My Submission to the Ontario Consultation: A made-in-Ontario climate change plan

The first thing we need is to keep the independent watchdog agency, the Ontario Environmental Commissioner. Ms Saxe has done a good job, and her 2018 report should be adopted. It is a lot more economical to limit water pollution than pay the price to clean it up afterward. We need to commit funding to programs that protect municipal drinking water sources, as well as increase the protection of wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife across the province. Currently it is getting harder and in many places impossible for homeowners to get home insurance against flooding. One reason basement floods are becoming more prevalent is the loss of wetlands. So increasing the protection of wetlands is essential. Woodlands and wildlife across the province need protection too.

After all, we can’t exist without water.

You’ve asked about the effects that climate change is having on our households, businesses, communities and public infrastructure. Here in Waterloo Region we’re increasingly having extreme weather events. “100 year storms” are happening yearly. In this century in Elmira we’ve had several ice storms, with trees coming down ripping into homes. I understand basement floods are so prevalent that homeowners can’t get insurance to cover them. Even though some governments don’t believe in climate change, the building standards for eavestroughs have changed to accommodate the torrential downpours we get almost every rainfall now. Such rain used to be the exception, now it’s the norm. With all the ice storms, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get our hydro lines underground.

The most valuable help you can give homeowners is subsidies to facilitate retrofitting existing homes.

We also need to protect our water sources for municipal water supplies so we don’t have another Walkerton.

The best way to hold polluters accountable is putting a price on carbon. While I agree cap and trade wasn’t the ideal way to go about it, the federal government’s fee and dividend system is a better choice. Don’t waste our tax dollars fighting a no-win battle.

Binding emission targets can be legislated so we can keep Global warming to 1.5%. We need a 15% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, and we can be Net Carbon Neutral by 2050. Government has the power to jump start change with legislation. Mandate all government buildings and operations move to zero carbon.

The province needs to support the clean economy, but also support energy efficiency and conservation. We can do that by investing in public transit, and switching to electric buses and trains, and replacing gas stations with charging stations. People want to switch to electric vehicles but many can’t afford it without subsidies.

We need serious investment in cycling infrastructure. New York City has discovered that reducing street parking in favor of protected bike lanes makes the brick and mortar stores in our towns and cities prosper.

Intensification of housing in our urban cores especially along existing public transit lines. This will help keep our farmland and greenbelts secure, so we will have food security.

The greatest efficiency the government can make would be to wind down our nuclear plants whilst ramping up alternative energy initiatives. Wind and solar are only part of the story, geothermal is good too. Encouraging micro energy generation, especially for farmers and folks living in rural Ontario would help them help themselves. As they do in Europe, small biogas genberators can be fuelled by organic waste generated by the farm property would help make them secure.

But we really need to do what’s necessary to protect our environment.

 


Today is the deadline to submit.
https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change

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Municipal Proportional Representation

My submission to Ontario’s municipal ranked ballot consultation

Q: What are your thoughts on using ranked ballots for Ontario municipal elections?
A: I disagree with even considering ranked ballots for municipal use unless they are used to introduce an element of proportionality to the electoral process. In order to achieve this there is a need for multi-member districts or offices so Ranked Ballots might be used in an STV (Single Transferable Vote) system.

Q: Should municipalities be able to use ranked ballots for certain offices and not others? For example, only for mayor?

A: I have never bought into the idea that instant runoff voting is somehow more democratic than any other winner-take-all system. This is why I don’t agree with any winner-take-all method to elect a mayor. Ranked ballots should only be used in multi-member races to ensure a proportional outcome (again, as in STV).

The proportionally elected municipal council could select the mayor. The idea of democracy is to make government accountable to the people, so investing a disproportionate amount of power in the office of leader seems more like re-establishing a non-hereditary monarchy via by election. That might have seemed reasonable when they signed the Magna Carta, but we ought to be able to do better than that in the 21st century.

Q: Should public consultation by a municipality be required before implementing ranked ballots or before changing from ranked ballots back to the current system?

A: Any major change to our electoral process should require both public education and consultation.

Q: What form should that consultation take?

A: Empanelling an independent citizen’s assembly to study the issue and make recommendations would be a good start. It is critical that enough time is allotted to do this work. After the recommendations are made, there should be should be public consultation meetings, ideally conducted both online and off before following up with a binding referendum requiring a simple majority. Once the new system is chosen there should be a set time or number of elections for the new system to be practiced, after which a second referendum to determine whether to keep it, try something else or return to the old way should be held.

Q: Unlike the current system, ranked ballots can involve multiple rounds of counting before all the seats to be elected have been won.

How much information would you want about election results? For example, where there have been multiple rounds of counting would you want to see the results of each round of counting or just the final results?

A: The details of all the results should be shared in the interest of open government. This can be done easily and cheaply in a digital world.

Q: Are there other ideas you wish to share on ranked ballots that you would like us to consider?

A: If ranked ballots are to be used in a non-proportional winner-take-all system, multiple rounds of counting wherein candidates are dropped from the race must require multiple votes, not instant runoff voting.
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