Ontario ‘s Ford Government’s Post-Truth War on Climate Change

“It’s time to face facts. Based on its weak Environment Plan, the lack of action to reduce carbon pollution, and its commitment to fight well established climate solutions like carbon pricing, it seems the province (of Ontario) has no intention to fight climate change.”

A Commentary by Keith Brooks, Programs Director, Environmental Defence Canada

Posted March 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario’s Environment Minister Jeff Yurek, with Premier Doug Ford to the right, waging a post-truth war on climate change

Since gaining office a year and a half ago, the Ontario government has taken a post-truth approach to climate change: they say what they want you to believe, rather than what experts agree to be true.

Specifically, the government claims to have a real plan to fight climate change that proves you can fight it without a price on carbon.

However, experts agree:

But so far, none of that seems to matter to the provincial government. They carry on with the post-truth politics on climate change.

You might think that after Ontario’s Auditor General trounced Ontario’s plan the government would change its tune. Or after Ontario’s Court of Appeal ruled that Canada’s carbon price is constitutional, Ontario would give up the fight against Ottawa. Or when, in advance to the federal election, they said that voters would decide whether Ontario should have a carbon price, you might think that the province would concede after voters overwhelmingly voted for parties that support one.

But no, the post-truth war on climate change wages on.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 2019 Annual Report confirms that Ontario’s climate change plan is too weak to meet its own emissions reduction targets and is not based on sound evidence.

It’s most recent incarnation was the almost fact-free statement from Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s Minister of Environmental, Conservation and Parks, in regards to Monday’s ruling from the Alberta Court of Appeal against the federal government’s carbon pricing laws.

How dost he love the post-truthiness? Let me count the ways…

First, the minister insists the carbon tax is illegal, though Ontario’s and Saskatchewan’s courts found it was constitutional.

Second, the minster claims that families can’t afford it, even though the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer has shown twice that families will get back more than they pay thanks to the rebate.

Third, the minister says the tax does nothing for the environment, though experts at the Economist Magazinethe OECD, and innumerable other staid organizations disagree. So too do environmentalists.

Fourth, the minister says that thanks to the federal carbon tax, it’s more expensive to fuel our cars, though gasoline costs are down in Ontario since the tax was put in place.

The minister did say something that is true: you don’t need a carbon tax to fight climate change. But you do need something in its place.

All Ontario has is a weak plan that is not based on sound evidence and that is still a draft, although it is more than a year old.  And, worse still, the government is not even taking action on most of the elements of its plan and is not living up to the promises made in the plan.

For example, just today, the Ontario Energy Board ruled against more natural gas conservation for 2021, though natural gas conservation is a key element of Ontario’s Environment Plan. In fact, natural gas conservation is the one element in the plan the Auditor General said has merit. Plus, it also  saves people money.

It’s time to face facts. Based on its weak Environment Plan, the lack of action to reduce carbon pollution, and its commitment to fight well established climate solutions like carbon pricing, it seems the province has no intention to fight climate change. And by continuing to avoid the truth, the government has no credibility when it comes to the environment.

The good news is that we seem to be past the point where it’s okay for a government to completely deny climate change. Instead, they say they are doing something about it, when in fact they are doing the opposite. All of which means that you can expect more post-truth on climate change from this provincial government. But don’t believe it.

About Environmental Defence – 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.

For more information on Environmental Defence and its public advocacy work, click on – https://environmentaldefence.ca/

Environmental Defence issues a report card on Ford government’s efforts on climate change in December 2018, after the government’s first six months in power

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