Ford’s Ontario pushes nuclear energy as part of its climate change fight

Progessive Conservative MPP Lindsey Park (centre) poses with the president of Women in Nuclear Canada, Lisa McBride (left), and Matthew Mairinger, the Canadian Affairs Chair at the North American Young Generation in Nuclear on March 5, 2020.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government will count nuclear power, including technology that’s at least 10 years from deployment, as a clean energy answer to tackle climate change.

The latest move to push forward the Ontario government’s nuclear agenda comes in the form of a motion introduced on Thursday by the PC MPP for Durham, Lindsey Park, whose riding includes the Darlington nuclear plant that is in the early stages of a major refurbishment expected to cost $12.8 billion.

It reads: “That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should include nuclear energy and the development of Small Modular Reactors as a clean energy option in its environment, climate change and clean energy planning and policies.”

The motion, which was debated and then passed by the PC-controlled legislature on Thursday, comes after the premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick agreed in December to work together to push forward the development of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

Saskatchewan is a major miner of uranium, producing around 20 percent of world supply, while New Brunswick is home to Canada’s only nuclear plant for electricity generation outside of Ontario.

But critics fear the Doug Ford government will be diverting funds that would be better served by focusing on proven and affordable clean technologies that don’t have the risk of catastrophic accidents and unanswered questions about long-term storage of radioactive waste hanging over them.

“We have a climate crisis right now, we can’t wait ten more years for some solution that may or may not be delivered,” said Mike Schreiner, MPP for Guelph and leader of the Green Party of Ontario. “We have solutions right now that are cheaper and cleaner and this government is literally ripping them out of the ground.”

The Ford government has cancelled more than 700 wind, solar and other clean energy projects, including two wind farms that were mid-construction. It has also dismantled the cap-and-trade system that put a provincial price on pollution and funded a range of green initiatives, and is taking its fight against the federal carbon price to the Supreme Court.

SMR technology is currently at an early stage of research and development. It is expected to make extensive use of factory-built modules that can be transported by truck and incorporate inherent safety features allowing them to be run without a high degree of technical supervision. Such modules would typically have a capacity of less than 300 megawatts, or between 10 and 20 times less than Ontario’s three existing reactors.

An illustration showcasing a Rolls Royce reactor module, one of the many SMR designs currently being developed, on a truck. Many such modular reactors are designed to be small enough to transport by truck or shipping container. (Rolls Royce)

The Ford government is pushing SMRs as a possible replacement energy source for some industry and for remote First Nation communities and other rural locations that currently rely on diesel generators. They also say other provinces are interested in using the technology to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Doug Ford wants to fight climate change with nuclear power, including tech at least ten years from deployment. Critics say he’s ignoring proven, cheap clean tech that doesn’t risk catastrophic accidents or raise questions about radioactive waste.

Dianne Saxe, the former provincial environmental commissioner whose role was done away with by Ford, said the motion risked diverting money that would otherwise go to proven green options.

“If what they mean is they are going to spend heavily on building new nuclear, then I’m really concerned that it is going to drain money away from what we already know is clean and works, which is wind and solar and biomass and small hydro and storage,” she said. “That’s where most of our money should be going and if they’re diverting money away from that it’s a bad idea.”

She argued that while all sources of energy have drawbacks, none but nuclear have consequences “that create a mortal danger to every generation after us for a hundred thousand years.”

Ontario currently gets around 60 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power. Along with the Darlington refurbishment, it is also spending $13 billion to refurbish six of the eight reactors at the Bruce nuclear plant on Lake Huron. Both of those refurbishments were approved by the previous Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne, while the Ford government is looking to further expand the life of the aging Pickering plant until 2025.

Park said in an interview that Ontario needed to embrace more nuclear in an electricity supply mix that also should include wind, solar, hydro, and even natural gas

“I don’t think you can be an environmentalist serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 without supporting nuclear energy as part of the supply mix,” she said.

But the Ford’s government actions in dismantling of green energy, abandoning a wide range of energy efficiency programs and rebuffing an offer from Quebec to provide it with a long-term supply of cheap hydroelectric power, mean that gas-fired generation will largely fill the void left by nuclear refurbishments and lead to a tripling of emissions from the province’s electricity sector in the next decade.

The nuclear industry cheered the motion, saying that it would provide clarity to investors and other potential partners, and said it would mean nuclear projects would be eligible for government programs targeted to clean technology.

“The recognition that nuclear is clean sends a clear message that the government sees nuclear as part of its climate change plan and that provides confidence to investors and other possible partners,” said Erin Polka, a spokesperson for the Canadian Nuclear Association. “Companies might not undertake a project if it’s ambiguous whether the project would be eligible for support as clean energy. Why go to all the trouble of planning and applying just to learn you don’t qualify? Clarity is good.”

Park told National Observer that SMRs present Ontario with an opportunity to show leadership: “We’re at a critical time in history and also in the province of Ontario where we have this new technology for nuclear that is on the horizon and we have other provinces in Canada telling us they are waiting on us to take the lead,” she said, referring specifically to Saskatchewan.

“They are waiting on us to do the prototype and so if that’s successful that is something they could implement in their province to replace coal,” she said.

