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Greens’ St. Paddy’s wish: More green for green initiatives

TORONTO, ON (March 17, 2008) – The Green Party of Ontario brought a touch of green to Queen’s Park today, just hours before the Legislature rose for its first session in 2008. Leader Frank de Jong joined Deputy Leader Melanie Mullen for a press conference to highlight their party’s priorities for the provincial budget, which will be unveiled on March 25.

“The wearing of the green is traditional for St. Patrick’s Day,” de Jong said. “But our government is wearing a rather pale and unflattering shade of green these days. We are here to offer our ideas for a stronger and enduring green future for Ontario.”

At the top of the Green Party’s list of priorities: Reducing the Province’s reliance on dirty energy sources such as coal and an end to heavily subsidized nuclear energy. De Jong expressed dismay that the McGuinty Government recently invited four energy firms to submit bids for the construction of new nuclear power plants in Ontario.

“Our government is trying to scare us into thinking the lights will go out if we don’t pour billions and billions of taxpayer dollars into new nuclear plants. It’s unconscionable!” de Jong said. “There are other, better ways to meet our electricity demands, including renewable energy sources and conservation. Ontarians deserve to get the best value for our money and our children and grandchildren deserve a safe and healthy future.”

Mullen pointed out that it will cost Ontario taxpayers over $40 billion to bring the planned nuclear reactors online and to upgrade the grid to support the new power plants. Instead, the Green Party believes Ontario should implement a true-cost pricing plan for electricity to encourage efficiency and invest $16 billion over 15 years in conservation and demand-management programs.

“Ontario has the potential to become the most energy efficient jurisdiction in North America,” Mullen said. “But we need to support and encourage our citizens’ ingenuity and innovation. Their success will not only solve our energy problems, but also boost Ontario’s global competitiveness and ensure its future economic success.”

Mullen points out that, by committing Ontario to nuclear power for the next 50 years, the McGuinty government is causing Ontario to miss out on many new green jobs.

“In Europe, Asia and even the United States, new, innovative, green companies are emerging to help build a cleaner and safer energy future for the world. Instead of encouraging Ontario’s participation, the Liberals are more interested in placating the nuclear lobby, which stands to make a fortune at taxpayers’ expense.”

De Jong emphasized that Ontario is at a crossroads in its history and that we need strong and visionary leadership to guide us into the future. “The ramifications of missing out on the next great global economic boom will be devastating for a province that prides itself on the competitiveness of its highly skilled and educated workforce. We will lose jobs as a result of this decision.”

De Jong lauded British Columbia for becoming the first jurisdiction to implement a carbon tax, a key tenet of the Green Party’s sustainability plans for Ontario.

“Ontario should follow B.C.’s lead by introducing its own carbon levy as part of a larger tax shifting policy to fight climate change and air pollution,” he said. “We should be paying less tax on our personal and business incomes and more tax on the resources we consume. It’s the fairest and most effective way to stimulate the economy and encourage investment.”

“A carbon tax will help reduce greenhouse gases while encouraging a greener, more efficient and more sustainable economy.”

De Jong and Mullen also outlined their party’s vision to encourage and support the local production, distribution and consumption of food in Ontario. Specifically, they petitioned the government to invest in infrastructure programs designed to foster local marketing and distribution systems that promote local sustainable food and provide farmers with a fair share of the consumer food dollar.

De Jong also expressed the Green Party’s desire to expand the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program to compensate farmers for the public benefits of the ecological goods and services that they provide.

For more information about the Green Party of Ontario, please visit www.gpo.ca.

Les souhaits des Verts lors de la Saint Patrick : plus de vert dans les initiatives vertes

TORONTO, ON (17 mars 2008) – Le Parti Vert de l’Ontario a ajouté une touche verte à Queen’s Park aujourd’hui, peu de temps avant l’ouverture de la première session législative ontarienne de 2008. Son chef Frank de Jong et sa chef adjointe Mélanie Mullen ont donné une conférence de presse qui leur a permis de cerner les priorités de leur parti quant au budget provincial qui sera dévoilé le 25 mars prochain.

