Ontario Election 2007: Who is the Greenest, Part 2

We looked at this earlier, but now 13 environmental groups have released a comparison of the Conservative, Green, Liberal and NDP platforms.

Unlike in the United States, there is a remarkable consensus in Ontario; Peter Gorrie of the Star notes that all of the parties claim to be green, and are in fact tripping over each other to convince voters they're on the right side of what has become a motherhood issue.

The analysis rated each party as "Yes," "No," or "partial" on six major issues. As expected, the Greens got the most "Yes" marks and no "No's." They're far out on their own because, true to their origins, they view every policy — finance, health, education and the rest — as part of a sustainable whole. Results below the fold. ::Toronto Star
picture by Raffi Anderian/Toronto StarENVIRONMENT: CAMPAIGN PLATFORMS

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY

Party positions

Liberals: Shut some coal-fuelled generating stations by 2011, all by 2014; spend $40 billion on new and refurbished nuclear stations to maintain present production; double energy conservation and renewable sources, and provide rebates for efficient products and renewable power; continue "reasonable" electricity pricing.

Conservatives: Since we need coal plants "for awhile yet," put pollution scrubbers on at least the Nanticoke generating station, and "explore" clean coal and other technologies; start replacing aging nuclear power stations immediately; introduce tax incentives for energy efficiency, "embrace" renewable energy sources, impose stricter efficiency standards on industrial and commercial buildings and require energy audit before a house is sold; ensure "stable and affordable" energy prices.

NDP: Shut the Nanticoke generating station by 2011, Lambton by 2012 and the other two by the end of 2014; eliminate construction of new nuclear plants; promote and give incentives for conservation, efficiency and renewables, including 100,000 solar water heaters by 2012; cut electricity rates for large industries if they promise to keep jobs in the province, with a special low rate for northern forest industries.

Green Party: would phase out coal-fuelled stations by 2009, as long as consumption drops by 20 per cent through conservation; ban new nuclear construction and repairs that would extend station life beyond 2025; use savings for $16 billion conservation and efficiency program. Introduce aggressive improvements in building and appliance energy efficiency, with conservation the main aim of Ontario Power Authority; raise electricity prices over three years.

As it stands: Ontario now gets electricity mainly from nuclear, coal-fuelled and hydro stations. Since coal causes smog and climate change all parties say it should be eliminated, but they differ on how soon. The Liberals promised in 2003 to close all five coal plants by this year, but only one, Lakeview in Mississauga, was shut. Given the high cost of scrubbers, Conservatives would likely keep Nanticoke open indefinitely.

Fast facts: Ontario has 30,000 megawatts of electricity generating capacity, but many power facilities are aging, and 80 per cent must be refurbished or replaced over the next 20 years. The Ontaro Power Authority called for 3,150 megawatts of conservation by 2025; the government increased that to 6,500. But environmentalists argue even that is too cautious.

Ask a candidate
Can conservation and renewable power eliminate the need for coal and nuclear?
How much should we pay for electricity?
What have you done to reduce your own energy consumption?
Should we dam wild northern rivers to provide power to southern Ontario?
How generous should we make incentives and rebates for efficiency and conservation?

GREENBELT

Party positions
Liberals would: Consider applications from regional and county governments to expand the Greenbelt; although they cancelled previous Conservative plans to extend Highway 427 and the Bradford bypass, extend the 404 and 407 through the Greenbelt, along with expressway system from Niagara and Brantford; review legislation on applications to open or enlarge quarries, which, under current law, are never refused.

Conservatives would: Protect the Greenbelt within its current borders; create fund to help people near the Greenbelt cope with its impacts.

NDP would: Consider expanding the Greenbelt, especially if local municipalities request the change; cancel planned extension of Highway 404 to Lake Simcoe and use money for public transit; reverse Liberal government's approval of doubling of Dufferin quarry on the Niagara Escarpment.

Green Party would: Make the Greenbelt permanent and restrict development to areas already designated as urban space; divert 75 per cent of proposed highway spending up to 2012 to sustainable public transit projects; offer aid to farmers and others impacted by Greenbelt designation; immediately increase the tax on aggregates to $1 per tonne from the current 11.5 cents and to $4 by 2011, to reduce other taxes and promote aggregate conservation and recycling.

As it stands: The previous Conservative government offered some protection to the Oak Ridges Moraine, north of Toronto, then, the Liberals enlarged the protection to a 1.8-million-hectare Greenbelt. Environmentalists complain it's threatened by expressways, water lines and other projects, and argue it must be expanded to curb urban sprawl. None of the parties promises expansion. The Liberals and NDP would consider extending the boundaries but only if local governments apply, which is unlikely.

Fast facts: The Liberal government says it's trying to curb urban sprawl, but a recent study by the Neptis Foundation concluded the policies are failing, in part because of the continued development of big-box shopping centres and business parks, which require car travel. Every year, Ontario loses 3,000 hectares of farmland to development.

Ask a candidate
Should the Greenbelt be expanded?
Should new highways be built through the Greenbelt?
Is it important to stop urban sprawl from leaping over the Greenbelt?
If so, what should be done?
Should we ban construction of subdivisions on farmland?

WASTE

Party positions

Liberals: Have already exempted energy-from-waste (high-tech incineration) pilot or demonstration projects from environmental assessment and would consider permanent projects.

Conservatives: Would consider energy-from-waste projects.

NDP: Would not allow energy-from-waste projects.

Green Party: Would not allow energy-from-waste projects.

As it stands: Whether to consider energy-from-waste projects that would turn trash into heat and electricity divides the Liberals and Conservatives from NDP and Greens. Liberals recently started deposit-return system for wine and liquor bottles. All parties promise improved recycling and waste reduction with, as usual, the Greens most aggressive and detailed and the Conservatives most vague and cautious. Greens would extend deposit-return system to many forms of packaging.

Fast facts: Trash is burned in Ontario. Residents of Bath, a small community near Kingston, are battling plans by Lafarge Canada Ltd. to incinerate plastics and tires in its cement kiln. The province has given its blessing, but opponents have appealed, arguing the air and water polluton will harm their health

Ask a candidate
Should we allow garbage to be burned in energy-from-waste projects?
Would you support a bigger deposit on beer, wine and liquor bottles?
Would you require that pop, once again, be sold only in returnable bottles?
Should packaging be taxed or have a deposit-return system?

Tags: Ontario