Staff Blog

Ottawa River’s Best Kept Secret

I visited the beautiful waterfront on the Ottawa River in the town of Deep River last week, following site tours at Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories and Rolphton. A sign at the waterside park says it is Ontario’s “best kept secret” and it’s all too true .

The Ontario Climate Change Action Plan

The government of Ontario released its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) this week which outlines the province’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fighting climate change for the next four years. The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) and the Canadian Environmental Association (CELA) are pleased that the CCAP includes actions that would support low-income households and vulnerable communities during Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

$900 Million from Ontario's Cap and Trade Program to Help with Energy Retrofits and Energy Efficiency

While Ontario will not begin auctioning greenhouse gas allowances under the new Cap and Trade program until 2017, the Province has committed close to $1 billion of the possible proceeds under the program to redress the burden borne by low-income households and vulnerable communities in mitigating climate change.

Getting FIT: How Ontario Became a Green Energy Leader

Guest Blog

We’ll always have Paris? How the Trans Pacific Partnership threatens Canada’s climate commitments

Canada’s environmental commitments can only be successful if they’re not undermined by other policies. In April of this year Canada signed the Paris Agreement, which binds us to hold the increase of average global temperature to less than 2 ºC, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 ºC. Canada’s simultaneous commitment to signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is completely at odds with our greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Radionuclides are Turning Our Lakes Into Radioactive Toxic Sewers

Guest Blog
(originally published as a letter to the editor in Bruce Peninsula Press (Issue #5, 2016, May 3-17, 2016)

Amendments to cap and trade bill make gains for low-income and vulnerable communities

Yesterday’s amendments to the proposed cap and trade bill (Bill 172) saw real gains for Ontario’s low-income households and vulnerable communities. Yesterday, the government carried motions that bring low-income households and vulnerable communities’ needs to the fore when the Minister considers how to use cap and trade auction revenues.

Time is running out to fix the Cap and Trade Bill

Ontario is running out of time to make sure the cap and trade program proposed in Bill 172 reduces GHG emissions and doesn’t push more Ontarians into poverty in the process.

Needed: nationwide action plan for recovery of toxic mercury from light bulbs

  Many Canadians will be glad to see the end of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) with their harsh light and often flickering glow. Despite longstanding outreach campaigns, widespread ignorance persists about mercury in CFLs.

  Although the environment is burdened by other, larger mercury sources, a broken CFL is in direct contact with people at home, work, or alongside poorly maintained vendor take-back bins.

Ontario’s proposed cap-and-trade plan gives too much away, fails vulnerable communities

Responding to climate change is the defining challenge of the twenty-first century. Ontario, like all jurisdictions, needs to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions drastically, starting yesterday. This will be difficult, but we are left with no choice: the environmental and ethical consequences of climate change are already apparent in this province. Ontarians are looking to the provincial government for climate leadership that curtails our GHG emissions and softens the negative impacts for vulnerable communities.

30 in 30: Confessions of a CELA Lifer

Incredibly, 2016 marks my 30th year at CELA. Since it is customary to sit back and reflect upon such milestones, here are 30 memories (good, bad and ugly) over the past 30 years of working on CELA cases and campaigns:

1. Arriving at CELA in 1986 fresh out of law school, but quickly discovering that I had not learned much about the day-to-day practice of environmental law.

Environment commissioner hammers Canada’s pesticide management regime

Guest Blog

Federal inaction exposes Canadians, environment to unacceptable risks, report says

A Tax Credit for Radon Remediation: Logical Next Step for Feds

Faced with a seemingly infinite number of environmental health issues to work on at CELA, we make choices. Guided by population health approaches, we focus attention on issues where the stakes are high and large numbers of people are affected. Radon qualifies.

There is no debate that radon causes cancer. It kills about 3300 Canadians a year and that’s a lot. Compared to other indoor pollutants, and using cancer risk lingo, the “lifetime excess cancer risk” from radon is orders of magnitude greater.

The Resurrection of Federal Environmental Assessment?

Over two years ago, CELA published an “in memoriam” blog to lament the untimely demise of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1992 (“CEAA”), which had been repealed and replaced in 2012 with much weaker legislation.

The CELA blog ended with the hope that “a new and improved federal EA regime will soon be resurrected from the ashes.” Fortunately, it now appears that this plea may be answered in the coming months.

Can Words Protect Lakes?

My summer of 2015 included numerous fishing trips with family and friends on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. While we were often rewarded with fishing success, I constantly saw reminders of the diverse threats to aquatic ecosystem health.

For example, invasive species were omnipresent, from round gobies nibbling on bait, to spiny water fleas clogging up fishing line, to zebra mussels covering the lakebed, to the lamprey still attached to a salmon that I reeled to the boat.

The Truth on Canada’s Cosmetic Regulations from a Young Consumer

As Canadian consumers we expect to be protected by the administrative powers of our Federal Government. This holds especially true for young consumers (adolescents and children) because of our physical and psychological vulnerability. We assume we are being looked after by our older, wiser counterparts. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The safety of consumers is often overlooked by the cosmetics industry, and because of Canada’s untimely and unenforced cosmetic regulations, the safety of consumers is sometimes compromised.

Don't bee fooled: neonics are still toxic to honeybees

Did you hear that the honeybee crisis is over? This bold and surprising pronouncement appeared in Margaret Wente's July 22 Globe and Mail column, ""Good news: There is no honeybee crisis":http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/good-news-there-is-no-honeybee-crisis/article25634384/". Wente cites the latest survey statistics from the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, which indicate fewer losses of Canadian honeybee colonies this past winter than the previous one.

Governments Action to Protect the Great Lakes Basin from toxic chemicals failing

The Great Lakes are enjoying an anniversary of sorts. It’s been almost three years since Canada and the United States signed a revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with the intention of working together to make the lakes cleaner and safe for drinking. For over 40 million people who rely on the lakes, achieving these goals is essential. Unfortunately, though, our governments are not taking adequate action despite the fact that the Great Lakes remain under siege from an overwhelming number of polluting sources.

The Alternative Fuels Environmental Three-Step: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Mandate. What the dictionary defines variously as “an official order to do something”, an “authoritative command”, a “formal order”, a “directive to act”. That is what the Premier of Ontario issues in the form of a letter, a “mandate letter” every time a minister is appointed to government.