about the rest of us. Both of these industries lobby hard to ensure governments don't ban pesticides.
It will be business as usual for lawn spray companies next summer. They'll lose the use of one banned pesticide, 2,4-D, but the rest of their toxic arsenal will continue to poison us. People will still be able to buy the usual pesticides in stores, except for the banned 2,4-D.
The smoke and mirrors game government played with this legislation led many people to believe 240 pesticides had been banned. In fact, most of the 240 pesticide brand-name products on the banned list are there because they contain 2,4-D. Some other brand-name products containing different pesticides are banned because they're sold as concentrates or granulars. But pre-mixed products with the same active ingredients will still be for sale in stores.
Minister Brown owes Islanders an explanation. Why did he pick the weakest legislation available? Why does his government think 12 million people in Ontario deserve more protection from toxic lawn and garden pesticides than we do?
leader, Green Party of P.E.I.
Millvale – The Ghiz government’s proposed lawn pesticide legislation is a massive betrayal of PEI citizens by their own government, charges the Green Party of Prince Edward Island. Green party leader Sharon Labchuk said Islanders have been lobbying and agitating for 20 years for a ban on lawn pesticides only to end up with the some of the worst legislation in the country. “Premier Ghiz had a choice,” said Labchuk. “He could have adopted Ontario’s legislation, widely regarded as the best in any country. Instead, he chose to copy New Brunswick’s legislation, some of the least effective legislation for protecting human health and the environment.” PEI’s legislation only bans one pesticide, the herbicide 2,4-D, while Ontario bans over 80 pesticide active ingredients. Lawn spray companies will continue to operate as usual but without this one herbicide. Golf courses are exempt and will still be allowed to use 2,4-D. “The province lists over 200 pesticide products that will be prohibited for use by homeowners but most of them contain 2,4-D which will be banned anyway,” said Labchuk. “Others on the list are prohibited for sale as concentrates or as granular products but will still be available in stores as pre-mixed ready-to-use products. So while a list of over 200 products may sound like people will be less exposed to these poisons, the reality is that only one pesticide is banned and the prohibitions, except for 2,4-D, do not apply to lawn spray companies. It’s a total sham.” Labchuk questions why Premier Ghiz does not think Islanders are worthy of the same protection from toxic pesticides that people in Ontario and Quebec were given by their governments. “There is still time for Premier Ghiz to do the right thing and amend this bill, to make it at least as effective as Ontario’s legislation, if not better,” said Labchuk. “But he won’t do it willingly. Islanders need to tell their MLAs they will not settle for second class status and that children, not the pesticide industry, deserve protection.” -30-
Millvale – Premier Ghiz is lamenting the lack of people in the P.E.I. legislature to challenge his ideas and engage in passionate debate but there is a simple solution to the lifeless and uninspiring house, according to the Green Party of PEI.
“It’s called proportional representation,” said Green party leader Sharon Labchuk. “The lop-sided legislatures we end up with in the first past the post voting system means one party is over-represented, another party is the toothless opposition, and others are shut out.”
Proportional representation, the voting system used by most Western democracies, ensures every vote counts by electing members to the legislature according to the number of votes each party receives. The first past the post system, chosen for PEI when it was a British colony, distorts election results so that one party can hold the majority of seats even though it did not win a majority of votes. The result is a weak opposition that cannot hold government accountable and the marginalization of citizens whose votes don’t count.
“The Liberals and Conservatives are so closely aligned in terms of policy and ethics that they are indistinguishable. It is no wonder the legislature is a stagnant pool of political thinking, lacking passion and grand new ideas,” said Labchuk. “With proportional representation, the Greens would have MLAs in the legislature and I can guarantee we would breathe new life into the place with a green vision for combating climate change and taking better care of our environment, our health and our economy.”
The Green party is calling on Premier Ghiz to sign the Declaration of Voters’ Rights, launched last month by Fair Vote Canada to give voters a means of demanding democratic rights to equal votes, fair election results and legitimate majority rule.
“Premier Ghiz would realize his dream of more people in the legislature to challenge his ideas if his government committed to bringing PEI’s voting system into the 21st century with proportional,” said Labchuk.
References: Declaration of Voters’ Rights http://www.fairvote.ca/
Millvale – The Green Party of PEI says the recent front page headline “Finding a Cure” in the Guardian, about a biotechnology corporation’s quest to produce a marketable cure for Parkinson’s disease, is a sad and disturbing commentary on the state of health care in Prince Edward Island.
“More than thirty years of research paints a compelling picture of an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in populations exposed to agricultural pesticides in the air, dust and water,” said Green party leader Sharon Labchuk. “In the past year consensus has been building even more quickly in the scientific and advocacy communities as new studies add to the body of evidence. Islanders should be especially alarmed at research published in the June issue of Environmental Health Perspectives that shows people living in agricultural regions, and exposed to pesticides commonly used on PEI potatoes, are at increased risk for Parkinson’s.”
Labchuk said the association between Parkinson’s and pesticides used on PEI potatoes has been public information for years yet neither Conservative nor Liberal governments in PEI have acted to protect citizens from a clearly preventable cause of this disease. Environment Canada monitoring found PEI air is contaminated with a cocktail of agricultural pesticides.
“The tragedy of lives compromised by preventable causes of this disease is bad enough. But the cost to PEI taxpayers for health care is spinning out of control, while other programs suffer from lack of funding, because government just doesn’t get that illness prevention makes economic sense,” said Labchuk. “ Instead, Liberal and Conservative governments support subsidies to an agriculture industry that makes people sick and drives up health care costs.”
The Green Party of PEI would immediately transition PEI into an organic province, including removing all support from producers not willing to transition and levying provincial sales tax and a toxic tax on chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Contact: Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1261
Millvale – The provincial government’s newly-announced early intervention program to help Island students reach higher academic standards is not early enough to save children from preventable causes of learning disabilities and lowered IQ said the Green Party of PEI.
“A study of children living within one and a half kilometres of sprayed agricultural fields in North Dakota shows those children performed significantly lower than their peers in IQ tests,” says Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. “Children living near sprayed fields also had lower scores in verbal comprehension, visual perceptual reasoning, memory and mental processing speed.”
Labchuk said many scientists and doctors have long linked pesticide exposure to brain damage in children and many pesticides commonly used on PEI farm fields are identified as toxic to children’s brains. Environment Canada air monitoring studies show PEI air is laced with a cocktail of potato pesticides, even in areas distant from sprayed fields.
“The frightening reality for PEI children, is that very few live more than a kilometer and a half away from sprayed fields.,” said Labchuk. “My research shows most Island children go to schools located within one kilometer of a sprayed field and most rural schools are located within a half kilometre of sprayed fields. The children don’t stand a chance.”
The Green Party would immediately shift all agriculture to organic practices and in the short term implement a two kilometre no spray zone around every school.
“Escalating health care costs continue to gobble up the provincial budget while the root causes of ill health and low academic scores are ignored. It’s typical of the old line political parties to subsidize things that harm people and the environment, industrial agriculture is a good example, and then throw even more money at the problems created by bad economic decisions,” said Labchuk.
“Education Minister Gerard Greenan wants to spend more tax dollars to help children struggling with school and while this may be necessary because Island children today have been exposed to brain damaging pesticides since conception, it certainly isn’t a long term solution. Early intervention means protecting children from toxic chemical exposure in the first place, not throwing money at them after they’ve been damaged.”
Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262
Tuesday November 18, 2008
Millvale - With the first reading last week of an act to amend the Election Act, the Green Party of PEI is claiming a victory for democracy and the rights of small parties to not be financially penalized for participating in democracy.
The amendment will strike down an unconstitutional provision allowing government to seize the $200 candidate deposit from every candidate who does not get at least half as many votes as the winning candidate.
