Environmental groups urge all parties to prioritize passage of four critical environmental bills in fall legislative session: Ontario parties need to stand together to protect the Great Lakes, end coal burning, address invasive species, and protect the public’s right to free speech, environment groups say
Toronto, ON – Environmental Defence, Ecojustice and the Canadian Environmental Law Association welcome the Ontario government’s move yesterday to prioritize the passage of four important new environmental laws in the fall session of the legislature.
“Whether better protecting our Great Lakes – the source of drinking water for 40 million people – or protecting citizens’ rights to speak out about harmful proposed projects these laws address critically important issues and deserve the support of all parties,” says Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence.
The bills are the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, Protection of Public Participation Act, Great Lakes Protection Act and Invasive Species Act.
In a number of cases, versions of these bills have been introduced in the legislature two or three times. They’ve undergone significant review and are stronger for it. Now is the time to get these laws passed.
“MPPs now have a choice. They can choose to stall debate on these bills or they can commit to a specific timeline that will get the bills passed in the fall. Committing to this timeline doesn’t mean there’s no room for debate,” Gray says. “It just means that the business of parliament will be conducted in a timely manner. And it means that Ontario will be taking action to protect our water, air, climate and free speech.”
“Citizens are often on the front line when it comes to turning back developments that will harm our environment or blowing the whistle on polluters, but they can be all-too-easily silenced by deep-pocketed opponents. We need to remove the threat of spurious lawsuits by passing the Protection of Public Participation Act and ensure citizens are no longer afraid to speak out,” says Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director, Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA).
Similarly, we need stronger coordinated action to protect the Great Lakes and more resources for communities looking to protect local shorelines and beaches, which the Great Lakes Protection Act can help to deliver.
Invasive species are a huge economic and environmental threat, with species such as Asian carp creating tremendous economic headaches and undermining the biodiversity that keeps natural systems healthy. The Invasive Species Act marks the province’s first attempt to begin to address this evolving crisis in a meaningful way.
The Ending Coal for Clean Air Act recognizes the huge climate and health benefits the province has realized by ending the use of coal in the electricity sector. It also fits well with the province’s focus on moving forward with clean energy and transitioning away from polluting fossils that damage our air, water, land and climate.
“We all benefit from the tremendously valuable services provided by a healthy environment, and we all should have the right to speak out about protecting that environment without fear of reprisals. It’s time for all Ontario parties to commit to a timeline for passing these bills,” says Pierre Sadik, Manager of Legislative Affairs, Ecojustice.
For more information, or interview requests, please contact:
Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 258; 416-570-2878 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
Pierre Sadik, Ecojustice, 613-413-2237