Category Archives: News

“What is normal?”

This piece on the former Indian day school on Lennox Island First Nation has made me rethink so many things I thought I knew. I happily went to a brand new, modern elementary school only 15 minutes from Lennox Island at the same time the children there were being abused and mistreated. I’m ashamed that I had no idea this went on next door to me. This is the truth.

Federal Election 2021

As in the last federal election, we arranged a mail-in ballot for my mother. Her ballot arrived quickly, so we three voted a couple of weeks ago, all by special ballot.

This is at least the second federal election where not one candidate has come to our door, and I think it has probably been longer than that. They just can’t cover as many houses in a day out here (and political affiliations are not a big secret in West Prince!).

It’s kind of like Halloween: even the kids from the country head to the villages and towns because you can visit more houses and get more candy in densely populated areas.

Trick or treat also sort of sums up my feelings on this election.

The Plan

Even before the Canadian federal election was called, the leader of the Conservative party sent each of us in our household a separate letter outlining his recovery plan to fix everything that is wrong with Canada (except, it seems, our relationships with Indigenous peoples, the climate and the electoral system, my top three issues this election). Three more letters arrived this week. Waste of resources, waste of beautiful trees.

Thought I’d at least mine this dreck for art, so here are three found poems. I did try to construct a jolly sounding poem, but it wasn’t possible from the doom and gloom bricks I was given.

Mr. Vivian
Holding Heavily
Economic Vision

What comes after

I think the true nature of an elected official shines through not while they are running for office or holding a seat in a governmental body, but rather what they do after they have finished their elected role, especially if they have been an elected official for many years. That person who was a keen community volunteer just before they decided to run for office does not always drop off the other end of the political conveyor belt the same engaged individual.

Former United States President Jimmy Carter has been out of office for 40 years and has been busy writing books, promoting Habitat for Humanity, and working on many peace and health projects through The Carter Center that he and his wife, Rosalynn, founded a year after he left office. A recent episode of the BBC World Service podcast People Fixing The World looked at how the battle against Guinea worm disease is progressing (that section starts at the 14:00 mark). The answer is very, very well, and it is in large part due to The Carter Centre, who took the lead on the eradication effort when no one else wanted to deal with it. They are soooooo close:

In 1986, the disease afflicted an estimated 3.5 million people a year in 21 countries in Africa and Asia. Today, thanks to the work of The Carter Center and its partners — including the countries themselves — the incidence of Guinea worm has been reduced by more than 99.99 percent to 27 provisional* cases in 2020.

The Carter Center

The Guinea worm is a parasite that enters the body as larvae in drinking water and then a year later the three-foot-long worm emerges through a lesion in the skin. The condition doesn’t usually kill people outright, but it is debilitating and the emergence of the worm sounds terrifying and painful.

I have read about and heard programs about this disease before and remember a scientist saying that but for Jimmy Carter’s involvement in directing The Carter Center to take the lead on this huge eradication project, the Guinea worm would still be causing wide-spread suffering. It is far from being a glamorous cause, but Carter was told it could be eliminated, and they went to work to try to do just that.

I think Jimmy Carter has used his post-political years better than almost any other politician I can think of in my lifetime. I understand he and Rosalynn live quite modestly, and he has used his influence and energy to help others and not himself. A true hero.

Helen

Reading the sad news of Helen McCrory’s death immediately reminded me of seeing her in the title role of Medea at a National Theatre Live broadcast at the Charlottetown cinema in 2014. Her performance was completely riveting and I felt exhausted after watching the play; I can only imagine how powerful it would have been to see it in person.

Other than her turn as Cherie Blair in two films, I wasn’t really familiar with her other roles, but her Medea remains a highlight in almost-live theatre. We have subscribed to the National Theatre at Home service and Medea is one of the offerings, so it is time to watch it again. I hope you find your ghost light, Helen, and shine on forever.

Searching

I was up late last night cutting green tomatoes and onions in order to make pickles this morning. It was a windy night and I could hear the sound of a low, steady engine drone. The noise was unidentifiable when I opened the back door near midnight, but my best guess was that someone was harvesting corn, though it would be highly unusual to be working so late.