The same act will make candidates get 25 nomination signatures from voters, up from the current 10. This is out of line with more progressive legislation in other provinces and serves no useful purpose, stated the Green Party.
"The Green Party appealed to Premier Ghiz immediately after the election to return candidate deposits," says Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "It's too bad we had to retain a lawyer and threaten legal action before this issue caught his attention."
Similar provisions in Canada's and Ontario's election acts were held unconstitutional in two separate decisions of the Superior Court of Ontario in 1999 and 2007. The courts found that such deposit requirements interfered with the rights of candidates and supporters of small parties to participate in elections and contravened the electoral fairness required by section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Labchuk said that while the the amendment will remove one barrier to small parties attempting to grow, the PEI Election Act is in desperate need of revision.
"Compared to other provinces, PEI has one of the most undemocratic election acts in the country. You'd almost think it was written to exclude participation by new parties," says Labchuk. "For example, the Green Party of PEI is the only party in the history of Canada forced to pay $1000 to register as a new party. The other provinces don't even charge a fee. We requested a refund from both the Binns and Ghiz governments in the spirit of fairness but got no response."
Labchuk said the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that elections act requirements that interfere with the rights of smaller political parties to play a meaningful role in the electoral process contravene the Charter.
"The Green Party will be pushing hard to revise PEI's Election Act so that the rights of smaller parties and their supporters are upheld. Old-line parties dominate Island politics only because our laws stack the deck in their favour," said Labchuk. "The Act is full of unfair provisions, like unlimited campaign donations from corporations, unions and non-residents which aren't allowed in some other provinces and at the federal level" said Labchuk.
"In particular, we'll focus on radically reducing allowable campaign spending limits so that they're comparable to what candidates and parties are permitted to spend in other provinces and in federal elections," said Labchuk. "In the Superior Court of Ontario case, the judge said that effective communication requires money, and those having access to the most money may be able to monopolize the election discourse. We saw this in the last election when the Liberals absolutely hammered Islanders with expensive advertizing."
GREEN PARTY OF PEI
More fish kills - Ghiz government a disappointment
Millvale- Continued fish kills and contaminated drinking water show the Ghiz government is just as unmotivated as the previous Conservative government to protect the environment and Islanders' health from the agriculture industry's decades-long chemical assault, charges the Green Party of Prince Edward Island.
"The Liberals are a huge disappointment to people who thought a change in government might bring fresh ideas and renewed interest in stopping the massive agricultural chemical problems PEI has endured for so long," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "But Premier Ghiz signaled his intentions quite clearly when he made George Webster, one of the Island's bigger potato producers, Minister of Environment, and then created a new position within the Department of Agriculture to support the potato industry."
Until government understands that problems caused by industrial agriculture must be looked at from a holistic perspective, nothing will change said Labchuk. Creating committees to study the individual effects of industrial agriculture - like nitrate pollution, fish kills and soil erosion - give the illusion of government action but the problems are interconnected and cannot be solved one by one.
"It's pointless to spend taxpayers money to study ways to reduce nitrates in rivers when massive quantities of chemical pesticides are required by potatoes grown on an industrial scale", said Labchuk. " Every Islander inhales cancer-causing potato pesticides for 5 or 6 months of the year and there is no solution to this problem except to shift to organic agriculture. This would solve many problems with dead fish and other wildlife, soil erosion, contaminated drinking water, cancer, learning disabilities and other very serious human health effects."
Labchuk said the Ghiz government's proposal to reduce nitrates in rivers and drinking water to tolerable levels is a sham as there is no science to prove any unnatural level of nitrate is safe.
"The natural background level of nitrates in PEI drinking water is close to zero - anything higher than 1 milligram per litre is pollution. Except for certain point sources of nitrates, like leaking septic tanks or a manure piles, almost all nitrate pollution in PEI is caused by agricultural fertilizers," said Labchuk. "Scientists are beginning to study the effects of nitrates on human and animal health below the supposed safe level of 10 milligrams per litre and the results are worrisome. With virtually every Islander forced to drink nitrate-polluted water and breathe pesticide-contaminated air you would think this would be a priority for any government but in PEI protecting the potato industry always comes first."
With the fossil fuel age drawing to a close, the Green Party would implement a plan to shift agriculture from dependence on fossil fuel inputs like chemical fertilizers and pesticides to organic agriculture. The shift is critical to ensure a supply of safe, locally produced food, to end the tragic human health and environmental effects of agrochemical use and to protect the economy from upheaval as fossil fuel prices continue to escalate.
Monday May 12, 2008
Millvale - The Green Party of PEI has called on the Minister of Education and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to pull all pre-1994 school buses off the road because they are a toxic threat to children's health. Last week all 76 of the Province's pre-1994 school buses were taken off the road after the discovery of serious rust problems.
The Department of Education announced that 21 of these older buses are back in service today and some others may be repaired and put back on the road.
"Spending tax payers' money to repair these old buses is a huge waste," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "Pre-1994 diesel school buses are the absolute worst for poisoning children while they ride the buses. The buses are too old to be retrofitted to reduce pollution and other jurisdictions in North America are getting rid of them."
Exhaust from diesel school buses is sucked inside the buses and pre-1994 models are known to have high levels of fumes and particulate matter in school bus air that cause a wide range of heath problems including cancer, as well as trigger asthma attacks and worsen allergy symptoms.
Diesel exhaust can irritate eyes and lungs and cause light-headedness, headache, weakness, coughing, nausea, loss of appetite, poor coordination, and difficulty concentrating.
The Green Party would retrofit all newer school buses to reduce toxic exhaust exposure, gradually replace the 1994-2003 model buses, and establish a Healthy School Bus program with the goal of reducing childhood exposure to diesel exhaust in school buses. We would also enact no-idle legislation. In the short term, government should advise students, parents and school bus drivers about how to reduce exposure, including discouraging children from sitting in the back of buses where pollution levels are highest and keeping windows open.
Contact: Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262 www.greenparty.pe.ca
For more information:
Reducing Children's Exposures on Board School Buses - Ontario and Toronto
Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto
Clean School Bus USA
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Diesel School Bus Retrofit Project in Abbtsford, BC
A school board partnership with Environment Canada
Evaluation of the Levels of Diesel-related Pollutants on School Buses During the Transportation of Children
New Brunswick Lung Association
Healthy School Program - School Bus Idling
New Brunswick Department of Education Anti-Idling Legislation
22.214.171.124 A driver must avoid idling the school bus. This includes during drop-off
and boarding times at school, when the bus is awaiting student
dismissal and when parked. School buses may only idle during
extreme weather conditions.
Natural Resources Canada
Wednesday April 2, 2008
Green Party successfully challenges Province House regulation
Millvale - The Green Party of PEI has successfully challenged a regulation that denied parties with unelected members the right to meet with media in Province House in the designated area for interviews following sessions of the Legislative Assembly.
PEI becomes the first province in Canada to recognize that parties unrepresented in a Legislative Assembly should not be excluded from equal opportunity to comment on public policy and the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly. The Government of Canada prohibits parties with no elected members from entering the media foyer at the House of Commons.
"We're pleasantly surprised that Speaker of the House Kathleen Casey quickly changed this ruling and agreed with us that it placed parties not represented in the assembly at a distinct disadvantage," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "She said that the assembly serves to promote free and open discourse, and the situation was untenable."
The Green Party supports grassroots democracy and the removal of all barriers that interfere with the rights of citizens and new or smaller political parties to play a meaningful role in the electoral process.
Friday March 14, 2008
Government downplaying nitrate risks
Millvale - The Liberal government is jeopardizing human health by downplaying the risks of nitrate-contaminated drinking water, the Green Party of PEI said today.
A government media release this week claimed that groundwater is safe to drink if levels of nitrates are below 10 milligrams per liter (10 mg/L). The natural background level of nitrates in PEI groundwater is very close to 0 mg/L.
