April 18th, 2017
Hon. Glen Murray
Minister of Environment & Climate Change
Ferguson Block 11th Flr,
77 Wellesley St W,
Toronto, ON M7A 2T5
On multiple occasions in the House, you have answered questions regarding the actions of the mega multinational energy corporation WPD and its attempt to construct energy installations in both my riding and that of my colleague, the Member from Simcoe-Grey. During those interactions, you have emphatically stated your intent to ensure the integrity of a process as well as your concerns about actions which could undermine it.
While I can appreciate the Minister’s desire to uphold the integrity of the Environmental Review process, I must insist that the process is being undermined by the proponent in this case. Last week, WPD served notice that it intends to begin clearing land on the South Shore of Prince Edward County which is not currently covered by a stay issued by an Ontario Court last year.
This is only the latest in a long line of actions taken by the proponent to exert pressure or influence on the Tribunal to render a decision on its timeline – instead of the tribunal’s – and in its favour, regardless of the impact on the biodiversity of the South Shore.
The proponent has been an unrelentingly poor corporate citizen in its interactions with the County and its residents and, now, is seeking to begin construction activities in an attempt to pressure a decision from the Tribunal. I refer you to the following quote from an article by Bruce Bell in the Belleville Intelligencer from April 17th.
“In January, at the final remedy hearing, the company asked the Tribunal if they would render a decision by the beginning of April. When the panel indicated they were unsure if a decision would be made by then, wpd indicated it would be proceeding with clearing activities prior to the blackout periods specified in the approval conditions.”
While you have on multiple occasions in the House stated a reluctance to involve yourself in the process, I respectfully submit that that same reluctance should not extend to ensuring that the process itself is immune to pressure from the parties before it.
Intervening to protect the integrity of the process, which the proponent has wilfully entered into and now seeks to undermine, is notably different from intervening to ensure an outcome. That distinction is central to this matter.
I look forward to your consideration and reply.
Todd Smith, MPP