COLIN MACKAY: Climate change will be key in elections


Hundreds of beach umbrellas on Outlet Beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Rising floodwaters have forced park staff to turn away visitors just days before the August long weekend. (FRÉDÉRIC PEPIN/RADIO-CANADA)

High water levels still remain along the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte.

Even into August, there are small sections of the waterfront trail under water. Climate change is mainly responsible for the higher water levels, although a few people will point to an International Joint Commission Plan 2014 as a culprit too. With a federal election approaching in October 2019, how politicians tackle climate change will be extremely important. At the provincial level, too many politicians consider carbon pricing as strictly detrimental, ignoring science, while spewing only opinions.

Nevertheless, scientists have been warning that a failure to act on climate change could have enormous consequences, particularly in Canada. Fortunately, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, winners of the Nobel prize for economics in 2018, have shown that putting a price on carbon emissions is the best way for governments to combat climate change.

Already, in the Belleville area, there have been two years out of the past three that water levels have created massive flooding resulting in considerable issues, including additional costs for our municipal government. Floods in basements, rising insurance costs, and even having to move pop-up shops to higher ground are a few of these issues.

Scientists have proven the Earth is warming considerably, almost exponentially, mainly due to increasing carbon emissions. An additional three degrees of warming during this century is predicted. Scientists from Alberta have issued an even more dire report highlighting that Canada is warming twice as quickly. A six degree increase in average temperatures would be catastrophic for the north in particular. Scientists have been ringing the warning bells for a considerable amount of time, and for the most part, politicians have failed to act.

Putting a price on carbon has proven to be the best way to reduce carbon emissions. Yet, in Canada, the political will to implement this, from a provincial level, is inconsistent. Under Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, the cap and trade program has been dismantled, removing billions in revenue. A price on carbon is viewed, by Ford, strictly as a tax with no benefits. Yet, in British Columbia, emissions have dropped considerably due to putting a price on emissions, with their provincial economy moving along just fine. Companies wanting to avoid paying a price on carbon emissions become innovative, which is one of moving forces of carbon pricing. Sadly, in Ontario, a considerable number of innovative companies weren’t given much of a chance to succeed. MORE

Letter: When will Ontario end the Nuclear Energy fiasco?

OPG’s Pickering Nuclear to operate until 2024

Premier Ford, Ministers Rickford & Smith,

The entire world is realizing what an economic and environmental disaster that Nuclear energy has become and are turning away from it towards renewable energy sources from the sun, wind , geothermal and tides/waves.

Tell me how you can justify your ongoing and increasing support for this outdated relic of 20th century technology , nuclear, while destroying our 21st century technologies for clean electricity generation? You are on a course that will set our province back in time and cause economic ruin.

You have 3 years remaining in your term to correct this mistaken strategy by completing the White Pines windfarm to as it should have been, restoring the progress that was being made with renewable energy projects, jobs & industries, and moving us forwards rather than backwards.

We will be holding you and your party accountable for your actions and inactions from now until the next election in 2022. Please read this following report. Thank you.

Don  & Heather Ross  Milford, Ont

Nuclear power ‘seven decades of economic ruin’, says new report


No Nukes News, July 9, 2019

Premier Ford cries poor but subsidizes $700 million for fossil fuel consumption

“Last year, the cash-strapped Government of Ontario provided nearly $700 million of public money to expand natural gas, fund tax exemptions for aviation and rail, and support tax cuts for coloured fuel use in agriculture,” writes Vanessa Corkal.

When it comes to cutting taxes, the Government of Ontario has been clear on priorities. It has made efforts to reform seemingly unpopular or inefficient taxes in an attempt to balance the budget and make public spending more efficient.

But one glaring fiscal inefficiency has escaped the spotlight.

In the last year alone, Ontario provided nearly $700 million in subsidies for fossil fuel consumption.

Yes, you read that right. Last year, the cash-strapped Government of Ontario provided nearly $700 million of public money to expand natural gas, fund tax exemptions for aviation and rail, and support tax cuts for coloured fuel use in agriculture.