"This is absolutely wrong and conveys a false sense of security to people with nitrate-contaminated drinking water," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "Only recently have scientists begun studying the effects of nitrates at levels lower than 10 mg/L and the observations are worrisome. This guideline was set long ago only because this is the level at which blue baby syndrome can occur. Information about other health problems at lower nitrate levels was scarce at the time."
Labchuk said studies indicate a precautionary approach needs to be adopted as lower levels of nitrate consumption are linked to various health problems, including cancers and birth defects. A 2001 study of Islanders showed levels of nitrates below 5 mg/L were linked to low birth weight and levels above 5mg/L were linked to premature birth.
"The problem is, like other toxic chemicals, agricultural fertilizer can't be used in human experiments and so we have to rely on observations after people have already been exposed," said Labchuk. "Islanders are lab rats in an uncontrolled experiment and there is strong reason to suspect that drinking water contaminated with chemical fertilizer, at levels below guideline standards, can be harmful to our health."
"Access to uncontaminated drinking water is a basic human right and Islanders should not have to drink water contaminated with any level of chemical fertilzer when options to end the problem are at hand," said Labchuk. "The Green Party supports a move to a 100% organic PEI and an elimination of chemical fertilizer altogether. Organic farming greatly reduces the potential for groundwater pollution."
Contact: Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262 www.greenparty.pe.ca
MEDIA RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Millvale -The Green Party of Prince Edward Island announced today that Ahmon Katz will be the candidate in the Belfast-Murray River by-election. Katz was the Green Party candidate for this district in the last provincial election.
He grew up on the Gairloch Road and lives there now with his wife Heidi Waterman and their two young daughters, Jasmine and Tansi. Katz attended Belfast school and went on to the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Georgia where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in metal sculpture. He is a self-employed artist who walks the talk when it comes to ecological sustainabilty.
"I'm thrilled that Ahmon is our candidate once again," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "His lifestyle reflects Green values and he sees quite clearly that current government policies favouring big industry over small business and industrial agriculture over organic production are destroying PEI's environment and our communities."
Katz and his family strive to lessen their contribution to planetary degradation and pollution by living a low-consumption lifestyle that includes minimal use of fossil fuels, buying local organic food directly from farmers and driving a Volkswagen Golf that he converted to run on 100% used vegetable oil.
An avid cyclist, Katz will run a low carbon campaign by touring the district on his bicycle or in his veggie mobile.
"With climate change, increasing use of toxic chemicals, deforestation and the collapse of the fisheries, the future is not looking very bright for my children and their generation," says Katz. "PEI has untapped potential to pull away from globalization and industrial agriculture and forestry. I will work to encourage local economies where we produce organic food for local consumption, clearcutting is banned and what's left of the fishery is protected and nurtured for small-scale Island fishers. Local economies means more employment and healthier and happier communities."
"I'd like my children and grandchildren to be able to swim in an unpolluted Murray River someday, just like I did as a child."
Media Release - For Immediate Release
Tuesday August 14, 2007
Province must advise tourists of dangers: Labchuk
Millvale - Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk today called on Tourism Minister Valerie Docherty to do more to make tourists aware of the dangers they may face while vacationing in PEI. Last week, a visitor drowned in front of his wife and children after being caught in a riptide. Every summer unsuspecting tourists lose their lives while swimming on the north shore.
"It's wrong that government encourages tourists to come here for our beaches yet does virtually nothing to protect them from death by riptides and undertows," said Labchuk. "The only warning signs on any beach are posted by the federal government in the national park. How are tourists supposed to protect themselves and their families if they have no information?"
Labchuk added that the province has employed a similar strategy when it comes to protecting tourists from agricultural pesticide exposure, noting that over the years, local newspapers have received letters from disillusioned tourists who were sickened by airborne pesticides. When tourists make plans to visit a new place, they rely on guidebooks and the internet to learn about health and safety risks and how they can stay safe. Not disclosing information on very real risks particular to visiting PEI is more than just a disservice to tourists, it reveals a questionable "profit at all costs" attitude, she said.
"Successive Liberal and Conservative governments seem prepared to sacrifice some tourists each year to maintain the illusion that PEI has no threats worth worrying about. In reality, this strategy only causes long term damage to our reputation," said Labchuk. "The Green Party is urging the Department of Tourism to post warning signs on popular north shore beaches, as well as include information about undertow, rip tide and air borne pesticide risks in all tourist literature and websites."
"I was interviewed for the latest edition of Lonely Planet's guidebook for the Maritime provinces and managed to have information included about pesticides and riptides. Tourists are eager to have this information. It doesn't mean they'll cancel their vacations. They just want to be prepared," said Labchuk. "This practice of placing short term economic gain ahead of the well-being of unsuspecting tourists must end. Minister Docherty should seize this opportunity."
Media Release - For Immediate Release
Province passing the buck on lawn pesticides
Tuesday, July 31 2007
Millvale - The Province is passing the buck to municipalities on the issue of banning lawn pesticides, resulting in unnecessary expense to taxpayers and additional senseless illness said the Green Party of PEI.
Charlottetown city council is examining lawn pesticide use and after a year of study voted against making its newly-completed report public.
"The history of this issue is that the Province had jurisdiction over lawn pesticides but under pressure from citizens to ban these poisons, tried to give municipalities the authority to enact regulations. Initially, the PEI Federation of Municipalities turned down the offer but after some years, accepted," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "This is a serious public health issue and should be dealt with on a province-wide basis. Instead, the province is forcing citizens to fight this battle municipality by municipality."
Labchuk said all 75 municipalities should not be expected to spend time and taxpayer's money on studies when the Province could settle the issue quickly and with less expense.
She said lawn pesticide bans are supported many public health organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Ontario College of Family Physicians.
"The evidence against lawn pesticides is clear and all PEI residents deserve equal protection from these toxic chemicals," said Labchuk. "The Green Party is calling on Environment Minister George Webster to assume responsibility for regulating cosmetic pesticide use and implement a province-wide ban. PEI citizens were among the first in Canada to lobby for a ban but the Province has stalled and delayed for years. In the meantime, more than 125 municipalities across Canada - including the entire province of Quebec - have adopted or drafted some form of anti-pesticide bylaw."
Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262
Media Release - For Immediate Release
Friday July 27, 2007
Green Party wants Environment Minister replaced
Millvale - The Green Party of PEI is calling on Environment Minister George Webster to retract a false statement and provide Islanders with factual information on organic agriculture. The party is also asking Premier Ghiz to replace the Minister.
Webster told media that the Green Party's policy of a 100% organic PEI would be "downright impossible" and that world-wide organic agriculture "would mean massive starvation by many, many people."
"The Minister is appallingly ignorant of the facts. He very clearly does not have the background necessary to manage the environment portfolio," says Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk.
Labchuk said the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization held the International Conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security in May at its headquarters in Rome where researchers said a large-scale shift to organic agriculture could help fight world hunger while improving the environment.
"It was widely reported in the world press that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said that overcoming the global food security challenge through organic agriculture is possible if countries would make organic agriculture a national priority," said Labchuk. "The Minister's statement is pure propaganda. He owes Islanders a retraction for spreading false information."
Labchuk said the U.N. organization presented research showing that organic agriculture could produce enough food on a global per capita basis for the current world population but with reduced environmental impacts.
"Webster belongs to an older generation that poisoned and polluted PEI's air, drinking water and soil, killed wildlife and filled the cancer wards. Putting a pesticide sprayer in charge of protecting our environment and enforcing PEI's pesticide regulations boggles the mind," said Labchuk.
