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Temagami watchdogs sue Ford government over refusal to consider climate emergency in forestry planning

Ministry-approved plan cites long-cancelled carbon management measures

 Photo: Logged forest in the Temagami Forest Management Unit, Earthroots

 

Ottawa, February 6, 2020 — Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of Earthroots and Friends of Temagami, have filed a lawsuit against the Ford government for refusing to take into account climate-related considerations in its forestry management plan for Temagami.

“Ontario is required to consider climate change before exempting forestry from environmental assessment. When this condition is not met, the environment ministry is legally required to kick-start the individual environmental assessment process. This didn’t happen for Temagami,” said Joshua Ginsberg, lawyer with Ecojustice’s law clinic at the University of Ottawa. “This is a systemic problem across the province where climate-related impacts are left out of the picture for Ontario’s forests despite the legal requirement for it to be included.”

In Ontario, forestry management plans benefit from a class-based exemption from environmental assessment, provided the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) addresses a list of mandatory conditions, including efforts toward climate change mitigation and carbon management.

The MNRF falsely claimed to be developing methodologies for carbon management for Temagami’s forestry management plan — efforts that were underway were suspended in June 2018 and cancelled altogether two months before the region’s management plan was approved.

Given that the province’s ten-year plan for Temagami did not include climate-related considerations as required by law, Earthroots and Friends of Temagami say an individual environmental assessment should have been conducted. The ministry denied the groups’ request for an assessment in May 2019.

“The impacts of climate change on our forest is profound and increasing,” said Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario and current Earthroots Chair. “If MNRF is to meet its obligation for sustainable forestry management, it must incorporate both the ecological and carbon impacts of our warming planet.”

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Ontario's forests are under threat!

 

The government is proposing to double logging in Ontario and cut down 30 MILLION cubic metres of wood annually. Tell Ford that our forests are more than timber and aren't "open for business"! Comments are due February 5th.

TAKE ACTION NOW

You can read the draft Forest Sector Strategy on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

It's not too late to give the gift of the wild!

Looking for the perfect gift for the wolf lover in your life?

Adopt a wolf pup, pair or pack in their name.

  

When you adopt wolves in honour of a loved one, you can send them one of our beautiful e-Cards to let them know you are protecting wolves in their name!  

All donations from symbolic wolf adoptions go directly towards our work protecting wild wolves in Ontario.

Click here to adopt a wolf today!

A special THANK YOU from Earthroots

Photo credit: Algonquin wolf, Helen E. Grose

 

With your support in 2019 we've been able to:

  1. Expand the Ontario Wolf Survey with the support of more than 30 citizen scientists and collaborating organizations. We collected 150 non-invasive DNA samples to help find threatened Algonquin wolves.
  2. Ensure that Ontario’s Greenbelt, clean drinking water and precious farmlands were protected from threats under Bill 66, Ford's "Open for Business" Act.
  3. Help build the movement for Grassy Narrows First Nation and their fight for mercury justice. 1,000 people joined 60 members of the community at the River Run march to show their solidarity.

 

None of our important work to protect Ontario's wilderness, wildlife and watersheds would be possible without YOU!

24 groups call for Ontario to take serious action on climate change

Climate Changing

          Photo: Markus Spiske

 

November 7th, 2019

Dear Members of Provincial Parliament,

Welcome back to the legislature. In the months you’ve been away, a lot has happened.

An estimated million Canadians marched in the streets this fall to demand stronger action on climate change, sparked by youth fighting for their future. Climate change became a top election issue in the federal election, with almost 70 percent of MPs elected in Ontario supporting a price on carbon and stronger climate action. Thirty elected Ontario councils have now declared climate emergencies, including Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Barrie, and Hamilton. Canadian doctors and health professionals continued to warn that adverse mental and physical health impacts from heat waves, wildfires, air pollution, floods, and vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease will escalate exponentially without ambitious steps to reduce emissions quickly.

While calls for climate action escalate across our province, Ontario’s government has fallen drastically behind. In the last year we’ve seen the destruction of every program that made Ontario a leader on climate change action. And we’ve seen this government go into hibernation on a crisis that threatens the future of our friends and loved ones.