« C’est traditionnel de porter du vert le jour de la Saint Patrick, » a dit de Jong. « Malheureusement notre gouvernement actuel porte des habits vert pâle et peu flatteurs. Nous sommes ici pour lui offrir nos idées, pour établir en Ontario un futur vert beaucoup plus robuste. »

La toute première priorité du Parti Vert de l’Ontario est de réduire la dépendance envers une source d’énergie particulièrement sale, le charbon, et une autre qui est subventionnée de façon massive, l’énergie nucléaire. De Jong est consterné par l’invitation lancée par le gouvernement McGuinty à quatre compagnies de soumettre des propositions pour la construction de nouvelles centrales nucléaires en Ontario.

« Notre gouvernement veut nous faire peur et nous inciter à croire que nous n’arriverons plus à nous éclairer à moins de verser des milliards et des milliards de dollars des contribuables dans de nouvelles centrales nucléaires. Ça dépasse l’entendement! » a dit de Jong. « Il y a bien d’autres façons de répondre à nos besoins énergétiques, en produisant l’électricité de sources renouvelables ou en la conservant, par exemple. Les ontariens et ontariennes attendent mieux de leurs leaders, et nos enfants et petits-enfants ont droit à un avenir sécuritaire et sain. »

Mullen a fait remarquer qu’il en coûtera environ 40 milliards de dollars pour construire ces centrales nucléaires, pour s’assurer qu’elles marchent bien, et pour améliorer le système de distribution électrique qui acheminera l’énergie produite par ces nouvelles centrales. Le Parti Vert de l’Ontario préconise une alternative, celle de faire en sorte que les coûts entiers de la production et distribution d’électricité soient reflétés dans son prix afin d’encourager l’efficacité du système. Cette solution inciterait des investissements de 16 milliards de dollars dans des programmes de conservation et de contrôle de la demande.

« L’Ontario a le potentiel de devenir une des régions les plus efficaces d’Amérique du nord, en terme de production électrique, » déclare Mullen. « Mais nous devons appuyer et encourager l’innovation et l’ingénuité de ceux et celles d’entre nous qui proposent des solutions durables. Leurs succès peuvent non seulement résoudre les problèmes énergétiques mais également augmenter la compétivité de ce secteur à l’échelle mondiale et assurer un succès économique durable. »

Mullen signale qu’en engageant l’Ontario dans la voie nucléaire pour les 50 prochaines années, le gouvernement McGuinty coupe à la province la possibilité de se doter de nombreux nouveaux emplois verts.

« En Europe, en Asie et même aux États-Unis, des entreprises vertes et innovatrices commencent à percer afin d’aider à mettre sur pied un futur énergétique propre et sécuritaire. Au lieu d’encourager la participation de l’Ontario dans cette mouvance, les Libéraux sont plus intéressés à apaiser le lobby nucléaire, qui va faire fortune sur le dos des contribuables. »

De Jong insiste sur le fait que l’Ontario entre dans une phase décisive de son histoire et qu’il nous faut un leadership visionaire pour nous guider. « Manquer le prochain essor économique pourrait être dévastateur pour une province dont la main-d’oeuvre a toujours été à la fine pointe de la compétivité. Nous allons perdre des emplois à cause de cette décision. »

De Jong applaudit la Colombie Britannique qui est le premier gouvernement canadien à mettre en avant la taxe carbone, un principe clé pour mettre en oeuvre un projet de société écologiquement durable, d’après le Parti Vert de l’Ontario.

