Government’s Great Lakes Act won’t protect environment: Barrett

Oct. 9, 2015

SIMCOE – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is disappointed the government has passed a flawed bill intended on helping the Great Lakes. Rather than working with the Opposition to protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin, the bill was rammed through with debate cut off.

“While I agree with the intent of protecting the Great Lakes, this bill is lacking,” Barrett said. “We put forward 31 amendments to improve the bill, but the government cut off debate and forced a vote, rejecting our amendments. My hope was the government would put partisan politics aside and work together to improve this legislation.”

Barrett made the comments today after Bill 66, the Great Lakes Protection Act, passed Third Reading at Queen’s Park this week.

“This bill does nothing to address the threats to the Great Lakes and shorelines so we can protect these resources for the next generation,” stressed Barrett. “I’m not going to support legislation just because it has a nice title – legislation has to deliver, and Bill 66 doesn’t.”

Barrett said the Opposition identified several flaws in the bill prior to it heading to committee. These included:
* Stripping local municipalities of their decision-making authority.
* Increasing red tape and limiting full public participation by creating a “Guardian Council” of hand-picked advisors to the Minister.
* Failing to identify how any of the programs will be funded.
* Opening the door for authorities to access private property without a warrant.
* Refusing to consider the unique concerns of rural landowners and municipalities.
All the amendments to improve the bill were rejected by the government. Barrett also pointed out the bill does not address wind turbines next to the Great Lakes, which are an issue for migrating birds, and invasive species, which are the greatest threat to the health of the Great Lakes.

Barrett gave the example of microplastics, which were listed specifically in the bill in a government amendment. Microplastics refers to the tiny plastic beads used in soaps and other cleaning products that are becoming a growing problem in the Great Lakes.

“It’s not that microplastics aren’t a serious issue, but the federal government banned them this summer and many States have done the same,” Barrett said. “This is just another example of reactionary, feel-good measures that have no substance.”


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For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or