Ontario Greens: Liberal budget excludes public input on important environmental protections

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Don't they want to listen anymore? The Green Party of Ontario believe that the recently passed budget bill " muzzles public input onchanges to important environmental protections."

[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 Ontario Legislature at Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario Canada

“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  jbhikha@gpo.ca

Green Party of Ontario  PO Box 1132 Toronto, ON M4Y 2T8 Canada

Supplemental-

 

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.

www.queticofoundation.org

ESA/PPCRA BACKGROUNDER

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

ESA: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_07e06_e.htm

PPCRA: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_06p12_e.htm

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/

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1 Comment to Ontario Greens: Liberal budget excludes public input on important environmental protections

  1. It’s disappointing that after weeks of negotiation, this budget deal
    contains no plan to create jobs for the more than half a million
    Ontarians out of work – and no plan to avoid a pending $30.2 billion
    deficit in five years, ” Barrett stated following the budget vote. “This
    budget only exacerbates an unprecedented spending crisis, while again
    going to the tax well to fund government’s plans.

    The Premier is now three for three in promising at no new taxes at election time, and turning around to implement new tax schemes once the votes have been registered.

    “I’d like to say I’m surprised by this ‘deal’, but I’m not,” Opposition
    Leader Tim Hudak said. “The choice made by the Premier yesterday leads
    us further down the same failed path we have been on for the last eight
    years.”

    The deal – and the budget that it supports
    – ignores Opposition recommendations to kick-start the economy
    including:

    * Balance the budget by reducing the size and cost of government,
    encouraging businesses to expand and hire
    * Lower business taxes to create a competitive business
    environment
    * Treat affordable energy as a cornerstone of economic growth
    * Permanently reduce Ontario’s pieces of regulatory burden by at
    least a third
    * Modernize the apprenticeship system to create 200,000 new
    skilled trades jobs

    Hudak said that the Ontario PC Caucus believes in a very different
    approach: “It’s one that requires urgent action on two parallel tracks,”
    Hudak said. “We need to reduce the size and cost of government and
    kick-start growth and job creation in the private sector.

    “I have raised these priorities daily for five months. This budget
    addresses none of them, which is why we refuse to support it.”

    Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett

    For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at: (416)
    325-8404,
    (519) 428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629

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