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Ford’s record under scrutiny as some voters and groups push climate crisis into the campaign spotlight

Ford’s record under scrutiny as some voters and groups push climate crisis into the campaign spotlight

Ford's record under fire as some voters, groups push climate crisis into campaign spotlight

Judy Seal says she is worried about the world her four grandchildren will live in. 

The 68-year-old has been an amateur horticulturalist for decades, making diaries about which plants bloomed earliest and what birds first arrived in her gardens each spring. 

Seal stated, “After a while you see patterns.” “And what I see, well, it is out of whack.”

Ottawa resident was one of many Ontarians who participated in the upcoming election. told CBC News that climate change was their top concern in the June 2 election.

Seal believes the issue has taken a back seat on the campaign trail. She understands why. Many voters have other priorities, like affordability, but said she hopes the climate crisis gets more attention.

She stated that “all of the other topics will become irrelevant if we continue down this dangerous path”

The environmental stakes are high. Scientists warned in an April United Nations report that it’s Act now or neverClimate Change

Mark Winfield, professor of environmental politics at Toronto’s York University, called this Ontario election the most important for the environment in the post-Second World War era.

He said, “And we have very different paths being put in front voters.”

Winfield pointed to what he called stark contrasts among climate commitments from the Progressive Conservatives and their main opponents, the Ontario NDP, Liberals and Greens.

Ford focuses on manufacturing

Doug Ford, Frontrunner and Chief PC Leader, focuses his campaign messaging on the $14 billion his government secured and partially contributed to for electric vehicle (EV), manufacturing at plants in Oakville, Oshawa and IngersollAnd Battery production in Windsor and Brampton.

He also touts the PCs single-biggest initiative to lower emissions: a plan to transition Ontario’s steel plants to using lower-carbon sources of energy by By the end of 2020, convert coal-fired furnaces and make them electric-powered. Steel production accounts for more than 40 per cent of all industrial greenhouse gas emissions in the province.

Ford and his candidates rarely if ever use the term “climate change.” It is not mentioned in the pre-election budget of the PCs. At a campaign stop Wednesday, Ford said he “took a different strategy” than previous governments on climate issues, putting an emphasis on long-term jobs.

The focus on manufacturing papers over his government’s polarizing record on climate and the environment, some experts say.

“Climate policy hasn’t been at the forefront of the debate for the past four years,” said Carolyn Kim, senior director of communities and decarbonization at the Pembina Institute. “In fact, there have been some significant rollsbacks when it comes climate policy,” Carolyn Kim (senior director of communities & decarbonization at Pembina Institute), a renewable energy think-tank.

The PCs won a majority in 2018 after promising to rein in government spending.

The Made-in-Ontario Climate Plan was also launched with great fanfare in 2018. It has been quietly changed in April, months after the province’s auditor general said the The government was on track for less than 20% of its emission reductions promisesBy 2030

Keith Brooks, director of programs at Environmental Defence, stated that Ontario has been pretending to be concerned about climate change. The group released a report on Thursday that examines Ford’s climate record.

Brooks explained that the campaign is designed to bring attention to the climate crisis.

He told CBC News that he hoped it would help Ontarians concerned about climate to vote more closely.

“What Ontario does about climate change matters.” We are the second-largest greenhouse emitter among the provinces, after Alberta.

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An industrial facility with sheds and metal boxes in a green field

Highway 413, a point of climate contention

Ford’s environmental record he was criticized by the other leaders of the main partyMonday’s debate was particularly focused on his controversial promise of building Highway 413. The highway would pass through the Greenbelt and pave over an estimated 2 000 acres of farmland.

Ford claims his government has taken a different approach in combating climate change than other governments. He has eschewed efficiency rebates and renewable energy for investments in electric vehicle manufacturing. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press).

Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario. Environmental Defence’s analysis found that the highway would add 17 megatonnes to Ontario’s annual carbon emissions by 2050 if it were built. 

The PCs say the project is necessary to ease gridlock and shorten commutes for drivers in the vote-rich regions of Peel and York. They claim that less traffic will mean less idling, and less emissions. However, the party has not made any public modeling to support these claims.

They also stressed the $61.1 million over 10 years that they had earmarked for transit projects in their preelection budget.

The three other main political parties all oppose the highway. The parties have each offered broadly comparable plans to reach climate targets, though they come with varying degrees of detail.

Their respective leaders have also tried to tie climate proposals to affordability, which has emerged as the number one voter issue on the campaign trail. The NDP, Liberals and Greens have all committed to a target of cutting emissions to 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and have promised home retrofit programs and EV incentives.

The PCs decided to maintain their 2030 emissions target at 30% below 2005 levels.

Here’s a comparison of all the party platforms..

Winfield encouraged voters interested in environmental issues to look closely at what the parties are offering.

“I think it’s important that they think about their choices and what the implications are for the future of the province and the planet.”

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