View topic - Ontario Environmental Commissioner blasts MNR...

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2013, 8:15 am 
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... at least in the news reports appearing recently. Cutbacks, downsizing and streamlining have created “profound change on the highest level.”

I haven't actually read the annual report, available for download here:

http://www.eco.on.ca/

ECO quote from a news report:

Quote:
“We need to empower our public service, especially the MNR, to mitigate impacts and maximize potential benefits on the land the public owns, has the right to and obligation to fight for. The attack on MNR is the most striking example of how counter-productive dismantling the public service can be to the social, economic and environmental stability of the province.”



Globe and Mail report below... according to the ECO Gord Miller, management of large areas of crown land may be handed over to private corporations... for wilderness paddlers, that could mean access problems. Other news reports described poor management of species at risk and Ontario parks being managed mainly for their capacity to make money.

Quote:
Ontario Liberals quietly loosened environmental rules, watchdog warns

Adrian Morrow

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Oct. 10 2013, 10:14 AM EDT

Ontario’s cabinet can now turn over public land to the exclusive control of private, multinational corporations, turning northern development into the “wild west,” Environment Commissioner Gord Miller warns.

In a report Thursday, Mr. Miller said a series of quiet changes to the law last year – combined with cuts to staff and programs at the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment – could lead to the unrestrained exploitation of Northern Ontario’s natural resources.

“They’ve changed the legislation … to allow it to be the wild west without asking us, without telling us what they’re up to,” he said. “Why are they changing the laws quietly without public consultation, to allow this wide-open exploitation with no rules? What’s going on?”

The changes – to the Public Lands and Fish and Wildlife Conservation acts – were passed as part of the 2012 budget. Such spending bills traditionally concern themselves with implementing administrative and financial measures, but there has been a trend in recent years for governments to stick unrelated matters into the legislation to get them passed quickly, rather than making them stand-alone laws that would be voted on individually.

The consequences in this case, Mr. Miller said, could be serious.

“Large tracts of land, unencumbered by a formal planning regime, could conceivably be handed over to the exclusive control of multinational corporations,” he said. “We’re talking about loss of access to hunting and fishing and use of the land. We’re talking about loss of access and control to the First Nations’ cultural heritage and all the environmental sensitivities.”

Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti said the legal changes will only allow cabinet to bring in third parties to help manage Crown land, not sell it off. Before the government brings in anyone for the land, he said, it would hold public consultations.

He also argued that there are adequate rules in place to govern corporations when they use public land.

“No one’s saying ‘have your way with it’ – there’s all kinds of regulations both through the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources that continue to play a role in protecting the land and land development,” he said. “There’s a process for opening a mine, for starting a forestry business. Those continue to be in place, so none of that has been removed.”

The report comes at a time when Queen’s Park is increasingly looking to the north, and its vast reserves of minerals, to secure the province’s future. The government is crafting plans to open up the Ring of Fire deposits for mining and the province must, Mr. Miller said, ensure it evaluates the impact on the entire environment rather than dealing with it on a project-by-project basis.

Mr. Miller also criticized the government for “gutting” protections for species at risk and not doing enough to build the road and rail links that new resource extraction projects need. He also said Ontario must develop regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” This technique involves shooting high-pressure liquid into the ground to crack open rocks containing natural gas. While there is no fracking in Ontario at the moment, he said, it might happen in the future and the province should be prepared.




http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/pol ... e14795721/

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2013, 10:13 am 
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Commerce is King, a Brave New world in the making. Sort of going back to the days of the HBC and its rule of the northern lands. And the cities will become like Charles Dickens' London.

How did we ever manage to get out of those olden days and establish a better world....

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2013, 1:00 pm 
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Perhaps it is just that I am a little more attuned to it now, but it appears that the political trend in the last few years, at both the provincial and federal levels, is to tie in legislation that has potential environmental impacts with budgets in omnibus bills. Though this may be politically astute and indeed expedient, I see it as a breach of faith with the voting public at large. Still, the silent majority allows for it to continue.

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2013, 2:36 pm 
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I agree, both the provincial Liberals and federal Conservatives have consciously bypassed the legislative controls that were in place to prevent dismantling of environmental protections. Provincially, the NDP even supported the Liberal budget this year that used that loop hole. In other words, none of the major political parties are championing environmental protection at this time.

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PostPosted: October 12th, 2013, 5:01 pm 
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Don't you folks have a constitutional right to use PUBLIC lands?


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