May 3, 2022
By Mark Winfield, Professor, Environmental and Urban Change, York University, Canada
With Ontarians heading to the polls on June 2, Premier Doug Ford government’s advertising campaigns are ramping up.
The government’s environmental credentials, notably its recent investments in “greening” the steel sector and in electric vehicle manufacturing, have figured prominently in its messages.
This focus comes as something of a surprise to those familiar with the Ford government’s record on environmental issues, which has moved the province’s approach to environmental problems backwards by half a century or more.
The major features of the Ford government’s performance on the environment are well known.
- Dismantled the previous government’s relatively comprehensive climate change strategy immediately following the June 2018 election.
- Lost a battle on carbon pricing with the federal government before the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Cancelled more than 700 renewable energy projects at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and terminated the province’s largely successful strategy on energy efficiency.
- Rewritten the planning rules at provincial and local levels to favour developers.
- Aggressively pushed for proposals for sprawl-inducing highways through the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Greenbelt and tried to open parts of the greenbelt to developers.
- Undermined the authority of conservation authorities with respect to areas prone to flooding.
- Weakened protections for endangered species, particularly with respect to resource development.
- Repealed the province’s toxics use reduction legislation.
- Dismantled the province’s regulatory framework for controlling industrial water pollution.
- Folded the province’s previously independent environmental commissioner into the office of the auditor general.
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