Comment on Bill 66

During the election, Mr Ford categorically promised not to touch the Greenbelt.

Not only is the Greenbelt home to 5,500 farms, 78 species at risk and 102 million tonnes of carbon storage, the reason it was protected in the first place was to protect a great deal of Ontario’s water.

But now Mr Ford’s majority government has introduced Bill 66, The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, legislation. This will indeed open Ontario’s Greenbelt up to development.

Because it was introduced quietly going into Christmas, and the Ford Government has made no secret of its intention to push Bill 66 through quickly, I don’t know if anyone has yet managed a thorough examination of all the ramifications of Bill 66.

It may only be 35 pages long, but it’s an omnibus bill, which means everything you need to know isn’t contained in this draft legislation.  You’d have to read through every one of the 22 laws it will change:

Some of the changes it makes may be good things, but the bad things thoroughly outweigh any good that may be there.  That’s the thing about Omnibus Bills: many different things are bundled together in a package too big to be adequately considered in a democracy.

There is no reason Bill 66 couldn’t be stopped, and the good parts could be reintroduced as ordinary laws that can be properly understood and debated in the Legislature. 

Our unrepresentative voting system has gifted Mr Ford’s government with 100% power to pass any law it wants, even though it was elected by only 40% of the votes cast.  (A mere twentysomething percent of eligible votes).

So what’s the rush?

There is nothing stopping them from allowing citizens and the MPPs in the legislature to know what it is they are passing, and allow adequate parliamentary debate of all aspects.  That’s how our system is supposed to work.  In a majority government, even though the party with all the power can pass any law it wants, the reason we have an opposition parties is to ensure that our legislators make sure the laws they pass stand up to scrutiny.  If there are bad unintended consequences, or even if the legislation is too broad or unclear, these things can be dealt with before they become law.

The only reason for pushing something like this through fast is to keep us from knowing what they’re doing until it’s too late.  Keeping the people in the dark is not how a Government for the people would operate.

In the Region of Waterloo discussion of Bill 66, Waterloo Mayor Jaworsky said, “No one asked for this.”

Mr Ford keeps saying he needs to do this to show Ontario is “Open For Business.”  But what does that mean?  This law is supposed to “cut red tape” that prevents development.

But the fact is that development isn’t being prevented.  There is plenty of room in Ontario, plenty of land available and open for development without going anywhere near the protected lands of the Green Belt.  There is no need to endanger our water or anything else.  That’s why municipalities across Ontario are passing resolutions saying they don’t want or need this.

Why is this happening?

Because when the laws protecting Ontario’s water and the Greenbelt were put in place, land prices in the Greenbelt stayed low.  When a farmland can’t be turned into a factory or subdivision, it stays viable as farmland.  But because of the low prices, some developers bought land in the Greenbelt, speculating that in time they would elect a government willing to undo Greenbelt protections.

Although all-party approved changes to Ontario’s election financing law prevented political parties from accepting corporate donations directly, the changes didn’t go far enough, because developers like Mattamy Homes were allowed to contribute ridiculous sums of money to Partisan third party advertiser Ontario Proud which specialized in attack ads against Mr Ford’s opponents.  (And Mr Ford is undoing that election financing law because the people he is for have lots of money to spend to ensure the governments they want get elected.   But that’s another story.)

The only reason the Ford Government is trying so hard to carve up the green spaces of our province with factories and subdivisions is because their rich supporters want to make a profit.

Ontario has been doing a pretty good job of long term planning, protecting sensitive environments, our water and our food supplies. Once farmland is paved, its gone.

Once farmland is developed, it’s not farm land anymore.

The best we can hope for from Bill 66 is that decades of careful land management will be messed up.  The worst is another Walkerton.  Or another Elmira.

And if that’s not bad enough, Bill 66 does away with any requirement for public notice or consultation or meetings, and no matter what problems are caused, we won’t even be able to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.  So called “Open For Business” by-laws passed behind closed doors will trump laws, policies and municipal official plans developed through extensive and open public consultation.  Communities would have no recourse to influence or challenge them.

And even if your Council doesn’t do any of these things, the Council next door might, and endanger the environment we all share.

What Can We Do?

We have until January 20 to formally tell the Ford Government consultation what we think about Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018 on the province’s website.

January 20th is the deadline for comments to Bill 66 on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (EBR).
Be sure that you and others that you know speak up and let your concerns be known.  It would be fantastic if your group or organization can make an official response or submission.  There is plenty of information in the Bill 66 Recent Articles
linked below.  There are a myriad of issues and concerns, but you can say as little or as much as you like in your comment.   Don’t be shy about making comments personally – even if it is just a short sentence or two.  I would suggest making it clear right at the top that you don’t want Bill 66.  I am afraid to say that at this point they are not likely to listen to what we say, but they will certainly tally up how many comments support or oppose the bill.

