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© Lora Denis
On June 4, 2012, Ontario Nature will be supporting a national campaign called Black Out Speak Out. On this day, environmental organizations and other supporters across the country will darken their websites in protest against efforts to silence Canadians who speak up in defence of environmental protection.
This campaign is in reaction to the federal government’s budget implementation bill (Bill C-38), which contains a jaw-dropping range of amendments to environmental legislation that are entirely unrelated to fiscal matters.
Now, consider a similar budget bill, introduced by the provincial government here in Ontario. This is Bill-55, and it, too, includes a list of amendments to laws governing environmental protection, many of which will have a profoundly negative impact on conservation efforts.
Specifically, the Liberal government is proposing changes that will seriously weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will undermine key protective measures originally written to keep plants, animals and ecosystems from disappearing from Ontario altogether. Other changes will negatively impact the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.
Moreover, hiding these kinds of amendments in a budget bill sidesteps the public’s right to participate in proposed changes to environmental laws. Normal procedure is that environmental amendments are posted under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) registry for comment. We might not exercise this right often, but the fact is that each of us can make a submission regarding a suggested alteration to the rules determining what happens to our shared natural environment.
We object to the amendments in the budget bill that will strike at the heart of the ESA and provincial parks legislation. The Liberal government should stand by its own legislation.
And we object to the Province’s approach, circumventing the EBR. The EBR was created in 1993 because the government of the day recognized that all of us have a right to a healthy environment. We still have that right and we are asking Queen’s Park to recognize it.
Dear Ontario Nature,
I admire your organization and the fact that it stands up for something that so often doesnâ€™t have a voice; protecting species at risk and natural lands. That is why I want to take the opportunity to ask you and your followers for your support in a matter that is of great importance to us in North Eastern Ontario.
In your work, you understand the importance of giving our youth the opportunity to discover the wonders of nature. I strongly believe that when a child learns to appreciate the natural world, he is more likely to gain a sense of responsibility towards protecting it.
When it comes to building lasting relationships between people and their natural environment, there is no better place than in our Ontario Provincial Parks. Iâ€™ve always been a believer in Ontario Parks, thatâ€™s why I was shocked when I learned that next summer, 8 of our Northeastern Provincial Parks will be closed to campers due to the recent transformation plan adopted by the Ministry of Natural Resources. The devastating effect this will have on our local economy is enough to be upset; but there is another negative consequence that really concerns me. This will deprive the regionâ€™s future generation of opportunities to discover nature.
Learning about nature in class or playing for an hour in the yard is not enough. Camping in a provincial park and sharing our love for nature is part of our Northern Ontario culture. The government needs to reassess its priorities and reverse its decision before the November 13 deadline. We will continue the fight to maintain the right to camp in our own parks; we need our parks in order to continue giving our youth the opportunity to develop a meaningful connection with nature. We are currently sending letters to the Minister of Natural Resources and leaving comments on the EBR site (registry no. 011-6751) and we are looking to gain province-wide awareness.
In a world where environmental protection doesnâ€™t have the importance it deserves in the priorities of our government, the most we can hope for is that it becomes a greater priority for the future generations.
Member of Friends of RenÃ© Brunelle Provincial Park
Great! Thanks for your support.
Finally! A way to voice our displeasure at the Liberal railroading. Thank you for this timely post. I’m in.