Two Wins in Court (May 17, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning! 

Amazingly enough, my time line for pandemic tells me this is week 11 in lock down. The days have blurred together, but with parliamentary committees meeting virtually every week day, at least weekends have begun to feel different. I still work through Saturday and Sunday, but mostly in zoom meetings with constituents and on projects I can no longer juggle during the week. I am covering three standing committees (Finance, Procedure and House Affairs and Government Operations), plus the virtual parliament Special COVID committee. Most days I have the feeling of being imprisoned by zoom. I feel as though the mandatory headset with high quality mic to protect the ears of our House translators is starting to grow into my skull. It is an odd old world, but at least we are able to do good work.

We did get some good news from the world outside of COVID19 – and yes the world is still there. Both rays of sunshine came from court decisions long in the making.

First up, on May 13, the Ontario courts reversed the Ford government’s cancellation of a previously approved wind energy project. The Nation Rise wind facility, 40 km south of Ottawa, was two thirds built, promising electricity at 7 cents a kwh. Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek cancelled the project with a bogus claim about damage to bats. The court slammed him. “This is a case where the minister’s decision is not reasonable and does not deserve deference… This decision does not meet the requirements of transparency, justification and intelligibility.”

The proponents have committed to continuing to build and get the plant to completion. The Greens’ wonderful leader in Ontario, Mike Schreiner said, “It’s good to know that the premier’s political vendetta against clean energy does not supersede the rule of law.”

As a side note, what is happening to Doug Ford? This week he attacked the greed of “vicious landlords.”

“You know what drives me crazy? I can’t stand these vicious landlords. They are. You’ve got to protect the little guy all the time. They’re struggling. I just wish they could hang in there for a couple of months. It’s not the end of the world. To all the big landlords out there — have a heart.”

Of course, he has not acted on rent relief: Sign the GPO petition.

Doug Ford has been disastrous to so many aspects of Ontario, and especially the strong climate policy put in place by previous environment ministers, including the new Green candidate for leadership, former minister Glen Murray.

Is it possible this new version of Doug Ford who denounces “yahoos” and “vicious landlords” will have a similar Road to Damascus conversion to protect climate? The post-pandemic world may look very different.

The other great news came from the Supreme Court of Canada, turning down an appeal against the government’s third rejection of the Taseko Prosperity mine. This is a massive win for the Tsilhqot’in First Nation.

In this 12 year fight, it was federal environmental assessment law (pre-CEAA 2012) that led to former Conservative environment minister, the late Jim Prentice, to reject the mine at Fish Lake in 2010. Reviewing it again in 2014, Harper’s last environment minister Leona Aglukkaq also turned down the mine. But the BC government allowed exploration work to proceed anyway. This should be the end of it, but as Chief Joe Alphonse, Tsilhqot’in National Government chairman, said, “I never count these (Taseko) guys out. … These guys would try to pump oxygen into a dead horse.”

So, great news! But never take our eyes off protecting this Tsilhqot’in Territory!

More good news! The Green Party federal council election results are official. A great group of new council members will start work soon, along with new executive director Prateek Awasthi. I think you’ll love this article about his background from The Indian Express.

All this and a leadership race. Even in lock-down, Greens are busy and active and out to save the world.

Have a great day if you can take tomorrow off. If you have time, please sign all the petitions below!




Green press releases:

Articles and letters I wrote this week, after attacks over “oil is dead.”


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