November 2020 Green News - Back to the Leg

Did you know that you can receive our newsletters straight to your inbox? Never miss a thing by signing up to our mailing list here!

Green Party Candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk and more than 50 volunteers ran a fabulous by-election campaign in District 10, adapting to the constraints of COVID-19 to place a strong second place with over 27% of the vote.

This has been and will continue to be a very eventful Fall! Many Green Party members were actively volunteering in the District 10 By-election campaign with Green candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk (more on this below), and as of this past Thursday, our MLAs have shifted from Campaign Mode to Legislature Mode, with a very full agenda planned. Meanwhile, Greens are getting active at the local level following a few months of COVID-induced quiet.

Read all about it in the newsletter below!

Jordan Bober
Executive Director 

In this newsletter:

  • District 10 by-election
  • Green Caucus to do list for the Fall 2020 Sitting
  • Green District Association activities
  • D21+23 "Mask Que Rade" Dinner Dec 2
  • In loving memory of Glen Beaton 

 

D10_by-election.png

On September 26th, the Green Party of PEI nominated Chris van Ouwerkerk as our candidate for the District 10 Charlottetown-Winsloe by-election - and the election officially started that same day. Chris made us all proud, from the very beginning right to the end with an inspiring (and classy) speech on Election Night. In four short weeks, Chris - a butcher by trade and a brand new lawyer as well - knocked on every door in the district, and volunteers help deliver campaign literature to every doorstep weekly.

Most importantly, as Chris said in his election night speech, we had FUN! Because having fun is what makes all that hard work possible and worthwhile.

While we didn't win the by-election, Chris, his team and the Green Party are proud of the solid, fun and ethical campaign we mounted and the strong second place result we achieved together. It was never going to be easy going against a highly popular government during a pandemic, but Greens have demonstrated once again that we are a major political force. The opportunity to have important conversations with voters and to build skills and relationships among members and volunteers is never wasted!

Thanks so much to all those from throughout the Island who supported this campaign with their time or their money. We couldn't do it without you, and with your help there will be many more elections to be won!

Our Green Caucus of MLAs was very actively involved in the by-election campaign, often accompanying candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk to the doors and participating in sign waves every chance they got. All the while, though, they were getting ready for an ambitious agenda for the Fall Sitting of the Legislature, which began on November 12th.

Our Green Official Opposition has decided to focus on making PEI better in six core areas this sitting (see below). Although the government now has a slim majority in the legislature with 14 MLAs, the Premier has stated and we have every reason to believe that his government will continue to act in a collaborative manner with other parties.

Our Green Caucus remains a powerful force for positive change in the Legislature and will continue to not only perform the role of Official Opposition in holding government to account, but to advance new ideas and legislation that will make PEI a better place for all.

While the Legislative chambers are still closed to the public, we encourage you to watch video of the proceedings (it can actually get a bit addictive!). The Legislature sits Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-5pm and 7-9pm, Wednesdays from 2-5pm, and Fridays from 10am-1pm. You can watch live or recorded videos on the Legislature website, www.assembly.pe.ca, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peileg.

Fall 2020 To Do List

Mental_Health_and_Addictions.pngMental Health & Addictions

Opposition Health and Wellness Critic Trish Altass has been a staunch advocate for better mental health supports on PEI, and will continue to hold the government's feet to the fire for their mishandling of the mental health file in 2020 and failed delivery on key 2019 promises. She describes these failures in detail in her recent blog post Broken Promises Increase Despair. District 10 Green candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk can attest that mental health concerns were the top issues brought up on the doorstep during the recent by-election.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Trish Altass plans to start debate on a motion for government to make mental health and addiction services a priority. That same day, there will be a rally for mental health outside the Coles Building starting at 6:30pm, organized by #MentalHealthMatters PEIPlease attend if you want to send a loud, clear message to all MLAs that it is time to make mental health supports a priority on PEI!


Housing.pngHousing

18 months into its term in office, the King government has done very little to address the acute housing shortage on PEI. Green MLAs will press the government to act swiftly to ensure that all Islanders have access to housing they can afford and that meets their needs. And Hannah Bell will continue asking the government "Where's the new Residential Tenancy Act?".