Saskatchewan currently gets almost half of its electricity from coal and another third from natural gas, according to the Canada Energy Regulator.

In response to that idea, the Green Party’s Schreiner said that “Saskatchewan can wean itself off coal right now with lower cost wind and solar solutions.”

He said that nuclear currently cost around 9c per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and could rise to 15c/kWh with the Darlington refurbishment while the cheapest estimate he had heard for small modular nuclear was 16c/kWh. The Nation Rise wind farm the Ford government cancelled was selling power at 7c/kWh. He noted that wind and solar contracts recently signed in Alberta were even cheaper.

The federal Liberal government is not necessary opposed to SMRs, saying the country is well positioned to capture a share of the emerging global market it estimated would be worth some $150 billion per year by 2040. It is currently reviewing the 50 recommendations of the Canadian Small Modular Reactor Roadmap in areas including waste management, regulatory readiness and international engagement. SOURCE

Ford government’s claim of spending ‘$1.2B more’ on education doesn’t add up

Every school in Ontario’s system closed Friday as all teachers’ unions strike

Teachers from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board on strike outside Hopewell Avenue Public School. The Doug Ford government’s claim it is spending $1.2 billion more on education doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.(Francis Ferland/CBC)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s oft-repeated statement that his government is spending $1.2 billion more on education this year than last year doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

The spending claim is in the spotlight as a province-wide strike by four teachers’ unions puts some two million Ontario students out of class on Friday.

“We’ve increased education by $1.2 billion,” Ford said in question period on Wednesday. “I know math is not the NDP’s strength, or the Liberals’, but it’s $1.2 billion, more than any government in the history of Ontario.”

Ford’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce has made the same claim numerous times since the government issued its November fiscal update, which added $186 million to the education ministry’s budget.

  • “This year, we’re on track to spend $1.2 billion more than we did last year,” Lecce said on Dec. 3.
  • “Under this premier’s leadership, we are investing more than $1.2 billion more this year than we did last year,” he said on Nov. 25.
  • “This year we intend to spend $1.2 billion more than we spent last year in the defence and the improvement of public education,” Lecce said on Nov. 7.

WATCH: CBC Toronto’s Queen’s Park reporter Mike Crawley crunches the numbers

Queen’s Park reporter Mike Crawley explains why the Ford government’s claim they are spending $1.2 billion more on education this year than last year doesn’t add up. 1:58

 

Here are the basics of the government’s math:

    • $29.97 billion: the Ministry of Education’s base budget for 2019-20, stated in the government’s latest fiscal document, the fall economic statement.
    • $28.75 billion: the Ministry of Education’s actual base spending for 2018-19, found in the government’s expense sheet for the year, the public accounts.

That’s a $1.2 billion difference on the face of it. But when you dig a little deeper into the spending, and compare apples to apples, it becomes apparent that the Ford government is not telling the whole truth. The bulk of that $1.2 billion extra is not destined for schools and classrooms.

A key reason for the discrepancy is that the Education Ministry’s overall budget also includes child-care programs. Nearly half of the $1.2 billion difference is accounted for by increased spending on child care, particularly $390 million budgeted for a new child-care tax credit.

CBC Toronto will bring you special live coverage of the teachers’ strike action at Queen’s Park starting at 12 p.m. ET. You can stream the special on the CBC News app, cbc.ca/toronto and on CBC Gem.

(CBC)

 

Two thirds of the additional $186 million announced for the ministry’s budget in November is allocated “to help municipal partners provide child-care programs.”

To find out just what the government is actually spending on the school system, you have to look beyond the Education Ministry’s bottom line into the detailed budget documents. This means setting aside the $2.2 billion in child-care spending, as well as far smaller amounts on ministry administration and TVO.

Ford has said his government has increased education funding ‘more than any government in the history of Ontario.’ (Michael Wilson/CBC)

 

The real amount spent on schools is found in those documents, called the expenditure estimates, under one line labelled, “Elementary and secondary education program: Policy and program delivery.”

    • The amount budgeted in 2018-19 for this program was $25.029 billion.
    • The amount budgeted for 2019-20 (including $64 million added last fall): $25.163 billion.
    • The difference: about $133 million, far less than the $1.2 billion claimed by the Progressive  Conservatives.

Another way of comparing school spending is to look at the province’s annual “grants for student needs,” which is the funding the ministry provides to school boards. The amount in 2019-20 is $24.66 billion, while the amount the previous year was $24.53 billion, an increase of about $130 million, or 0.5 per cent.

When you factor in enrolment growth, the amount spent per student this year is actually down from the previous year. The per-pupil grant is $12,246, down from $12,300 in the 2018-19 school year.

Boards across the province have cancelled classes on Friday, as teachers take part in an Ontario-wide one-day strike. (Raphael Tremblay/CBC)

 

Asked repeatedly on Thursday how much of the $1.2 billion extra is actually being spent in schools, Lecce did not give a direct answer.

“We want to see more money being spent in schools,” Lecce responded. “When 80 cents of the dollar in the public education system goes to compensation, it makes the case that we want to see more investment in the priorities of working people, which I would argue is mental health, STEM education and math.”

