Rally sends strong message to all political parties: Ontarians expect climate and environmental leadership from the next government

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation – Hundreds of Ontarians concerned about a wide range of environmental issues are gathered at Queen’s Park today to highlight Ontario’s poor environmental record and to urge immediate climate action and a return to the protection of nature. As Ontarians take to the polls, residents are calling for a government that takes environmental protection and climate change seriously.

The current government weakened greenhouse emissions targets, canceled the province’s cap-and-trade system, scrapped over 750 renewable energy contracts, increased the use of gas plants, and removed climate measures like incentives for building retrofits and electric vehicles. As a result, Ontario is not on track to meet its own weak emissions reduction target.

The province has also weakened Conservation Authorities, dismantled species-at-risk legislation, revived the controversial Highway 413, and pushed through controversial Minister’s Zoning Orders to allow sprawl development on, farmland, forests and provincially significant wetlands.

Ontarians of various backgrounds at the rally are united in their desire for a different direction for the province – one that will set Ontario on a path to a healthy, thriving and livable future.

“On nearly every environmental issue, Ontario government policies are driving the province toward the edge of the cliff. Whether it’s sprawl and exclusionary zoning, highways, gas-fired power plants or endangered species protection, Ontario needs a swift U-turn to avert disaster. The clock is ticking. This election could be voters’ last chance to bring about that U-turn before it is too late.” – Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager, Environmental Defence

“The proposed Highway 413 and Bradford Bypass will not solve our congestion problem. They’ll make it worse. These mega highways, meant to expand car-dependent sprawl, will hurt our communities, farms and wetlands. We need a government that’s committed to protecting the Greenbelt, species at risk, lakes and rivers” – Margaret Prophet, Executive Director, Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition

“As a doctor, I know the climate crisis is the greatest health emergency of our time. It’s also the greatest economic and existential threat for humanity. The good news is that the necessary solutions are already within reach. We must elect a government willing to urgently implement the sweeping climate policies Ontario needs.” – Dr. Mili Roy, Ontario Regional Chair, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)

“In order to address climate change, the government must respect Indigenous rights, laws, territories and the duty to consult. Ontario needs to pay attention to Indigenous knowledge and stewardship, and protection of the land, water and environment.” – Crystal Sinclair, founder and organizer, Idle No More Toronto

Photography credit: Joshua Best

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Alex Ross, Environmental Defence, aross@environmentaldefence.ca