Let’s be clear: subsidies in themselves are not inherently bad public policy. A subsidy that supports, say, expansion of energy access can be a smart use of money if it benefits the greater population.

Even at the best of times, though, fossil fuel subsidies produce negative side effects. They incentivize pollution and distort the market, unfairly handicapping clean energy alternatives. They significantly stunt Canada’s urgent need to combat climate change and slow our transition to a low-carbon economy. MORE

Doug Ford Quietly Planning Half a Billion Dollars in Cuts For Low-Income Workers and People With Disabilities


Post-budget spending plans suggest Doug Ford’s government is quietly planning to cut half a billion from the province’s two main income support programs.

The budget tabled by the Ford government last month already announced plans to carve a billion dollars out of the budget of the ministry that provides funds to income support programs.

Although the budget makes no mention of cutting programs linked to “poverty” or “disabilities,” the Ford government’s more-recent itemized expenditure estimates for 2019-2020 show both Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program are slated for deep cuts.

Ontario Works is an income support program that provides low-income workers with financial and employment assistance. The Ontario Disability Support Program, meanwhile, offers financial and employment assistance for those with recognized disabilities.

According to the Ford government’s estimates, funding for financial assistance under Ontario Works would be $296.3 million lower in 2019-2020 than in the previous year, while employment assistance funding under the same program would drop $10 million.

People with disabilities would see ODSP financial assistance cut by $222.1 million.

Together, the total estimated loss amounts to more than half a billion dollars.


Doug Ford is clear-cutting Ontario’s environmental laws

The Ontario premier is weakening laws put in place to protect endangered species and the environment

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Ontarians should be concerned by the vast changes that are being made to provincial environmental legislation as they will have serious consequences on the natural spaces we cherish.

In an overarching attempt to “modernize” Ontario’s environmental plan, Premier Doug Ford and his government have made moves to pave the way for development across the province by reducing so-called “red tape.” The government is undercutting the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Assessment Act, and limiting community engagement in northern Ontario planning decisions by repealing the Far North Act.

Despite the staggering rollbacks, these changes have received little attention in the mainstream media. Under the umbrella of these “modernization” efforts, the common thread of reducing red tape for business and development ventures is apparent in the Ford government’s proposed changes. MORE

TAKE ACTION! Quebec has an offer Ontario can’t refuse – forever

Once again this week, the Ontario government turned up its nose at an offer of low-cost power from its neighbour. Despite failing to make any progress on his promise to reduce electricity costs by 12%, Premier Ford told his Quebec counterpart that he was not interested in a deal that would provide power at one-third the cost of power from rebuilt reactors.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault isn’t giving up, however. He astutely predicts that once Ontario starts seeing the real costs of nuclear rebuilds, it will be a lot more interested in what Quebec has to offer.

Quebec has a large and growing electricity surplus and the lowest power costs in North America. Ontario is already in a position to import a significant amount of power from Quebec, and upgrading our transmission capacity to bring in enough power to replace all of the Darlington Nuclear Station’s production 24/7/365 would cost much, much less than rebuilding one reactor.

Premier Ford says he is focused on making life affordable for Ontarians. So why is his government following in the footsteps of its predecessors by ignoring what Quebec has to offer while subsidizing expensive nuclear projects?

Please email the Premier< tell him it’s time to get serious about reducing electricity costs by making a deal with Quebec.

Weeks after own deadline, PC government won’t say whether it’s done plans for Ontario Line

Premier Doug Ford has unveiled a map showing the proposed Ontario Line, which would spanning Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre, but has yet to reveal a detailed plan on the massive infrastructure project.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government is refusing to say whether it has finalized initial plans for its most important transit project, three weeks after a self-imposed deadline for completing the work has passed.

On June 3, then infrastructure minister Monte McNaughton pledged the government would submit initial business cases for the Ontario Line and other priority projects under Premier Doug Ford’s proposed $28.5-billion transit expansion “in the second half of June.”

With the end-of-month deadline now passed, the province would not give a yes or no answer about whether it has completed a business case for the Ontario Line, the $10.9-billion rail line that would run through the heart of Toronto and is the centrepiece of Ford’s plan.

