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reeves report: Contentious Rouge Park Bill Passes Third Reading

Despite united opposition against the proposed National Urban Park, Conservative Bill C-40 passed third reading Monday. The legislation is now on its way to the Tory-dominated Senate for further review.

Orchard Trail in Rouge Park.

The passage of Bill C-40 in Ottawa earlier this week, creating the country’s first National Urban Park in Toronto’s Rouge Valley, is not the cause for celebration a large number of its proponents hoped it would be.

Many of the countries leading environmental groups — including Ontario Nature, Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation and Friends of the Rouge Watershed — lamented the fact that in (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Ontario Politics Chatter: The Beer Store Monopoly, eyes on Sudbury.

I haven’t talked a lot about Ontario Politics much of late, but for my first post of the New Year, a few things have caught my eye I wished to comment on.

First, the Beer Store and its attempt to bring local craft beer dealers onboard is being viewed by some as a too-little too-late gamble in a desperate attempt to hold off competition to its monopoly. This series of paragraphs in a Toronto Star op-ed from Martin Regg Cohn is significant for me:

As more Ontarians realize that The Beer Store isn’t what they thought it was — not (Read more…)

reeves report: 2014 — Canada’s Year of the Pipeline

Keystone XL wasn’t the only pipeline project to rankle Canadians in 2014.

WIDESPREAD PUBLIC DEBATE on building vast networks of snaking energy pipelines throughout Canada dominated the country’s environmental newsreel in 2014, and will continue making headlines in the year ahead.

A collection of Canada’s top environmental NGOs told Reeves Report the climate change file — particularly an uptick in news stories, op-eds, consultations and street-level protests over whether and where oil and gas pipelines could be situated — was the environmental story of the year.

Devon Page, head of environmental legal group Ecojustice, said there has been more conversation (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: 2014 Person of the Year

Every December, I name a “Person of the Year” – the individual who left their mark on Canadian politics over the past year, for good or for bad. Below is a list of recent choices:

2013: Rob Ford & Naheed Nenshi 2012: Allison Redford 2011: Jack Layton 2010: Rob Ford & Naheed Nenshi2009: Jim Flaherty2008: Stephane Dion2007: Jean Charest2006: Michael Ignatieff2005: Belinda Stronach2004: Ralph Klein

I’ve never picked Stephen Harper because, duh, obviously the Prime Minister is going to have an impact on politics. And 2014 was no exception. In a year which (Read more…)

reeves report: Loopholes threaten Ontario Greenbelt

The Greenbelt Alliance wants better protection for the ecologically sensitive area, which remains at risk from sprawl, mega-highways and contaminated soil.

Map of Greenbelt and other protected lands in Southern Ontario.

SOUTHERN ONTARIO’S 7,200 square kilometre Greenbelt and the prime farmland and headwaters it contains remain at significant risk from expanding urban development despite protective legislation in place for a decade.

Ontario’s Greenbelt at Risk, a study from the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and Environmental Defence, believes the Ontario government must do more to strengthen protections for the sensitive Greenbelt space stretching from Welland east to Coburg and north to (Read more…)

reeves report: NDP to refuse support for Rouge National Urban Park bill

Everyone wants the 10,500 acres in the Rouge Valley to be made into a national urban park, yet few but the Harper Tories think their plan for the green space is the best path forward.

Rouge Park at Sunrise. (Flickr Photo Courtesy of Snuffy.)

ON A MEDIA TOUR this week of the proposed park on Toronto’s eastern boundary, federal NDP environment critic Megan Leslie (Halifax) told reporters she will advise her caucus to oppose government Bill C-40 despite the personal difficulty she feels in opposing the park.

“I’m in a parallel universe where I get applause for voting against (Read more…)

reeves report: Ontario Invasive Species Act gets second chance

A control test site for invasive plant phragmites at Wasaga Beach on Lake Huron.

LIBERAL NATURAL RESOURCE MINISTER Bill Mauro reintroduced the Invasive Species Act Wednesday, the first standalone legislation in Canada geared towards stopping the spread of invasives into the province

There is currently a patchwork of more than 20 different federal and provincial pieces of legislation affecting the control of invasive species in the country but none are designed specifically with invasive species in mind. Ontario is keen to change that, Mauro said.

“Our proposed legislation will help to address these legislative gaps,” he told a crowd (Read more…)

reeves report: NDP propose tough rules for importing Asian carp

On Oct. 1, New Democratic MP Brian Masse from Windsor, Ontario introduced a private member’s bill calling for tougher action and better coordination across Canadian governments in the fight against Asian carp.