Please take two minutes to send a message to the Ontario Government to stop Bill 66:

COMMENT ON Omnibus Bill 66 HERE

DEADLINE SUNDAY: January 20th, 2019

You can also visit the Green Party of Ontario’s Defend The Greenbelt website.  If you feel you need assistance in using the comment process, the GPO advises you to Click here for step-by-step instructions to participate in the government consultation.

You can still use Hold The Line tool to send email to local politicians.


And of course we can always contact our Member of Provincial Parliament:
Michael Harris Jr, Kitchener-Conestoga, Progressive Conservative Party

Toronto:  tel 416 326-6945, fax 416 326-6942

Rm 434, Main Legislative Bldg, Queen’s Park M7A 1A8

Constituency office:  Unit 3 and 4, 63 Arthur St. S., Elmira, N3B 2M6

Mike.harrisco@pc.ola.org

Tel 519 669-2090, fax 519 669-0476

And you can also call the Premier’s Office directly!
Call 416 325-1941 and leave a short message re your concerns about Bill 66


Bill 66 Recent Articles and Background:

Pat Merlihan, Woolwich Township: Dear Mike Harris, MPP

Woolwich Observer: Groups call on townships to oppose province’s Bill 66

Elmira Advocate: ENVIRONMENT UNDER THREAT FROM BILL 66

Global: Walkerton residents worry about Ford government’s Bill 66

CTV: Local councils urge Ford government to protect farmland

CBC: Region of Waterloo won’t support Bill 66, votes to send message to province

theRecord: Region of Waterloo says no to Bill 66 — Jan. 9

Jenn Pfenning, Wilmot Council: Bill 66

theRecord: Proposed bill could lead to policy patchwork in Ontario endangering environmental protections and public health

theRecord: Local groups asking municipalities to reject Bill 66

theRecord: Waterloo Region politicians need to say no to Bill 66

Today’s Farmer: Waterloo Federation opposes Bill 66

Ontario Nature: Bill 66: What you need to know

New Hamburg Independent: Local groups asking municipalities to reject Bill 66

theRecord: Increasing the risk of another Walkerton

Toronto Star: That ‘red tape’ Ford is cutting? It was meant to protect the environment, workers, lives

Toronto Star: Developing the Greenbelt is a disaster on multiple levels

Canadian Environmental Law Association : Deregulation Redux: Ontario’s Environmental Laws under Attack (Again)

More Things to Do in Waterloo Region #ClimateAction #FridaysforFuture

There’s a lot more happening than municipal council meetings!

Friday January 11th, 2019

SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE

Waterloo City Hall 12:30 – 2:00pm

This event is dedicated to building a youth voice to speak up for climate action in solidarity with inspired by Greta Thunberg and other young people across the world.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1163394617169359/

Join us on Friday, January 11th from 12.30 to 2pm outside of MP Bardish Chagger’s office / Waterloo City Hall at 100 Regina Street in Uptown Waterloo.The focus will be on youth, but all are welcome.

Kitchener-Waterloo Climate Save, RISE for Climate Waterloo, Divest Waterloo, and the local chapters of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and 350.org would like to facilitate and support youth climate strikes in our region … for their future. We hope to have youth climate strikes on the 1st Friday of every month after this.

#FridaysforFuture
#climatestrike

DOUG FORD FUNDRAISER PROTEST AT BINGEMANS

Bingemans 5:30pm
425 Shirley Ave. Kitchener

Doug Ford is coming to town for a fundraising dinner tomorrow Friday, January 11th, with local Conservative MPP’s.  Join with others from across our community to protest and let them know your thoughts about Bill 66.  Bring a banner or a sign to explain that you value protecting our water, land and air and that public consultation is core to our democracy.

Bring some friends and join the fun.

We will meet at the main entrance to Bingemans at 425 Shirley Ave around 5:30pm for about an hour while they all arrive.  If you are driving please try to find a place to park at other businesses along Shirley Ave.  Grand River Transit Bus #34 runs every half hour out to Bingemans leaving the Charles Street terminal and returning every 30 minutes.

https://www.facebook.com/events/535908943571780/

Lets see if we can have some fun and send a direct message to the Premier on the need to kill Bill 66!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

7:00pm – Stewards of our Future – ECO Dianne Saxe Event, Kitchener City Hall

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/stewards-of-our-future-protecting-what-we-love-tickets-54268453405

Although none of these events are officially Green Party Green, all are certainly of interest to Greens.

