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[Ontario]Liberals have voted to pass a budget that muzzles public input on changes to important environmental protections. With these changes buried in the budget bill (Bill 55), the government has in effect exempted them from the public participation process normally required by law.
“The GPO is all in favour of working together, and we applaud the cooperation that has averted another election. But it’s wrong for the Liberal government to use the budget bill to silence public input on changes to environmental protections,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “The public has a right to comment on legislation that protects Ontario’s natural legacy.”
The GPO is calling on the Liberals to remove changes to laws prescribed under the Environmental Bill of Rights from Bill 55 before final passage. Greens oppose using omnibus legislation to avoid the mandatory 30-day public comment period.
“Changes to environmental protections have no place in a budget bill,” says Schreiner. “Solving a financial deficit by creating an ecological one isn’t sound management or good leadership. It’s time for the Liberals to do the right thing and address changes to environmental laws separately from the budget.”
Jaymini Bhikha (Office) 416-977-7476 (Cell) 416-275-8573 firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Party of Ontario PO Box 1132 Toronto, ON M4Y 2T8 Canada
TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – April 19, 2012) - The Quetico Foundation is deeply concerned that the Ontario Government’s omnibus budget bill will impact Ontario endangered species and parks. Significant amendments to dozens of important pieces of legislation are contained within Bill 55, Strong Action for Ontario Act. These changes being proposed, without consultation, include serious modifications to the Endangered Species Act, 2006 (ESA) that allow for exemptions, and to the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 (PPCRA) that threaten and weaken the process for preparation and review of park management plans. These modifications have no relevance to budget matters!
The Foundation is concerned that Bill 55 both weakens crucial global initiatives to preserve biodiversity and relieves government of its duties with respect to proper management of our Ontario Parks.
Further, inclusion of multiple legislative amendments in a budget bill disregards the process that normally opens such changes to public consultation. The standard process of the posting of changes on the Environmental Registry has been ignored.
The Foundation urges Ontarians to demand that the proposed endangered species and parks legislation amendments to the PPCRA and the ESA, along with a number of other Acts that fall under the Environmental Bill of Rights, be removed from Bill 55. Citizens need to insist that due process be followed and that any proposed amendments be posted on the Environmental Registry and be open to public discussion in accordance with the normal government process.
About The Quetico Foundation:
The Quetico Foundation was formed as a not-for-profit organization in 1954 with a mandate to protect the wilderness values and ecological integrity of Quetico Provincial Park and other wilderness areas in Ontario for the benefit of future generations.
Bill 55: The proposed changes are enabled in Schedule 69 of Bill 55, Strong Action for Ontario Act, “to enact and amend various Acts”. (Specific changes to the ESA are in schedule 19, and to the PPCRA are in Schedule 58): http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=2600
EBR: The Environmental Registry is available at: http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/
The Quetico Foundation: The Text of the letter that the Foundation sent to the Ontario Minister of Finance, The Honourable Dwight Duncan, is available at: http://www.queticofoundation.org/pdf/2012_budget.pdf
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has issued a report criticizing the procedure being used to amend the ESA and the PPCRA acts. See: http://www.eco.on.ca/blog/2012/04/02/the-omni-budget-surprise/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-omni-budget-surprise
The Green Party position on this legislation is at: http://www.gpo.ca/blog/2012-04-11/budget-bill-threatens-environmental-protections-transparent-and-accountable-governme
ORA: Ontario Rivers Alliance’s position on this issue can be found at: http://ontarioriversalliance.ca/strong-arm-tactics-to-take-away-protection-for-our-environment-and-endangered-species-press-release/
Law Firm: The Toronto based law firm, Iler Campbell’s opinion on this issue can be found at: http://www.ilercampbell.com/blog/