The bill would make it illegal to import Asian carp — or “invasive carp,” as Masse calls it in his remarks — into Canada unless the fish is dead. And, to make sure border guards aren’t fooled by fish on ice that later spring to life in water, the fish must be eviscerated. Through a change to the Fisheries Act it would also forbid the inter-provincial transportation of (Read more…)

reeves report: Ontario and Ottawa face off over fate of Rouge Park lands

A STANDOFF IS BREWING east of Toronto in the Rouge Valley between Queen’s Park and the federal government over the proposed Rouge National Urban Park.

Ontario Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid made it clear to federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq that the province would not hand 5,400 acres of land it owns, stretching from Lake Ontario to Markham, over to Ottawa to create the new 10,000 acre park.

Map of existing Rouge Park.

At issue is the wording of Bill C-40, the Rouge National Urban Park Act, which began second reading in June. Much of the 5,400 acres Ontario controls (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Is That The Pitter Patter Of Little Feet I Hear?

Sorry. False alarm. Turns out it was the sound of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath doing a fancy dance as she practices her routine for the November leadership review she is facing.

In Toronto this past Saturday, more than 200 members of the party’s provincial council were witness to the reborn Horwath expressing her allegiance to essential party principles, principles that were decidedly absent in the provincial election she forced last June that saw her party lose the balance of power it had held.

Averred the rechristened leader:

“We believe in fighting each and every day for a more equal (Read more…)

reeves report: Transportation sector key to reducing GHG emissions in Ontario: ECO

GETTING SERIOUS about tackling greenhouse gases has to start with dramatically cutting emissions from Ontario’s transportation sector, the province’s environmental watchdog warned recently.

In releasing his latest update on efforts to curb climate change-inducing emissions in Ontario, Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller told reporters at Queen’s Park the biggest sector emitter of greenhouse gases has witnessed the smallest efforts at reducing GHGs.

“The biggest section is transportation emissions and that’s a section where we have achieved only miniscule changes,” Miller said. “The growth in transportation means our emissions are increasing from the 1990 base.”

Since 1990 — the baseline year (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Andrea Comes Down From Her Perch

But only a little bit. And only because her campaign is being criticized from within.

As I noted in a recent post, Ontario NDP leader Andrea’s Horwath’s hubris following what almost everyone else would call a failed Ontario election campaign has been both unseemly and wholly unjustified. She initially avowed that she had no regrets about causing the election, terming it a success despite the fact her party lost key Toronto ridings and, more importantly, the balance of power. However, now that she is being publicly taken to task by both Peter Julian and Cheri DiNovo, Horwath seems to (Read more…)

reeves report: ECO urges province to create new climate action plan

SO MUCH OF THE THINKING around climate change has evolved since 2007 that Ontario’s seven-year-old climate action plan is now “irrelevant” according to Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller.

In releasing Looking for Leadership: The Costs of Climate Inaction this morning, Miller said the province has been a leader in the climate file but has not kept up with the changing social, scientific and economic dynamics of climate change since Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan was released in 2007.

In particular, Miller identified four areas where society and science have moved beyond the baseline assumptions about climate change it held seven years (Read more…)

reeves report: Ottawa completes $400,000 Asian carp science lab

A $400,000 ASIAN CARP science lab was opened by Public Works Minister Diane Finley Monday as part of $17.5 million committed by Ottawa to fight the spread of this aquatic invasive species.

Captured grass carp at Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans research lab in Burlington, ON (Andrew Reeves)

The new lab in Burlington, Ontario — which is housed in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canada Centre for Inland Waters — will allow sample testing to be done in Canada rather than relying on genetic testing of water samples to be done in the United States to identify Asian carp DNA (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Andrea Horwath: Her Smugness Takes A Hit

The other day, while watching some reactions to the Ontario Throne Speech, I couldn’t help but note a truculent and smug Andrea Horwath, the leader of an NDP party now diminished by her foolish decision not to support a progressive budget, thereby triggering an election that few wanted. She opined that the now-majority Liberal government will have to make massive cuts in order to balance the budget by 2017-18. Indeed, she called the speech a Trojan Horse plan.

Who knows? She may be right, but the fact that she gambled and lost the leverage her party enjoyed in the legislature (Read more…)

reeves report: Ontario adds Climate Change to MOE Portfolio

IN ANNOUNCING her new cabinet last week, Premier Kathleen Wynne has charged former Transportation Minister Glen Murray with taking over Ontario’s newly revamped environment ministry.

Murray, the sitting MPP for Toronto Centre and former mayor of Winnipeg, assumed command of the environment ministry from veteran MPP Jim Bradley who is Ontario’s longest-serving environment minister after eight years on the job in two separate stints.

