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EDITORIAL: Ford’s climate fiction (May 2022)

May 17th, 2022 · No Comments

We are just weeks away from the provincial election and voters are being besieged with election advertising. Every party is making bold claims of course, but the ruling Progressive Conservatives under Doug Ford are touting their environmental credentials, and that is nothing but offensive and absurd.

Ford’s recent love affair with electric vehicles (EV), for example, and the “greening” of steel production should not make us forget his litany of failures on the environment and climate change file that has set this province back decades. 

Upon taking office, Ford cancelled the charging stations planned for provincially controlled highway service centres, scrapped EV rebates and dropped a requirement for new homes to feature wiring for potential EV chargers.  What followed was a series of attacks on anything green, and a refusal to contemplate solutions to a manmade climate crisis of epic proportions.

The PCs cancelled the previous government’s relatively comprehensive “cap and trade” carbon reduction program, triggering a war with the federal government over their carbon pricing schedule—a war Ontario lost at the Supreme Court of Canada. They tore up 700 renewable energy projects, including ripping down nearly completed windmills which cost taxpayers millions in termination fees.

They pledged to build more highways over environmentally sensitive lands— a move that will no doubt induce more sprawl and rewrite planning rules to favour developers. It’s like it’s 1960 all over again.

In favour of resource development, the current government weakened protections for endangered species, removed the province’s toxic use reduction legislation and took apart the regulatory framework that controls industrial water pollution. 

All of this might have caught the attention of then Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dianne Saxe. Doug Ford, though, was thinking ahead, so he eliminated that position, thereby denying citizens this vital watchdog. Since the creation of the office in 1994, it held the government, of whatever stripe, to account on environmental files. It reported directly to the Legislature. Given the demonstrated failures of this government, had Saxe been allowed to do her job, we might now be more aware of the damage Doug Ford has inflicted over four years. 

The government seems to be operating under the assumption that those concerned about climate change, the environment, or endangered species would not vote for the PCs anyway. In reality, though, even voters in the 905 regions and beyond, may now be a little more conscious of the implications of climate change. His base may be loyal, but they too can read the government’s own expert advice, for example, about Highway 413—it will save them all of 30 seconds on their daily commute. There is also backlash against this government for using Ministerial Zoning Orders to override local governments in Richmond Hill and Markham in favour of developers. He runs roughshod over democracy for breakfast.

Under Doug Ford, the province moved away from evidence-based decision-making. Do we really need any more proof than the government’s chaotic response to COVID-19? In addition to eliminating the Environment Commissioner Dianne Saxe (who by the way is now running for MPP in University-Rosedale for the Green Party), Ford also fired Molly Shoichet, Ontario’s first chief scientist after only six months into her position. He never let’s the facts get in the way of governing.

We have had government policy seemingly driven by connections and whim; he couldn’t care less if in 100 years the planet is uninhabitable. For Ford, “It’s my way or the highway.” Or just maybe it’s both.


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