Under the cover of the COVID emergency, Doug Ford is selling out the environment. Martin Regg Cohn writes:
Under cover of COVID-19, Premier Doug Ford has been selling out the environment and selling it off to the highest bidder with underhanded tactics:
Environmental issues transcend the merely political and ideological. For this premier it is pathological.
He will be remembered as Ontario’s least green premier in a generation — going back to the days of his now notorious predecessor, Mike Harris.
Ford is leading a three-pronged attack on Ontario's environment:
It begins with the loosening of the Greenbelt, a band of protected farmland, forests, rivers and lakes. Ford has outdone himself by recycling a defeated, Harris-era politician named Norm Sterling to head the Greenbelt Council.
Perhaps no one else could be found to fill the big shoes of the previous Greenbelt Commission chair, former Toronto mayor David Crombie. A former federal Tory cabinet minister, Crombie resigned in protest last year over the Ford government’s meddling by issuing a call to action:
This is high-level bombing and needs to be resisted.”
Crombie’s reputation as Toronto’s “tiny perfect mayor” lives on. By contrast, Sterling is coming back from the political dead with his stature infinitely diminished.
The fraying of the Greenbelt fits a broader pattern. Ford’s PCs used their majority muscle last December to disempower 36 local conservation authorities while emboldening local developers.
The second part of Ford's assault has been his crusade against carbon pricing:
By dismantling the existing “cap and trade” program he automatically triggered a federal carbon levy at the pump to make up for the province’s non-compliance.
Thus, our allegedly anti-tax premier got us the “carbon tax” we’d never had (cap and trade was working well). Then our supposedly penny-pinching premier budgeted $30 million to challenge the federal levy, hitting every taxpayer in the pocket.
And, finally, Ford is backing the construction of a highway and disregarding the environmental assessment which construction of the project requires:
This week the federal government stepped in, bigfooting Queen’s Park with an environmental assessment for Hwy. 413 that the province couldn’t bring itself to do properly. Ottawa’s intervention contrasts sharply with Ontario’s determination to fast-track the route that would raze 2,000 acres of farmland and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan.
Add all of this to Ford's response to COVID, and the picture becomes crystal clear. Ford is simply incompetent -- a danger to the public health and the public good.
Image: The Toronto Star