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Profit Above, Wealth Below

Northumberland_Strait_fish_farm.pngAs I sat in the overflow room listening to the representatives of Northern Pulp defend themselves against the many questions of the MLAs from the Agriculture and Fisheries Standing Committee on Feb 16th, I watched the faces of the fishers sitting around me and felt their helpless frustration at the plans to pipe effluent from the mill out into the Northumberland Strait.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Anticipating possible early election, PEI Green Party calls for potential candidates

Peter_Bevan-Baker_for_FB.pngCHARLOTTETOWN - Today, PEI Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker put out an Island-wide call for potential Green candidates to make themselves known as the party prepares for the possibility of an early general election.

“Many Islanders are aware that politics is in an exciting, changeable state right now. With many signs beginning to point to an early general election call, the Green Party of Prince Edward Island is taking steps to prepare,” wrote Bevan-Baker in an email broadcast to Green Party followers earlier today.

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Why are we backwards?

Electric_bill.pngOn PEI if you use less energy per month you pay more per kWh than someone who uses more than you. Residentially we pay 13.96 cents per kWh for the first 2000 kWh and 11.08 cents per kWh for every kWh above 2000 per month.

We could and should reward those who use less and make those who use more pay their fair share. It is the higher consumption users who contribute to the expensive upgrades we require more so than the lower consumption users. Why do we reward the behaviour we would like to mitigate and punish the behaviour we are trying to encourage?

 

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Soiled Reputations

Soil_organic_matter_study.jpgPotato farmers on PEI are often the scapegoats of an environmentally-minded public looking for a target on which to pin the ecological decline of this sandy province.  The study of soil organic matter levels over 18 years that was recently released feels in many ways like more ammunition with which to pelt the potato industry. And certainly, given the extent of row-cropping on PEI, potatoes cannot be exempt from the discussion.  But most assuredly there is not a single farmer, of any kind, on PEI who is happy to see their soil organic matter (SOM) levels declining.  Every farmer knows that SOM is a major cornerstone to soil structure, pH buffering, soil biology and, perhaps most pertinent to recent public discussions, water holding capacity and water movement. So evidently SOM is not something that farmers, of any commodity, are content to see declining.  Given the current uptake in having fall cover crops established before winter, the evidence is visibly out there in the fields of the efforts that farmers are taking to protect their soil.

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Working for Workers

workers.jpgI find it interesting how many portfolios prioritize 'growing the economy' in their mandate. Designing an economy is certainly a worthy goal, but it seems the primary focus for the Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning should be the Island’s workers, rather than a sort of second Economic Development Minister. Too often, the rights and needs of our workforce are overlooked, conceived of only in terms of unemployment rates and GDP growth. These measures reveal very little about the quality and conditions of jobs, if workers are making enough money to meet basic needs, or if workers are able to achieve work-life balance and maintain healthy lifestyles.

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What shall we measure?

wellbeing-index.pngIn a recent op-ed piece, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer rightly stated ‘If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ I wholly accept this logic and thank him for opening the dialogue around this.

I, too, learned this while running my first business. I expect all business owners quickly learn the need to associate a value to things that go beyond the goods or services they have for sale. We learn to measure the cost of time, both time spent and time lost; the cost of mistakes; the value of relationships with our suppliers and the connection to our clients; the worth of a reputation. We quantify things that we’ll never need to report on our tax returns, but that we will use as filters to inform countless decisions we make all the time. After all, if we don’t measure it, we can’t manage it.

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Waste time

A few days ago we learned that a mountain of plastic waste has accumulated on PEI. China abruptly stopped importing our recyclable waste, and suddenly we find ourselves left with a 100 tonne hill of garbage with nowhere to go. The story presents us with an opportunity to look at how we understand buying and selling – the fundamentals of economic activity; of how powerful our consumption patterns have become, and how we could use it as an opportunity to question the wisdom of our actions.

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Assessments

Child_at_desk.jpgThe work of educators is absolutely critical in shaping the future. Entering 2018, Grade 3 assessments are looming. The results of past assessments have not met expectations. This isn't a new outcome: test results have been plummeting in writing, reading and mathematics since 2014. It's a great source of stress for all involved.

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Where are the Women?

Screen_Shot_2018-01-12_at_10.31.38_AM.jpegCynthia Enloe, a prominent scholar in the area of gender, challenges us to ask “Where are the women?”   When we ask this question, Enloe argues, we become aware of the attitudes and behaviours that sustain inequality, aggression, poverty, gender based violence, and much more.   We begin to see that sustainable solutions that benefit all peoples economically and socially come from elevating the status of women in all spheres of decision making.  

Last month as I sat in the gallery at the PEI Legislature, Enloe’s question surfaced for me once again.  I was disheartened to see that Minister Biggar’s identification plate on her Legislative seat read “Transportation, Infrastructure, and Energy”.   Where is the Status of Women?

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Incubators

boardroom_(1).jpgCabinet shuffles bring with them the potential to breathe new life into a portfolio. Every department has room for more vision, and economic development in particular (one of the newly shuffled portfolios) is an area with seemingly limitless room to dive deep. The potential benefits go far beyond a possible increase in the GDP.

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