« L’Ontario devrait suivre l’exemple de la C.-B. et introduire ses propres impôts sur le carbone, tout en déplaçant certaines taxes afin de combattre les changements climatiques et la pollution de l’air, » a-t-il dit. « Nous devrions payer moins d’impôts sur les revenus personnels ou corporatifs, et plus sur les ressources que nous utilisons. C’est le système le plus juste et le plus efficace pour stimuler l’économie et encourager les investissements. »

« Une taxe carbone réduirait les gaz à effet de serre tout en encourageant une économie plus verte, plus efficace et plus durable. »

De Jong et Mullen ont également décrit la vision de leur parti, qui est d’encourager et d’appuyer la production, la distribution et la consommation locale d’aliments à travers l’Ontario. Ils ont recommandé au gouvernement d’investir dans de programmes d’infrastructure visant à favoriser la vente et la distribution locale des produits du terroir cultivés de manière écologiques. Ces programmes devraient également assurer aux cultivateurs des revenus équitables.

De Jong a tenu à rappeler que le Parti Vert désire également un accroissement du système d’utilisation rationnel des terres, visant à compenser les cultivateurs pour les bénéfices publics découlant des services écologiques qu’ils fournissent.

Pour obtenir plus d’information au sujet du Parti Vert de l’Ontario, veuillez visiter www.gpo.ca.

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Contact médiatique :

Mary-Margaret Jones

Parti Vert de l’Ontario

416-909-5911

mmjones@gpo.ca

End to hydro rate subsidy urged

Tyler Hamilton
TORONTO STAR

An
environmental research group says $5 billion annually that goes toward
subsidizing Ontario electricity rates should be completely eliminated
over the next 10 years and instead given back to citizens in the form
of an annual hydro rebate.

Such a move would cause electricity
rates to rise 35 per cent over that time, but the Ontario Clean Air
Alliance argues that higher power costs would encourage more homeowners
and businesses to conserve energy and force industry to operate more
efficiently.

“If you want to promote energy efficiency you don’t
subsidize the price of electricity, you’ve got to raise it,” said Jack
Gibbons, lead author of the study, called “Tax Shift: Eliminating
Subsidies and Moving to Full Cost Electricity Pricing.”

He said
more people are likely to ease off on their air conditioners, turn out
the lights, and purchase EnergyStar products if they see a 35 per cent
hike on the power bill.

At the same time, the province should
take the billions of dollars it would save by eliminating the subsidies
and give it back to citizens in the form of an annual hydro rebate
amounting to $386 for each person in the province, the group proposes.

Such
a rebate would more than offset higher power bills in the typical
household. A family of four, for example, would get back $1,544 under
the plan compared to the $503 increase the average home would see on
its electricity bill – excluding any savings through personal
conservation efforts.

“It’s true that one could use the (annual)
tax reduction to pay for one’s status quo level of electricity
consumption, but that is not likely to happen,” Gibbons said. “For
example, when you get a $1,500 pay increase, you don’t typically spend
one-third of that on increased electricity consumption.”

The
study, funded by a number of philanthropic organizations – including
the EJLB Foundation and the Laidlaw Foundation – identified a number of
subsidies that keep electricity rates in the province artificially low.

Read the full article online at the Toronto Star.

Download the report by clicking on the link below.

 

Why your grocery bill is about to hurt

Charlie Gillis
MACLEAN’S

After five years watching the cycles of feast and famine in West
Africa, Margie Morard had some clearly formed ideas about what drives
food prices in her part of the world. War, floods, droughts — these are
the things that used to determine the cost of bread in Freetown or
Timbuktu, says the representative for British Oxfam, who monitors food
security in 10 countries lying southwest of the Sahara Desert. That and
myopia. In sub-Saharan Africa, boom harvests tend to result in
cash-hungry farmers flooding street markets with cheap corn and rice,
while lean years see brokers ruthlessly hoard grain in anticipation of
a big payday. The extremes can produce heartbreaking scenes of
deprivation, says Morard; widespread begging, gaunt children with
distended stomachs, families on the move in search of food. But at
least they tend to be predictable.

Then, last summer, a dynamic
took hold that neither fickle weather nor the greed of cynical
middlemen could adequately explain. In the dust-blown streets of
Mauritania, the cost of a bag of wheat flour doubled within a few short
weeks. In Niger, a country already riven by poverty and rebellion, the
price of staples like corn and soya sailed into the stratosphere, as
they did in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. Odd, because it hadn’t
been a particularly poor harvest year. And hunger quickly fermented
into anger. By November, food riots were breaking out in Nouakchott,
the Mauritanian capital, as residents found themselves priced out of
basic supplies. “This is putting people in a very tight bind,” said
Morard from her office in Dakar, another city that saw street protests,
also over food, in November. “It’s affecting all of West Africa.”

