MEDIA RELEASE: Citizens Demand Consultations Under Ontario’s Environment Bill of Rights

MEDIA RELEASE: Citizens Demand Consultations Under Ontario’s Environment Bill of Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2018  Media Contact: Cathy Orlando, cathy@citizensclimatelobby.org , 705-929-4043

 

SUDBURY: On July 18, 2018, the Canadian Environmental Law Association submitted an Environmental Bill of Rights application requesting a review of Premier Doug Ford’s July 6th application (EBR Registry Number: 013-3221) to dismantle Ontario’s Cap and Trade program without consulting the people, which is in contravention of section 30 of the Ontario Bill of Rights.

“It is our right as Ontarians to be consulted. In fact, it is a very precious right since Ontario is one of only two jurisdictions in the world with participatory rights under an Environmental Bill of Rights,” says Cathy Orlando, National Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “In the 1990’s fine legal minds and civil society set Ontario on a path to protect our environment and it is something we all must protect.”

Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) was passed by the legislature of Ontario, Canada in 1993. Under the EBR, Ontarians have the right to:

In Canada, the environment is also protected under these various laws: the Northwest Territories’ Environmental Rights Act (1998) and the Yukon’s Environment Act (2002). In 2006, Quebec amended its provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to include the right to a healthy environment.

Internationally, the rights of the natural environment have been legally recognized in countries such as BoliviaEcuador, and New Zealand and have allowed for the protection of the environment from harm. Entities such as environmental groups have been able to utilize these rights to successfully advocate on behalf of impacted ecosystems.

Although change is happening quite rapidly in this area, to our current knowledge, only Ontario and New Zealand have a type of environmental legislation with similar participatory rights requiring public consultation.

As the late Gord Downie said, “This is our air and our water, these things belong to us. Every licence to pollute, every environmental impact, must be considered carefully and publicly. These are our environmental rights, rights as important as any others, rights that must be respected.”

“Contravening the Ontario Bill of Rights is not the actions of a government that calls itself the ‘People’s Government’”, says Orlando. “They should be open to listening to the people, should they not? The climate crisis is serious and most economists agree that carbon pricing is the most economically efficient means to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy. However, their current dialing back on changes to the sex education curriculum in our province shows us they are open to listening and we thus have hopes that they can change their mind.”

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