Asked a second time about how much extra spending is going to schools, Lecce said the government is “on track” to spend $1.2 billion more and added “more particulars will be found in the public accounts on that.”

“It’s a shell game,” said NDP education critic Marit Stiles.

“For the minister to try to present this as if he’s somehow increasing funding by $1.2 billion, I think he is intentionally misleading Ontarians.”

SOURCE

 

Meeting between Trudeau and cabinet ministers to discuss how to handle anti-pipeline protest underway

Prime Minister is foregoing today’s planned trip to Barbados

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Incident Response Group will talk about how to handle the protests against a natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. (Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting with an emergency group Monday to discuss anti-pipeline blockades that have shut down swaths of the country’s train system.

Trudeau says the Incident Response Group will talk about how to handle the protests against a natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs are opposed to the project.

The group was described upon its inception in 2018 as a “dedicated, emergency committee that will convene in the event of a national crisis or during incidents elsewhere that have major implications for Canada.”

Doug Ford asks for ‘immediate action’

Trudeau is foregoing today’s planned trip to Barbados, where he was slated to meet with Caribbean leaders to campaign for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.

He faced criticism last week over his presence in Africa and Europe as the protests were beginning, so Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will represent Canada in Trudeau’s place.

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke with Trudeau late Sunday and issued a statement urging the federal government to take action.

“Premier Ford asked the prime minister to take immediate action and provide detail on a clear plan to ensure an end to this national issue,” the statement read.

Scheer wants end to ‘illegal blockades’

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said last week that Trudeau should tell Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to use his authority under the RCMP Act to end what he called the “illegal blockades.”

But Trudeau shot back, arguing that Canada is not a country “where politicians get to tell the police what to do in operational matters.”

A protester stands between Mohawk Warrior Society flags at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Sunday. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

 

Thus far, the public-facing part of Trudeau’s plan appears to centre on discussions and negotiations, rather than police action.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister for Crown-Indigenous relations, is due to meet today with her British Columbia counterpart, Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser. Bennett is also ready to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, should they give the go-ahead.

‘Did we learn from Ipperwash?’

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller met with Mohawk Nation representatives for hours on Saturday and said they made “modest progress.” The focus of their talks, he said, was on the pipeline in northern B.C. rather than the blockade on Tyendinaga territory near Belleville, Ont., which was at that point in its 10th day.

In an appearance on CTV’s political show Question Period, Miller pointed to the Oka and Ipperwash crises as reasons why dialogue is preferable to police intervention.

A police officer died during a police raid in 1990 when Mohawks at the Kahnawake reserve south of Montreal blocked the Mercier Bridge, which became the Oka crisis. Five years later at Ipperwash, Ont., one man was killed during a standoff over a land claim by Chippewa protesters outside a provincial park.

“Thirty years ago, police moved in in Kanesatake and someone died,” Miller said. “And did we learn from that? Did we learn from Ipperwash?”

But while Ontario Provincial Police have so far declined to enforce injunctions and remove protesters from that blockade, RCMP in B.C. have made more than two dozen arrests while enforcing similar injunctions near worksites for the pipeline at the centre of the dispute. SOURCE

 

Ontario’s Disastrous Nuclear Energy Policy

Doug Ford

Before he was elected Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford promised to fire Hydro One boss Mayo Schmidt. “You can take this to the bank. The CEO is gone and the board is gone,” Ford said on April 12. The PCs now say removing Schmidt is not a priority. – Andrew Francis Wallace,Toronto Star

Ontario has the highest electricity cost in North America.  Prices are about to skyrocket.

Prices for nuclear power have risen by 84-109% since 2002 and are now many times higher than the market price of electricity in the province.  If Ontario Power Generation’s rates are approved, in 2026 electricity will be almost triple (2.8 times greater) today’s price. The Ontario Clean Air Alliance reports, “According to OPG, the price increases are needed to finance the continued operation of its high-cost Pickering Nuclear Station and to rebuild the Darlington Nuclear Station.”

To justify Ontario’s outrageous hydro bills, Ford claims they are because the previous government had signed long-term renewable energy contracts. 

Nuclear boosters keep repeating the benefits of “safe, reliable and affordable nuclear energy”. All three claims are false.

The cost of electricity is not a focus for the bureaucrats at OPG. Cost is not in OPG’s mandate. OPG is a nuclear energy booster because it supposedly provides a stable base energy for the grid. Except when it doesn’t.

When nuclear is up and running, Ontario has a huge energy surplus – a surplus that it has to sell below cost or give away. 

Nuclear power plants have to shut down annually because of mandatory safety inspections or frequent safety concerns. It takes time to shut down a nuclear power plant; it takes time for the inspections; it takes time to get nuclear up and running again. Then Ontario is forced to import electricity at prices well above average market price. 

OPG’s policy, unlike any other viable business on earth, is essentially ‘buy high/sell low’.

After Chernobyl and Fukashima, some of the world’s largest economies have abandoned nuclear power while redoubling their efforts to fight climate change.

Ontario’s response was different. In a token PR gesture, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) ordered OPG to distribute free potassium iodide (KI) pills to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster at the Pickering and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations. The supply, enough for 1.5 million people, was clearly inadequate for the 4.5 million people in the ‘target area’. 

With 10 reactors in the GTA, the distribution area did not even include the entire Greater GTA  As a gas, radioactive iodine can travel quickly and is easily inhaled. It did not include Prince Edward County–vulnerable because of the prevailing westerly winds.

Apart from the horrendous cost of decommissioning Darlington and Pickering, there remains the problem of what to do with the nuclear waste. Sierra Club warns, “The International Atomic Energy Agency says “On-site disposal of decommissioning waste is not a recommended practice.” The present plans are to ship it for deep repository storage to either Ignace or Bruce/Huron. However, our “independent” nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), wants to allow on-site disposal of nuclear reactors — facilities that will remain radioactive for thousands of years after shut-down.”

Energy expert Amory Lovins concludes that building new reactors, or operating most existing ones, makes climate change worse compared with spending the same money on more-climate-effective ways to deliver the same energy services. WInd, solar, Air source heat pumps, geothermal and hydro—the very options that Ford is dismantling—are readily available sources of cheap,  low-cost renewable energy

Ford should immediately dismantle the Pickering Nuclear Station after it closes in December 2024.  Electricity users could save anywhere from $1.1 to $7.4 billion per year by avoiding expensive reactor rebuild plans. Instead, improve efficiency. Import low-cost water power from Quebec. It doesn’t make sense to pay 16.5 cents per kWh for nuclear power when Quebec water power is available for one-third the cost. 

Still in the conception stage, Ford has bet on the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to save his bacon. It will be ten years or more before we see proof of concept demonstrations. But we need immediate, drastic and unprecedented reductions of greenhouse gas now. 

The Canadian Environmental Law Association says that renewables – not small modular nuclear reactors – are the solution to climate change.

But Ford remains a nuclear booster.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s time Ontario said no to nuclear

Why do we continue to operate six close-to-50-year-old reactors in an area surrounded by millions of people

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The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is at the end of its useful life, writes Angela Bischoff. – Frank Gunn , The Canadian Press file photo

After a blunt wake-up call about the potential consequences of operating a large nuclear station in the heart of our largest urban area — in the form of an erroneous emergency alert — Ontarians are suddenly thinking about what an accident at one of North America’s largest nuclear plants could mean for them.

As people throughout the region scramble to order potassium iodide anti-radiation pills, this is a prime opportunity to ask why we continue to operate six close-to-50-year-old reactors in an area surrounded by millions of people, and about potential alternatives.

The Pickering Nuclear Station is the third oldest nuclear plant in North America. It is a poor performer, off-line about 30 per cent of the time, and provides power that is no bargain. Meanwhile, its half century of operations have led to the accumulation of 15 million kilograms of radioactive waste — waste for which no long-term storage options exist or will be available any time in the near future. So for now, this waste is kept in commercial storage buildings on the edge of Lake Ontario.

If all of this is adding to your sleeplessness, consider that we have plenty of alternatives to keeping this old and outdated plant online. Quebec Premier François Legault has repeatedly offered to sell Ontario power at half the cost of power from Pickering. Our connections with Quebec are sufficient to bring in all the power we would need to replace the power we use from Pickering and system upgrades planned for near Ottawa will allow us to buy even more power from a province that has the continent’s lowest power prices.

The last time Ontario was open to building wind power — when it asked for competitive bids in 2016 — the average cost was less than for power from Pickering. Wind power costs continue to fall, with Alberta’s costs for wind less than half the cost of power from Pickering. And Quebec’s massive hydro reservoirs are ideally suited to act as a giant battery for wind power in both Ontario and Quebec.

That we have perfectly viable alternatives to continuing to operate the aging Pickering plant — designed and built in the 1960s and ’70s with now decades-old technology — is good to know because despite the happy talk about safe CANDU technology, Pickering actually has a very disturbing safety history.

The plant has had an extensive series of accidents, including Canada’s worst loss of coolant accident in 1994. Four of its eight reactors were shutdown entirely in 1997 after an outside safety review essentially found they were the Ford Pintos of nuclear — unsafe at any speed.

Nuclear plants cannot obtain commercial insurance because the catastrophic risks involved in splitting atoms are simply more than the market will bear. That means it is taxpayers who underwrite these risks through a legislated $1 billion limit on nuclear liability. That $1 billion isn’t going to go far if something serious does go wrong right in the middle of a vast urban area.

You may have noticed that in the recent alert you were urged to simply stay calm and carry on. That’s because Pickering’s emergency plans are based on the very 1950s concept of “duck and cover.” The premise is that people will stay in place and simply ride out whatever happens. The reality is much more likely to be a spontaneous evacuation of tens of thousands of people and mass chaos.

The Pickering reactors reached the end of their design lives — essentially the engineering “best before” date — around 2016. The Wynne government, under pressure from nuclear interests, extended operations to 2024. The Ford government, with its perplexing distaste for safe renewable energy, is now considering pushing the deadline out even further. SOURCE

Electric trains, EVs and cheaper, maybe even free, transit up ahead for Ontario?

