Bill 229 is just the most recent in a long list of omnibus bills containing devastating amendments, exemptions and streamlining of key environmental policy and legislation designed to protect our environment and communities and provide the public and stakeholders with meaningful input. These government actions have created a deep erosion of public trust and confidence. It is unacceptable that it would mislead its citizens and bypass the norms by taking advantage of a world-wide health emergency to aggressively push their destructive agenda through.
Instead of exemptions or a more streamlined Class EAW, the OWA should be proposing amendments to provide for a much more rigorous and accountable process that ensures fish friendly turbines, effective and safe fish passage, a more rigorous cumulative effects assessment, and a more comprehensive and meaningful consultation process. We should be making our rivers more resilient in the face of climate change – not exempting waterpower projects from the Class EAW. Instead, the OWA and the Ontario government are placing our environment and communities at risk.
ORA is very concerned about the extreme deregulation that occurred with the recent waterpower exemption to the Permit to Take Water, and in this new Mercury Regulation where new and significantly redeveloped electricity producing dams have not been addressed. These important legislative requirements were designed to ensure hydroelectric facilities are held accountable for environmental and socio-economic impacts and risks to communities and riverine ecosystems.
With the warming temperatures and extreme rain and drought events that climate change is predicted to bring with increasing frequency and intensity as time passes, decision makers and legislators bear a responsibility to strengthen freshwater protection and resiliency – not weaken it. If this proposal moves forward it will be a precipitous turning point for our future with freshwater in Ontario and beyond.
You will find ORA’s submissions regarding Bill 132 here.
Check out ORA’s speech to the Standing Committee on General Government: Continue reading
We all had a HUGE VICTORY yesterday!! “Thank you” for taking part in ORA’s campaign to Speak Out Against Schedule 10 of Bill 66. The Ontario government reported that they will be removing Schedule 10 from Bill 66. A BIG THANKS to you and many other people, organizations and municipalities that rallied together to speak out against this regressive Bill.Continue reading
In closing, risky development decisions made in one or more jurisdictions could have significant negative cumulative impacts on our air, land and/or water, as well as the Great Lakes and many other highly valued ecosystems. Being “Open-for-Business” is a good thing, unless it is at the expense of public health and safety or the environment. Do we really want to risk another Walkerton or Grassy Narrows disaster? That is precisely what the province is fostering with Bill 66.
“The Alliance is extremely disappointed to see that, unlike the prior version of the proposed legislation, Bill 66 contains an exemptions provision. The sudden appearance of a broad discretionary power to prescribe exemptions from the legislation is very disconcerting.” Continue reading
Did the support of 24 per cent of the electorate on election day give the federal government a mandate for its radical project to gut environmental protection? Apparently. In our apathy-inducing first-past-the-post political system a small minority can translate into a big majority, which can disregard public opinion and do whatever it wants.
Here is a list of what the feds have accomplished so far in their three-pronged environmental strategy of deregulation, cutting information and research and targeting dissenting voices:
- Eliminated Canada’s international commitment to mitigate climate change, including the repeal of the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
- Undermined global climate negotiations to avoid climate action.
- Failed to create a plan to address climate change.
- Eliminated energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy funding while continuing subsidies to fossil fuels.
- Eliminated funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
- Eliminated the climate adaptation research group within Environment Canada.
- Eliminated scientists in Natural Resources Canada to study ice core data.
- Cut hundreds of millions of dollars from Environment Canada.
- Repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, weakening the federal environmental assessment process.
- Eliminated accepted criteria for compulsory environmental assessments, leaving such reviews to the discretion of the Minister of the Environment and political appointees.
- Eliminated the jobs of hundreds of scientists working for various government departments that focus on the environment and wildlife.
- Weakened elements of the Species at Risk Act.
- Amended the Species at Risk Act and Navigable Waters Protection Act to allow the National Energy Board to assume jurisdiction of endangered species or navigable waters in the way of any pipeline.
- Allowing the federal cabinet, rather than the National Energy Board, to make decisions about approvals for major pipeline projects.
- Introduced cuts to ozone monitoring.
- Ended monitoring of smoke stack emissions.
- Eliminated the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.
- Weakened the Fisheries Act in the areas of habitat protection and eliminated the marine contaminants program.
- Fired all DFO habitat officers in British Columbia.
- Killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, replacing it with the Navigation Protection Act, which effectively makes major pipeline and interprovincial power line projects exempt from requirements for proponents to prove they wouldn’t damage navigable waterways.
- Reduced federal protection of waterways to a small number of water bodies and rivers.
- Parks Canada no longer has to conduct periodic environmental audits or management plan reviews.
- Eliminated funding for the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment.
- Eliminated support for the Experimental Lakes Program.
- Eliminated funding for a dozen Arctic science research stations. Closed the Polar Arctic and Environmental Laboratory and the Yukon Research Lab.
- Started privatization and eliminated ecological staff positions in National Parks.
- Made a systemic effort to cut research, information and analysis with respect to environmental issues.
- Attacked environmental and First Nations organizations for critiquing resource development.
- Provided the Canada Revenue Agency with an extra $8 million to crack down on environmental charities.
- Provided oil companies with unprecedented access to senior government leaders.
- Muzzled government scientists who have been conducting research on various climate and environmental issues.
- Cut funding to the Network on Women’s Health and the Environment.
- Cut funding of the Canadian Environmental Network.
- In addition to changing the definition of “aboriginal fishery” in the Fisheries Act, without consulting First Nations governments introduced changes to the Indian Act designed to make it faster and easier for First Nations to “take advantage of economic opportunities” by leasing designated reserve lands based on a majority of votes from those in attendance at a meeting or in a referendum, instead of waiting for a majority vote from all eligible voters.
- Gave the aboriginal affairs minister the authority to call a band meeting or referendum for the purpose of considering a surrender of the band’s territory.
- The minister can accept or refuse the land designation after receiving a resolution from the band council.
- Eliminated the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, the Indian Head Tree Nursery and the PFRA pasture management program on millions of acres of sensitive grasslands.
- Provided unprecedented support to industries to exploit natural resources with minimal environmental oversight.