"There's no harm in a new Premier admitting he made an error in judgment. We're asking the Premier to replace Webster with someone more progressive and not involved in poisoning our air, drinking water and environment"
Contact: Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-126
Media Release - For Immediate Release
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Millvale - Islanders can expect to continue drinking polluted groundwater long into the future said the Green Party of PEI. Appointees to the new Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater and the terms of reference for the committee are very clear indicators that government intends to continue supporting industrial potato production and the massive quantities of chemical pesticides and fertilizers this industry depends on.
"Committee members are tied very closely to either government or the potato industry," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "Retired federal government scientist, Dr. John MacLeod, will set the tone for proposed solutions and retired potato grower Stewart Affleck will support anything that doesn't threaten the potato industry. The office of Chief Medical Officer has proven to be a patsy for government and the potato and pesticide industries. Dr. Lamont Sweet never provided Islanders with information about the public health risks of the potato pesticides and nitrates we're all exposed to and we have no reason to believe his new replacement, as a committee member, will do any better. The absence of anyone on this committee with expertise in environment or organic agriculture is telling."
Labchuk points to Dr. John MacLeod's involvement in research that seeks only to lessen damage caused by industrial agriculture as evidence that Premier Ghiz will continue to support the potato industry and not enact long term sustainable solutions. She is concerned that the committee is mandated to seek solutions that only reduce nitrate pollution, not eliminate it, and that no consideration is given to known groundwater polluting pesticides widely used by the potato industry.
"If nitrates in drinking water are higher than 1milligram per litre, then that drinking water is more than likely contaminated with chemical fertilizer from potato fields. Other point sources include leaking septic tanks and dairy and beef farms but by and large the nitrates in our water come from potato fertilizer," said Labchuk. "It is not acceptable to force people to drink water at reduced levels of contamination, as Premier Ghiz is proposing. The only way to regain pure nitrate- and pesticide-free water is to stop dumping chemical fertilizers and pesticides into the environment. This entails dismantling the potato industry and shifting to organic agriculture with diversified crops."
Labchuk said government can never find a solution to pesticide-contaminated air while supporting industrial agriculture, so spending money on more studies that at best might only result in less polluted drinking water are pointless and a dangerous diversion. She stressed human health is endangered every single day chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used and the sooner PEI shifts to organic agriculture, the sooner Islanders will see an end to high rates of cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and a multitude of other health problems.
"We don't have time to wait until June 2008 while we go through this charade of public consultation for a report that ultimately will do nothing to stop the potato industry from poisoning us all," said Labchuk.
Contact: Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262
Millvale - The new high school in Montague must be situated well away from potato fields and other sprayed crops so that children's risk of exposure to toxic pesticides is reduced said the Green Party of PEI.
"The highest priority should be put on selecting a safe site for the school, a location where children will not be placed in harms way,â€ said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "I did a survey of PEI schools some years ago and found that in rural PEI 85% of children attend schools within a half kilometer of pesticide-sprayed fields. An alarming 64% of children outside the two cities attend schools immediately next to sprayed fields. Even within the cities, some schools are located next to potato fields.â€
Labchuk says the two most-used pesticides on PEI, chlorothalonil and mancozeb, are classified as causing cancer and neurological problems. Both are fungicides used on potato fields, sprayed as often as every four days, and represent more than one-half, by weight, of agricultural pesticides used on the Island.
"Environment Canada conducted air monitoring studies in PEI for potato pesticides and found chlorothalonil in every single air sample, including in the control area at the end of a wharf," said Labchuk. "œThere is increasing consensus among scientists that neurologiocal toxins, like chlorothalonil and mancozeb, contribute to a range of physical and mental effects in children such as birth defects, learning disabilities, lowered IQ, attention deficit disorder, autism, and behavioral problems."
Children are exposed to pesticides through inhalation when sprayers are operating but also for days and even weeks afterward as pesticides evaporate from plant and soil surfaces, and continue to pollute the air. Air intake vents suck pesticide-laden air into schools .School yard grass, soil and playground equipment are contaminated and pesticides tracked into the school persist for long periods.
"Parents expect their children will be safe at school but in PEI they're not. The new school in Montague is an opportunity to set a new standard for child health protection,â€ said Labchuk. "Until the province becomes 100% organic, parents need to insist that government protect children from agricultural pesticides while they are in school. The Green Party is calling on Education Minister Gerrard Greenan to implement a mandatory minimum one kilometer no-spray zone around this new school and all Island schools. The Green Party would also ensure schools provide drinking water uncontaminated by chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Media Release - For Immediate Release
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Ghiz gives potato industry keys to Department of Environment - Green Party
Millvale- Appointing George Webster to the environment portfolio is a clear signal to Islanders that the new Liberal government has no understanding of the magnitude of ongoing environment and human health problems caused by the potato industry says the Green Party of PEI.
"Environment Minister George Webster is one of PEI's larger potato producers and represents the global industrialized system of agriculture that's poisoned our air, contaminated our water and mined our soil," said Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "His appointment is a slap in the face to every Islander with nitrate-contaminated water and to every parent who fears for their children's health and safety in the upcoming spray season."
Islanders are some of the most pesticide-exposed people in North America according to government pesticide sales reports said Labchuk, and Environment Canada air monitoring studies found a cocktail of cancer-causing potato pesticides in every single air sample taken on PEI.
"This summer our new environment minister will fill our air with cancer-causing pesticides. He will spray poisons that kill birds and other wildlife. He will apply chemicals known to contaminate groundwater. And this is the man who is supposed to protect the environment and our citizens from toxic chemicals?" said Labchuk. "The potato industry should be kept as far away as possible from the environment department but instead, Premier Ghiz has given it the keys."
The only way to stop poisoning our citizens, our fellow creatures and our environment is to stop using chemical pesticides and fertilizers, said Labchuk.
"It is critical that we begin immediately a transition from this destructive industrial agriculture system that depends on massive chemical inputs, huge monocultures and factory-like farms to one that is organic, humane and socially just."
It was the previous Liberal government that enabled the potato industry to expand it's acreage by 70% and increase pesticide use by more than 700%, said Labchuk.
"We need to firmly reject the propaganda that somehow the potato industry can be greened up or regulated through the Department of Environment, and that Islanders should accept the inevitability of some level of chemical contamination," said Labchuk. "Even the most stringent pesticide regulations in more progressive countries have failed to protect the environment, drinking water and human health from these poisons."
The Green Party envisions an agriculture for PEI that is local, family-scale and fully integrated with the diversity of Nature.
Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262
Agriculture Plank - May 2007
Our conversion from agrarian, local and fully integrated food systems to industrialized, monocultured agricultural production has brought a staggering number of side effects, many of then unanticipated. It has become evident here in PEI, and around the world, that many of our more urgent environmental problems are the direct result of our food production system.
Our drinking water is polluted with chemical fertilizer and it is unknown just how polluted it may be with pesticides. We inhale a cocktail of cancer-causing pesticides during spray season. Depleted of organic matter, our soil is eroding away faster than it can be replaced. One Agriculture Canada scientist warned that if we did not care for our soil, this Island would be incapable of supporting agriculture in 30years.
Industrial agriculture has taken its toll on community and culture. Once an Island of thriving rural local economies, PEI is now largely urban with rural residents commuting to the cities for employment, young people moving away, and farmland mainly consolidated under large producers beholden to corporations like the Irvings for their markets.
Rural jobs largely disappeared as farms grew and consolidated, machines supplying cheap labour, and crop diversity reduced to commodities. But now, more than ever, Islanders are making the connections between the industrial food production and environmental and social havoc. More of us are eating organic than ever before and organic food production is the fastest growing sector of Canadian food production today.
Organic agriculture is commercially practiced in 120 countries and represented a $40 billion market in 2006. Officials with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, stated last month that, "a shift to organic agriculture could be beneficial," and that organic agriculture could produce enough food per capita to feed the world's current
We find ourselves in the midst of an historic confrontation between two very different visions of the future of food in the 21st Century. A grassroots public movement for organic, humane and ecological food is now challenging the half-century long monopoly of the corporate industrial model.
