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Liberals Choose Photo-Op Environmentalism Over Pragmatic Solutions

(Queen’s Park)-  Sarnia-Lambton MPP, Bob Bailey, is once again voicing his concern that the Liberal government, with support from the NDP, chose to force through flawed legislation, misleadingly titled The Great Lakes Protection Act, which will impact both the Great Lakes and municipalities.

“The Great Lakes region is home to more than one-quarter of the population of Canada, it should go without saying that the health of the lakes is a priority for everyone” said MPP Bailey.  “However, the Liberal Government of Ontario went full sail ahead with this bill without consideration of the concerns raised by the Official Opposition, PC Caucus.

“I am very disappointed that the Liberals failed to seriously consider six key concerns of this legislation that were highlighted by the Official Opposition,” said MPP Bailey after the final vote on the bill.  “Bill 66: The Great Lakes Protection Act, will significantly impact the rights of municipalities and their residents to be stewards of the lakes without any meaningful discussions at the local level,” added MPP Bailey.  “My concern is, like what happened with the Green Energy Act, all local input will be ignored in favour of decisions made by bureaucrats in Toronto.

While there are at least six items within the bill that are of concern to the PC Caucus, the greatest is the bill’s ability to override a municipality’s existing official plan and zoning by-laws.  This legislation allows the Liberal Government to interfere in local decision making without any consideration for local views or priorities.  These powers will strip local autonomy the same way the McGuinty Government’s Green Energy Act has allowed the Government to force hundreds of Industrial Wind Turbines into communities where municipal councils have rejected them.

“The Official Opposition presented a number of amendments to the Great Lakes Protection Act that would create a stronger, more effective piece of Legislation, but the Liberal Government has opted against working with the Opposition and the public in developing this important legislation,” noted MPP Bailey.  “The Liberal Government’s handling of Bill 66, has shown that the intent of this bill is less about protecting the Great Lakes, and more about photo-op environmentalism,” said MPP Bailey.

“This government has proven once again that they are not in the business of respecting Ontarians,” concluded MPP Bailey.

MPP Bailey’s concerns with Bill 66 include:

  • Stripping Local Autonomy: the legislation provides the ability to override existing official plans and zoning bylaws developed to meet the specific needs of municipalities and their residents.
  • Increasing Red Tape: the bill would create a “Guardian Council” to provide advice to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, but offers no guarantee it will include representatives from a broad range of groups. This model also limits full public participation.
  • No Funding Specified: Bill 66 provides no details about how any programs created will be paid for, which is essentially handing a blank cheque to a government that’s proven it can’t manage its spending.
  • No Industrial Wind Turbines: In order to protect, not only the natural beauty, fish habitats and the tourism industry, the government must not allow the construction of industrial wind turbines in the Great Lakes; Bill 66 has no provisions protecting the Great Lakes from the construction of Industrial Wind Turbines.
  • No Respect for Property Owners: the bill contains sections that would allow authorities to access private property without a warrant.
  • Rural Perspective Missing: the Rural Ontario Municipal Association developed the “Rural Lens,” 12 points municipal leaders want applied to any legislation. That hasn’t happened with Bill 66 and the result is the creation of a new level of bureaucracy to trump the local decision-making process.

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