“Ontario is actively providing project information to the federal government. That’s why, given that discussions are ongoing with our partners, we will not negotiate the details of critical infrastructure projects in the media,” Barbara Mottram, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, said in an email last week.

In a brief phone interview Thursday, Mottram reiterated the government’s position that “we’re continuing to work with our partners.”

Pressed to clarify her statement, in a followup email Mottram described the business case for the Ontario Line as “a living document” that “is continuously being informed by the experts at Metrolinx who are consulting with our partners and transit authorities.”

Pierre-Yves Bourque, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Canada, said Thursday the federal government hasn’t received a business case for the Ontario Line or any of the three other transit projects that are a part of Ford’s new plan.

“In fact, what we have received so far for these projects is a two-page document, which is not sufficient to make (a) clear analysis of these projects,” Bourque said in a statement. SOURCE

You used to call me on my cellphone: Doug Ford’s number out of service

Ontario Premier Doug Ford puts his phone number into a man’s cellphone during a visit to a partially flooded area of Constance Bay, northwest of Ottawa, on April 26, 2019. Photo by Kamara Morozuk

Anyone who had an issue with Ontario Premier Doug Ford used to be able to call him.

For years, he handed out his personal cellphone number at events, a practice dating back to his days as a Toronto city councillor.

But Ford has now disconnected that number, overwhelmed by a flood of automated calls from special-interest groups, the premier’s office said Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Ivana Yelich didn’t specify which special-interest groups had been calling the premier — when the number is Googled, dozens of social media postings pop up — but she said one man in particular called over and over to ask Ford to subscribe to his YouTube channel.

“He had to turn off his phone at night,” Yelich said. “It became unbearable.”

Ford and his late brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, both gave out their numbers freely during their time at city hall. The premier in particular has touted his open phone line as a sign he’s not “stuck in a bubble” or in an “ivory tower.”

Stacy Kennedy@MrsMarambio

It appears Doug Ford no longer wants to hear from the people.

Embedded video

Ontarians used to be able to call @FordNation’s cell phone directly. But the premier disconnected it after a flood of calls from special interest groups — and a persistent man who wanted Ford to subscribe to his YouTube channel. #onpoli

At an event in Washington, D.C., in February, Ford read out his number onstage. MORE

On the road to Indigenous reconciliation, Doug Ford takes a detour

A First Nations dancer performs for the premiers and Indigenous leaders as they meet in Big River, First Nation, Sask. on July, 9, 2019. Except for Doug Ford, every other premier who had landed in Saskatoon for the annual Council of the Federation had the sense of occasion to attend the historic meeting held on a First Nations reserve, Martin Regg Cohn writes.

Bad enough that Doug Ford stood up Indigenous leaders at this week’s Saskatchewan summit with his fellow premiers.

What’s worse is how he has snubbed Indigenous people since winning power a year ago. Not merely slighting them on symbolism, but shortchanging them on substance.

Not just from the start, but non-stop.

Ford set the tone at his election night victory, again at his subsequent swearing-in ceremony, and indelibly in the Speech from the Throne outlining his agenda last summer: No greetings to Ontario’s Indigenous people, no acknowledgments to their land, no references to reconciliation.

And now, no time to give them face time.

Does it matter that Ford and Rickford don’t do land acknowledgments as others did and do (or that their offices can’t or won’t say)? Does the premier view them as mere tokenism?

Parsing the press lines issued by Ford’s Tories, you can see the public relations pattern: Never mind the acknowledgments, focus on the results.

“Real action,” insists the premier’s press secretary. “Meaningful action,” echoes the minister’s spokesperson.

But if “action” on Indigenous matters is what counts, let us consider the record of Ford’s Tories over the past year:

  • Reversed the previous government’s pledge, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to make Indigenous courses mandatory in high school.
  • Slashed millions of dollars from the Indigenous Culture Fund, with the Orwellian explanation that the cuts would allow the government “efficiently to maximize the impact of Indigenous culture support.”
  • Repealed the Far North Act on the grounds that it must reduce “red tape” and boost business, relegating Indigenous consultations to an afterthought.
  • Cut 15 per cent cut in overall funding for Indigenous affairs, to $74.4 million, with no new money to deal with claim settlements.