Instead of ramping up action after the IPCC’s groundbreaking report asking all governments to do more, Ontario weakened their 2030 climate change target and spent a year largely failing to implement effective solutions, even those promised in the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan.

It’s time for you, as elected officials entrusted with the well-being of your communities, to listen to your constituents, your children, your loved ones, and the youth demanding action and answers every Friday. We are asking you to take leadership to ensure a healthy future on a habitable planet. A leader doesn’t walk away from a crisis because it requires hard work. We are asking you to do the work. We are asking you to lead.

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Stop Ontario's War on Wolves!

 

Our moose are in trouble. The Ontario government wants wolves and coyotes to pay the price for declining populations even though their own science shows that a war on wolves won't help moose. 

Our wildlife needs your voice now! Click here to send your comments to the key decision-makers.

Deadline is this Thursday (September 26th).

 

The Progressive Conservatives are re-considering a proposal abandoned by the previous government after it was outed as being unscientific and unethical. If passed, the hunting of both wolves and coyotes will be liberalized across northern Ontario.

This proposal includes:

  • The elimination of a special game seal that hunters currently have to purchase to kill wolves and coyotes.
  • The elimination of reporting requirements which will make the limit of 2 wolf kills per hunter per year unenforceable.
  • Unlimited killing of coyotes, including pups, virtually year-round.

Moose are under serious threat from habitat loss and climate change, and require ecosystem based management that prioritizes their needs. These proposed changes aren’t designed to help moose, they are designed to persecute predators. 

The government listened to us last time we urged them to abandon a similar proposal. Together we can ensure that our wildlife species receive better protection in our province.

 

Temagami Changing of the Seasons Gathering 2019

Photo: Tierney Angus, Friends of Temagami

 

Over the weekend of September 7th, 2019 Alex Mathias, an Ojibway Elder, will host his annual Changing of the Seasons Ceremony to celebrate the fall equinox on his traditional family territory in the Temagami region of Ontario.

On Saturday there will be a 'Changing of the Seasons' ceremony, a group potluck lunch, visits to Spirit Rock, and guided hikes through the old-growth forest. Attendees have the option of participating in group events after the ceremony, exploring the area on their own, or simply enjoying some quiet time on the lake. There is no structured agenda for the weekend and Sunday is an open day.

All are welcome! If you have never been to Temagami and have always wanted to go, this is a great opportunity to experience the wilderness in a group setting. 

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Endangered species to make way for sprawl development

"More Homes, More Choice Act" guts protections for Ontario's most vulnerable plants and animals

TORONTO, June 6, 2019 /CNW/ - Today the Government of Ontario passed the More Homes, More Choice Act, a law that opens significant wildlife habitat to sprawl development through amendments to the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA). The amendments give new powers to the Minister to delay, limit and remove protections for at-risk species. Further, it creates numerous, overlapping pathways for developers and industrialists to dodge critical requirements.

"The Endangered Species Act has been torn to shreds," says Kelsey Scarfone, program manager with Environmental Defence. "Those with a vested, short-term economic interest in sprawl development now have free rein to bulldoze, dig up and pave over the habitats of our most vulnerable plants and animals."

"The forestry industry, which is contributing to, if not driving, the decline of boreal caribou in Ontario, successfully lobbied in the past for exemptions to the ESA meaning they didn't have to comply with the prohibitions," says Rachel Plotkin, Boreal Project Manager with the David Suzuki Foundation. "Now there is no need for an exemption—the ESA has been weakened to the extent that status quo logging operations can continue under its watch."

In the face of growing opposition to the proposed law, the provincial government chose to ram the Bill through the Legislature, curtailing debate and ignoring the serious concerns of environmental organizations, scientists, Indigenous voices, municipalities and tens of thousands of citizens.

"These changes do not reflect the values or long-term interests of the people of Ontario. The haste with which the government proceeded ensured that Ontarians would have no say in the outcome," says Anne Bell, director of conservation and education at Ontario Nature. "Calls to engage in genuine public consultation over the coming summer were swept aside." The amendments also reduce future opportunities for public input on ESA matters under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

The ESA gutting follows a ground-breaking United Nations report, released in May, that documents the rapid decline of ecosystems and accelerating rates of species extinction. According to the report, a million species are now threatened with extinction.

