construction machine 3412240 640

In previous pieces that I call ‘Under the Cover of COVID,’ I outlined how Mr Ford’s legislative agenda will let private, for-profit nursing homes off the hook for their failure to contain COVID. The Conservatives are restricting the release of information in any investigation into pandemic deaths in private long-term homes. And, by changing the rules for class action suits, the Orwellian named Smarter and Stronger Justice Act restricts people’s access to legal redress for the loss of loved ones in those homes. I’ve also looked at how Mr Ford is making it harder for folks to keep from losing their homes by making the eviction process easier for landlords and by cutting back on the funding and scope of legal aid clinics.

This letter deals with the Conservatives’ deregulation of environmental safeguards.

A little over a year ago Mr Ford pushed through the Ontario legislature $300 million in cuts to the Ministry of the Environment, including projects funded by Ontario’s now axed cap and trade program. Killing this carbon pricing system cost us billions of dollars in revenue and cancelling green projects cost us millions more in contract defaults.

Killing cap and trade without consultation with the public meant that Mr Ford also violated the law – specifically the Environmental Bill of Rights which requires governments to publicly post changes to environmental protection regulations and legislation.

Then, with his More Homes More Choice Act (an omnibus bill passed in 2019), Mr Ford gutted protection for endangered species. Among its highlights is a weakening of science-based decision making, zero consultation with First Nations, and the fabulous notion that species are not endangered in Ontario if they are thriving in Wisconsin – never mind the ecological importance they might serve here.

The same legislation weakened requirements for Environmental Assessments in order to cut (the government says) “red tape” that encumbers development. Where have we heard that before? From Mike Harris, whose own red tape cutting helped brew up the Walkerton water tragedy of May 2000.

Then, in July 2020, Mr Ford weakened requirements for environmental assessments again, in another piece of omnibus legislation – the so-called COVID economic recovery plan (Bill 197). Under the cover of COVID, this law removes many projects from environmental scrutiny and takes decisions for approval out of the hands of local people and puts them more securely in the hands of the Provincial Government.

Mr Ford has also failed to persuade First Nations that his changes to environmental law will preserve the Honour of the Crown. In other words, Ontario chiefs say the new rules will run roughshod over constitutionally protected aboriginal and treaty rights. They are no substitute for the kind of consultation required of governments to ensure proposed projects (such as mining in the Ring of Fire zone) do not harm the practice of those rights.

Over 130 First Nations and (separately) a number of environmental groups are suing Ontario for, once again, breaking the law that obliges the government to consult with the public before passing legislation that impacts the environment.

And it looks as though the Conservative government’s sharp dealing with First Nations will land it in court for judicial review on another matter. Three First Nations north of Lake Superior are suing the Province over its plans to allow the harvest of a patch of boreal forest four times the size of PEI. The impact on the First Nations’ aboriginal and Treaty 9 rights could be severe and yet they say the Province’s consultations with them were a sham.

Mr Ford might be dealing with COVID in a competent manner, but that other crisis – the climate crisis – is being allowed to plough unchecked through Ontario’s environmental safe-guards.

David McLaren Neyaashiinigmiing, ON


Law Commission of Ontario to Attorney General Doug Downey opposing Ontario’s changes to justice: https://www.lco-cdo.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/LCO-Letter-re-Bill-161-Class-Actions-Final-Jan-22-2020.pdf

Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario brief on Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act: https://www.acto.ca/5-bill-184-changes-to-the-law/

Ford government axes oversight of the environment – the Office of the Environmental Commissioner. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/01/04/news/ontario-environment-watchdogs-say-doug-ford-just-gutted-law-protects-your-rights

Ford government kills cap & trade: http://theconversation.com/the-doug-ford-doctrine-short-term-gain-for-long-term-pain-116131

Cutting protection for species at risk: https://theconversation.com/doug-ford-is-clear-cutting-ontarios-environmental-laws-119624

Premier Ford breaks the law: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ontario-broke-law-cap-trade-court-rules_ca_5da0b4c9e4b02c9da049cc8d

Ford cuts environmental assessments again (July 2020): https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/07/08/news/environmental-assessments-speed-under-doug-fords-omnibus-covid-19-recovery-bill

Ford government’s COVID-19 economic recovery bill broke the law, auditor general says https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/07/21/news/ford-governments-proposed-environmental-assessment-changes-are-potentially-illegal

Environmental groups take Ford government to court over COVID-19 recovery Bill 197: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/08/10/news/environmental-groups-take-ford-government-court-over-covid-19-recovery-bill

Growing number of First Nations raise concerns about Doug Ford’s omnibus Bill 197:


COO – a Coalition of 133 First Nations planning legal challenge of Ford’s Bill 197:


Three FNs sue Ford government over lack of consultation on forestry plans:






CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators