Influence of big money from developers in Ontario politics is dangerous and damaging to species at risk
TORONTO – Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says it’s time to end the dangerous and damaging influence of big money from developers in provincial politics, starting by reversing the Liberal government’s decision to gut the Endangered Species Act.
“We need to eliminate the loopholes that allow industry insiders to kill endangered species,” said Schreiner. “It is outrageous that the Liberals put their developer friends before people and planet.”
Between pressures of development and climate change, Ontario is losing species at an alarming rate. This will accelerate if the Liberals move forward with recommendations to eliminate the need for development approvals to engage in destructive environmental practices.
In her 2017 report, Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe said the government’s approach is “undermining the survival” of the more than 200 species considered ‘at risk’ in Ontario.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario found that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry did not say no to even one of the 3,000 requests to harm species or habitat.
“Endangered species can’t hire lobbyists or write big campaign cheques the same way as developers do,” said Schreiner. “We need political leadership that stands up to industry insiders and puts people first.”
“The ministry also turns a blind eye to whether proponents comply with these weakened rules,” said Saxe. “Making it worse, the ministry keeps the public in the dark about what activities it allows.”
Schreiner noted the Ministry of the Environment estimates Ontario’s ecosystems provide $84 billion a year worth of services, and said the province can’t afford to lose species at risk.
“The Liberals have put the profits of developers, gravel pit owners, and mining companies ahead of the places we love and the lives of the creatures with whom we share Ontario,” he said.
“Endangered species are not luxuries,” added Schreiner. “Endangered species live in habitats that help clean the air and water, provide us with food and fuel, and give us the forests, lakes and rivers that makes Ontario such an awesome place to live.”