Wynne has also asked Murray to take on a new challenge, perhaps the most pressing issue facing the planet in the 21st century: climate change. No, Murray won’t be tasked with single-handedly solving the world’s shifting (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Disingenuous At Best, Hypocritical At Worst

To listen to post-election Ontario Tories and to take them at their word would suggest that the lot of them were simply dupes of Machiavellian forces over which they had no control. Up to and including the day of the election, they all appeared to be solidly behind their leader and his plans. After their abject failure to win the hearts and minds of Ontarians, that narrative quickly changed, most notably in Lisa MacLeod’s disavowal of both her leader and his program.

The latest exercise in what many would describe as arrant hypocrisy was evident in newly-appointed Tory interim leader (Read more…)

reeves report: Province urged to hold off on Rouge land transfer

A coalition of worried environmental groups is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to refrain from transferring provincially owned land in Scarborough to Ottawa over fears that ecological protections in Bill C-40, the Rouge National Urban Park Act, are substantially weaker than those already in place.

Days after the federal Conservatives called C-40 for second reading debate on June 19, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and Friends of the Rouge Watershed issued a joint release saying the bill from Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq “fails to meet the standards needed for a sustainable national park that respects conservation science.”

The bill (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Lisa MacLeod Revisited

The other day I wrote a commentary on recently re-elected Nepean-Carlton Ontario Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod. In a thinly-disguised job application/op-ed piece for the Star, Ms. MacLeod talked about what is needed for revitalized leadership of her party, brought to electoral ruin by the soon-to-be-departed leader Tim Hudak. Perhaps not surprisingly, MacLeod’s prescription for renewal seemed to reflect her ‘skillset.’

It is a self-assessment with which not everyone agrees. In today’s Toronto Star, two letter-writers point out what the party needs, and their prescriptions do not seem to include Ms. MacLeod:

Re: Ontario Tories need fresh leadership, Opinion June (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Lisa MacLeod’s Ambition

I’ll say right off the top that I am no fan of recently re-elected Ontario Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod, and not just because she is a member of what has become an extremist party. Her embrace of the politics of division, her strident hyper-partisanship, and now, post-election, her hypocrisy, rankle.

Tim and Lisa in happier times

Ostensibly a staunch supporter of her leader up to and during the election, now Ms. MacLeod, a rumoured leadership hopeful, has dramatically changed her tune. In an op-ed in today’s Toronto Star, entitled Ontario Tories need fresh leadership, she offers the (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: Wynne Wins

We know Kathleen Wynne likes to run, but this spring she was running against 10 years of baggage, a widespread time for a change sentiment, and more scandals than the opposition could fit in a 30-second TV spot. Luckily, she was also running against Tim Hudak.

Given these challenges, the election was Hudak’s for the taking (or Horwath’s – more on that later). Out of the gate, he claimed control of the agenda, dominating the headlines every day. This was a page out of the Harper 2005 Playbook, when he took a break from Gomery to announce his (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Red in Central Canada, blue in Ottawa an immutable rule that favours Harper’s Tories? Don’t bet on it!

Is Justin Trudeau finished because Kathleen Wynne just won in Ontario, like the mainstream media’s pundits are telling you? Don’t be too sure! (Say, as one Twitter commenter asked, who is that old man with Mr. Trudeau?) Below: The same guy with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Weird! Below them: Lawrence Martin and Tim Harper.

It’s certainly true that the Ontario Liberals are going to miss Progressive Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak. He was a gift that kept on giving.

But their federal cousins, and the federal NDP as well, can take comfort. They still have Stephen Harper.

So it’s (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Waitin’ for the end of the world … Hear, O Ontario! Mr. Manning will be with you momentarily

Preston Manning readies himself before the mirror of his Seventh Floor office at the Prophetic Market Institute in Calgary, the Calgary skyline in the background obscured by a June rainstorm, one of those June rainstorms, as he ponders the frightening meaning of last Thursday’s Ontario election. Actual Alberta market fundamentalists and the names of their institutions may not appear exactly as illustrated or stated. Below: The real Mr. Manning and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: I can’t blame the NDP for the election call

Despite being a nonpartisan lefty, during the campaign I wasn’t particularly kind to the NDP. I derided the choice to call an election as a gamble that risked either a fairly horrible outcome (Hudak forming government), or a relatively small loss (slightly less influence within a majority Liberal government) for a relatively small gain (slightly more influence within a minority Liberal government). I wasn’t impressed with their “small” platform. And I wasn’t impressed with their strategy.

However, despite this negativity from me, at the end of the day I can’t really blame the NDP for calling an election, even if (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Ontario election: OK, that didn’t really work … can we get back to being New Democrats now?

Ontario’s victorious Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne last summer. Below: Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

Well! That didn’t work out quite as well as we’d hoped, did it? Can we get back to being New Democrats now?

I speak, of course, of the results of last night’s Ontario provincial election – in which it seems to me from my vantage point out here on the Great Plains that there are lessons in the vote for New Democrats in the west and the New Democrats in Ottawa too.

I realize that the great Canadian tradition of (Read more…)