Cuba met this challenge head on and demonstrated that organic agriculture can bring about ecological and economic benefits in a socially equitable manner. This small Island nation is a model and a beacon of hope for all countries. It has been shown in Cuba and elsewhere that small farms are actually more productive than large ones - by as much as 200 to 1,000 percent greater output per unit of area.
The Green Party of PEI envisions a culture and an agriculture for PEI that is local, family-scale and fully integrated with the diversity of Nature. In a world with increasingly expensive fossil fuel, we need to attain food security for Islanders. At least 80% of what we eat is imported. If we fail to move to organic agriculture, it will eventually be forced upon us with no time to make an orderly transition. The Okanagan Valley is an example of a region re-inventing itself as a producer of organic locally crafted specialty foods. More jobs in the agriculture sector are complimented by increased tourism driven by organic food production.
And so, a Green Party government would make the following proposals:
- PEI will commit to becoming 100% organic as quickly as possible, taking into account issues of toxic chemical trespass and the resulting damage to human health, organic crops and the environment
- the Department of Agriculture will shift focus from industrial food production to organic food production; experienced organic extension agents will be employed.
- toxic chemical taxes are applied to chemical pesticides
- pollution taxes are applied to chemical fertilizer
- property taxes are raised to reflect the loss of topsoil on industrial farmland
- all subsidies to industrial agriculture will end within one year
- government will have a procurement policy of "organic and local" first
- funding is available to enable income support during transition from chemical to organic agriculture
- tax incentives and subsidies are available to build small food processing facilities
- funding is available for training organic agriculture, including apprenticeships off-Island if necessary
- funding will enable Holland College and the Culinary Institute to offer instruction and apprenticeship in handcrafted food processing, such as cheese, wine and bread making
- urban agriculture be promoted to encourage food security as well as supplemental income
- farmer's markets and community supported agriculture are supported
- the Experimental Farm is acquired and used for community gardens especially for low-income Islanders, a demonstration site for urban agriculture, an educational facility for healthy cooking, and working gardens to supply food for the Food Bank and other charitable organizations. Students will be employed and trained in organic food production.
- community gardens are established in every Island community so that all Islanders have access to fertile land to grow food.
- an experimental farm is established in rural PEI for organic crop research
- tax incentives are available to allow young people to purchase land to farm organically
- established organic growers have access to interest-free loans and other incentives to encourage expansion to family-farm size operations.
- tourism advertising is shifted to favour food-oriented holidays
- all children receive schooling in growing, cooking, preserving and processing food
- an apprenticeship program is established where apprentices will receive a stipend during training
- marketing boards will have no jurisdiction over small organic farm production
- highly productive agricultural land will be protected from development
As the scale of industrial agriculture increases, so too does its scale of abuses. Emerging from the destruction is a vision the Green party holds of a food future that is healthy, humane and sustainable. A food future that has the potential to revitalize rural communities as well as the Prince Edward Island economy.
For Immediate Release
May 25, 2007
Green Party announces support for disabled Islanders
Millvale - Prince Edward Island's Disability Support Program (DSP) is deeply flawed and must be revamped to be just and effective, announced Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk today. Over 19,000 Islanders currently live with a disability, yet the DSP provides support to only 1000 of these individuals.
"Some 18,000 Islanders are left out in the cold by the chronically under-funded Disability Support Program," said Ms. Labchuk. "To make matters worse, particularly vulnerable groups including seniors, and mentally disabled and learning disabled individuals aren't even eligible to apply for help from the DSP.
"The Green Party would increase funding to the Disability Support Program while expanding eligibility under the program, ensuring that all disabled Islanders receive the support they need to live with the dignity they deserve."
Labchuk said the Green Party would focus on several key reforms:
- adopting the United Nations' definition of disability: any restriction or lack resulting from an impairment of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
- providing the Disability Support Program with the funding necessary to meet the needs of all Islanders with disabilities, including seniors, learning disabled, mentally disabled and the autistic.
- dignifying the DSP application process by abandoning means testing, claw backs and unnecessary red tape.
- restructuring the DSP so that Islanders are not forced to fight expensive and time-consuming challenges through the Human Rights and Privacy Commissioner
- improving accessibility for disabled Islanders in their homes, communities and workplaces, including public transportation.
"The DSP is unfair and demeaning," says Labchuk. "Disabled Islanders deserve the same care and compassion from society as everyone else,".
Monday May 14, 2007
No property taxes for homeowners with contaminated drinking water
Millvale - The Green Party of PEI will eliminate property taxes for residents with nitrate and pesticide contaminated wells and will pay for water treatment systems to remove contaminants. Property tax bills have just gone out to Islanders and Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk is urging homeowners with contaminated drinking water to appeal their tax assessments.
"Houses are virtually worthless if the drinking water is contaminated with nitrates above the federal guideline of 10 milligrams per litre," says Labchuk. "If it is reasonable to expect the contamination came from an agricultural operation, then homeowners should not have to pay property taxes on homes that are devalued or even worthless. No one will buy a house with contaminated water."
The Green Party will also reduce property taxes when wells are contaminated at levels below the maximum federal guideline.
"The background level for nitrates in PEI groundwater is close to zero. Anything above zero indicates contamination, in most cases from chemical fertilizer. The Green Party will reduce property taxes proportionally as contamination increases," says Labchuk. "For example, a nitrate level of 5 will mean a 50% reduction in property taxes, a level of 8 will mean an 80% tax reduction, and so on."
"We'll also pay for reverse osmosis systems in houses to remove nitrates from drinking water with levels higher than 5. These systems cost several thousand dollars," says Labchuk. "Why should homeowners be forced to pay for damages caused by others? Lost tax revenue would be recovered by pollution taxes on chemical fertilizers and pesticides."
"People on my road went public a couple of weeks ago to talk about the impact a major pesticide spill last fall has had on their lives. Now the whole Island knows the groundwater on our road is likely to be contaminated at some point. We'll never be able to sell our homes and we should not be expected to pay property taxes."
The Green Party is encouraging anyone with contaminated water to fill out the appeal form attached to their property tax assessment and demand a reduction or elimination of their taxes.
"The only way to stop our drinking water from being contaminated with chemical fertilizer and pesticides is to stop using the chemicals," says Labchuk. "The Green Party envisions a 100% organic Island and will work to make a fair and just transition."
Sharon Labchuk 902-621-0719 or 902-940-1262
GREEN PARTY OF PEI
Media Release - For Immediate Release
Monday May 7, 2007
Robert Pendergast to represent Green Party in Tracadie-Hillsborough Park
Millvale - Robert Pendergast will represent the Green Party of PEI in District 8 Tracadie-Hillsborough Park.
Robert Pendergast was born and raised on Prince Edward Island; in the agricultural village of St. Louis. His parents are the late Reg Pendergast and Eileen Chiasson-Pendergast and he is one of six siblings.
As a youth, he was involved in many sports, choirs, music, boy scouts, youth parliament and 'Jeunesse acadienne'.
The son of a history teacher, Robert pursued a degree in Canadian Studies in the francophone setting of Universite Ste-Anne, Church Point, N.S. He went on to train as a professional chef at the 'Institut de Tourisme et d'Hotellerie du Quebec', Quebec's provincial hotel school in Montreal.
He practised his trade in many Canadian and European cities before returning to his island home four years ago.
Since his return, he has been involved in tourism promotions, Acadian community and cultural events, part-time work as a substitute teacher in island schools, manual labour in rural P.E.I., performing at music events, attending festivals and performing arts events, demonstrating heritage bread baking in wood-fired ovens, volunteering for activities and fund-raisers along the way.
