Toronto,Canada,-,April,28,,2021:,Ontario,Legislative,Building,At

Watch: how to build climate consensus no matter who wins Ontario’s election

Environment critics for Ontario's NDP and Liberal parties, along with the deputy leader of the provincial Green Party, agree that collaboration is the only way to fight the climate crisis, and that building affordable housing doesn't mean paving over farmland. But they disagree on whether to build highways

As Ontario heads into a provincial election on June 2, many of the key issues have a significant environmental angle.  

All of the parties want to turn Ontario into a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles, for example, which could mean roads built over the carbon sink peatlands of James Bay, where Indigenous communities have differing opinions about industry and consultation. They’re also all promising to increase much-needed housing supply — which could see residential development encroach on greenspace and farmland.

These are important conversations, but the official party leaders’ debate barely mentioned climate: by our count, only 10 of the 90 minutes even touched on the environment, and not in any depth. So The Narwhal invited a group of candidates for a full hour-long conversation on the conservation, environment and climate issues that matter to us this election. 

Three candidates accepted: Lucille Collard, environment critic and incumbent Liberal MPP for Ottawa–Vanier; Sandy Shaw, environment critic and incumbent NDP MPP for Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas; and Dianne Saxe, the province’s former environmental commissioner, currently deputy leader of the provincial Green Party and a candidate in the Toronto riding of University-Rosedale. We also invited Progressive Conservative Environment Minister David Piccini, but he turned us down, so we went ahead with an all-female event — joining the candidates were the three women of our Ontario bureau. 

All three candidates agreed that collaboration is crucial to climate action, but that didn’t mean they agreed on exactly what actions should be taken, and when. When Saxe said that the Liberals and NDP both supported two controversial highways through farmland and protected areas, Collard and Shaw were quick to disagree. Both said their party would not build Highway 413, an expressway which would ring between the Toronto suburbs of Vaughan and Milton, cutting through 2,000 acres of farmland and 85 waterways, damaging 220 wetlands and disrupting the habitats of 10 species-at-risk.

Collard wasn’t as definitive on the Bradford Bypass, though, which some farmers have said is crucial for moving their harvest to consumers. “The highways are only supported to the level that the funds have already been engaged, that there’s been appropriate enviro assessment done on that and they’re very necessary to allow people to move efficiently,” she said about her party’s stance on the bypass. 

Watch the whole forum below, or follow along with this Twitter thread

We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?
We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

A former GM plant in St. Catharines is leaking toxic chemicals

Susan Rosebrugh rose from sleep when she heard the sound of fire trucks, and turned to her partner in frustration. “Not again, Glenn,” she said....

Continue reading

Recent Posts

We’re 15 members away from meeting our September budget target. Join by midnight Friday and your donations will be matched!
We’re 90% of the way toward our September member target.
We’re breaking news in Ontario
The Narwhal’s Ontario bureau is telling environment stories you won’t find anywhere else. Keep up with the latest scoops by signing up for a weekly dose of our independent journalism.
We’re breaking news in Ontario
The Narwhal’s Ontario bureau is telling environment stories you won’t find anywhere else. Keep up with the latest scoops by signing up for a weekly dose of our independent journalism.
Every new member between now and midnight Friday will have their contributions doubled by two generous donors.
Let’s match
Every new member between now and midnight Friday will have their contributions doubled by two generous donors.
Let’s match
Every new member between now and midnight Friday will have their contributions doubled by two generous donors.
Let’s match
Let’s match
Every new member between now and midnight Friday will have their contributions doubled by two generous donors.