I just read Victor Doyle’s opinion piece on “Restoring Nature’s Health Post-COVID” (page 38, ON Nature, Fall 2020) and found it important and revealing.

I am former land use planner myself. Although a short piece, it’s clear that he has revealed what many of us either knew, or suspected – that the current COVID-19 crisis presents a “public distraction” for any government to unilaterally implement regressive decisions of various types. As somebody once said (and I paraphrase), never let a good crisis go to waste.  It is all the more important in times like these that all governmental decisions be examined carefully within their broader context. 

For example, Minister’s Zoning Orders were used only sparingly because they were subject to scrutiny as unilateral wielding of power without the otherwise normal public planning process.  This was because any government using this absolute power would be subject to close scrutiny and could pay dearly at the next election.  Where has this principle gone? Only recently as a result of numerous Zoning Orders has the general public been made aware of the total power a Minister has over their Ministry’s decisions. I must say, it smacks of U.S. President Trump’s use of so many Executive Orders!

Considering the times we are in, Mr. Doyle’s article may well be one of the most important pieces in ON Nature in my recent memory. I hope that there will be continued public scrutiny and even wider exposure of decisions and issues of concern to Ontario Nature and the rest of us green-minded folk.

– Wayne McEachern, MCIP, RPP (Ret.)