Ontario Liberal government environmental commitments

As Ontario residents will know, the environment played almost no part in the Ontario election which wrapped up last evening with the election of a majority Liberal government. Even the Green party seemed to spend more time talking about amalgamation of the public and catholic school boards than about climate change or hazardous waste.

In the pattern of recent elections, however, a group of ngos operating under the banner of Green Prosperity devised their own list of environmental priorities and quizzed the parties and/or the party platforms to determine where the parties stood on environmental issues. Note that GallonDaily does not endorse this list of environmental priorities but presents it only to indicate what the new Liberal government might feel committed to do with a list of priorities that some of the Province’s major environmental groups think are important.

The issues and the Liberal Party position, as interpreted by Green Prosperity, are as follows:

Priorities that will be addressed by Liberal policies

  • Creating a dedicated fund for transit expansion.
  • Meeting the 2020 target date for protecting 17% of Southern Ontario’s land base through protected areas and conservation stewardship arrangements as called for in the province’s Biodiversity Strategy.
  • Fully implement the province’s new Conservation Framework to help homeowners and businesses save money by improving energy efficiency.
  • Amending the Development Charges Act, 1997 to ensure that new development pays the full cost of growth. These changes must include ending counterproductive discounts and exemptions from municipal service charges, and reflect future demands for increased services — from schools to libraries — through full lifecycle costing.

Priorities that will be partially addressed by Liberal policies

  • Investing in immediate service improvements and bring provincial funding for operations back to 50% of costs.
  • Using development charges (fees paid by developers) to fund transit expansion.
  • Closing the high-cost and risky Pickering Nuclear Station by 2015.
  • Requiring a full review of the cost of nuclear refurbishment projects by the province’s new Financial Accountability Office or the Ontario Energy Board.
  • Developing a carbon pricing system for large carbon emitters.
  • Enhancing and procuring living green infrastructure, like urban forests and green roofs that reduce flooding, provide natural cooling and increase climate resilience.
  • Rewarding developers through development charge discounts when they increase density, create infill development, build energy and water efficient developments, and accommodate urban agriculture, community gardens and food retailers.
  • Establishing a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment Planning process to develop a “big picture” vision [for the Ring of Fire mineral exploration and development area in Northern Ontario] and community consensus around the future of the region rather than relying on fragmented and largely uncoordinated conventional planning approaches.
  • Create a coordinated infrastructure [for the Ring of Fire region] plan that protects the ecological integrity of the region rather than building roads and transmission lines in response to individual project demands.
  • Restricting the sale and commercial use of neonicotinoids and ban neonicotinoid seed treatments through changes to the Tables in sections 4 and 98 of Ontario Regulation 6/09 of the Ontario Pesticides Act?
  • Investing in the protection and restoration of habitats for pollinators, which contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in pollination services to Ontario each year.
  • Requiring labelling on products that contain carcinogens, with requirements for listing and labelling based on evidence from internationally recognized health authorities, such as Health Canada or the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  • Closing the “fragrance” loophole by requiring full ingredient disclosure for cosmetics rather than allowing broad category descriptions such as “fragrance”.

Priorities that will not be addressed by Liberal policies

  • Repealing exemptions to the Endangered Species Act

The ngos also asked:

Will your party act quickly to reintroduce legislation based on these bills that were left unfinished by the election call: (please indicate which you support):

  • Bill 6, Great Lakes Protection Act
  • Bill 83, Protection of Public Participation Act
  • Bill 91, Waste Reduction Act
  • Bill 138, Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act
  • Bill 167, Invasive Species Act

The Liberal Party answered yes to all.

The full survey, including the answers from the parties that are not now part of the Government of Ontario, can be found at http://www.greenprosperity.ca/scorecard/

Our summary of the environmental and sustainable development aspects of the Ontario Liberal Party platform will be published in Gallon Environment Letter next week. To subscribe visit http://www.cialgroup.ca/creditcard.htm

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