This is where members of the Green Party of PEI elected caucus share their thoughts about contemporary issues on Prince Edward Island.

House renovations

It’s been two weeks since the PEI Legislature closed for the summer, and as some distance opens up between the peculiar environment which exists inside the rail and more normal life on the outside, it feels like a good time to reflect on the spring sitting - and political life generally - in all its glory and oddness.

After two full years and five legislative sittings, I feel that I understand my new workplace much better - which is different from saying I am comfortable there.

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The age of enlightenment?

Not that I needed to be reminded of this fact, but last week once again demonstrated that politics is an unpredictable animal. The simple – at least on the surface – idea of reducing the voting age from 18 to 16 created a debate that has clearly stirred up a lot more controversy than I ever imagined when we decided to introduce the private member’s bill following the plebiscite last year when 16 and 17 year-olds were allowed to vote for the first time in Canada.

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The fable of the Finance Minister who cried wolf

Do you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? He kept telling those around him that a wolf was about to eat his flock of sheep, but when they went to check, there was nothing there. Eventually they stopped paying attention, assuming that he was having them on, until one day the wolf actually showed up, but no-one was listening.

Finance Minister Allen Roach has been promising, literally EVERY year since he took on the position, that we will reach balance, and have a surplus …… next year. For a while, people may have believed him, but consistent annual disappointment at budget time has led many folks to roll their eyes and think - as those repeatedly misled by the boy who cried wolf – that he’s deluded.

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Teachable moments from the school review process

As the Public Schools Branch lumbers its way towards the conclusion of the awkward and much maligned process of school reviews, I thought it would be a good time to review the process itself and point out a few learning opportunities for those tasked with the development, administration and delivery of public policy.

I have acknowledged many times before that governing is difficult, but I think those in power could make things a lot easier for themselves if they followed a simple and consistent set of rules.

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When it comes to schools, small is beautiful (and can be cost-efficient, and effective)

A few decades ago we had hundreds of small schools dotting the PEI landscape, their locations determined by how far a child could reasonably be expected to walk to get there each day. Today, in line with the general trend to centralization of everything, we have a few “families” of schools, and with this week’s recommendations from the Public Schools Branch, a few more of the children in those families of schools are being cut loose as being no longer viable.

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Remarks from opening of ‘Living Lightly on the Earth’ exhibit

Back in October I was asked to present some remarks at the opening of the "Living Lightly on the Earth" exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, celebrating 40 years since the Ark was built at Spry Point. As I look back on the year that was for me and the Island Green Party, and think about the future, these thoughts tie together many of the enduring ideas I find myself talking about repeatedly.

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The politics of e-gaming

Words are powerful, but they can also be slippery. Take the word “dog” for example. For some people, when they read that word it conjures up warm feelings of lovely walks on a beach with your favourite companion: for others it might make you feel anxious, or downright terrified. My “dog” could be a 10 pound fluff ball with pink ribbons in her hair: yours, a 150 pound beast who could knock your house down. Same word – very different interpretations.

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Sex, drugs, and electoral reform

So much public debate these days is sparked by shock and scandal. The lines between news and entertainment have become ever-more blurred, and it’s almost impossible to get people to pay attention to a topic that isn’t lurid or dramatic – electoral reform for example. Is there a less sexy subject out there than democratic renewal?

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Are we signing up to throw our Island away, one plastic bottle at a time?

Astronomers go bananas when they discover a planet that has evidence of water, because they then know that life is possible on that orb. With water life is possible: without water, the possibilities are severely limited.

With this in mind, I was both surprised and horrified when I learned of a proposal that involved removing water from our Island aquifer and selling it abroad. Let’s put aside for a moment all the persuasive arguments why bottled water in and of itself is a terrible idea (use of oil, carbon footprint, plastic waste, health concerns, shipping something really heavy across the planet that is available locally, etc etc) and focus on what this might mean to Islanders and the water upon which our lives, our economy, and all living things with which we share this beautiful place depend.

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Taking care of our water and soil, part 2

My last blog was about the problems associated with current agricultural practices on PEI, and because I never like to criticize or complain without offering a positive alternative, I promised to write my next blog on how farming might be done differently on PEI.

I’d like to start by outlining the principles from which I think the future of Island farming should be drawn.

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