Ontario PCs want to make it next to impossible to sue the government

The majority of Prince Edward voters backed the election of Doug Ford’s Conservative government. It’s first act was to close down the White Pines Wind Farm. Then the Ford government responded by giveing Ontario easier access to alcohol and marijuana. (The social costs are still to be calculated.) But Doug Ford does not want to give you the right to sue the government  when it unjustly interferes with your freedom. Is it trying to insulate itself from $100 million liability for arbitrarily cancelling White Pines?

Legislation buried in budget bill would make many government actions immune to civil suits


Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, left, and Premier Doug Ford speak to the media last year. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are moving to make it harder to sue the Ontario government.

The PCs plan to repeal and replace the long-standing Ontario Proceedings Against the Crown Act — legislation that, among other things, outlines government liability in cases of misfeasance and negligence.

The new law would increase the legal threshold necessary to proceed with civil litigation, including class action lawsuits, against the government. Further, it would considerably limit the instances in which the government could be on the hook for financial compensation to plaintiffs.

“What the government is trying to do is place itself beyond the reach of the courts and make it difficult, and in many cases impossible, to sue the government — even when it acts in bad faith or breaches the duties of office,” said Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa. MORE

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Doug Ford and his caucus forgot to mention something when they filled up their gas tanks last weekend


A sample of fhe photos Ontario MPPs posted on Twitter on March 31 reminding them is was the last day to fill up their vehicles before the federal carbon tax kicked in and increased gas prices. Graphic by Fatima Syed

Ontario’s leaders were at the pumps all weekend reminding residents that the federal carbon tax was kicking in Monday.

From Kenora to Oxford to Ottawa and Toronto, all 55 members of the Progressive Conservative provincial government of Doug Ford posted photographs of themselves at gas stations warning drivers to fill up their tanks before a federal price on pollution adds to the cost.

The question of what to do about climate change was also largely avoided; none of the tweets even mentioned the phrase “climate change” or addressed the cost of failing to adequately address the problem.

Ontario’s leaders were at the pumps all weekend reminding residents that the federal carbon tax was kicking in Monday.

From Kenora to Oxford to Ottawa and Toronto, all 55 members of the Progressive Conservative provincial government of Doug Ford posted photographs of themselves at gas stations warning drivers to fill up their tanks before a federal price on pollution adds to the cost.

The question of what to do about climate change was also largely avoided; none of the tweets even mentioned the phrase “climate change” or addressed the cost of failing to adequately address the problem.

Rod Phillips

@RodPhillips01

Tomorrow life gets more expensive for you because of the Federal Carbon Tax. Ontario has a plan that does our share to reduce emissions without a tax. A Carbon Tax is not the only way to fight climate change – that’s why we are using every tool at our disposal to fight this tax.

Asked about it later at a news conference — held to herald the end of the province’s Drive Clean program, an automotive emission control test — Premier Ford said he doesn’t believe Ottawa will follow through on something that has been written into federal legislation and regulation and is written into tax forms.

“Nobody trusts the federal government when they cross their fingers and they say they will eventually, eventually, that’s a magical word, give money back to us,” he said. “I’ve yet to see governments give money back.” MORE

Ontario child advocate wonders whether Doug Ford just made your children ‘invisible again’

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s first, only and last independent child advocate, speaks to National Observer in an interview at his Toronto office on March 26, 2018. Photo by Tijana Martin

The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth fielded over 21,000 calls last year seeking help for children in the welfare system. Over the years, Elman and his team have shed light on horrifying situations in foster and group homes ranging from lack of proper diet to physical abuse.

His work has attracted global attention for the way it has brought youth voices to the forefront. In April, a contingent of Japan’s youth public service was set to visit the office to learn how to replicate their operations and their model for youth support across the world.

The group is proceeding with their trip, but Elman will no longer be there when they arrive.

Friday, March 29, marked Elman’s last day as Ontario’s first and only independent child advocate.

Ontario Child Advocate@OntarioAdvocate

On this (https://youtu.be/b84JoFm1aHE ) , we take a moment to thank the dedicated staff from our Toronto and Thunder Bay offices who worked tirelessly with children and youth across the province to advocate for issues of importance to them. ^AP

The office is scheduled to shut down on May 1, one of three independent watchdogs eliminated with the stroke of a pen by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s 2018 fall economic statement. MORE

 

Doug Ford government appoints a Tory climate denier to board overseeing Ontario’s electricity system


Joe Oliver responds to a question in the House of Commons in Ottawa on May 11, 2015. File photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The right-leaning government of Canada’s most populous province has created a new job for a former Conservative cabinet minister who dismisses scientific evidence showing how much humans are changing the planet’s climate.

Joe Oliver, 76, previously a natural resources and finance minister in the government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, is now a board member of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), a Crown corporation that oversees and manages the province’s electricity operations.

Energy Minister Greg Rickford, who also sat with Oliver in Harper’s cabinet and replaced the former as federal natural resources minister, announced the nomination through a news release on Thursday afternoon.

The move comes as Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is under fire for slashing policies to address climate change and criticizing the federal government for requiring polluters to pay a tax for contributing to the problem. Peer-reviewed scientific research shows that climate change threatens to cause irreversible damage to the Earth’s ecosystems and its economy. MORE

Ontario’s unbelievable ‘business case’ for nuclear refurbishment

Did you know: Ontario is moving forward with rebuilding 10 of our aging nuclear reactors at very high cost (16.5 cents/kWh) while Quebec is offering us renewable water power at less than one-third the cost (5 cents/kWh). Please sign the petition.

Residents around TMI exposed to far more radiation than officials claimed

Today is the 40th anniversary of the partial meltdown of reactor 2 at Three Mile Island  in Pennsylvania, USA. Despite the evidence in human blood, lived experience of the exposed, recognition of faulty monitors, and increases of cancers, the constant false narrative that TMI caused no harm remains.

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Ford government increasing energy bills and pollution, says watchdog in final report


Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner in Queen’s Park, Ontario on Dec. 6, 2018. Photo by Cole Burston

The Ontario government is increasing energy bills, air pollution, health impacts and greenhouse gas emissions through policies that promote the use of fossil fuels, says the province’s environmental commissioner, Dianne Saxe, in her final report released on March 27, 2019.

Her report notes that the economy in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, relies on fossil fuels for 75 per cent of its energy, which results in a “hefty” health, economic and environmental pricetag.

Under the previous Liberal government, she said this pricetag added up to $24 billion each year to import fossil fuels such as oil, petroleum products and natural gas, between 2010 to 2015.

“If we were even 10 per cent more efficient, Ontarians could save from $1.6 billion to $2 billion every year,” Saxe said in a statement.

But she also noted that Ontario had been making progress in measures to encourage the conservation of energy since 2007. At least until last week, when she said that the Ford government cancelled and reduced funding for “proven, effective conservation programs.”

The report is likely the last one to be published by Saxe in her current role. She is expected to leave on April 1 as the Ford government proceeds with plans to reduce powers of her position and merge it into the office of the auditor general. MORE

Conservatives embrace populism, rage at Trudeau, talk separation at annual gathering


Danielle Smith, a former Alberta MLA for the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative Party and now a Global News Radio host, shakes hands with Ontario Premier Doug Ford on March 23 in Ottawa. Photo by Kamara Morozuk

Two or three decades ago, Preston Manning’s Reform Party was seen as embodying a right-wing populist movement in Western Canada that advocated for shrinking government by cutting social welfare and culture programming.

Lately, however, right-wing populism has been associated with the nationalist, anti-immigrant and authoritarian tendencies of leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Concern about keeping climate change in check less vocal than concern about maintaining a prosperous oil industry, @ottawacarl reports from the Manning Networking Conference, an annual conservative meetup.

Conservative leaders Jason Kenney of the Alberta United Conservative Party and Andrew Scheer of the federal Conservative Party have also been accused lately of being too tolerant of white nationalism.

None of that, however, stopped the conservative leader of Canada’s most populous province from grasping the mantle of populism during an appearance on stage Saturday at the Manning Networking Conference, an annual right-of-centre gathering in Ottawa.

“If you want to call me a populist, sure. But I call it listening. Listening to the people. Not the full-time protesters, not the activists,” said Ford, who received a standing ovation. MORE

Ontario PCs Want To Stop Tracking Toxins. Experts Say It’ll Cost Us Our Health.

