Browsing the archives for the Mandate tag.

The City’s Failed Wildlife Strategy

Green Reality, Legislative Gaps

The City of Ottawa’s Wildlife Strategy is a disappointing response to the public and to environmental groups who have been highly critical of the reactive and negative way in which the City responded to wildlife conflicts.

The public has been routinely frustrated that wildlife-related decisions are handled by an inter-agency group that included the City’s by-law department, the NCC and the Ministry of Natural Resources – without any transparency or accountability.

So, without any transparency or accountability, it appears that Mayor Watson has done what he seems to do best, a backroom deal that puts the City’s Wildlife Strategy in the hands of the City’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee – even though this group has no mandate to do this and its chairman, Doug Thompson is an advocate for coyote culls.

Killing wildlife whenever there is conflict may be a strategy, but Mayor Watson is it a good one?

So after more than 3 years of deflection and delay and a 200-page report filled with a lot of empty platitudes, it will be ‘business as usual’ for beavers killed at the majority of conflict sites in Ottawa.  Neither will there be any real help for people experiencing a wildlife conflict.

As for the process, the City’s public consultation created a new low for public participation initiatives undertaken by the City because it was deliberately stalled and dragged out.  Several of the community stakeholder groups resigned because the working group had not met in over 16 months after the draft strategy was released. Nor were any community stakeholders involved in its development.

Meanwhile a parallel and secretive process was running in background between city staff and agency representatives, some of whom had obstructed the process on the working group from the very beginning.  This is the same inter-agency group that operates without transparency and accountability – take for example, the MNR’s arbitrary refusal to allow the Constance Creek Wildlife Centre to open.

According to the mayor, ARAC was given responsibility for City-wide wildlife management in 2011. If this is true it is another example of the secretive way that the Mayor runs the City because there is no public record of approval for it.  The wording in ARAC’s 2011 Terms of Reference with respect to wildlife is identical to that in its 2006 Terms of Reference and both documents explicitly state that its responsibilities do not extend outside the rural boundary.

So why is this committee now responsible for managing wildlife conflict within the urban boundary?

Mayor Watson’s abysmal record on the environment continues to reflect 18th century colonialist attitudes.  Maybe it’s time to

  • dispense with backroom deal-making
  • operate an inclusive decision-making process in the public sunlight
  • establish a balance between the needs of development and nature
  • look for creative 21st century solutions to age-old problems.

We can only hope for a new mayor in the near future actually cares for the environment, public participation, and for implementing democratic process.

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Why Engineering Standards For Evironmental Studies Are Needed

Canadian Politics, Legislative Gaps

Ecology Ottawa conducted an analysis of political contributions made by housing developers to Ottawa City Councillors during the last municipal election.

In total, over $121,300 was contributed to winning candidates (the study did not examine contributions to losing candidates).  Top of the list was Gord Hunter who received over 49% of funding for his political campaign from developers.

Not surprising considering that Mr. Hunter is a member of the City’s Planning & Environment Committee.  Other members of the PEC that received substantial contributions are Bob Monet (32%) and Michel Bellemare (25%).

Fortunately the Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee had the integrity to decline such donations.  However, there is nothing other than personal integrity preventing them from doing so.

The municipal planning & environment committee is the only oversight that municipal environmental studies have.  The City of Ottawa has an indepedant Environmetal Advisory Committee, however, their mandate does not include quality assurance of environmental studies.

As far as the provincial Ministry of Environment is concerned, Class Environmental Assessments are conducted on a self-assessment basis.  These are the vast majority of environmental studies and the  province only requires that they be done and that they address prescribed content  – not that they be done properly!

For example the province only requires that proponents of Class Environmental Assessments consider alternatives and document their decision making process – not that they follow any specific decision making process, or even test that they have a sound process for evaluating decisions!  This is the loophole that allowed the City of Ottawa to ignore it’s own planning criteria in evaluating alternatives for the Terry Fox Road Expansion.

Another example is that the province does not provide clear-cut criteria for measuring the impact of a proposed project.  For example, the Terry Fox Road Expansion which threatens 3 endangered species (because it cuts across a Provincially Significant wetland)  is subject to the same process as the Hazeldean Road Expansion which poses no threat to endangered species (because it occurs in a semi-urban area).

So without minimum standards governing engineering practice to be followed when conducting Class EAs, there are no checks and balances in the process – other than the checks written by developers!

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Are Coalition Governments Undemocratic?

Canadian Politics

Harper’s Record
On Sept 9, 2004 while he was Leader of the Opposition, Harper wrote to the Governor General and requested that, should the minority Liberal government fall, before calling an election that the GG grant him and the Bloq the opportunity to form a Coalition Government!

September 9, 2004
 
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1
 
Excellency,
 
As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the 
Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister 
to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons 
fail to support some part of the government’s program.
 
We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together 
constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We 
believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give 
you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the 
opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising 
your constitutional authority.
 
Your attention to this matter is appreciated.
 
Sincerely,
 
Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
 
Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
 
Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party

So why was a coalition government good enough for Harper then but suddently is an undemocratic thing to do now? … could it be that it is because he is a self-serving liar who would divide this country and cause a political crisis just so he can cling to power??

Harper’s Mandate
Nearly 2/3 of Canadians actually voted against Harper’s government in the last election.

In fact, 170,000 FEWER Conservatives voted for him.

Yet due to the lack of proportional representation in the House of Commons he managed to obtain 20 more seats – yet still has a minority of the seats.

So why should he be allowed to prorogue Parliament and govern like a King without opposition?

Harper’s Lies

Stephen Harper’s lies about the Coalition are getting more and more divisive.

He lied when he said “Here we have these three parties signing a document, and they wouldn’t even have a the Canadian flag behind them! They had to be photographed without it, because a member of the coalition doesn’t even believe in the country.”

 Canadian Flag Clearly Evident

He lied when he said that it includes the Separatists in the Coalition.  In fact, the Coalition is between the NDP and the Liberals with the support of the BQ and the Green Party.

He lied when he said that it is something that he would never work with the BQ.  In fact, he relied on the BQ to bail him out in 40 non-confidence votes during the last 2 years.

He lied when he used a different speech in English than in French on Dec 4 referring to “separatists” in the highly provocative English speech while cowardly using the term “souverainiste” in the French speech 5 minutes later.  Harper knows full well the difference in the two terms when used in French in Quebec. 

Separatist has a distinctly negative connotation that focuses on the division of Canada, while sovereigntist has a postitive connotation that focuses on promoting independence without necessarily damaging Canada.  As in Sovereignty-Association.

He lied when he claimed that his economic statement contained new initiatives to support the economy.  In fact all he did was summarize intiatives already announced in prior budgets.  There was nothing new other than an attack on pay equity for women.

Finally he lied when he said that our oldest democratic traditions dating back 141 years were based on electing a government.  In fact our parliamentary tradition was started by a coalition government in the 1860s and is based on electing members to the House of Commons who are responsible for forming a government based on a majority of members.  Our country has subsequently had several coalition governments both federally and provincially.

The real question is how can Harper claim that proroguing Parliament is a democratic act?

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