Liberal government playing political games with climate innovation

The climate crisis is too real and too serious for the Liberals to play election games with climate policy.  

Yesterday’s announcement of $300 million to fund ideas for reducing greenhouse gas pollution to be disbursed after the June election is more about politics than about addressing the climate crisis we face. Applications for the funding are due before the election in May, and funding is presumably dependent on re-electing the Liberals.

“People are sick and tired of the political games at Queen’s Park,” said Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. “We are experiencing the costs of climate change right now and political games won’t solve the crisis.”

The government’s GreenON Challenge amounts to one percent of what the Liberals are wasting on their (un)Fair Hydro Plan to buy their way out of yet another Liberal scandal. If the Liberals were serious about fighting climate change, they would be using the billions they are spending to temporarily lower electricity rates on climate action.

“Borrowing billions to subsidize electricity primarily benefits the rich, undermines the province’s climate goals, and does nothing to fix the mess the Liberals have made of the electricity system,” said Schreiner. “Taking billions away from health care, education, and climate action to buy a Hydro band-aid is a political game that will hurt people and planet. Greens will continue to fight against these kinds of political games.”

The Green Party of Ontario is the only party with a serious and well-planned climate change strategy that will build the low-carbon economy that Ontarians and future generations need.

Grassy Narrows needs local Mercury Home and Treatment Centre

TORONTO – The Green Party of Ontario fully supports the call by the people of Grassy Narrows for construction of a local Mercury Home and Treatment Centre to help the survivors of decades of mercury poisoning in the First Nations community.

GPO Leader Mike Schreiner says Grassy Narrows residents should not have to travel to distant health facilities, where they report intense loneliness and alienation because they are separated from their families, their community and their culture.

“It is shameful that successive Ontario governments ignored the devastating impact of mercury poisoning on the people of Grassy Narrows. We owe them proper treatment close to home,” said Schreiner. “It is wrong to force people to travel hundreds of kilometres to receive the health care they deserve.”

Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister has said researchers have concluded that more than 90 per cent of the people in Grassy Narrows and the nearby Wabaseemoong (White Dog) First Nation have symptoms of mercury poisoning, including neurological problems and birth defects.

A 2016 report, recently published by The Toronto Star, found mercury contamination in the area has lingered for decades and likely still does, despite repeated assurances from public officials over the years that there was no ongoing source of mercury in local rivers.

As scientists sounded the alarm that the neurotoxin was poisoning the fish and the people who eat it, “government official after government official kept repeating that there was no ongoing source of mercury in the Wabigoon River that is the lifeblood of Grassy Narrows,” reported the Star.

“It was a betrayal for successive provincial governments to hide the fact they knew mercury was still present at a former paper mill in Dryden. We can not tolerate environmental racism in Ontario,” said Schreiner.

“No one wants to live in a province that allows people to be poisoned.”

The mercury contamination also destroyed the local economy by forcing the closure of the commercial fishing industry. The Liberals must take real action to clean up the mercury contamination.

“How can the Grassy Narrows First Nation thrive when the river they rely on for water, food and their economy continues to be poisoned by mercury?” asked Schreiner.

The Green Party will continue to support the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations to make sure the government fulfills its duty to them.

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