Just a reminder: this is why it’s important to be able to elect candidates who will actually represent us. 

Regards,
Laurel

Save the Basic Income Pilot Project

Back in 2015, 122 Ontario doctors pressed then Ontario Liberal Minister of Health Eric Hoskins to adopt Basic Income because income (or lack thereof) is a serious health issue.   The Wynne Government took its sweet time about it, and I have no doubt at all their Basic Income Pilot was intended to result in re-election.   Still, WRGreens own Stacey Danckert pointed out the last Liberal Budget provided no funding to do anything after the pilot would have ended.

During our recent provincial election campaign, the Liberal, NDP, Green, and Doug Ford’s PC Party all indicated they they would continue the Ontario Basic Income Pilot after the election.

Universal Basic Income

The idea of Universal Basic Income is actually an old one, dating back to the Fourteen Hundreds. Far from being a left wing, socialist or communist idea, the concept spans the political spectrum, no doubt in part because poverty does too. There are left (human dignity) and right (stop theft) arguments for such a system, particularly in capitalist nations like Canada that are already investing vast sums in a piecemeal social safety net that has not managed to make a dent in citizen poverty.   In Canada politicians of every political stripe have agreed we need to eliminate child poverty, and yet poverty is still with us.

Even American Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman advocated for a basic income alleviation of poverty.

"Suppose one accepts, as I do, this line of reasoning as justifying 
governmental action to alleviate poverty; to set, as it were, a floor under the 
standard of life of every person in the community."

—Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

In his role of economic adviser to Republican President Richard Nixon, Friedman supported a negative income tax as a means of creating that floor and eliminating poverty. Had Nixon’s government not fallen in scandal, such a regime may have even been implemented in the US.

The international resurgence of interest in the idea of a Universal Basic Income gathering steam in the early 21st Century is growing fast for a host of reasons, including the collapse of manufacturing due to so called “free trade” agreements combined with the rapidly approaching decimation of the job market by ever increasing loss of human jobs through automation.

Read more about the Conservative Argument For UBI in “Four Reasons Why Conservatives And Libertarians Should Support Basic Income|Those who support limited government and free markets should support fighting poverty by giving more money to the poor” and “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income.

All of this is why it was reasonable to take Premier Ford’s promise to continue the OLP’s Basic Income Pilot Project if his party came to power.  Whether for or against the idea, it only makes sense for any government to complete a project that has already cost the taxpayers of Ontario so much to get the data at the end of the rainbow. Any decision to take the matter further or toss it out could then be made based on facts rather than partisan rhetoric.

Sadly it seems Mr Ford prefers rhetoric. Rather than forging sound public policy in order to govern “for the people,” his new Government has opted to cancel Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot.

More than 20,000 people have signed this change.org petition asking the Ford Government to Save the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project.  But the Ford Government isn’t listening to the people.

But all doesn’t need to be lost.

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction has appealed to the federal Liberal Government:

“We already have the infrastructure. They should adopt the program.”
Tom Cooper, Director, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction

The mayors of the municipalities that have been piloting the Ontario Basic Income have likewise asked feds to take over Ontario’s basic income pilot

Federal NDP  Leader Jagmeet Singh calls on Liberals to save Ontario’s axed basic income pilot.

It isn’t exactly such a crazy idea.

The Liberal Party of Canada has a long history with Basic Income, and in fact it was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Government  that co-authored the 5 year Mincome Pilot in Dauphin Manitoba in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, as often happens with long term projects under short sighted FPTP voting, Mr Trudeau’s Government fell and the data from the just completed pilot project was shelved and buried, only emerging for consideration many decades later.

And lately, the Federal Liberals have been flirting with the idea of Basic Income as well.

We believe there is tremendous national value in finishing this project. Every province is grappling with how to provide a strong social safety net that allows people to lead dignified lives without creating excessive administration. We are in desperate need of preventative approaches that will reduce the burden of poverty on our health care, education, and criminal justice systems.

Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner, Schreiner and May ask Trudeau to rescue Basic Income pilot

Instead of starting their own Basic Income project from scratch, the Justin Trudeau Liberal Government need only spend $50 million dollars to complete the Ontario Basic Income Pilot project.  That would be an incredible bargain basement price for data that would prove invaluable for making federal economic policy.

What can we do to help?

We can write our own letters to the Prime Minister and our own MP (and remember– physical letters travel postage free to the federal government.)  But we can also sign every petition… like the one just begun by our friends at The Council of Canadians:

Petition: Call on the federal government to take over Ontario’s basic income pilot project.

Every little bit helps.