Doug Ford has been fomenting resistance to the “war on the car” ever since the early 2010s, when he was a Toronto city councillor and his late brother Rob was mayor.

Since becoming premier of Ontario in 2018, he has forced gas stations to display stickers opposing the federal carbon tax, which he is fighting all the way to the country’s top court.

His government has cut transit spending plans by 40 per cent over five years. He has pulled provincial funding for Hamilton’s light-rail transit project and nixed a plan for high-speed rail connecting Toronto all the way to Windsor on the U.S. border, while pushing ahead with a widening of Highway 401 between Mississauga and Milton.

Meanwhile, auto plants are cutting shifts and closing lines from Oshawa to Windsor.

In Part 2 of a three-part series, the six candidates vying to become the Liberal Party of Ontario’s next leader tell Canada’s National Observer what they plan to do to improve the province’s transit and transportation sectors. (You can read Part 1, which includes background on each of the six candidates, here.)

Steven Del Duca speaks with a party member in Pickering. Undated photo courtesy of Del Duca’s campaign

Transit and electric vehicles, oh my

With transportation accounting for more than one-third of Ontario’s emissions, the scope for carbon reductions are considerable. This could be achieved by getting more drivers to use public transit instead, sharply increasing the portion of electric vehicles in the mix, or a combination of these and other policies.

So National Observer asked the Liberal candidates what plans they had to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions in Ontario.

Michael Coteau’s headline-grabbing idea is to make all public transit in the province fare-free within a decade. He doesn’t have hard targets for what this might achieve in terms of fewer cars on the road or fewer emissions. Those details would come later, he says, after he’s secured the support of the party and can undertake the necessary cost/benefit analysis.

In the second of a three-part series, @5thEstate asks the six Ontario Liberal leadership hopefuls what they would do to improve public transit and boost zero emission vehicle production and sales in the province.

Coteau, the sitting MPP for Toronto’s Don Valley East riding, said his plan would initially target young people, seniors and those on low income in order to lower costs for those who need it most first, as well as those who by ditching their cars would have the “most significant impact toward achieving targeted environmental, economic and social objectives.” He said that public transit improvement and expansion would be the “key component of new public infrastructure in Ontario.”

He said he’d develop a strategy to provide electrified, high-speed rail to the province’s southeast and southwest, and look to split freight and commuter rail traffic onto separate lines at bottlenecks around Toronto. He did not say how much his plans might cost — making GO and the Toronto Transit Commission fare-free would cost the province almost $2 billion a year, the Atmospheric Fund estimates — nor where he would find the money to pay for it.

Kate Graham is willing to propose a hike in the amount of provincial tax collected on gasoline in order to triple the amount of money the province contributes to municipal public transit. Graham says the incremental hike from 2 cents to 6 cents a litre would provide $800 million a year, by 2024, to expand and electrify transit.

Graham, a university lecturer and long-time public servant in London, Ont, said she would also introduce a law that would use a cap-and-trade mechanism for auto retailers to ensure zero-emission vehicles make up 10 per cent of personal vehicle sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.

Steven Del Duca says he would attack the problem from three sides: by building more transit, making it more affordable and getting more people into electric vehicles.

Del Duca, a former transportation minister and front runner in the leadership race, said he’d cut transit fares in half for those able to travel outside of rush hour to ease maximum capacity pressure. He said the province needs to keep build transit infrastructure of all types in every region of the province and that he would present a fully costed platform before the election, due in 2022.

Del Duca and Graham both propose to match a $5,000 federal rebate for zero emission vehicles.

Graham also said she would bring back a $1,000 rebate cut by Ford for people who install electric vehicle charging stations in their homes (and reinstate a rule that all new homes be built ready to have them), install 2,000 public charging stations across the province and split costs with municipalities for 2,000 more.

Graham is also hoping to work with municipalities to get their transit systems to carbon neutrality, and expand Metrolinx’s intercity bus service with zero-emission vehicles. She would provide municipalities with $200 million over four years for safe cycling infrastructure, boost rural infrastructure spending by $100 million a year, and give $850 to people who ditch high-polluting vehicles in favour of a new e-bike.

Liberal leadership candidate Kate Graham seen in an undated photograph supplied by her campaign.

Brenda Hollingsworth, a personal injury lawyer in Ottawa making her first foray into politics, said she would reinstate electric vehicle rebates; reinstate and expand the government-backed EV charging station network; reinstate the Hamilton LRT project; and improve transit options between Kingston and Toronto and London and Toronto.

Mitzie Hunter said she was committed to building transit where needed, including by reinstating the Hamilton LRT project. The Scarborough-Guildwood MPP and former education minister said she would create incentives for electric vehicles and look to promote renewable energy for consumers, including in transportation, without providing further details.

Alvin Tedjo said his made-in-Ontario price on carbon would help fund the electrification of the GO regional transit network that serves the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.

The Mississauga-based former policy advisor who ran unsuccessfully in the riding of Oakville North-Burlington in the 2018 election cited studies conducted by Metrolinx, the network’s operator, that show it could be done for less than $5 billion and would remove 94 per cent of GO’s GHG emissions. He argues that the faster this is done, the sooner operational savings can be used to reduce transit fares while expanding transit investment.