Robert continues to cook and bake rustic breads for groups of hungry diners at catering events, community dinners, music events, weddings and oyster parties.
"I'm an avid believer in the value of locally grown, locally harvested food and I support my local economy as often as possible," says Pendergast. "I am convinced we will only have great success if we work together, establish a strong common respect for our natural surroundings and continue to move with humility as stewards of the lands and waters we manage," says Robert.
"The only party actively promoting policies to create local economies and food systems and that recognizes none of this is possible on an over-heated toxic planet is the Green Party. This is what attracted me to the party and influenced my decision to become a candidate."
626-3353 or 384-2230 cell
621-0719 or 940-1262
Sharon Labchuk says her party would prefer the province go to organic agriculture, but as long as chemical sprays are used they must be controlled
The head of P.E.I.'s Green Party is demanding tougher regulation of pesticides following a spill she says threatens the safety of drinking water in her community.
Sharon Labchuk held a news conference Friday to say she was dissatisfied with the resolution of a court case that saw Kinkora potato growers Emerald Isle Holdings fined $5,000 after one of its sprayers leaked chemicals into ground down the road from Labchuk's Millvale home.
In court this week, the farm pleaded guilty to letting pesticides drain from its equipment, agreeing that some 95 litres contaminated soil last September before the leak was discovered and contaminated soil removed.
Millvale - Prime Minister Harper's announcement of a $345 million subsidy to the biofuel industry means Canadians will be subsidizing increased climate change, rainforest destruction, global hunger and pollution says the Green Party of Prince Edward Island.
"The campaign of misinformation around biofuel has many people believing we can have our cake and eat it too," says Green Party of PEI Leader Sharon Labchuk. "Corporate interests and governments propagate the idea that biofuels are an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuel, and that we can maintain our overly-consumptive lifestyles and our addiction to cars by manufacturing fuel from plants. This is simply not supported by the facts."
All commercially available biofuel, whether ethanol or biodiesel, requires more energy to produce the fuel than is created. The biofuel industry is heavily subsidized and dominated by a number of multinational corporations. Government subsidies lured a US corporation to Alberta to begin construction of North America's largest biofuel refinery. In addition to North American canola oil, the refinery will use imported palm and soy oil. Palm and soy oil plantations are one of the world's leading causes of tropical forest destruction.
"The problem with rich countries mandating biofuel content at the gas pump is that we turn to poor countries to buy cheap plant oils. The palm oil industry in tropical countries is booming largely because of government policy in the United States and Europe," says Labchuk. "Now Canada is buying into the biofuel hype. We want to feel good about driving our cars with biofuel while ignoring consequences like rainforest destruction, land expropriation through violence and species extinction in poor countries."
Growing fuel, not food, will have catastrophic effects on global food security. Arable land is disappearing at alarming rates, world population is increasing and more people are malnourished than ever before. Even if biofuel was a net energy producer, which it is not, the planet is not capable of producing enough food to feed everyone and enough biofuel to make even the slightest dent in climate change.
"We have no food security at all in PEI. More than 80% of our food is imported and Premier Binns is encouraging ethanol companies to set up shop here. The last thing we need is to further industrialize our landscape with biofuel crops and dump more chemical pesticides and fertilizers into our already polluted air, soil and water," says Labchuk. "The most cost effective and sensible solution to climate change caused by burning fossil fuel in cars is to drastically reduce the time we spend driving. The Green Party would enact policies to enable better urban planning, revitalized rural communities, Island-wide public transportation, bicycle lanes and walkable communities."
Millvale - The Green Party of Prince Edward Island supports the good work of the United States Humane Society (USHS) in drawing international attention to the annual harp seal kill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Rebecca Aldworth, a Newfoundlander and the USHS seal campaigner in Canada, is an expert on the issue and one of the planet's most dedicated defenders of harp seals.
"Rebecca is my advisor on animal protection issues," says Sharon Labchuk, leader of the Green Party of PEI. "She can easily refute government and industry propaganda that blames seals for destroying the cod fishery and preventing its recovery. The facts is, human greed and Department of Fisheries and Oceans incompetence are responsible for killing off the cod to the point that this fish is on the verge of being declared an endangered species."
Sealing is an off-season activity in which, according to Newfoundland and Labrador government figures, only 4000 sealers participate. Media reports and government data confirm sealers make, on average, less than 5 percent, or between one and two thousand dollars, of their incomes from sealing, and the rest from commercial fisheries. Carcasses of baby seals, unable to crawl away from their attackers, are left to rot on the ice while their skins are shipped to overseas fashion markets.
"Canadian taxpayers subsidize the slaughter and polls show 75% of Canadians oppose these subsidies," says Labchuk. "The ecology of the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been severely damaged by human greed beginning with the arrival of the first Europeans who discovered an amazing diversity and abundance of fish, sea birds and marine mammals. After 500 years of unrestrained plunder, it's time to stop the industrial-scale killing. The Green Party supports an immediate end to the east coast commercial seal kill."
Ecosystems are complex and scientists are not yet able to understand how various species interact and what will be the consequences of killing hundreds of thousands of seals. While scientists and the Canadian government agree that a harp seal's diet consists of about 3% commercially fished cod, they also acknowledge that harp seals eat many predators of cod, including squid. Many reputable scientists have expressed concerns that culling seals may pose a threat to recovery of certain groundfish stocks.
"The planet is in a state of ecological crisis with climate change, species extinction and all of the other frightening consequences of our actions that we hear about on a daily basis," says Labchuk. "Humans need to learn how to live in harmony with Nature instead of destroying it."
Millvale - Changes to the PEI Pesticides Control Act around requirements for record-keeping by pesticide users and retail suppliers are completely inadequate and do little to help Islanders understand which toxic chemicals are released in our communities. Costly changes are needed and must be paid for by industry on a cost recovery basis.
Under the Act, all commercial pesticide users are now required to keep records of the pesticides they use, and retailers must provide government with sales records. However, pesticide users do not need to submit their records to government and after 3 years can throw them away. There is no provision in the Act for pesticides sales records to be released to the public. Lawn spray companies must provide nearby residents with at least 24 hours notice of a pesticide application which must also include information about the pesticide used. Rural Islanders are not entitled to advance notice of agricultural spraying and are denied access to information about which pesticides are used next to their homes.
"Sections of the Act dealing with record-keeping and public accessibility of pesticide use and sales data are backward compared to many other jurisdictions where this kind of information is kept in a government data base for use by researchers, doctors, scientists and the public," says Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "Agricultural pesticide users in PEI need only record information in a scribbler or on a scrap of paper and can get rid of it in 3 years. The only people with access to this information will be doctors and environment or conservation officers. The intent is that in the event of an emergency, like a human poisoning or fish kill, government can access the records. The general public has no right to this information. So someone wanting information about which agricultural pesticides are sprayed next to her home or her children's school will be out of luck. Yet people in town get advance notice of lawn spraying and detailed information about the chemicals used."
The Green Party says the new requirement to keep records is simply a token gesture to appease growing public concern that Islanders have no right to know which pesticides are released in their communities.
"The only information about pesticide use the province ever collected were pesticide sales records from about 1993 to 2002. This was a voluntary program so sales were most likely under-reported. Nevertheless, this limited information allowed activists to calculate that pesticide use has exploded since the 1980's when potato acreage began increasing. Pesticide use and sales records are essential tools for researchers investigating human health trends or groundwater contamination," says Labchuk. "Without proper records Islanders are already nothing more than lab rats in an uncontrolled experiment."
The Green Party is calling on government to implement a record-keeping system like that used in California, which has the most stringent pesticide regulatory system in North America. In California pesticide users are required to use government forms to record pesticide use information and to submit them to government on a monthly basis. Information is kept in an electronic database and cross-referenced with pesticide sales information to ensure validity. Information is used to track trends in air quality, groundwater contamination and human health.