West Africa, it turns out, and the rest of the world. With
the global supply of cereal grains falling to 40-year lows, and with
consumption trending ever upward, the earth’s supply of food is
suddenly under pressures unknown in half a century. Two weeks ago,
wheat prices hit an all-time high of US$18.53 a bushel, while corn,
driven in part by demand from the biofuel industry, climbed to $5.34 a
bushel, more than double the average price before 2007. The political
repercussions have been swift, and in some cases violent. In Mexico,
about 70,000 people hit the streets to protest the doubling and
tripling price of tortillas. Chinese officials are warning that rising
rice and corn prices could lead to civil unrest in rural areas. Even
the food-rich West is starting to feel the pinch. In September, rising
pasta prices, a direct function of the soaring value of wheat, sent
Italians flooding city squares in Rome, Milan and Palermo to
demonstrate. In the United States, the skyrocketing cost of chicken and
cattle feed is hitting the pocketbooks of consumers at all points of
the economic spectrum. Milk, eggs and filet mignon are all going up. So
is Kraft Dinner.

This escalation has been sudden enough to
start a heated debate about exactly how much cause there is to panic.
Is the recent price bump due, as some argue, to passing or localized
phenomena, like Australian droughts or the biofuel fad? Or is it rooted
in longer-term forces that augur sustained and potentially distastrous
shortages? After all, many of the conditions necessary to make the food
armageddonists’ predictions come true are now upon us. Water is scarce,
fossil fuels are prohibitively expensive, fish stocks are near collapse
and the world adds 80 million people every year. To that, you can now
add global warming, which agronomists say is drying up vulnerable
countries where farmlands depend on rain.

And then there’s
China. With ever greater purchasing power, Asian consumers are moving
toward the higher-protein, better-tasting, meat-laden diet westerners
have enjoyed for decades. Producing all that beef, pork and eggs
requires vast quantities of grain that might otherwise be used to feed
people. “On the amount of grain fed each year to cattle in the United
States, you could feed 850 million people as vegetarians,” says David
Pimentel, a Cornell University agricultural scientist who studies the
global food economy. “That’s not a value judgment. It’s a fact.”

The
result has been a lesson in the interconnectedness of the modern food
economy. In Canada, where the soaring loonie has cushioned the effect
of climbing costs, the price of bread is still up nearly 10 per cent
over last year, while flour has doubled in value since last summer. In
Britain, grocery prices are up 6.6 per cent over 2007, and Europe has
seen similiar inflation — pasta prices have climbed 20 per cent and
more expensive grain is making it difficult for dairy farmers to make
ends meet. Even those entrusted to keep an eye on food supplies appear
to have been caught off guard. Just 18 months ago, the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was dismissing
concerns about the world’s grain reserves plunging to near-historic
lows, telling Canada’s National Farmer’s Union “the global supply and
demand balance is not in danger.” By Jan. 11, the agency had performed
the PR equivalent of a flat-wing spin, declaiming an “unforeseen and
unexpected” decline in supply that created a “very serious risk that
fewer people will be able to get food.”

Read the full article online at Macleans.ca.

Granting legal rights to nature

Andrew
Chung
TORONTO STAR

When the Halton regional council handed the centuries-old oak tree a death
sentence because it stood in the way of the Bronte Rd. widening, Joyce Burnell
had to pay to save it.

She needed to raise more than $300,000 to have the road paved around the
tree, instead of over top of it.

But what if that ancient tree, gnarled but beautiful and a healthy eight
storeys tall, had its own inviolable legal rights – a right to exist, for
instance – that, at the very least, Halton council would have had to consider
before it made the decision to cut it down?

