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© Lora Denis
As we head towards the next provincial election on June 2, the results of a survey conducted by the Green Prosperity groups will be of interest. We asked the four major political parties to describe their plans for ensuring a prosperous, healthy and sustainable province. Have a look at their answers:
With respect to protected areas specifically we asked: “Will your party commit to protecting 30% of Ontario’s lands and waters by 2030, in keeping with Canada’s international commitments?” Here’s what they had to say:
Ontario PC Response: No answer received yet.
Ontario NDP Response: Ontarians are proud of our province’s vast forests, pristine farmland and abundant freshwater. But these resources are increasingly at risk. In the last 100 years, the province has lost 73 per cent of its natural habitats, including forests, fields, wetlands and marshes. An NDP government will work with Indigenous peoples and the federal government, as well as community, business and environmental stakeholders, to meet Canada’s 2030 target of 30% protection.
Ontario Liberal Party Response: Yes. An Ontario Liberal government will designate 30% of Ontario’s land and water as protected areas by 2030 in alignment with Canada’s international commitments.
Green Party of Ontario Response: Yes. As our Roadmap to Net Zero shows, Ontario Greens will protect 25% of Ontario by 2025 and 30% by 2030, especially areas of particular importance for water and animals, by working with Indigenous communities. Ontario Greens have pledged $1 billion for Indigenous climate leadership, and to give priority and respect to Indigenous Protected and Conserved areas.
With respect to species at risk we asked: “Will your party strengthen Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) and restore a science-based approach to species recovery, including mandatory habitat protection? Will you overturn the broad exemptions granted to industry under the ESA that enable industrial and development activities to destroy the habitat of at-risk species?”
Ontario PC Response: No answer received yet.
Ontario NDP Response: The Ford government weakened the Endangered Species Act, and politicized appointments to the expert scientific committees advising on species-at-risk. The Ford government also introduced unscientific “pay to slay” schemes allowing developers to destroy irreplaceable protected habitats in exchange for a fee. An NDP government would reverse these harmful changes, and ensure that Ontario’s protections for species-at-risk are based on science and the public interest, not the special interests of Doug Ford’s friends and donors.
Ontario Liberal Party Response: Yes, an Ontario Liberal government will strengthen Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. We are committed to adopting a science-based approach to species recovery. To do so, we will repeal the Ford government’s harmful changes to legislation related to conservation, land use planning, and endangered species. Our government will strengthen the power of Ontario’s Conservation Authorities so that they can be leaders in protecting their communities from floods and other natural disasters, preserve biodiversity and species at risk, and maintain the sanctity of green spaces, farmland, wetlands, and sources of drinking water.
Green Party of Ontario Response: Yes. As our Roadmap shows, Ontario Greens will strengthen and enforce the Endangered Species Act. We will restore protection for endangered species and the original science-based system (Endangered Species Act, 2007) for determining species status. We will restore mandatory habitat protection. We will overturn the Ford government’s broad exemptions that allow forestry, mining etc. to damage species and their habitat. We will ensure that economic development activities respect species’ tolerance limits for habitat disturbance. We will restore public accountability and reporting on endangered species’ status and recovery.
With respect to nature-based climate solutions, we asked: “Will your party ensure that Ontario protects natural areas that play a key role in climate mitigation, such as the boreal forest and the peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowland, and work with Indigenous communities to plan for the future of these carbon-rich areas?”
PC Response: No answer received yet.
NDP Response: An NDP government will work with Indigenous peoples, as well as community, business and environmental stakeholders, to ensure proper, science-based protections today and for the future for Ontario’s natural areas, including the boreal forest and the peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowland.
Liberal Response: Yes. Natural areas play a vital role as we ramp up our effort to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the climate crisis and protect biodiversity. Preserving their sanctity will be of paramount importance now and in the future. Indigenous communities have traditionally been the stewards of the lands and waters of Ontario. They have the hereditary connections, lived experiences, and wisdom with respect to the soil, water, trees, and animals of this province. An Ontario Liberal government will partner with Indigenous leaders, elders, and community members in the spirit of reconciliation and in good faith to mitigate the climate crisis by protecting natural areas such as the boreal forest, local wetlands, and the peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowland.
Green Response: Yes. As our Roadmap shows, Ontario Greens will protect natural areas that play a key role in climate mitigation, such as the boreal forest and the peatlands of the Hudson Bay Lowland. Our Roadmap highlights the extensive steps we will take to protect biodiversity hotspots and carbon areas. Ontario Greens will work with Indigenous communities to manage these carbon-rich areas. We will give priority and respect to Indigenous Protected and Conserved areas, in priority to extractive industries such as forestry and mining. Our investments over 4 years will include:
For the parties’ positions on other topics, including Indigenous rights, climate targets, endangered species, Highway 413/Bradford Bypass and more, visit the Green Prosperity webpage: www.greenprosperity.ca/election.
Be sure to vote for nature on June 2!
This election, with your vote, you can make a difference. Please raise your voice for biodiversity protection and climate action.