A large airplane flew low over our house early this morning, then another an hour later, followed by a search and rescue helicopter. Military exercises have occurred in our area in the past, but I guessed it was what I had hoped it wasn’t late last night.

It turns out three teenage boys from the Alberton area went out in a dory last evening, but only one boy returned to shore by swimming. Fishers, search and rescue volunteers, and military and police services are searching the area for the two boys.

The dories used here are flat bottomed and sturdy, used mostly for inshore fishing of oysters or for sport fishing. They are very stable in rough water, but if you are speeding along and your propeller snags on a hidden rope, you can be instantly thrown from the boat. This has been more of an issue in recent years due to the increase in growing mussels and oysters in cages suspended in the water and anchored to the bottom as the anchor ropes are sometimes mistakenly left behind. A couple of my cousins have had close calls just a few hundred metres from here, it can happen so quickly.

Those three poor boys must have had something unusual and frightening happen. My heart is aching for them.

Another plane went over a few minutes ago, the low drone of engines still off to the north. That’s a good sign, the search goes on, and there is hope for the anguished families. I keep looking out at the river.

Search and rescue plane, in the haze of the smoke from fires on the west coast of North America.

Valued Member

We have subscribed to both of PEI’s daily newspapers for as long as I can remember. This morning we only received The Guardian and a letter explaining that the Journal Pioneer has been “combined” with The Guardian. Most of our neighbours only receive the Journal as it has always been the paper for the western end of PEI and The Guardian for eastern areas, so they will be very surprised and possibly upset by this change in routine.

I also found out this morning that I am now a member and not a subscriber, which I suppose is to give me the sense that I was part of this business decision and approve it, rather than being a customer who paid for a service that I’m not going to receive.

In the Saltwire Network CEO’s letter, they say their advertising revenue dropped by nearly two-thirds almost overnight, so they have been forced to temporarily lay off 40% of their workforce, including journalists. Instead of publishing nearly three dozen papers today across Atlantic Canada, they published four.

Other than being quite a thin paper, today’s edition doesn’t really seem much different from recent ones. Both of PEI’s dailies were already carrying heavy amounts of content from the other Saltwire Network papers and the Postmedia Network and were starting to look like each other, save for different local advertising and obituaries (one of the big reasons we kept The Guardian). When you read one, you had almost read the other as much of the local content in each was shared.

We were already seriously considering dropping our subscription to The Guardian this spring because the price for each was closing in on $400 a year. My mother does not use digital technology so receiving the newspaper is a big thing for her, but the content duplication was becoming very obvious and we couldn’t justify spending nearly $800 a year anymore. I think that decision has probably now been made for us, despite the assurance that this is a temporary measure.

When the Journal Pioneer stopped being an afternoon paper many years ago and moved to morning delivery, and since both papers have been owned by the same companies for many decades, I was always amazed they didn’t amalgamate the two publications years ago. This time of crisis could be the time this decision is finally made. I’m sad that other than the concern I feel for those who will lose their jobs, I just don’t care.

I’m feeling a bit overtaxed

We get both of PEI’s daily papers, The Guardian and the Journal Pioneer, both now owned by the Saltwire Network. Yesterday I read the Journal first and a headline on the second page, “Province overtaxed by tens of millions in 2018-19”, made me pause for a minute. Did the Province pay too much tax to the Federal government? Was there a miscalculation of rates that meant tax payers overpaid?

The same story was on the front page of The Guardian, but with a different headline: “P.E.I. is awash in cash.”

Yay , we’re rich!! Boo, we’ve been robbed!!

I am not great with numbers, to put it mildly (I’m terrible with numbers, to put it strongly!), but words I get. This is not the same message.

Perhaps Saltwire knows that since we Western folks gave up salt cod and salt pork and all the other salty things that kept our blood pressures high, they need to rile us up right good with tales of government stealing our cash. Maybe I should get back on the salt cod and give up the Saltwire.