Mitzie Hunter. Photo supplied by campaign

Ontario’s auto industry

Ontario’s auto production has fallen 25 per cent over the last two decades, as automakers move more of their work to cheaper locations including southern U.S. states and Mexico. The auto industry contributes some 2.5 percent of the province’s gross domestic product.

National Observer asked the Liberal candidates how they would integrate more electric and zero-emission production capacity into this industry.

Del Duca said “there’s no easy answer” to the question of rebuilding Ontario’s auto sector. “We will need to work with auto parts manufacturers, unions and cities to drive new investment to Ontario for zero emission vehicles,” he said.

Graham said she would cut the corporate tax rate to 2.5 percent for businesses that develop technologies or manufacture products that have zero emissions, and introduce a tax credit to encourage venture capitalists to invest in green startups.

She would also invest $170 million over three years into an apprenticeship strategy focused on green jobs and revive the former Liberal government’s planned Ontario Training Bank, a $63 million plan to connect employers, job seekers and workers looking to engage in skilled trades needed in the new green economy.

Hollingsworth said under her leadership the province would support zero-emission vehicle manufacturing in Ontario by investing directly in research and development and providing small and medium businesses with access to capital and support to bring their products to market.

She said Ontario-owned startups are developing auto components and software but are often sold to foreign ownership before they get a chance to grow into viable going concerns.

Hunter said she would help Ontario’s auto sector to lead in the manufacturing of the next generation of vehicles, without providing details. She said that her government would hold a global auto summit within one year of forming government.

Coteau said he would look to establish a zero-emissions vehicle rebate and invest in technologies relating to electric and other zero-emissions vehicles, without providing further detail.

Tedjo, who drives a hybrid minivan built in Windsor, said he was committed to working with our auto sector to explore all options including connected and autonomous vehicle technology and electric vehicles. SOURCE

‘Shady’ Anti-Teachers’ Union Ads Might Break Election Rules: Taras Natyshak

The ads, placed by a group called “Vaughan Working Families,” accuse teachers’ unions of using kids as pawns.

Ontario MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to reporters about ads placed by a group called

Ontario MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to reporters about ads placed by a group called “Vaughan Working Families” at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Feb. 3, 2020. ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

TORONTO — The provincial NDP is calling on Elections Ontario to investigate “shady” advertisements that appeared in major newspapers over the weekend.

“There’s something concerning here,” NDP MPP Taras Natyshak told reporters at Queen’s Park Monday.

Felipe Pareja@FAPareja

Full-pagers in Star & G&M. Maybe we should ask @SFLecce who’s behind these. Using the moniker of “Working Fams”. Which fams are those, Stephen? The super-rich ones that contribute the max amount they can every yr to your riding assoc?

Reeks of desperation.

View image on Twitter
“Whoever placed this advertisement had the full intention of causing more chaos … This does nothing to de-escalate any of the tensions that might exist at the bargaining table. In fact, it escalates the tensions.”

The ads, placed by a mysterious group called “Vaughan Working Families,” show a frowning woman holding a report card graded with a “F” and the message: “Teachers’ Union leaders are risking student success. Children are not pawns.”

All of Ontario’s major teachers’ unions are engaged in rotating strikes or work-to-rule campaigns amidst contentious contract negotiations with the government.

Natyshak, who serves as his party’s ethics critic, alleges the ads break election financing rules because voters in two Ottawa ridings are set to elect new MPPs in byelections on Feb. 27. Any groups that conduct political advertising during election periods are subject to Elections Ontario rules.

Natyshak said there is no evidence to link the ads to the government at this time, but that the ads have “all the hallmarks of a Doug Ford smear campaign.”

Elections Ontario would not confirm whether or not it would investigate the matter, but said that any third party that spends more than $500 on political ads during a by-election campaign must register.

“Political advertising also includes advertising with respect to an issue of public policy during an election for which one or more registered political parties or candidates may also have taken a position,” spokesperson Lisa Camps said by email

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce, who represents the riding of King-Vaughan, have previously accused the unions of using children as “pawns” and regularly blamed “union leaders” for hurting families by going on strike. But the government denied having any knowledge of the ads.

“The government was not aware of the advertisements and not familiar with the group Vaughan Working Families,” Lecce’s spokesperson Alexandra Adamo told HuffPost Canada by email Monday.

There is no website or Facebook page for any group called “Vaughan Working Families.” A Twitter account by the name, with Vaughan misspelled “Vaughn,” appeared online this weekend. It follows only four accounts: Ford, Lecce, the Ontario PC party and the federal Conservative party.

 

Mysterious Group Uses ‘Made-Up Name’ and Fake Mom to Attack Teachers in Canada’s Biggest Newspapers

Who is behind the mysterious group that is shelling out big money to attack Ontario teachers in three of Canada’s biggest newspapers?

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Forget fake news — Doug Ford’s big money supporters are now using fake moms too.

Over the weekend, three of Canada’s biggest newspapers ran full-page ads from a mysterious group accusing Ontario teachers of using children as “pawns.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has previously used the exact same misleading language to attack a province-wide student walk-out protesting Ford’s cuts to education.

