This is an excerpt from Ontario Majority, our brand new newsletter covering Ontario politics.

If you like what you see and want to keep getting this newsletter, you can subscribe to start receiving them every week.

Doug Ford is Ontario’s Climate Roadblock.

For years, scientists warned us about a coming pandemic. Our political leaders did not take their warnings seriously enough. And now, we are paying the price with COVID-19. The cost to our communities and the economy has been massive.

Scientists are also warning about another looming crisis – climate change. They have been for years. On this front, again, our leaders are not taking the threat seriously enough. The scope and cost of the climate crisis, however, will make the COVID-19 pandemic look small in comparison.

In Ontario, we have a government that is not only ignoring these scientists but also actively retreating from past climate action commitments.

Polling shows that Ontarians overwhelmingly want climate action. 72% of Ontarians agree that we need to do more to address climate change. 79% of Ontarians want a shift towards renewable energy, while 45% support producing the entirety of our energy needs through renewable sources.

Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives stand directly opposed to the will of the majority on this issue. Since being elected, they have gone above and beyond to stifle any meaningful action on climate change.

Before Ford, Ontario was a leader in climate action.

The Premier likes to point out that Ontario has cut its emissions by 22 percent since 2005. He is right, but of course, it’s no thanks to him. The little progress made has been thanks to his predecessors.

Past governments had prioritized issues like ending coal power generation, putting a price on pollution, and incentivizing renewable energy. These are the things that have helped Ontario cut its emissions. Meanwhile, Ford’s government now cites the progress made by these very initiatives to justify dismantling them. 

Their argument goes something like this: Ontario has done its part, so no need for us to act. That’s how Ford’s government rationalized lowering emissions targets and doing away with Ontario’s carbon-pricing plan. 

Enter the Progressive Conservatives.

In their two years leading Ontario, Ford’s government has terminated 758 renewable energy contracts, cancelled 227 clean energy projects, ripped up the province’s carbon pricing plan, and stripped away the powers of our environmental commissioner.

Apart from climate action, the Progressive Conservatives have also reduced conservation efforts and softened protections for endangered species.

All these reckless decisions were, in part, justified by Ford telling the public that it would save money. The truth is Ford’s anti-environmental agenda has been extremely costly. Scrapping cap-and-trade will cost the province$3 billion, while cancelling those energy projects cost another $231 million. As for the cheaper electricity rates Ford promised? Nothing. Ontarians are actually paying increasingly higher rates.

Scrapping massive renewable energy projects, just months away from completion – and then justifying them by falsely claiming it would harm local bat species – is nothing short of stupid. (Yes, this is something the Ford government actually did.)

This is the government we have in Ontario – one that is a roadblock to any meaningful action on climate change. The man in charge is Ford, someone who’s openly said “if we had the chance to get rid of all the wind mills we would.

Even during the COVID-19 crisis, Ford’s anti-environmentalist agenda has not stopped. The Progressive Conservatives used the health crisis as an opportunity to suspend environmental regulations. With these regulations on hold, laws or projects that could have a significant impact to the environment were able to be pushed through with zero consultation or notification of the public.

The regulations were restored on June 15, but now we are left to wonder what Ford’s government was able to “accomplish” while the public were left in the dark. 

In April, while everyone’s focus was on the spread of COVID-19, Ontario also spent $2.8 billion to purchase natural gas plants. Critics say the move will not only stonewall our climate efforts but will also end up costing ratepayers more.  The purchase is, however, in line with the Ford government’s plan to prioritize natural gas as a source of electricity generation. It’s a plan which will see emissions associated with electricity generation triple over the next decade. 

Ontario has the potential to be a climate leader. Our province was an early adopter of renewable energy. The majority of Ontarians clearly support bolder climate action and there is a political will to move in that direction. 

Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives are the roadblock. They’ve not only stopped any progress on the climate file, but they’ve undeniably set us back for years to come.

Tell us what you think!

Every week we’ll be including a question for you. We want to hear about your thoughts on the issues we’re discussing. The top responses will then be included in next week’s newsletter.

Which of Ford’s anti-environment attacks worry you the most? Why?

While you weren’t looking.

The over-looked news of the week.

  • The Ford government is considering granting “good faith” immunity from class-action lawsuits to long-term care facilities. This comes as multiple class-action claims have been initiated on behalf of residents of various nursing homes.
  • A new report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows that inequality in Canada is growing. The richest 0.01% now has nearly five times as much wealth as the bottom 6.3 million Canadian families. 
  • As Ontario’s shuttered businesses reopen, Premier Ford has announced that Ontario will not make it mandatory to wear masks.

On a lighter note!

There’s so much bad news in the world these days, we figured it’d be refreshing to end things off with some good news.

Ontario’s COVID-19 numbers are finally falling! For 6 straight days, the province’s new daily cases have remained below 200. These are the lowest daily numbers since the outset of the pandemic in March.

The number of new deaths has also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, recoveries are also outpacing infections. Overall there seems to be some hope that months of physical distancing and preventative measures by Ontarians is finally starting to pay off!

Sign up to get Ontario Majority

A weekly newsletter on the issues that matter to the majority of Ontarians.