Environment Minister Murray’s mandate letter

by Dianne Saxe on October 1, 2014

Every Cabinet minister gets his or her marching orders from the Premier or Prime Minister. These “mandates” used to be top secret, but Ontario now makes them public. Here is the mandate letter for the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, with our emphasis added.

On environmental legislation, note the commitment to reintroducing the Great Lakes Protection Act, that new waste reduction legislation has been downgraded to an “objective”, and that there is no reference at all to the Anti-SLAPP law that died on the order paper when the NDP forced the May election, or to any climate change legislation: [click to continue…]


Port Authority biased in approving coal port?

by Meredith James on September 29, 2014

This month, Ecojustice filed an application for judicial review of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s decision to permit a coal transfer facility. They claim that the Port Authority failed to consider some environmental effects, including climate change, and that the decision of the Port and its officers and staff was affected by bias.

Bias is a serious allegation. As our Supreme Court said in Roberts v. R, 2003 SCC 45: “public confidence in our legal system is rooted in the fundamental belief that those who adjudicate in law must always do so without bias or prejudice and must be perceived to do so.” Without fair, impartial decision-makers, our legal system cannot function. Perhaps the Port Authority should not have permitted the coal facility, but was it “biased”?

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Urban Forests Across Canada Valued at $51B

September 26, 2014

TD Bank issued a report on September 24, 2014, providing an economic valuation of urban forests in the greater Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver areas, estimating that these forests contain more than 100 million trees which carry an estimated worth of $51 billion (Halifax: $11.5B; Montreal: $4.5B; Vancouver: $35B). TD claims that for each dollar spent […]

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Herbicide Spray Drift a “Normal” Farm Practice?

September 24, 2014

Organic farmers in Nova Scotia filed a lawsuit against a neighbouring farm for damages allegedly caused by a herbicide which drifted onto their property. In particular, the plaintiffs claimed that the herbicide caused damage to their crops, the miscarriage of four horses, and personal injury. The defendant farmer claimed immunity under section 10(1) of Nova […]

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Can the threat of personal liability stop fluoridation?

September 18, 2014

Opponents of fluoridation have started to threaten councillors with personal liability for fluoridated water, in the hope of changing municipal policy on water treatment. The province created this problem, and they should fix it.

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Class Action for Harming Bees with Neonicotinoids

September 16, 2014

This is the first Canadian class action lawsuit filed for harm caused by Neonicotinoid pesticides, potentially responsible for the worldwide collapse of bee and other pollinator populations.

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Dianne is quoted in the Globe on Green Bonds

September 15, 2014

See Richard Blackwell’s interesting story about Solarshare and Green Bonds in today’s Globe and Mail.

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Crowdfunding to defend anti-fracking bylaw

September 12, 2014

The tiny Québec village of Ristigouche-Sud-Est, population 168, is crowdfunding to pay for the defence of its anti-fracking by-law, intended to protect municipal drinking water.

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Privacy Commissioner: must disclose sources of fill

September 11, 2014

The Township of Scugog refused to disclose the sources of the fill it had purchased, on the basis that this was confidential third party information, exempted from disclosure under section 10(1) of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In Township of Scugog (Re), 2014 CanLII 50835 (ON IPC), the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) ordered: […]

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Innovative illustration of the climate change consensus

September 9, 2014

In its Fifth Assessment Report,  the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” Skeptical Science, a website dedicating to explaining “what peer reviewed science has to say about global warming”, has launched an innovative project to demonstrate this near total consensus among […]

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Convictions for not reporting natural gas?

September 8, 2014

Just as we predicted after R. v. Castonguay, the Ministry of the Environment is aggressively prosecuting in new areas of the economy, for not reporting events that are far from conventional “pollution”. This time, it was a natural gas leak.

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Municipal Anti-Wind By-Laws Inoperative

September 3, 2014

Another Ontario municipality’s attempts to block wind energy development have been thrown out by the courts. Municipalities cannot use anti-wind by-laws to frustrate Renewable Energy Approvals (REA), under the Green Energy Act, S.O. 2009, c. 12 (“Green Energy Act”).

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Should Energy Board consider climate before approving pipelines?

September 2, 2014

Can, and should, the National Energy Board consider climate impacts before approving oil pipelines? The federal government says no, objectors say yes. Now the courts must decide.

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Removing Locked Bikes From Public Property: Bad Idea, But Not Theft.

August 29, 2014

Earlier this month, Torontonians learned that Brookfield Property Group was cutting the locks off of bikes parked outside their Hudson’s Bay Centre Building.  Knowing that we are devoted cyclists, a number of readers have asked us whether their actions constitute theft.

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2014 Pesticide Prosecution “Roundup”

August 27, 2014

Earlier this summer we reported that Ontario Pesticide Act prosecutions have become infrequent since the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOE) stopped having specialized pesticide enforcement staff. Now that the season is soon to change over, we decided to take a look at the year’s violation reports to see if MOE’s intentions with […]

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