In the lead-up to last fall’s general election in Ontario, Sustainable Waterloo Region partnered to create a non-partisan expert review of the energy policies of leading political parties, entitled Ontario’s Energy Future: A Climate Change Perspective, with the goal of informing the debate surrounding the province’s energy and climate future. Now, one year later, residents of the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo will head to the polls in a by-election scheduled on Thursday, September 6th and Sustainable Waterloo Region has asked each of the four leading candidates to contribute a guest blog and inform the reader:
- How their party’s platform has evolved over the past year
- What they see as the most pressing environmental issues in Waterloo Region and Ontario as a whole
- How the provincial government can support organizations in becoming more environmentally sustainable
- Why they, and their party, are the best choice for action on the environment and organizational sustainability
The blogs will be released un-edited in the same order as they are received.
—1. How their party’s platform has evolved over the last year?
Nine years of reckless overspending puts the things we care about at risk. When we’re spending $10 billion on interest payments because of Dalton McGuinty’s historic deficits our province has less money available to improve parks, clean up rivers, and invest in things that reduce emissions like subways and public transit.
We will balance the budget in order to ensure we have enough money to spend on core government services, like health care, education and a cleaner environment.
- Phase out coal power in Ontario and invest in new, cleaner sources of energy like hydroelectricity, natural gas, and biomass.
- Invest more in public transit and encourage energy conservation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change.
- Work to improve and adapt our infrastructure to an ever-changing climate.
- Preserve sensitive environmental lands for future Ontarians and improve provincial parks.
2. What they see as the most pressing environment issues in Waterloo Region and Ontario as a whole
Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph is a traffic nightmare. Every single day cars sit in traffic, idling and contributing to air pollution. The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has repeatedly cited Ontario’s gridlock as the major contributor to pollution.
Kitchener-Waterloo is a growing community which has shown that economic development can be balanced with environmental protection. I want to see all of Ontario growing again.
Maintaining the quality of our drinking water also remains a high priority for the Ontario PC Party. The former PC government passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, which raised the bar for testing and oversight of municipal drinking water and the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act, which would have taken major steps toward ensuring the long-term sustainability of water and wastewater infrastructure. Sadly, the Liberal government chose not to implement the legislation.
3. How the provincial government can support organizations in becoming more environmentally sustainable?
Investing in more efficient and productive equipment is expensive. When the economy isn’t growing, businesses don’t have the capital to invest in things like energy efficiency.
The Province needs to lead by example and a key area where government can do this is energy efficiency. Energy conservation is the most affordable, common sense way to save money, encourage environmental stewardship and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We would invest in making public buildings more energy efficient and incentivize energy conservation in other areas of the economy.
4. Why they, and their party, are the best choice for action on the environment and organizational sustainability
We’re the best choice for the environment because we’re focused on results, not needless bureaucracy and frivolous spending. Over the years, PC governments have taken the most significant steps towards establishing provincial parklands and protecting our natural environment.
Under PC leadership, more than 39 million hectares of Crown land and water covering nearly 45% of the province were protected.
The Liberal government claims to care about eliminating coal, originally promising to close every coal plant by 2007. It’s 2012 and they haven’t closed a single one. The only Environment Minister to actually close a coal plant was former Ontario PC MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, Elizabeth Witmer.
Instead of foisting an expensive carbon tax on Ontarians just four years after Canadians soundly rejected Stephane Dion’s failed Green Shift proposal, we would encourage energy conservation and would invest in public transit to reduce pollution.
We would also eliminate bureaucracy to improve waste diversion. The Liberals promised to increase Ontario’s waste diversion rate to 60% by 2008, but haven’t been able to surpass 23%. We will institute a different approach that engages the private-sector more effectively to achieve desired environmental outcomes.
—For more on Tracey’s platform, visit www.kw.ontariopc.com.
Sustainable Waterloo Region is a non-partisan organization as does not endorse any candidate or party. For more information on this series and to view the other candidates posts see Ontario’s Energy Future and the Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election.