"These changes to the ESA take us in the wrong direction," says Gord Miller Chair of Earthroots and former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. "The alarming patterns of biodiversity loss, outlined in the United Nations report, hold true everywhere, including Ontario, and threaten the very foundations of our well-being and our economies."

Job Opportunity - Campaign Director

Earthroots Campaigns

Photo credits: Algonquin wolf by Wesley Liikane, Temagami Red Squirrel Road blockade (Earthroots), ancient white pine by Hap Wilson

 

Earthroots is hiring!

The Campaign Director is responsible for delivering high impact campaigns that will educate and mobilize the public.

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Campaign Director will lead the development and implementation of Earthroots’ campaigns in collaboration with our small team, mainly working out of our Toronto office.

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The Earthroots Primer on the Endangered Species Act of Ontario

Algonquin Wolf

Algonquin wolves are a Threatened species with a population of  500 or less remaining. Photo credit: Wes Liikane

 

Protecting species-at-risk in Ontario has a long history going back to 1971 when this province (under a Progressive Conservative government) became one of the first jurisdictions in the world to pass an Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Act was reconceptualized and updated in a major rewrite in 2007 only to be weakened in amendments two years later which created exemptions for certain industries in specified situations. Now ten years after the major rewrite, the current government has posted a notice on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) that it is under review and inviting comments and submissions from supporters and detractors of the legislation. 

 

To facilitate public participation in that review process Earthroots offers this primer to provide a basic understanding of how the current legislation is structured and where some of the points of controversy exist regarding the implementation of the Act. If you want to get into a more detailed analysis and explanation of the legislation, there is no better source available then the original 2009 review of the legislation by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario* called “The Last Line of Defence” and the special report of 2013 produced subsequent to the amendments made to the original titled “Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence”.

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Temagami's ancient pine forests and roadless wilderness areas are under threat. We need your voice to help protect them!

                                                    Photo: Hap Wilson

 

Temagami is internationally renowned for its old-growth red and white pine forests. Only one percent of these ancient forests are left worldwide, and more than half of what remains is located in Temagami. 

The Draft Temagami Forest Managment Plan is calling for another 10 years of logging and road building, opening up remote wilderness areas and further eroding the ecology of this unique region in northern Ontario. 

Failure to fully protect Temagami has made it the site of one of Ontario's most intense and persistent environmental conflicts. It's time to create new protected areas in the Temagami region and boost the resilience of the forest in the face climate change.

Comments are due by Tuesday, December 11th - take action here now!

 

It's Giving Tuesday! Be part of something big.

 

What is Giving Tuesday? It's a global movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Black Friday. The “opening day of the giving season,” it's a time when charities, companies and individuals join together and rally for their favourite causes.

Earthroots' year-end fundraising campaign kicks off today and runs until December 31st! Please give as generously as you can to support our steadfast campaigns to protect Ontario's wilderness, wildlife and watersheds.

Every donation makes a difference!

Show your support for the Earthroots campaign you are most passionate about today.

Visit our Giving Tuesday page now.

 

Ford ends independence for all officers of the Ontario legislature

Do you care about oversight, transparency and accountability when it comes to our government? Speak out against Ford's Bill 57 and tell him that Ontario needs a strong, independent Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. The deadline for signatures is November 25th. Add your voice here.

 

By Gord Miller in OpinionPolitics | November 21, 2018 - Canada's National Observer

Like many jurisdictions with parliamentary traditions, the Ontario legislature appoints legislative officers, sometimes called parliamentary officers, to oversee and review activities of government that warrant special concern.

Their duties include regularly issuing public reports that critically evaluate government performance in specific areas.

The officers are chosen by an all-party Committee and report directly to the legislature through the speaker, not to the premier and the government.

Tradition and current legislation say they are appointed for specific terms and cannot be removed during that time (unless they can no longer do their job or have committed a wrong-doing serious enough to give the legislature “cause.”)

This inherent security of their positions is necessary to protect the officers from undue influence by the government they review, or from reprisal for revealing embarrassing information in their reports.

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