PEI Politics

PEI politics is a mess. With our small population and relatively large number of politicians almost everyone knows or is related to someone who is currently, was, or wants to be, a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Ridings are small and since most voter preferences are inherited  it only takes a few swing votes to decide an election. The group of power brokers is also quite small and the two conditions lead to a situation that is ripe for corruption.

A look to the past would quickly show that both major parties have played the same crooked games over the past 150 years since Canada joined PEI. Right now the focus is on the Liberal party that has been in power since 2007 and has used the past 8 years to skirt laws and ethics to enrich their cronies and families. Contracts awarded to political allies are not even considered news and never mentioned in the media, but there have been a couple of major scandals that have hit the national news.

The first of these is the Provincial Nominee Program which was an program that was intended to bring immigrant investors to Canada as partners in functioning businesses.  Although a Federal program, it was largely administered by the provinces as a means to encourage local businesses. The government of PEI stretched the legalities on this program and ignored attempts by the Feds to get them to clean up their act. Ultimately, the Feds had to totally change the rules to prevent further abuses. It is a long and sordid story, and was thoroughly investigated by journalism students at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two things are most telling about the situation here on PEI. Firstly, the group that benefited the most from the PNP was the accounting firm led by the premier’s father-in-law. Secondly, the local media largely ignored the entire mess.

The most recent incident to come to life, was a major boondoggle in which the province tried to circumvent a number of laws and bring internet gambling to PEI. The salient points are described in an article in the Globe and Mail. Another look showed that PEI is the only province without comprehensive ethics guidelines.  Finally, it was determined that the conflict-of-interest commissioner had invested in the gambling scheme and has since resigned.

We have a provincial election scheduled for later this year, and the real problem here is that, with what is essentially a two party system, we have the option of the status quo, or the other bunch of crooks.

These problems are certainly not unique to PEI. Our Canadian government, with less than 40% of the popular vote has, since 2011, run up the largest deficits in Canadian history while limiting debate on issues that have fundamentally our society.

It’s definitely time to make changes to our current system. Do we need stronger laws, regulations, and enforcement to limit conflicts and illegal activities by governments and politicians? Do we need to change the ‘first past the post’ system? Do we need to more towards some method of proportional representation? I don’t have any answers, but I believe that it is past time to seriously debate the current situation in PEI and across the country.

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Spiked Potatoes

It seems that someone here on PEI is spiking potatoes with spikes—or some other metal object. The police are playing coy about the actual metal objects that have been showing up lately in spuds from a local farm.

RCMP Sgt. Paul Gagne, criminal operations analyst for the RCMP, said Tuesday they received a report on Oct. 11 in Neil’s Harbour, N.S., of a potato that had been tampered with and on Oct. 13 there was a report from Musgrave Harbour, N.L.

Another tampered potato was found in Chance Cove, N.L., on Tuesday.

Gagne said foreign metal objects were found before anyone consumed the potatoes and police believe the potatoes came from Linkletter Farms in Summerside.

Continue reading

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The Power of Vaccines – limited by war, poverty, and wilful ignorange

In 2014 it shouldn’t need to be said, but it needs to be repeated over and over again. Vaccines are one of the most effective means to prevent illness and death. Without vaccines people die.

Here’s an interactive map from the Council of Foreign Relations that highlights the vaccine preventable outbreaks from around the world. If the map doesn’t load, click here. Continue reading

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A Woman’s Room Online – Virulence as Art

Anyone who thinks about it at all knows that women are a long way from achieving equality in our world. In some Islamic cultures, they are still considered property, in the many Christian sects, including the Roman Catholics, the Mormons, and numerous Evangelical groups, they are either supposed to defer to their fathers and spouses, or unable to attain certain positions. Certainly the anti-abortion, pro-death campaigners have no love for the rights of women.

Those of us who identify as atheists and skeptics like to think of ourselves as being beyond such beliefs. However, the last few years have certainly shown that is not the case. Throughout this subculture where people pride themselves on their critical thinking skills, sexism, racism, bullying, and hate are rampant. These attitudes are spread throughout the community, and includes such well known writers and speakers as Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris. Continue reading

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An Abortion Debate

Yesterday I posted my support for the ‪#‎MenForChoice‬ campaign. In response, I was handed a graphic picture from someone who is extremely anti-choice.

Here is the entire exchange, but I must warn you, the image is extremely graphic, and is the first time I have ever reported anything to the Facebook police.

The image he posts is entirely unsourced and uncredited, so there is no way of knowing the story here. The pregnancy could have been terminated for any reason, and there is no indication that it was assisted in any way. It’s just a photo used by people who oppose women’s rights of spreading lies and misinformation.

The poster, is not interested in keeping a discussion on topic, he just makes his talking points.

Brace yourself, it’s not pretty. Continue reading

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Hacked Nude Celebrity Pictures

No, I’m not going to link to any here, nor am I going to name anyone involved. I’ll explain why later.

This has been one of the biggest internet news stories in the past weeks (a quick search “nude celebrity pictures hack” yields 3,800,000 results), and has generated a ton of commentaries, many of them equating both the release and the viewing as a form of abuse. Continue reading

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Jailed for not being able to afford an abortion clinic

Like many discriminatory laws, the US states that are criminalizing abortion and even miscarriage primarily affect women at the lower end of the economic ladder. Recently in  Pennsylvania a young women was unable to afford the combined travel or direct costs necessary to perform her abortion. The result is that her mother, Jennifer Whalen, is in jail  for buying medication to help her daughter. Continue reading

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If you thought the movie was the most insane thing called Ultraviolet, you are sadly mistake. There is someone who seems to believe that ultraviolet light is the latest cure for everything.

Here is the content of an email sent to a fellow blogger. This is a simple copy and paste. All the misspelling and the run-on single paragraph are from the original. Continue reading

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Quick Takes on GMOs

A couple of articles showed up in my feed today about GMOs.

The first from an Illinois farmer describes how seed corn is raised and the care that is taken to avoid cross-pollination with neighbours’ crops.

Growing seed corn (the seed that farmers will purchase to plant the following year) whether genetically modified or not, is a complex process.

Our first priority is working with our neighbors and learning what will they be planting in adjacent fields. Cross-pollination can occur, whether you are an organic or conventional farmer or plant GM seeds. It’s not “contamination”; it’s a fact of modern farming. Agriculture with and without genetic engineering must coexist side by side.

The right measures need to be taken so that GM pollen won’t drift into other fields and fertilize conventional cultivars. We are required to plant seed corn in isolation in order to lessen the likelihood of pollen from other fields entering ours or ours entering another field. The integrity of the hybrid and the traits of that hybrid depend upon this.

Farmer’s run businesses and the vast majority are very well aware of the short and long term consequences of their decision and activities. Growing crops for seed requires much more care than growing for food, regardless of the origin of those plants. Continue reading

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Genres and labels in art are meant to be bent, broken, and fused. Otherwise, nothing new would be created. Sometimes, the fusion is of two forms that seem totally at odds, and the result is unexpectedly amazing.

In this vein, from Japan comes Babymetal, a fusion of Japanese idol music with heavy metal  The group is fronted by Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal), Yui Mizuno (Yuimetal), and Moa Kikuchi (Moametal); three teens who are part of the Japanese Idol industry. Continue reading

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