Great Lakes Bill Is Bad Public Policy

October 7, 2015

QUEEN’S PARK – Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell says while protecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin is our priority, the government’s proposed Bill 66 is a flawed piece of legislation that will accomplish little and just create another massive government bureaucracy.

“Our Caucus raised numerous concerns that we wanted addressed in order to ensure the bill gets the balance right and reflects the concerns of municipalities, property owners and other stakeholders. We wanted to work with the government to pass the best bill possible to protect these invaluable resources,” said McDonell.

“The government is more interested in playing politics with this critical issue by ramming bad legislation through the House, rejecting 30 out of 31 meaningful PC Caucus amendments and trying to paint the Opposition as being against the environment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are simply against bad public policy that delivers no meaningful or measurable results. Bill 66 is just a photo-op Bill,” McDonell said.

MPP McDonell’s concerns with Bill 66 include:

  • No Respect for Property Owners: the Bill contains sections that would allow authorities to access private property without a warrant.
  • Stripping Local Autonomy: the legislation provides the ability to override existing official plans and zoning bylaws developed to meet the specific needs of municipalities and their residents, which were approved by the Provincial Government.
  • Missing Rural Perspective: the Rural Ontario Municipal Association developed “Rural Lens;” the 12 points municipal leaders want applied to any legislation. That has not happened with Bill 66 and the result is the creation of a new level of bureaucracy to trump the local decision-making process.
  • Increasing Red Tape: the Bill would create a “Guardian Council” to provide advice to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, but offers no guarantee it will include representation from a broad range of groups. This model also limits full public participation.
  • No Funding Specified: Bill 66 provides no details about how any programs created will be paid for, which is essentially handing a blank cheque to a government that’s proven it can’t manage its spending.

“We wanted the opportunity to have province wide hearings on this legislation to give all Ontarians the chance to have their voices heard I’m disappointed the government has once again opted against working with stakeholders and the public. This is no way to create sustainable and meaningful legislation.” said McDonell.