The Shadow Blog is where our Opposition Shadow Critics share their thoughts on current Prince Edward Island policy issues and their visions for a brighter future for all Islanders.

To learn more about the Green Party of PEI's Shadow Cabinet, click here.

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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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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Life Outside ‘the rails’

legislative-chamber-in-the-coles-building.jpgThis  past week the Speaker of the House ruled against MLAs speaking to the gallery outside of the rails. The rails became a focus again later in the week when courageous MLAs chose to speak of their personal experiences with trauma in the House - and the government listened and responded - yet information obtained directly from Islanders about their experience with mental health, including trauma, was devalued and discounted.  Perhaps MLAs need to do less speaking to people outside of the rail and more listening.

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Hopeful Agriculture

alfalfa_field.jpg'Tis the season on PEI, of hand-wringing and questioning and general unrest when it comes to considerations of the agricultural variety. There is much displeasure at the perceived, if not accurate, deforestation and ecological damage happening at the hands of what has come to be accepted as corporate farming operations or those operations under the 'guidance' of corporate entities.

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Six young mothers die

Essential Island workers dying at their workplace, doing unpaid job of caring for children

mother_and_baby.jpgSince January of this year, six young Island women have died in their workplace.

To my knowledge, there has been no investigation by any government agency leading to an identification of the circumstances that led to their deaths, an implementation of - or increase in - safety measures to make the job safer or support for the family members left without a mother, wife, sister, or daughter. 

The Island women who died on the job were doing the unpaid and essential work of caring for children; their workplace was the home. They suffered with postnatal (postpartum) depression, which eventually led to their deaths. 

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