Portal to another World

You know those sci-fi movies and television programs in which the story revolves around a portal adjoining two worlds. Often the plot is based on the idea that whatever the main character does in one world has some sort of effect in the other world. Some days, when I plunk myself down in my residence in Toronto, I feel like I’m playing the part of one of those characters. Standing on a balcony overlooking the Toronto skyline, I can see beauty of sorts, but I have to admit within moments I like to imagine that I’m that sci-fi character and I’m transported in the blink of an eye to a lake shore or hill top back home. Needless to say, home is where my heart always is.

Personally, one of my favourite ways to add to my web of memories involves spending time with my sons hunting, fishing or spending time at camp. In my opinion, most true northerners can’t help but love the land we live in. And as Northerners we know how fragile our environment is and that we must be sure to always use our resources with respect and we must be vigilant protecting it. One of my favourite proverbs comes from the Chief Seattle, a Suquamish and Duwamish from long ago. His message for all of us is simple but so true. “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.”

I raise the issue of respecting and protecting our environment in light of a caucus meeting we had in which the main topic of discussion was Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Dianne Saxe’s final report. Readers will recall that back in November, the Ford Government announced it was axing the office of the Environmental Commissioner. The Commissioner operated at arm’s length from the government as a watchdog, reporting on how well government policies and plans comply with the 1993 Environmental Bill of Rights. As well, the Commissioner reported on the Province’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy conservation and efficiency.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Doug Ford dropped the axe on the Commissioner’s office. Ever since taking office, Doug Ford has systematically demolished policies and programs put in place to conserve energy, slow the advancement of climate change, and promote a cleaner economy. Ford cancelled the cap-and-trade program that limited greenhouse gas emissions, removed the incentive for major corporate polluters to curb their heavy carbon pollution, and axed nearly 800 green energy incentive programs for homeowners and businesses — a cut that experts have deemed an ‘assault on green energy.’

Just last week, the Ford government slashed a series of programs designed to save energy in buildings. He is proposing to weaken policies that protect against increased urban sprawl, which encroaches on farmland, forests and wetlands; and makes commutes, congestion and fossil-fuel pollution worse. He has, twice, tried to punch holes in the Greenbelt.

In her final report Commissioner Saxe stated, “Without effective government action to conserve energy, especially fossil fuels, Ontario will continue to damage its finances, climate and well-being.”

Each year, people from around the world recognize April 22ndas International Earth Day. Since the first official Earth Day occurred in 1970, events are held in nearly 200 countries to help all of us highlight the importance of protecting the Earth and its environment. It is a day when we can recognize the ambitious spirit and contributions of those serving on the front lines, both around the world and in our own neighbourhoods.

Here in Algoma-Manitoulin, we have access to some of the richest resources in the world, literally almost right on our doorstep. How many people can say they can breathe pure, clean air, filtered by lush, green forests? How many people live minutes away from sparkling rivers and streams full of fish and woodlands where wildlife is healthy and abundant?

Earth Day in many Algoma-Manitoulin communities, activities large and small are held to encourage people to do their part in protecting this planet we call home. Earth Day serves to inspire people to join their friends and neighbors to connect with nature and work together to protect our planet and build strong, sustainable, and resilient communities.

If you grew up in a home like my brothers and I did, your parents may have taught you that when you borrow something from someone, you should return it to them in at least as good a shape as you got it in – if not better. Seems like Mom and Chief Seattle are cut from the same cloth.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.”

Thinking again of standing on the balcony in Toronto, looking over towards Queen’s Park, I can’t help but think that what happens on the ‘urban side’ of the portal down in the Legislature really does impact what happens to our environment back home. So in a way, the ‘portal’ plot is kind of true. That’s why I say Ontarians deserve a government that protects our valuable natural resources, invests in our health and prosperity and does all it can to slow the crisis of climate change. Ontarians deserve more, not less, from their government.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected]or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Mike Mantha

Michael Mantha is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He is a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who was elected in 2011. He's the NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and critic for Northern Development and Mines. He represents the riding of Algoma—Manitoulin.
Mike Mantha