“What is it about Republicans (if you are Canadian, substitute the word “Republicans” here for “Conservatives”)and the environment? They never waver from their commitment to do nothing.” – American comedian, political commentator and HBO television host Bill Mayer
A News Commentary by Doug Draper and a New Report from the non-for-profit, non-partisan public advocacy group, Environmental Defence Canada
Posted October 10th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
A short answer to Bill Maher’s question is that for current generations of Republicans in his country and current generations of Conservatives in Canada, any kind of environmental protection policies and programs are enemies of the gods they worship more than their children’s future – money, power and growth at any cost, otherwise known as unbridled, predatory capitalism.
In summary, looking after the natural world around us is simply not in a modern-day Republican’s or Conservative’s DNA.
And if the allergy federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer so clearly has to strikes for climate action, and if the feckless environmental platform his party has cobbled together for the current federal election isn’t enough to prove it, we have Scheer’s friends and allies here in in the Province of Ontario.
Of course, I’m talking about Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives, and their deep pocket supporters in the business community supporters who have been waging a war on the province’s environmental protection safeguards since they came to power a year ago last June.
A new report, released this October 10th by Environmental Defence, one of Canada’s and the world’s most respected advocates for a greener future, shows that the Ford government in Ontario has done little or nothing to reduce the greenhouses gases contributing to what many international experts are now calling a “climate emergency” and an “existential threat” to the ecosystems that sustain life on our planet.
“Tens of thousands of Ontarians took to the streets recently to call on governments to address the climate crisis,” say Environmental Defence representatives in a news release accompanying the report.
“But Ontario’s leaders have effectively ignored this crisis in the hopes that someone else will fix it. Without accelerated action, Ontario’s promise to reduce carbon pollution without a price on carbon is meaningless.”
Far from accelerated action, in one short year Ford has already one a long way toward dragging Ontario decades backwards through numerous moves, including:
- Gutting funding for flood management (right in the middle of communities across Ontario suffering record or near record floods);
- Cutting funding for tree-planting programs (fortunately the federal Liberal government swept in with funding to keep the programs going);
- Weakening the province’s Endangered Species Act at a time when experts around the world are warming of possible crashes in populations of birds, mammals and other members of the circle of life;
- Pulling teeth out of the province’s planning rules to make it easier to pave over more of the countryside, including what is left of Ontario’s food-growing lands, with low-density, urban sprawl;
- Spending an untold amount of Ontario tax dollars to stage one court challenge after another against the federal Liberal government’s efforts to place a price on climate-ravaging carbon pollution;
- Closing down the Office of Ontario’s Environment Commission (an independent watchdog in the province) so that there will be no further report cards from that office on the government’s environmental record.
And the list goes on and on, and it would be longer still if, last June, the Ford government – now seriously tank in popularity polls – had not shut down the provincial legislature until after this October 21st federal election in an apparent attempt to be a little less in our face while its federal buddy Andrew Scheer and his candidates try scaring up enough support in vote-rich Ontario.
Ford’s malodorous presence has not gone away though. It is there in his recent attempts to play around with the legislation governing Ontario’s Conservation Authorities, including the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), and what they may or may not be able to do in the future to fulfill their efforts to protect and preserve our watersheds.
It is also there in those misleading stickers Ford and company forced gas stations to put on their pumps – just in time for the kickoff this September of the federal election – as a way of trying to convince Ontario motorists that the price the federal Trudeau government is putting on carbon pollution is stealing money out of their pockets.
In Niagara Centre, the federal riding this commentator lives and votes in, it is also there in the candidate running for Scheer’s Conservatives.
That candidate is April Jeffs, a former Wainfleet (Niagara, Ontario) mayor who ran a failed race as a Doug Ford candidate in the 2018 Ontario provincial election, and was later appointed by the Ford government to serve on the board of the Niagara Parks Commission.
Jeffs also served on the last board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority – a board that largely drew scorn from residents across the region who accused it of purging the NPCA of a number of respected conservation employees and turning its back on too much of the Authority’s historic conservation mandate.
So it is very hard to not to view Ford and Scheer through the very same lens – a lens that is anything but green – and one can only imagine what little will be left of the environmental policies and programs generations of Canadians fought to put in place if, following this federal election, we have Ford continuing on with his war against the environment in Ontario, and Scheer reinforcing his flanks and supplying him with even more ammo at the federal level.
This October 21st – on voting day – do your part not to let that happen. There is nothing less than our future as a species and a planet at stake here.
Stay tuned to Niagara At Large for more on what is at stake in this federal later.
Now here is the news release from Environmental Defence and a link to the group’s full report –
For immediate release: October 10, 2019
New Report from Environmental Defence shows that Ontario has taken little action over the past year to fulfill the climate change promises in its Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan
Toronto, Ont. – Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to fight climate change without a price on carbon emissions.
In Failure to Launch: A Progress Report on Ontario’s Climate Change Actions[https://environmentaldefence.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/ENVIRONMENTAL-DEFENCE-Report-Failure-To-Launch-A-Progress-Report-on-Ontarios-Climate-Actions.pdf] , we review the province’s progress on this promise, and conclude that Ontario has taken no meaningful steps to reduce carbon pollution in the past year.
“We’ve looked at every proposed climate change action since the Made-In–Ontario Environment Plan’s release,” said Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager at Environmental Defence.
“So far, Ontario has weakened the province’s targets to reduce carbon emissions, cut just about every program to fight climate change, and then failed to replace these programs with any meaningful actions.”
The Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan, released in November 2019, outlined the Ontario government’s action plan to fight climate change.
The main proposals to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions include increasing the use of clean,renewable fuels, expanding programs to reduce natural gas consumption, implementing a system to reduce industrial carbon pollution, and creating an emissions reduction fund to leverage private investment in clean technologies.
Our analysis shows that the Ontario government has made little progress towards implementing these actions and meeting the targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set out in their own plan, even after swapping in a weaker emissions reduction target for the year 2030 –
- * The renewable fuel regulation has been significantly weakened and delayed since it was originally proposed by the province
- * There is no evidence of any efforts to expand natural gas conservation
- * Ontario’s proposal for industrial emitters is weaker than the federal system currently in place
- * The proposed emissions reduction fund is nowhere to be seen
- * Despite a heavy reliance on electric vehicle (EV) uptake in Ontario’s plan, the government cancelled all programs to support their adoption and EV sales have declined dramatically
- * The province has yet to identify what actions will deliver the substantial emissions reductions from the vaguely defined category of “innovation” contained in the province’s plan
“The province needs to act quickly and decisively to get back on track when the government returns to the Legislature this fall,” added Sarah Buchanan.
“The world is demanding climate action. Tens of thousands of Ontarians took to the streets recently to call on governments to address the climate crisis. But Ontario’s leaders have effectively ignored this crisis in the hopes that someone else will fix it. Without accelerated action, Ontario’s promise to reduce carbon pollution without a price on carbon is meaningless.”
The full report can be accessed here. Click on – [https://environmentaldefence.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/ENVIRONMENTAL-DEFENCE-Report-Failure-To-Launch-A-Progress-Report-on-Ontarios-Climate-Actions.pdf] .
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( www.environmentaldefence.ca [https://www.environmentaldefence.ca/] ): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
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