The ads are paid for by a mystery group calling itself “Vaughan Working Families,” although the group lists no contact information, has no website and there appears to be no evidence the shadowy parents’ group exists apart from its expensive ads.

The Globe and Mail, The Sudbury Star

John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council which represents the area of Vaughan, said he has never heard of the group before.

“We represent working people from every occupation who live or work in Vaughan, and we’ve never heard of such an organization,” Cartwright told PressProgress.

The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post did not respond to requests seeking the contact information for “Vaughan Working Families.”

Nor did the three newspapers share information on what steps they generally take to guarantee advertisements that run in their newspapers meet basic standards of accuracy and transparency.

One version of the ad in Saturday’s Toronto Star features an image seemingly of a disappointed mother of a grade 7 or 8 student holding a “provincial report card” marked with an “F.” The report card includes a list of anti-teacher talking points echoing lines used by by Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

The ad offers misleading or debatable figures on hiring ratesaverage incomes, and holidays for Ontario teachers. It provides no sourcing for any of its purported facts.

In fact, the mother is not from Vaughan — and she’s not from North America either.

Toronto Star, National Post

Leszek Glasner, a professional photographer who lives in Poland, said the woman presented as the face of “Vaughan Working Families” is his wife.

“Actually she is my wife and she is a semi-professional model,” the photographer told PressProgress. “She is from Poland too.”

Glasner confirmed the photo used in the anti-teacher attack ad is a digitally altered copy of one he sells on Shutterstock, an online stock photo service, and made clear neither he nor his wife have any opinions on Ontario provincial politics.

“We both have nothing to do with the teacher strike in Canada,” Glasner said.

Leszek Glasner (Shutterstock)

The mother featured in the ad is not the only thing that appears inauthentic.

The “Vaughan Working Families” logo, an ominous black and white silhouette of three faceless figures, is also sold on Shutterstock as part of a “logo design template” created by an Indonesian-based graphic designer.

Titled “team of three people together icon isolated on black background,” the logo template includes a handy space to insert “company slogan here.”

Vaughan Working Families logo, HSDesain (Shuttterstock)

Even the group’s name appears to be of questionable originality.

The name “Working Families” is already associated with an existing group created by the labour movement. That group has been sharply critical of Doug Ford’s plans to eliminate thousands of teacher jobs.

In a statement Sunday, the original Working Families group expressed concern that the name of the new group is sowing confusion.

Working Families Ontario@WFOntario

Working Families is in no way, shape or form affiliated with Vaughan Working Families. The attribution is incorrectly associated with Working Families. We are taking steps to correct this. Any info abt this group wld be appreciated.

Cartwright says he thinks “Vaughan Working Families” is “obviously a made-up name created by conservative millionaires.”

“Who else could get tens of thousands of dollars to place full-page ads in The Star and The Globe?”

Cartwright noted Education Minister Stephen Lecce is also the MPP for Vaughan.

Last month, a man portrayed by the Toronto Sun as an angry father from the same riding was revealed to be a wealthy conservative activist with ties to Lecce.

Lecce’s office did not respond to multiple requests from PressProgress to clarify if he has ever communicated with “Vaughan Working Families.”

In a statement to Global News, Lecce denied having any knowledge of the ads and, although they claim to represent families in his own riding, the education minister stated he is “not familiar with the Vaughan Working Families group.”

Cartwright said the Toronto and York Region Labour Council is offering a reward for information on who is really behind “Vaughan Working Families.”

“We’re offering a $20 Tim Horton’s gift card to anybody who can determine exactly who the conservative millionaires are that are paying for these ads.” SOURCE

RELATED:

Ford blames union leaders again as teachers plan week of walkouts

 

All But 1 Ontario Teachers’ Union Return To The Bargaining Table

“We’re working hard and our minister’s working hard to get a deal,” Premier Doug Ford said Friday.

Teachers with the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario wave to honking cars as they participate...

Teachers with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario wave to honking cars as they participate in a strike in Toronto on Jan. 20, 2020.  NATHAN DENETTE/CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford says elementary teachers and the government will be at the bargaining table until they strike a deal.

“We’re working hard and our minister’s working hard to get a deal. It’s absolutely critical,” he said at an announcement in Brampton, Ont. Friday.

Renewed contract talks have entered a third day between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the province, and the union has said it will ramp up its strikes next week if a deal is not reached today.

Watch: Premier says his patience won’t last with teachers. 

The elementary teachers have been holding one-day, rotating strikes for two weeks — today’s target the Peel and Hamilton-Wentworth boards — but they are planning to walk out at each board twice a week starting Monday if no deal is reached.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 19.

Catholic teachers also return to the table

Meanwhile, in another crack in a teacher-government stalemate, the province’s English Catholic teachers say they will return to the bargaining table after talks broke off earlier this month.

Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association president Liz Stuart said they have agreed to return to talks on Monday, but a one-day, provincewide strike set for Tuesday is still on, for now.

