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Environment Commissioner Gord Miller criticizes Liberals for defying environmental rules (He did what??)

Canadian Press — September 19, 2012

The Liberal government is defying the will of the legislature and ignoring the public’s right to be involved in the development of policies to protect the environment, Ontario’s environmental watchdog said Wednesday.

“It astounds me to report on the degree of disregard and contempt that is shown to statutory requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights,” Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller said as he released part one of his annual report, Losing Touch.

“Various ministries persist in hiding environmentally significant decisions from public scrutiny and comment in open defiance of the clear intent of the statute.”

Miller said he was not pleased with the way staff at several ministries deliberately stone walled people who requested information they were entitled to have about government initiatives that impact the environment.

“Perhaps it is understandable that the ministries are no longer referred to as the civil service because there is nothing civil about the way citizens are often treated when they exercise their legislated right to file a request for investigation or review,” he said.

“Making citizen applicants wait 252 days for an answer that the legislature has indicated must be provided in 60 days is not civil behaviour.”

Several ministries are ignoring the requirements of the law and developing far-reaching plans, policies and programs without properly notifying or consulting the public, added Miller, who singled out the Ministry of Natural Resources as a “chronic” offender.

“The most egregious example is MNR’s attempt to shield the Provincial Wildlife Population Monitoring Program from public review,” he said.

“The ministry’s behaviour is all the more offensive because the plan itself is inadequate in meeting the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act and the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.”

The opposition parties said hiding information is typical of the Liberal government, and pointed to their current fight to get the Liberals to release the cost to taxpayers of their decisions to cancel electrical generating stations in Oakville and Mississauga.

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