Leader's Blog - The End Doesn't Justify the Means

July 27, 2010It was late June. I was on a cable TV panel talking about environmental legislation, the Greenbelt, and the gas generation peaker plant in King Township when fellow panelist Rod Northey brilliantly captured what is wrong with governments ramming legislation and regulations through without due process. A clip of his comments from that interview is posted here.

This morning, like many of you, I read a front page story about how a controversial G20 police measure was rubber-stamped with at least 116 orders-in-council (OIC) at an end-of-session Cabinet committee last month. That too is a form of abuse of process.

There is a real fear the government might do it again this week at its last session of the “Legs and Regs” Committee before September. CAUTION. We want to send a clear message to the Premier and to all members of caucus and that Committee: Don’t repeat the mistake of ramming things through without full attention to and consideration of its ramifications.

I don’t know the agenda for the Cabinet Committee nor the length of the list of proposed OICs at this time, but talk is the G20 scenario is expected to be repeated. In the pile is a regulation to circumvent the Planning Act, the first use of the regulation, to give a green light to a power plant project in King Township that has been the subject of a flawed process and may not even meet environmental and planning standards and guidelines. We can’t be sure because so much of the process has been circumvented, bypassed or ignored.

The power plant could have been built in any of 8 other sites throughout the Region. Instead, a site that is in the protected countryside of the Greenbelt, is part of the provincial government’s designated Ansnorveldt complex wetlands, is linked to the eco system of the Holland Marsh and is less than 400 metres from a heritage hamlet’s church and elementary school. Did I mention it’s also on a flood plain?

It was Northey, the much-respected, award-winning, municipal planning and environmental lawyer, who stated it best when commenting that this simple act of misusing this regulation, in a manner contrary to its own enabling legislation, could forever impact Greenbelt legislation and numerous other pieces of environmental and planning legislation. This sets a dangerous precedent for the entire province and every municipality. Northey went on, that in his view, this could serve to destroy any hope of a green legacy from the McGuinty government’s changes to the planning process in Ontario.

Why? Dalton McGuinty is a nice guy. How could he and his Cabinet put this legacy at risk just to push through a gas generation plant that can’t meet its operational start-up date any way? Also, in the expert opinion of consultants and lawyers hired by King Township, the plant should NOT be built on the designated site. It’s the nanny-state mentality. It is the “Dalt-Knows-Best” attitude to ram it through and dismiss the local citizens raising legitimate concerns as NIMBYS. WRONG. It’s very wrong.

The legal action I am taking with local residents to request a Judicial Review of process will serve the government too. There’s time to get it right. The plaintiffs I have joined are not anti-power, but they are opposed to abuse of process. The end doesn’t justify the means. Our action will NOT delay the government from taking us off coal by 2014. It will permit all involved to review what’s gone wrong and get it right.

Come on. Don’t ram this regulation through with hundreds of OICs using the same process that gave us something more Draconian than the War Measures Act.

It’s time for GREEN THUMBS UP to stopping this insanity and to have the McGuinty Government abide by its own legislation, policies and public commitments.