“We are pleased to be getting back to negotiations,” she said in a statement. “However, it remains to be seen how serious the discussions will be.” SOURCE

Newly-formed Canadian Institute for Climate Choices calls on Canada to prepare for change

Ontario Premier Doug Ford helps with filling sandbags near Ottawa on April 26, 2019. Contaminated water from flooding is one risk identified by the new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. Photo by Kamara Morozuk

Canada must prepare both for a low-carbon world and for one in which the international community spurns climate action; otherwise, it will suffer job losses and social disruption, according to a new federally funded institute.

The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices opened its doors Tuesday, and marked the occasion by releasing an 80-page report examining the consequences of climate actions that Canada might take under different global pollution scenarios.

No one knows how quickly the world is going to cut carbon pollution, CEO Kathy Bardswick said in an interview, and Canada must make decisions that account for the uncertainty, rather than be paralyzed by it.

In either a high-carbon or low-carbon future, “there’s a substantial impact on the country,” Bardswick said. “What we’re trying to say is, ‘Yes, we agree there’s uncertainty, and we agree that these scenarios can play out quite differently, and the implications can be quite dramatic. But that doesn’t mean that we wait and see — we’ve got to be able to plan within that context.’”

The institute is operating on funding from the Trudeau government to the tune of $20 million over five years. There is an annual financial accountability process where spending is reviewed to see whether it aligns with stated outcomes.

But the government does not tell it what to research: the directors and expert panels decide the agenda, strategic plan and content and sign off on its priorities.

Don’t get caught in ‘continual cycle’ of recovery

Drawing on extensive economic and scientific research, the report sketches out two broad scenarios, with two possible outcomes in each one.

In the first scenario, a massive economic metamorphosis has occurred. Nations around the world cut their pollution severely over the next 10 years, reaching the Paris Agreement goal. Global demand for fossil fuels has plummeted, and proven reserves are left in the ground. A majority of electricity comes from renewables like solar, wind and bioenergy, while nuclear capacity triples and heavy industry is largely decarbonized.

If Canada chooses to approach this world by sticking with the current economy, which is largely integrated with emissions-intensive exports like oil and gas, and the financial sector that holds over $50 billion worth of loans to the sector, then the global transition, “coupled with inadequate preparation domestically, creates large-scale disruption and job loss in Canada.”

The oilpatch is wallopped, leading to knock-on effects in construction, retail, real estate and the financial sector. Other Canadian sectors like gasoline vehicle manufacturing are caught off guard. The risk of “widespread social disruption” increases as social assistance programs are put under pressure. Governments see shrinking budgets that impact health and education spending.

In the other scenario, carbon pollution continues to be pumped into the air unchecked, and the world fails to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal, leading to runaway climate change: collapse of ecosystems, accelerating global heating, coastlines that sink underwater, relentless extreme weather and mass societal unrest.

Canada must be prepared for that world, too, the report says, or it will become “caught in a continual cycle of impact and recovery.” People will be injured or killed, or suffer poor air quality and contaminated water, as insurance skyrockets and companies lay off workers. Food and water shortages drive war, conflict and humanitarian disasters, which reach Canada’s shores.

Even if parts of Canada try to capitalize on a high-carbon world (through longer growing seasons for example), the report concludes that “any benefits in a high-emissions scenario are likely temporary and short-lived.”

“Fewer deaths due to extreme cold are offset by more deaths from extreme heat. Savings in heating bills are offset by increased use of air-conditioners in the summer. Longer seasons for growing crops are offset by an increase in heatwaves, droughts, and flooding,” the report says.

‘Rigorous peer review process’ in place

When the new institute was first revealed in April 2019, originally named the Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration, it was dismissed in comments to National Observer by the conservative Ford government in Ontario as a gathering of “elite economists” in ivory towers.

A staffer formerly in Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office also asserted without evidence that the institute was not independent, but instead staffed with “puppets.” The Ontario government was engaged at the time in a fierce battle over the federal carbon pricing regime being imposed in the province, as a result of Ford’s decision to abandon the prior cap-and-trade system.

Bardswick said the institute is set up to follow a “rigorous peer review process” that will require “not only leveraging the expertise in our staff contingent, but also taking our work and sending it to external peer reviewers, so we have another independent set of eyes looking at the rigour of the research.”

Tuesday’s report was written by senior research associate Jonathan Arnold, vice-president of research Dale Beugin and clean growth director Rachel Samson, with support from six others inside and outside the institute.

It underwent an external peer review from 13 experts, such as Blair Feltmate, the head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo and Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria.

The launch of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices comes seven years after the demise of a previous non-partisan research organization focused on climate, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. That group was created by the former Mulroney government in 1988, but later defunded by the former Harper government in 2012. The foreign affairs minister at the time, John Baird, suggested taxpayers shouldn’t pay for pro-carbon tax reports.

The new institute’s 11-member board of directors includes Sandra Odendahl, a vice president at Scotiabank; former Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president Dave Collyer and former clerk of the Privy Council, Mel Cappe, while there are 37 expert panel members including former TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond and Global Adaptation Commission co-director Christina Chan.

Bardswick said the institute has been forging connections with all levels of government — municipal, provincial, territorial and First Nations — so that it’s not just a federal exercise.

“The real next step is going to be based on this outreach and engagement process that will drive those priorities,” she said. SOURCE