Seeing green

By Amber Cowie

Cynics may describe the months leading up to an election as the “silly season” but it is also the ideal time to push political parties to clarify their position on the environment.

As in the past, the Green Prosperity Initiative, a coalition of leading conservation organizations that includes Ontario Nature, released its green priorities for political parties to respond to. The coalition is calling on the Progressive Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic parties to protect Ontario’s ecological assets and work toward building a robust, green economy in which environmental protection becomes a competitive advantage in the domestic and international marketplace.

Created in 2008, the Green Prosperity Initiative meets once a year to identify and refine priorities that the 21 member groups share. After careful deliberation, those conservation concerns are presented to each political party to reinforce the importance of protecting Ontario’s waterways, reducing pollutants in the air, conserving forests, wetlands and watersheds, encouraging the production and distribution of local food, and protecting and rehabilitating significant habitat and ecosystems.

Says Anne Bell, Ontario Nature’s senior director of conservation and education, “Through the Green Prosperity Initiative, environmental groups across the province have identified seven priority issues. In anticipation of the 2011 election, we are asking all political parties to commit to taking action on these issues. We will also be reaching out to voters to raise awareness of what is at stake.”

The green priorities of the initiative focus on seven key targets:

  1. Remove the cap on the production of renewable energy, which currently limits green energy to 13 percent of the overall energy supply; 50 percent of our energy comes from nuclear power.
  2. Promote clean manufacturing to reduce pollution.
  3. Reduce traffic congestion by supporting public transit and other transportation options.
  4. Create a Great Lakes Act that recognizes the ecological importance of the Great Lakes.
  5. Strengthen and protect the provincial government’s Greenbelt and Foodland initiatives for southern Ontario
  6. Protect Ontario’s boreal forests through planning that reduces industrial encroachment.
  7. Help farmers and landowners safeguard and expand habitat for Ontario’s endangered plants and animals.

The other members of the Green Prosperity Initiative are the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, the Citizens Environment Alliance, the Conservation Council of Ontario, the David Suzuki Foundation, Earthroots, Ecojustice, Environment North, Environmental Defence, Forest Ethics, Great Lakes United, Greenpeace, Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), Local Food Plus, Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, the Pembina Institute, the Sierra Club Ontario, the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and the Wildlands League.


  1. William Palmer William Palmer
    October 8, 2011    

    It is somewhere between sickening and incredible that something as pure as the natural creation of a mighty God is turned into a political football by the “Green Prosperity Initiative” pushing an agenda in which the prosperity is their financial bottom line. Your objective #1 is already resulting in the destruction of the natural environment where the largest contributor to “the production of renewable energy” in Ontario – wind turbines are installed. Do you not see the conflict with your Objective #6? Is it only the boreal forests of Northwest Ontario that matter? Perhaps the poets and true environmentalists described it best:

    God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. ~John Muir

    The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way. ~William Blake

    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.
    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
    A tree that looks at God all day
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
    A tree that may in Summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;
    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.
    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.
    ~Sgt Alfred Joyce Kilmer, “Trees,” 1914 (Died in battle during First World War aged 31)

    Definitely, I know that I shall never see a wind turbine as lovely as a tree, yet, we cut trees to install them, and tower the turbines over the forests, haunting the habitat of forest wildlife. Even worse, while your objective #7 calls for farmers and landowners to “safeguard and expand habitat for Ontario’s endangered plants and animals” in installing wind turbines, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has given permission to destroy the habitat of endangered wildlife to install wind turbines.

    Finally, while your focus is on “nature” do you not feel that there is some need to protect the habitat of human beings also? Inadequate setbacks to wind turbines are causing risk and doing harm to people, but it seems that the 21 members of the “Green Prosperity Initiative” do not consider that as they focus on the financial prosperity of those who profit from the wind turbines. Is it your view that since humans in Ontario are not really an endangered species, that killing a few is of no consequence? After all, the wind turbines are not in your back yard are they?


  2. October 8, 2011    

    The 33, 100 meter turbines planned for the Green Bush on McLeans Mountain by Northland Power are in the only key habitat on eastern Manitoulin Island.Plans are also for expansion with this and other projects jumping on board.Manitoulin has one of the highest diverse species in Ontario only to be wiped out with Renewable Energy Approvals for corporate bottom line. This is industrialization such as Manitoulin has ever been witness to. Landowners who profit and First Nations for this and their projects who are duped into thinking this is a great step forward is exactly the opposite. This is a tragedy like no other. How green is that?

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