"Islander have a right to know about the release of toxic substances in their communities. An electronic database of pesticide use, accessible to all, is a basic human right. Of course, this will be expensive to implement and taxpayers should not have to subsidize industry by footing the bill. Islanders already subsidize industry by allowing a provincial sales tax exemption on pesticides. There is no GST on pesticides either. PEI pesticide sales are estimated at more than $30 million per year, so taxpayers are subsizing the poisoning of our communities to the tune of at least $3 million annually," says Labchuk.
"Add to this the $375,000 annual cost of the province's Pesticide Regulatory Program and damage to human health and environment, and it becomes clear pesticide users and dealers have a sweet deal. The province needs to charge provincial sales tax on pesticides and use the revenue to pay all costs of administering pesticide regulations with surplus going to compensate for human health and environmental damage, paying organic certification fees and assisting farmers who want to switch to organic agriculture. Over the next few years, government needs to apply additional pollution taxes to pesticides, not only to discourage use but to help pay for damages caused by industrial agriculture, like polluted wells. Pesticide dealers must also contribute by paying an annual registration fee for each pesticide product sold in PEI. Dealers pay a product registration fee of about $200 in California and this is what we recommend they pay in PEI."
The Green Party of PEI does not support the use of pesticides and the costly regulatory system that by necessity must accompany industrial agriculture. But as long as chemically-dependent agriculture remains the dominant agriculture system on PEI, we need to keep meticulous records.
In addition to requirements in the Pesticides Control Act, the Green party recommends:
1. persons applying agricultural pesticides must provide at least 24 hours advance notice of application including detail of pesticides being applied to everyone within a one-quarter kilometer radius of the application site. This includes notice to homes, schools, stores, tourist operations, and owners of property where livestock is kept.
2. pesticide users must record pesticide use on government-supplied forms and submit to government on a monthly basis.
3. this information must be kept in an electronic data base and be available to all. Data must clearly identify location of individual fields and pesticides used on each field.
4. pesticide use information must be validated to correct for errors. The State of California has developed software to perform these checks.
5. pesticide sales records must be available to the public by February 28 each year, one month after sales data is submitted to government. Pesticide sales reports were available to the public in the past but much of the data was kept secret. Government must provide reports that list exact quantities sold of every pesticide for which information is gathered. Government must also provide information on the total amount of inert ingredients used in the province. Inert ingredients are not required to be listed on the pesticide label, are often more toxic than the active ingredient, and can be easily estimated using information on the label.
6. provincial sales tax must be applied to pesticides.
7. pesticide retailers pay an annual registration fee of $200 for each product sold in PEI.
8. pesticide users pay a 2% pollution tax on all pesticides beginning in 2007.
Millvale - PEI's aging school buses are not only unsafe on the highway, but toxic exhaust fumes inside the buses pose a serious health threat to children, says the Green Party of PEI. The auditor general revealed last week that some older buses in the Eastern School Board were structurally unsound. The Green Party says all school buses produce diesel exhaust and studies show levels of exhaust in the air are far higher inside school buses than outside.
"The harmful health effects of diesel exhaust have been studied and well documented for decades. It's classed as cancer-causing by the World Health Organization and contains 41 chemicals the State of California identifies as toxic air contaminants. Dr. Gina Soloman of the Natural Resources Defense Council, calculated that a child riding a school bus is exposed to as much as 46 times the cancer risk considered â€˜significant' under US federal law," says Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk. "Diesel exhaust is composed of fine particles of soot mixed with toxic gases. Soot can worsen or trigger asthma attacks and bronchitis. There is no known safe exposure level to diesel exhaust for children, especially those with asthma."
Diesel exhaust inside school buses is recognized by public health authorities as a major problem and in the United States thousands of older diesel buses have been replaced by buses powered with propane or natural gas. Hybrid buses, similar to hybrid cars, are an emerging development.
The Green Party would take the older more polluting buses off the road this year and replace them with alternative fuel or hybrid buses. When low sulfur diesel becomes available later this year, newer buses would be fitted with pollution filters that reduce, but do not eliminate, toxic pollutants. The party would replace all buses as soon as possible with alternative fuel or hybrid buses and ensure that no child is forced to spend more than a half hour traveling to school. Long bus routes would be broken up and buses replaced with vans or mini-buses.
In the meantime, the Green Party says to reduce exposure, the oldest buses should only be used for the shortest runs and children who get on the bus first in the morning should be seated at the front of the bus where contaminant levels are somewhat lower. Windows should be kept open as much as possible and idling at schools prohibited.
"Children's health is a high priority for the Green Party," says Labchuk. "When parents send their kids off to school in the morning, they expect them to be safe from harm. I'm disappointed the Binns' government feels it's okay to expose children to toxic fumes and soot in school buses and to force some of them to spend almost three hours a day breathing these contaminants. Why has this government never informed the public, especially parents of asthmatic children, of this health risk?
BORDEN - Businessman and realtor Jamie Larkin today announced that he will represent the Green Party of PEI in District 19 Borden-Kinkora .
"Our district has much potential, but we have been let down too many times by past governments," said Larkin. "The Green Party is the only party that understands the urgent need for substantial action to protect our drinking water from toxic chemicals, to provide an uncontaminated environment to raise our children, and to create local economies friendly to small sustainable business. As a Green Party MLA, I will be a strong and honest voice for residents of Borden-Kinkora."
Born and raised on the Island, Larkin studied business, finance, psychology and mediation at the University of Prince Edward Island, and carpentry and business at Holland College. While at Holland College, Larkin served as vice-president of student council. He has been active in his community in a number of volunteer positions over the years, including as a coach for softball, wrestling and Special Olympics track-and-field. Larkin also served as Co-chair of the Bridgefest Concert Committee in 1999 and as Vice President of the Amherst Cove Community School.
Larkin owns and runs the real estate agency he started in 2006, Northern Lights Realty, in Borden-Carleton. He previously owned and operated the Landsdowne Restaurant in Cape Traverse and Olde Abby Developments. Mr. Larkin is a past member of both the Summerside and South Shore Chambers of Commerce, and a present member the PEI Real Estate Association and the Canadian Council for the Blind.
"My district urgently needs another doctor," said Larkin. "I would promote local community-based search committees as a more effective means to recruit doctors. I'm already jn conversation with a doctor interested in moving to my district."
Millvale - PEI drinking water is becoming more contaminated with each passing year yet the only response Premier Binns can muster is to announce another round of public hearings says the Green Party of PEI.
"This government has had a decade to halt the pollution of PEI groundwater with chemical fertilizers and pesticides but has done nothing," says Green Party of PEI leader Sharon Labchuk. "Under Premier Binns' watch the level of nitrates in PEI groundwater has steadily increased to the point that virtually everyone in PEI is now drinking water contaminated with chemical fertilizer. It's a serious and very urgent situation."
Labchuk says today's high level of chemical pollution is the result of a radical increase in potato acreage enabled by government subsidies in the late 1980's and early 1990's under the PEI Liberals. The Binns government continued to support and enable the potato industry despite warnings from various government committees that groundwater quality is deteriorating.
"Contamination of our groundwater with chemical fertilizer was identified as a serious problem decades ago but neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have a plan to fix it or, worse, the will to do anything about it," says Labchuk. "We had a Royal Commission on the Land in 1990 that recommended government protect watersheds and water quality. Then there was the Round Table on Land Use report in 1997 that also drew attention to increasing groundwater pollution from agriculture, which was followed by a series of pesticide committee hearings. Now Minister of Environment Jamie Ballem wants to strike yet another committee to look at watersheds and water quality when we know full well what the problem is and how to fix it."