Social Equity & Inclusion

Of note this fall, we are expecting the Special Committee on Poverty, chaired by Trish Altass, to table its final report to the Legislature. This will be very exciting as the all-party committee's task was to come forward with costed recommendations for the implementation of a Basic Income on Prince Edward Island. So stay tuned!

Trish Altass has already helped score a victory for those seeking help accessing expensive treatments for rare but treatable and even curable diseases. You may have seen the recent story about Lucy Morkunas, who had been denied treatment for her rare disease even through it is already covered by the provincial drug formulary. With a little help from Trish and the media, the province decided to cover Morkunas' treatment after all. The incident led to Trish tabling a motion on Thursday calling on the government to establish a protocol for funding treatments of rare diseases, and to provide more thoughtful, transparent and evidence-based responses to formulary requests. The motion passed!


Greener Economy

The Green Caucus will continue to ensure that the government's recovery plan is not to return to an unsustainable pre-COVID-19 status quo, but to build a more ecologically sustainable, socially just economy that benefits the many - not the few.

This starts with, for one thing, supporting local. The pandemic has led to a major increase in online shopping and made it difficult for many local businesses to operate at full capacity - or at all. That's why Michele Beaton has tabled a motion calling on government to not only promote shopping local, but to put its money where it's mouth is by engaging in local procurement whenever it possibly can.

The Special Committee on Climate Change, with Green members Lynne Lund and Steve Howard, continues its work to chart out a path to achieve our target of at least 45% less GHG emissions by 2030. The committee issued its first 14 recommendations this summer on actions the government should take "without delay", and our MLAs will press the government to heed and act on those recommendations. 

While the government's announcement last month of targets to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2040 and Net Zero Energy by 2030 is encouraging, Greens are concerned about the lack of a plan or accountability mechanism to ensure that we meet those ambitious targets. Unfortunately, governments setting far-off goals that it has no plan to reach is something we have seen play out over and over again in Canada. 

That's why Peter Bevan-Baker writes that "Plans are good. Acting on those plans is better." And Ole Hammarlund, the Green Party's Net Zero Critic, recalls how just a year ago, both the PCs and Liberals fought tooth and nail against his motion calling for all new provincial government buildings to be build according to Net Zero standards (see Government’s Net Zero plan: A+ for goals, C- for action). How, he asks, does the government expect to achieve net zero anything when it won't commit to something as obvious as constructing buildings that are part of the solution and not part of the problem?


Water and Lands Protection

Thanks to the work of Green Agriculture & Lands Critic Michele Beaton, the illegal land sales to several Irving-linked entities in the Bedeque area last year were daylighted, and a year later, the Minister has apparently asked one or more of those entities to divest themselves of land. However, the King government has been extremely slow to plug the loopholes that allow this and other land sales that circumvent the Lands Protection Act to take place on an alarmingly regular basis. This has Beaton asking "What more will it take for the King government to keep its promise and finally close the loopholes in the Lands Protection Act?"

Meanwhile, Environment, Water and Climate Change Critic Lynne Lund will keep demanding that the government become much better stewards of our water resources than it has been. For instance, where are the long-awaited Water Act regulations that will allow this Act to become law, three years after it was first passed in the Legislature? What about that moratorium on holding ponds promised by Minister Natalie Jameson last summer, but which she has still not put in place? And why is the government allowing large amounts of water to be taken from streams and rivers with critically low water levels? See The government must become better stewards of our natural resources.

For a beautiful and more poetic take on these issues, have a listen to PEI singer-songwriter Teresa Doyle's new song "Loophole Lament", which she debuted at our September 27th Dream-a-thon, inspired (is that the right word?) by the decades of government inaction on land and water protection.


Tourism

With 1 in 7 PEI businesses being a tourism business, and one in ten Islanders employed in the tourism sector, the entire Island's economy is deeply affected by the existential challenges to the tourism industry posed by COVID-19. That's why it is critical for the government to have a plan to help tourism businesses adapt to these challenges, and the Green Party will be bringing ideas to the Legislature this fall - such as Peter Bevan-Baker's and Ole Hammarlund's motion to establish PEI as a cycling destination.