“Well, 95 per cent of people would probably think of us as crazy, to think of
trees in that manner,” Burnell, 87, says. “But I agree with it. You see a tree
by itself, and you don’t realize it’s that big. You have to get out of your car
and walk up and touch it. Then you realize that it has survived three centuries.
It just seems they do have life, so I think it’s a good idea.”

She adds with a giggle, “It could fight for itself, sue the people who want
to take it down.”

Well, it could certainly have somebody act on its behalf, to fight for its
right to live. There would have to be a weighty hearing, balancing the needs of
the tree and its desire for survival, with the need for the region to widen the
road at the expense of the tree’s existence.

Granting legal rights to nature, such as animals, trees, rivers and forests,
is a growing concept in environmental law – if not as explicit as giving a goat
in the Rocky Mountains legal standing in a Banff courtroom, then as a basic idea
upon which the field is expanding in our statutes and in legal bodies.

Read the full article online at the Toronto Star.

Dead plant walking

Catherine Porter
Tyler Hamilton
TORONTO STAR

NANTICOKE, Ont.–Travelling south along Route 55, there are few warning signs
you are approaching the country’s most-wanted polluter. The rolling hills are
decorated with languorous cows. Poultry barns and corn silos flash by. A farmer
in a baseball cap fishes out his mail from a rusty box.

It’s a picture of Ontario pastoral, except for the menacing procession of
transmission towers that look like giant metal scarecrows flashing through the
trees. They lead down to Lake Erie, gleaming silver in the winter sun, and to a
black mountain and two tall, puffing smokestacks. As you get closer, you can
pick out what appear to be miniature yellow trucks climbing the mountain’s
switchbacks. And finally, the sign: Ontario Power Generation. No
Trespassing.

This is the Nanticoke electricity plant. It has the dubious honour of being
both Ontario’s leading spewer of toxic emissions that cause acid rain and smog,
and the country’s biggest source of greenhouse gases – those villainous brews
causing the atmosphere to warm.

For years, it’s been on death row, first sentenced by the Ontario government
to dismantlement in 2007, then 2009, and now 2014.

Read the full story online at the Toronto Star.

Could market bust spell green boom?

Peter Gorrie
ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

This week, stock markets thrashed wildly, the Bank of Canada warned
of tough economic times, and the United States languished on recession
watch. Environmentalists aren’t sure whether to grin or groan at this
avalanche of gloomy news.

Common wisdom is that the environment
is a good-times issue, a luxury. When the economy tanks, so do thoughts
of turning green. That happened in the early 1980s and again a decade
later when economic booms turned to busts.

But it’s not that cut
and dried. With little hard evidence to go on, good arguments can be
made that a recession is either good or bad for the environment.

While
some argue that households or companies that want to prosper should go
green, in a recession individuals can’t spend on energy-saving
appliances or major home retrofits.

Shoppers are more likely to
choose cheap factory-farmed foods over more expensive organic products
and donations to environment groups tumble.

The tendency is to think of short-term economic survival rather than longer-range benefits.

Read the full article online at the Toronto Star.

Where cancer-causing agents lurk

By Nancy White
TORONTO STAR

First off, Devra Davis won’t do the interview on her cellphone.

Call me back on the land line, she instructs. It’s not the money she’s concerned about. It’s the microwaves.

She’s also concerned about drinking diet pop, wearing a lot of cosmetics and eating non-organic red meat.

But
make no mistake: she’s not some trendy health-scare type. She’s a
blue-chip cancer epidemiologist, director of the Center for
Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
with a Grade A scientific pedigree: a PhD from the University of
Chicago, a decade at the National Academy of Sciences, an author of
more than 170 published articles.

And she’s worried about her environmental exposure to cancer.

“Everyone
has to start where they’re comfortable, taking control of their own
homes,” says Davis, who will be the keynote speaker at Women’s College
Hospital’s health forum Friday. “Then they have to make sure they vote
for politicians who understand the importance of this issue.”

This issue is how we’ve let modern life, from the air we breathe to the products we use, poison our bodies.

Read the full article online at the Toronto Star.

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