Volume 94, Issue 79

Tuesday, February 13, 2001


NEWS

Candidates get in final say at Medway

Code closes student input

Billion dollar funding loss has PQ schools fuming

Environment critics say report could be more harm than good

Robber targets bathroom line-ups

Briefs

Tommy Abercrombie

Environment critics say report could be more harm than good

By Hillary Cox and Anne Sagar
Gazette Staff

The Harris government has released an independent report by a former high ranking government official attacking the performance of the Ministry of the Environment.

Lynne Hamilton, spokesperson for Dan Newman, former environment minister, said the aim of the report, authored by senior bureaucrat Valerie Gibbons, was to provide a big-pictured perspective of the state of the Environment Ministry.

"Valerie Gibbons is a well respected former senior bureaucrat with the provincial government. Her report is a critical tool to help us pull together a ministry that is properly structured to ensure Ontario's environment is protected into the 21st Century," she said.

The report calls for an increase in environmental funding, the expansion of resources, and the need for definitive changes in the management structure of the organization itself.

"We are going to take these recommendations very seriously. We will consider implementing her suggestions shortly," Hamilton said.

But Marilyn Churley, New Democratic Party environment critic, said Ontarians should be wary of the proposed changes. She said the report is frightening, as it aims to reduce the role and power of the Ministry. "[It is a] blueprint for privatization," she said.

Churley said she thought there could be a connection between the release of the report and the recent cabinet shuffle. "There is not necessarily [a connection]. It's interesting that the report was released a day before a big shuffle – possibly trying to bury it."

Churley called the government efforts a series of photo opportunities without substance.

Jim Bradley, Liberal environment critic, said he was critical of the report as well. He said that the government has a record of being soft on business with regard to environmental policies.

"You can't have the fox guard the hen house. This is a recipe to further unload responsibility [from the government]."

Dan McDermott, director of Eastern Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada, an environmental protection organization, said he was horrified by the report's recommendations concerning privatization.

"I'm frightened with what Harris might do with this. The government tactic is cherry picking through reports to justify action already taken. The report talks about increasing resources, but de-centralizing to spread responsibility. This could be the thin edge of the wedge to dismantle the Ministry of the Environment," he said.






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