Of course, the 6 core themes mentioned above do not encompass everything that our Green Official Opposition will be doing this fall! As the Official Opposition, our Green Caucus plays a critical role in holding government to account and making democracy better every day, and this is especially important now that the government holds a slim majority in the legislature.

One exciting bill being sponsored by MLA Karla Bernard this fall is the Election Age Act, which would lower the voting age for provincial and municipal elections from 18 to 16. There have long been calls for lowering the voting age as a way to boost current low rates of youth participation in elections. Peter Bevan-Baker had sponsored a similar bill in 2017, but it was defeated. Hopefully, this is an idea whose time as finally come! If passed, PEI would become the first province in Canada to lower its voting age to 16.

Peter Bevan-Baker and Michele Beaton will continue their work on the Special Committee on Records Retention to examine how so many important government records related to the E-gaming scandal managed to be deleted, and more importantly, how to improve practices so that such a thing can be prevented from happening in the future. 

 

The Green Caucus has been hard at work to improve the lives of Islanders. If you haven't already, be sure to follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. And check out their website at www.peigreencaucus.ca for blogs, videos and more!

The Stratford Greens Regional Association brought their community together for a Nature Walk in Fullerton Creek Conservation Park on October 24, 2020

Green volunteers have been activating at the local level, too! 

On October 24th, the Stratford Greens Regional Association hosted a successful community Nature Walk in the Fullerton Creek Conservation Park. 

November 4th saw the founding of our newest Electoral District Association (EDA) in District 11, Charlottetown-Belvedere! Congratulations to the new EDA led by Bethany Collicutt-McNabb (Chair), Jennifer Mohan, Judith Bayliss and Janice MacWilliam!

The Districts 21+23 Regional Association held its AGM online on November 5th. Congratulations to newly elected Chair Bev Cornish, Financial Coordinator Sandra Hartt, and Data Coordinator Debbie Graham! The Regional Association is also organizing a "Mask Que Rade" fundraising dinner on December 2nd in Summerside (see more below), and its Quilt Raffle is coming to completion on December 12th, so don't forget to get your tickets while you still can!

The District 17 New Haven-Rocky Point EDA held its AGM online on November 9th. Congratulations to re-elected Chair Roy Johnstone and Communications Coordinator Sue Williams!

Watch for more from our local District Associations in the months ahead, as they work under public health requirements to engage their communities.

The Districts 21 Summerside-Wilmot and 23 Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke Regional Association is hosting it's second annual fundraising dinner in Summerside on December 2, 2020. This year, the dinner will take place respecting public health protocols and they are putting a new twist on the idea of a "masquerade" - guests are encouraged to bring their community masks, for which they could even win a prize! 

Tickets are $45 each, of which $25 is eligible for a tax receipt. There is both a dine-in option (with a limit of 50 guests) and a take-out option with lots of delicious meals to choose from. Learn more and get your tickets at www.greenparty.pe.ca/maskquerade.

Also, a reminder to get your tickets for the D21+23 Quilt Raffle, which ends on December 12th! Due to COVID-19, the RA has not had a lot of opportunities to sell tickets, so the chance of winning this beautiful handmade quilt is much higher than normal. Tickets are a modest $5 for a quilt that is valued at over $1000. 

Tickets can be purchased online at www.greenparty.pe.ca/quiltraffle or directly from members of the Regional Association.

We would like to acknowledge with sadness the passing on October 31st, 2020 of Glen Beaton at the age of 81 years. The father of Mermaid-Stratford MLA Michele Beaton, Glen was an active and enthusiastic participant in the Green movement since campaigning with his daughter during the 2019 provincial election. He got the bug himself and went on to run as the federal Green candidate for the Cardigan riding, and then to help establish a federal Green Electoral District Association in Cardigan. 

Glen's career in public service began long before that, of course, and his years working in government were full of huge accomplishments including negotiating/planning the construction of the Atlantic Vet College and introducing the Contract for Life and Students Against Drinking and Driving into Island high schools. He also served as mayor of his community of Alexandra.

Glen will be especially missed by his wife Mary, his children Cindy, Wade, Brian and Michele, and his granddaughter Ava, as well as his siblings Sheldon, Dorothy and Dianne.

Get daily updates from the Green Party of PEI - follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram today!

   

 

We can't do any of this without your support!