The government plans to repeal the Toxics Reduction Act, which makes companies report on their use of toxic chemicals and pollutants.

Emissions are seen coming from an Ontario cement plant in this 2015 file photo. Experts say the provincial government's plan to repeal a toxic substance regulation with affect human health and the environment.
Emissions are seen coming from an Ontario cement plant in this 2015 file photo. Experts say the provincial government’s plan to repeal a toxic substance regulation with affect human health and the environment. RANDY RISLING/TORONTO STAR VIA GETTY IMAGES

TORONTO — Environmentalists say Ontarians can expect more pollution if the Progressive Conservatives go through with their plan to repeal a toxic substances regulation.

“Exposure to toxic chemicals such as hormone disruptors and air pollutants adds billions of dollars in health care costs and significantly increases the burden of chronic diseases such as cancer and asthma,” Tim Gray, the executive director of advocacy organization Environmental Defence said in a statement.

“The Ontario government is not only undermining its own commitment to tackle pollution … it is also sending the wrong signal to industry and will encourage them to dump more toxics into our air, water and consumer goods.”

Schedule 5 of the government’s proposed Bill 66 repeals the Toxics Reduction Act (TRA). The 2009 act requires companies that use toxic substances, including those that can cause cancer, to create a plan to reduce that use. Whether or not they actually implement the plan, though, is voluntary. About 40 per cent of facilities have done so.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Economic Development Todd Smith make an announcement in February...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Economic Development Todd Smith make an announcement in February 2019. Smith introduced Bill 66 on Dec. 6, 2018. TODD SMITH/FACEBOOK

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Basic income study aims to lower B.C. poverty level by 2024

Minister Shane Simpson said TogetherBC’s strategy is to assist the 557,000 people who are living in poverty, with the goal to lift 140,000 of them out of poverty.

Protesters gather at Lindsay's Victoria Park last summer to decry the provincial government's decision to prematurely end the Basic Income Project.
Protesters gather at Lindsay’s Victoria Park last summer to decry the provincial government’s decision to prematurely end the Basic Income Project.  (BILL HODGINS / METROLAND FILE PHOTO)

SURREY, B.C. — A panel of experts is looking at whether British Columbia could provide a basic income or if the federal government would have to initiate it, says the minister responsible for the province’s poverty reduction plan.

Shane Simpson said Monday the aim of the strategy is to cut the overall poverty rate by 25 per cent and child poverty by 50 per cent within five years.

He said the three experts came together six months ago and would make recommendations next year on various issues including the question of a basic income.

“That will, I think, trigger a very important debate in British Columbia about what income security looks like and about the role of basic income and the principles of basic income,” he said after announcing the guidelines for the province’s poverty reduction plan at a child care resource centre.

Ontario launched a basic income pilot project in 2017, but Premier Doug Ford cancelled it shortly after taking office last year. In February, the Ontario Superior Court denied a request that it quash the province’s decision, saying it had no power to reverse it. MORE

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Some Ontario environmental watchdog employees, including Saxe, to be axed, despite Ford’s election promise they would not be

Some provincial employees at Ontario’s environmental watchdog were informed Thursday they will be laid off, despite Premier Doug Ford’s election promise that no workers would lose their jobs in his push to trim the province’s budget.

The Ontario PC government announced in November, as part of its fall economic statement, that it planned to merge the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario into the auditor general’s office in an effort to cut costs.

 Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has seen her department folded into the Office of the Auditor General by the Ford government. Six people, including Saxe, have lost their jobs.Dianne Saxe, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has seen her department folded into the Office of the Auditor General by the Ford government. Six people, including Saxe, have lost their jobs. (FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

 

In an email Thursday, Christine Pedias, a spokesperson for the auditor general, confirmed that five full-time, non-management employees were not offered positions as part of the transition, which is scheduled to take place by May 1. The commissioner’s office has a full-time staff of about 25. “As of today, the Office of the Auditor General has offered positions to most of the technical, specialized staff of the Environmental Commissioner’s Office, including its management team,” Pedias said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to offer positions to the remaining staff because they duplicate our existing in-house resources, or their specific roles are not required under our expanded mandate.” SOURCE