Ford Government has Deliberately Ignored Public’s Right to be Heard on Significant Environmental Issues – Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk
A News Release from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario
Posted November 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large
TORONTO – Some Ontario ministries – including the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks – deliberately avoided consulting the public on environmentally significant decisions in 2020/21, bypassing the Environmental Bill of Rights, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk says in her Annual Report of Environment Audits.
“The Environment Ministry’s actions amount to undermining the Environmental Bill of Rights, a law that we would expect the Ministry to be championing,” Lysyk said.
“This has been consistent over the last three years.”
The law provides Ontarians with rights to information and public consultation on environmentally significant decisions, and the right to ask for a review or to appeal environmental decisions.
These rights are enshrined in law, similar to human rights, employment rights and French language rights.
The report cites cases where the government ignored those rights. The government, for example, failed to consult the public on changes to the Environmental Assessment Act by passing legislation to retroactively exempt the Ministry from that requirement.
There was also no consultation under the Environmental Bill of Rights about changes to the Conservation Authorities Act because the government included the changes in a budget bill. In another case, it was the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing who violated the Environmental Bill of Rights.
There was no public consultation about amendments that enhanced the Minister’s power to issue Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs). MZOs are used to bypass local land-use planning recommendations, public consultation and approvals for development projects.
“We also found that some ministries, while not technically violating the Environmental Bill of Rights, made environmentally significant decisions, and the public should have had a voice.
“The Environment Ministry should be taking an appropriate leadership role, to ensure the public’s right to information and consultation in provincial government decision-making that affects the environment.” said Tyler Schulz, Assistant Auditor General and Commissioner of the Environment in the Office.
This audit report includes 61 recommendations for improvement. (See link for whole audit report at end of this post)
Now Here Are Responses to the Findings of the Auditor General’s Report from Ontario’s Opposition Parties.
First the Ontario Liberals –
Trusting Doug Ford with our environment is like trusting an arsonist with a pack of matches.
TORONTO – Ontario’s Auditor General has confirmed that Doug Ford is attacking our environment and deceiving Ontarians on the impacts of the projects he continues forcing through with MZOs. Doug Ford’s government is the first in nearly two decades that is taking Ontario backwards in the fight against the climate crisis.
“Trusting Doug Ford with our environment is like trusting an arsonist with a pack of matches,” stated Ontario Liberal Leader, Steven Del Duca. “Today’s damning revelations by Ontario’s Auditor General show a government and a Premier that don’t believe in climate change, focused only on their political goals.”
Ontario Liberals made our province a leader in the fight against climate change, closing coal power plants and building a robust electric vehicle market with subsidies that were later canceled by Doug Ford. Today’s report shows that Ontario’s progress has not only stopped, but it has gone backwards under Doug Ford.
“Ontario Liberals will have a strong plan to once again make Ontario a leader in the fight against the climate crisis,” added Del Duca. “We owe it to our kids and grandkids to take immediate and real climate action.”
Finally, Here is a Statement from Ontario NDP Official Oppoistion Leader Andrea Horwath and the NDP’s Environment critic Sandy Shaw –
Auditor General’s report shows Ford’s war on the environment doing damage
QUEEN’S PARK – The Official Opposition NDP’s Environment critic Sandy Shaw and NDP Climate Crisis critic Peter Tabuns released the following statement in response to Ontario’s independent Auditor General’s report on the environment:
“Ontarians know the climate crisis is the greatest threat our world faces. Yet Premier Doug Ford is continuing to do whatever his buddies want, no matter what it costs the rest of us.
He’s automatically rubber stamping his buddies’ requests to pave over Ontario in the form of Minister’s Zoning Orders and highways that don’t help commuters like the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413— shutting out community members, even though it’s our kids and grandkids that will pay the price.
Instead of making big polluters pay for 78,000 toxic spills they are responsible for, Doug Ford is forcing Ontario families to pay millions in clean-up costs, letting big industry off the hook.
With Ford in charge, it’s certain Ontario will not meet its emissions targets. This is the same premier that ripped electric vehicle charging stations out of the ground. The same premier that paid extra to have nearly-complete wind farms torn down. We can’t afford any more of Ford’s big cuts and bad decisions.
Sadly, in the Liberals’ 15 years they didn’t make the progress we needed. We have a way to go to meet Ontario’s climate commitments.
Andrea Horwath and the New Democrats have released the strongest environmental platform Ontario has ever had. It will give our children and grandchildren a fighting chance at a livable future. Our plan creates jobs, and is rooted in justice, affordability, and reconciliation.”
To read the Ontario Auditor General’s Report on the Ford government’s environmental record, click on – https://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arreports/en21/ENV_FU_ClimateChange_en21.pdf
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