Dale Henry was the Head of the Pesticide Ban In Ontario (MOE)
Dale Henry is the Head of the Drive Clean Program in Ontario (MOE)
It Seems, Gideon Forman has a good friend in the (MOE)
Mr. Michael Harris: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. Minister, I know you’re well aware that vehicle emissions here in Ontario have dramatically declined over the last decade. But this trend isn’t unique in Ontario. British Columbia has also seen major reductions, largely as a result of new technology and cleaner fuels. Speaker, that’s why the Liberal government in BC is phasing out its emission testing program: because they know it’s no longer necessary. But what did you do? You rushed to introduce a new computerized test that’s less reliable and more prone to error. Now every day, countless vehicles fail this new test not because of emissions-related problems but because of a computer error.
Minister, can you explain the difference between the situation in Ontario and in BC?
Hon. James J. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, the hardest job in this House has to be environment critic for the Conservative Party, because you have to take the anti-environment stand on every occasion. Unlike some of his predecessors—Dr. Harry Parrott would be an example, and Susan Fish, who took a pro-environment stand—he doesn’t.
Let me tell you what the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment says about Drive Clean. “Our doctors are extremely concerned about air pollution. In Ontario, nearly 10,000 people die prematurely each year because of smog. Programs like Drive Clean—which reduce smog components and poisons such as carbon monoxide—are very important to public health. Our doctors believe that, far from being eliminated, these programs should be strengthened.” That’s from Gideon Forman, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Michael Harris: Minister, I flatly disagree: I think the folks who have the hardest job in this House are you 53 on that side trying to defend this scandal-plagued government.
Minister, I’m hoping you can explain how your temporary changes to the new Drive Clean test make any sense. First you tell Ontarians they must pay $35 to get a new test. Then, if their car fails because the computer isn’t ready, you tell them to drive around town and up and down the highway for a day. Also, they can go back to the shop and pay to take another test. And to top it all off, you’ve added another step for Ontarians buying a vehicle, who may have to get up to three tests at a cost of nearly $90, before making a purchase.
Minister, in all seriousness, how can Ontarians view this unnecessary program as anything more than a government cash grab?
Hon. James J. Bradley: I keep in close contact with the author of this program, Conservative Minister Norm Sterling. I want to compliment Norm on establishing this program, which is excellent for the province of Ontario. I know he got bounced out of the party by you folks there, but he still established a good program.
Drive Clean reduces unhealthy emissions from cars by 36%. It reduces automobile pollution in Ontario by more than one third. To put it in a bigger context, Drive Clean cuts smog pollutants by nearly 35,000 tonnes a year.
I can tell you that the Environmental Commissioner said—I just happen to have here before me his exact words from his report—“The Drive Clean program has undergone a number of independent program reviews that concluded significant reductions in smog-causing pollutants were being achieved, but that further reductions could result from program improvements,” including implementation of the new regime. That’s Gord Miller.