"Meanwhile some Islanders can't drink their own tap water or even sell their homes because their wells are contaminated with chemical fertilizer. They have nowhere to go for compensation and no one is accountable."
Another round of public hearings appears to be nothing more than an election year attempt to fool Islanders into thinking that maybe this time government will actually do something, says Labchuk.
The Green Party supports healthy communities and local economies. A Green Party government would end subsidies to industrial agriculture, increase regulations and taxes on products and practices that pollute, and assist existing and new farmers who want to farm organically.
Millvale - Excluding the public from information meetings about a proposed ethanol plant in Georgetown is not the way for Agritech Ethanol Corportation to assure Islanders it respects the environment or the people of Prince Edward Island, says Green Party of PEI leader Sharon Labchuk.
Agritech Ethanol Corporation placed notices in Island newspapers for an information meeting closed to everyone but Island producers. The date and location was not publicized and would only be revealed by registering in advance by telephone.
"This is a company that wants to set up shop in PEI but needs farmers to plant as much as 20,000 acres of sugar beets," says Labchuk. "Sugar beets, like potatoes, require large quantities of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and leaves land prone to soil erosion. Virtually all of PEI's groundwater is contaminated with chemical fertilizer and Environment Canada tests show our air is polluted with potato pesticides. The last thing this island needs is another crop as damaging as potatoes."
Labchuk says Agritech Ethanol Corporation expects to profit from the use of PEI soil, air and water and that the health of Islanders exposed to more pesticides and chemical fertilizers will just be the cost of doing business, except that Agritech Ethanol won't be paying the costs.
"Taxpayers will foot the bill for environmental degradation and human health costs," says Labchuk. "Even worse, we'll subsidize Agritech Ethanol with taxpayers dollars the Harper government has earmarked to expand ethanol production. Premier Binns has not been forthcoming about what subsidies his government will offer if a full production plant is built."
Ethanol crops in North America are heavily subsidized and studies by Dr. David Pimental from Cornell University show ethanol production consumes more energy than it creates.
"Corporations need to be told they cannot come into our communities, hold closed meetings, make plans to dump chemical pesticides and fertilizers into the environment and expect us to welcome them with open arms. We have other options," says Labchuk. "The demand for organic food is rising at 20% a year but most of Canada's organic food is imported. With progressive government policy, PEI has the potential to revitalize rural communities by becoming 100% organic."
Millvale - Extensive damage to a Victoria residence caused by blowing topsoil from potato fields is just another in a long line of injustices Islanders are forced to suffer in the name of industrial agriculture says Green Party of P.E.I leader Sharon Labchuk.
"Vic and Anne Arsenault are faced with paying thousands of dollars to repair damage done to their home when it was virtually plastered by soil from potato fields in Wednesday night's windstorm. This soil is contaminated with pesticides that will likely remain on the Arsenault's property and in their home for a long time to come. They were told government could do nothing for them," said Labchuk. "We desperately need legislation to make the agriculture industry accountable. Legislation to compensate Islanders for the financial costs they're forced to bear through no fault of their own would be a start. More importantly, we need legislation to prevent this industry from continuing to destroy the environment and Islander's health and property. The best solution to the serious and ongoing soil erosion problem in PEI is to mandate a move to 100% organic agriculture where cover crops, mulching and the continual addition of organic matter, like compost, to the soil are routine."
Labchuk said virtually all of P.E.I's drinking water is contaminated with chemical fertilizer, with some wells so contaminated people can't drink their water or even sell their homes. Children are conceived, born and raised in a toxic environment. Babies float in amniotic fluid contaminated with agricultural pesticides, mother's milk is polluted with pesticides and the air we all breathe is full of poisonous pesticides. There is no compensation and no justice in this province for victims of the potato industry.
The Green Party of PEI is fully committed to a 100% organic province as the only way to end the injustice and the drain on the economy this damage continues to cause by ruining human health and the environment
Millvale - The Green Party announced it's first nominated candidate today for the upcoming provincial election. Dr. Peter Bevan-Baker will run for the Greens in district 17, Kellys Cross - Cumberland. Bevan-Baker is no newcomer to either politics or the Green Party. He has been involved with the Greens for sixteen years, and back in the 1990's he ran three times for the party; twice federally and once provincially in the rural Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville. The demands of a young family and of running his own dental practice have sidelined Bevan-Baker as a candidate since then.
"Back in the 90's the lot of a Green Party candidate was primarily to educate. There wasn't much thought of actually getting elected. Nowadays that has all changed. People are much more informed, and a lot of the Green platform has being adopted by all the major parties. The Greens are a real political force today", says Bevan-Baker.
Since moving to PEI four years ago, Bevan-Baker has become well known in the artistic community, having directed plays at the Victoria Playhouse and Confederation Centre. He also plays trumpet regularly with many island groups from the PEI Symphony to the Old Abbie Jazz Band.
"Rural communities must be revitalised, and we can do this through tax incentives that are a part of the Green Party platform. While recognising that farming, fishing and tourism remain the mainstays of the PEI economy, we need to encourage sustainable economic diversity in our province. For centuries, family farms and small coastal communities have been the pillars of our society and economy, but over the last five decades, government policies and subsidies have shifted us away from sustainable farming and fishing. It is time to move back to practices that will sustain our communities both economically and ecologically."
Bevan-Baker comes to this election with experience in business, education, the arts and health care. He feels that his broad-based, balanced approach is a perfect match for the far-sighted, innovative policies of the Green Party.
"Far too often parties govern, and make decisions based on short-term goals. They are less concerned with well-being over the long term than they are with getting elected for the next term. That must change. The Greens are the only party that will present a platform that will ensure a healthy, prosperous and vibrant province for our children and grandchildren. What originally attracted me to the Green Party was the unique joined-up thinking its platform represents. Unlike the mainstream parties whose platforms are riddled with contradictions - transportation policies at odds with their environmental goals; agricultural incentives that contribute to health problems - the Greens have a congruent approach. Everything makes sense. "
Bevan-Baker, who was born, grew up and studied in Scotland, now lives in Hampton with his wife Ann and three of their four children. Their daughter Kate is currently studying music at Memorial University in Newfoundland. He supports his artistic habits by practising as a part-time dentist in Hunter River.
Millvale - The single biggest threat to the health and well-being of Islanders is our government says Green Party of PEI leader Sharon Labchuk.
"With the release of yet another report telling us what we've been told over and over again for the past 2 decades - that our drinking water is becoming increasingly polluted with nitrates from chemical fertilizers - Environment Minister Jamie Ballem says he doesn't want any finger pointing," says Labchuk. "That's because the fingers would all be pointing at him and his government for doing nothing to stop the pollution during the 11 years they've been responsible for taking care of PEI."
Labchuk says the Liberals are to blame for the explosive growth in potato acreage in the late 1980s and early 1990s with subsidies and incentives for both potato producers and the Irvings. The Conservatives, under Premier Binns, continued and defended this policy of subsidies and handouts despite repeated warnings from scientists that PEI groundwater quality is deteriorating.
"Government uses taxpayers' money to keep afloat an industry that's polluted virtually every drop of drinking water on this Island. And during spray season every breath of air we take is contaminated with a cocktail of cancer-causing potato pesticides," says Labchuk. "Every so often a report comes out, there's a flurry of media coverage, another committee is struck, and government does nothing. Meanwhile potato fields have encroached on schools, hospitals, daycares, homes and tourist facilities and Islanders are denied the most basic of human rights - clean air and water."
"The environmental and human health problems caused by the potato industry cannot be mitigated or solved. They are inherent to the industrial agriculture system," says Labchuk. "The Green Party would move quickly to transition PEI into an organic province where Islanders would have access to locally grown healthy organic food. It's too late for my generation or even the next couple of generations to enjoy uncontaminated drinking water but if we act now to put an end to industrial agriculture, future generations will thank us."