Regardless of whether words matter, numbers count for a great deal. MORE


Ford, Scheer and Kenney deliver flapjacks and havoc at Calgary Stampede

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer flips pancakes at 2019 Cenovus Family Day Breakfast. Photo: Andrew Scheer/Flickr
Photo: Andrew Scheer/Flickr

How fitting that the wrecking crew that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney dubbed the “Gang of Five” met at the Calgary Stampede where they sported cowboy hats and jeans, flipped pancakes for the cameras and fumed about the federal carbon tax.

If this group, which included Ontario’s Doug Ford, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs and Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories, were a middle-aged-man band, I’d dub them The Flapjacks.

Flap because of all the ideology they spout; jack because they know — or care — nothing about the havoc they are wreaking on the planet and people in the name of “prosperity.”

And so it was apt that they gathered at Calgary’s annual yahoo and rodeo show because it is likely the cruelest entertainment and “cultural” event since all those circuses of bullwhipped lions, tigers and elephants left town for good.

Animal rights groups have complained for decades that chuckwagon races, steer wrestling, bronco riding and calf roping not only panic and terrify the animals, they have killed about 100 of them — just since 1986.

Panicking and terrifying people seem to be what the gang’s ideology — and, in particular, Ford and Kenney’s — are all about.

Obviously, having just over a year under his “Premiers Stampede Breakfast” apron, Ford is winning the race to the bottom with his education and health-care cuts, his assaults on Toronto and crony-riddled government. Among other hardship-inflicting moves, there’s also his attack on the modern sex-education curriculum, the cancellation of almost 1,000 alternative energy initiatives, and even axing a 50-million tree-planting initiative to hold back climate change.

But hey, Ontarians will now have access to alcohol anytime, anywhere — although that buck-a-beer thing turned out to be pure B.S.

Which, like H.S., is all over the Stampede grounds.

One can easily predict where Kenney’s United Conservative Party is headed now that he, like Ford, has rolled back minimum wage increases, attacked the LGBTQ community and declared war on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He has even set aside a $3-million war chest to do battle against critics of the tarsands.

(On a personal note, I was targeted right after he became premier when he responded to my tweet about National Geographic magazine calling Alberta’s tarsands “the world’s most destructive oil operation” by pointing out that I was a “former Toronto Star journalist.” Which I am. But his point was …?)

Meanwhile, Ford, whose government is on a five-month sabbatical lest it further jeopardizes federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s chances of becoming prime minister, is not lying low at his cottage. From the Stampede, he went on to Saskatchewan to attend a premier’s conference.

Mind you, Scheer is doing a pretty good job already of losing support, at least if the most recent polls are to be believed. And yes, he too turned up at the Calgary hoedown, after which Kenney posted on his Instagram account, “We are united in stopping the Trudeau-NDP agenda.”

So anyway, at the Stampede, Ford joined his fellow band members to sing from the same blue songbook of building more pipelines across Canada.

And, when he faced reporters for the first time since his MPs quit Queen’s Park, he was visibly irritated by questions about the patronage controversy back home. Dismissing queries about questionable appointments as nothing more than journalists getting “into the weeds,” he declared that voters simply don’t care. Instead, he mounted his favourite hobbyhorse to ride herd on the debt and deficit that the Liberals left behind, insisting: “that’s what the people of Ontario worry about; they don’t worry about the stuff that the media worries about.”

But they probably also care about cuts to regional libraries, supports for autistic children and their families, school class sizes, the elimination of cancer screening programs, loans to university students, improving Toronto’s transit system, allowing developers to run amok and more untrammelled ideological stampeding.

Which is why the Calgary setting was so appropriate for Scheer, Ford and Kenney.

These horseman of the climate apocalypse are, as floodwaters rise and fields and forests burn, intent on inflicting cruelty not just on their constituents but on every living being on Earth. SOURCE