Provincial Election Coverage

Climate Change Crisis Emergency Environmental

Jeremy Milloy – 2022-05-30

If you want to cast a vote for climate and the environment June 2, read on below for the positions of the major candidates on the issues that matter to Kingstonians.

Question 1. Asked by Anglican Diocese of Ontario Green Group, River First YGK, and Kingston Youth Climate Action

The proposed 413 highway and Bradford by-pass have run into a lot of criticism because of their contribution to urban sprawl, their destruction of wetlands and farmlands, and the increase in greenhouse gases that will occur during their construction and use. Yes or no. Does your party platform call for stopping these new highway projects?

Gary Bennett (PC):  Our party’s platform calls for the construction of these projects subject to an Environmental Assessment. Traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto Area causes delays in the transport of food and goods to markets and forces drivers to sit in traffic gridlock for hours. These projects will reduce commuter time, reduce traffic congestion and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by alleviating bumper-to-bumper traffic.   

Ted Hsu (Liberal): Yes.

Zachary Typhair (Green): Yes our platform calls for the cancellation of the  413 highway and Bradford Bypass.

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): Yes, the Ontario NDP will not build these environmentally destructive highways.

Regardless of your party’s policy position, what will you do, if elected, to get these highway projects cancelled?

Gary Bennett (PC) I will support these projects and our government is fully committed to the EA process. 

Ted Hsu (Liberal): I will use my legislative experience opposing Stephen Harper’s Conservative majority in the House of Commons from 2011-2015 to try to see that this highway does not pave over the Greenbelt.

Zachary Typhair (Green): If elected I and the Green Party will work with all parties to cancel these projects and use the funds for green project’s instead. These highways will only save 30-60 seconds. Those few saved seconds aren’t worth jeopardizing our food securit, and denying my generation and the next its future.

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): The Ontario NDP would cancel these projects immediately and put the billions of dollars they would cost taxpayers towards investing in local municipal transit and improving service to boost ridership, protecting prime farmland, creating a zero-emissions vehicle strategy, and expanding the Greenbelt.


Question 2. Asked by No Clearcuts in Kingston!

Kingston is losing its remaining urban forest at an alarming rate – over 20 clearcut projects this year. What will you do at Queen’s Park to help municipalities protect their remaining woodlands?

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): We need a healthy community and that involves protecting and expanding our tree canopy. The Ontario NDP would ensure we protect our trees, farmland, and water, in consultation with Indigenous peoples, the Federal government and communities.

  • At the municipal level, I have not been supportive of any projects that allow developers to remove trees and habitats that are essential to the quality of life of Kingstonians. We were the first municipality in Ontario to declare the climate crisis as an emergency in 2019 and we’ve introduced a number of initiatives in that regard including working towards doubling the tree canopy here locally.
  • Provincially, the NDP is committed to planting 1 billion trees by 2030.

Zachary Typhair (Green): We are going to ban logging and other resource extraction in all provincial parks where ecological integrity is threatened: including Algonquin Park which remains open to logging in 65% of its area. It’s time to have better environmental assessment that will restore automatic environmental assessment of public-sector projects, plans and policies, including timber management on Crown lands and regional assessments. We must also ensure that EAs evaluate the need for a project, and alternatives to building the project, not just how and where to build the project, except for urgent infrastructure needed to implement this plan, such as transit, active transportation, electricity and electrification. On top of this we need to work with Indigenous Peoples, with the goal of permanently protecting natural ecosystems in 25% of Ontario by 2025 and 30% of Ontario by 2030.

Ted Hsu (Liberal): One of the things I would do is review, through a private members bill, the agricultural exemption used for some clear-cuts. We could require that land, clear cut under such an exemption, actually continue to be used for agriculture, instead of for development.

Gary Bennett (PC): I will ensure that municipalities have the tools available to manage the urban forests within their jurisdiction.


Question 3. Asked by Anglican Diocese of Ontario Green Group and River First YGK

Ministerial Zoning Orders fast-track development and override municipal official plans and zoning bylaws, and conservation authority regulations. The Ford government has issued over 30 of them. If you are elected, will you support MZOs in the future? In what circumstances?


Gary Bennett (PC): MZOs represent an ability to move needed development forward. I will continue to support MZOs that have the support of their local municipality. For every acre of land developed under a MZO, our government’s policy is to add two acres of protected and enhanced greenspace.  

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): From my experience on City Council, often what happens is that other levels of government will provide funding on a very tight timeline and it’s not enough time to properly consult and develop the project, and then MZOs come in as the only alternative.

  • I will not support using MZOs in the way they’ve been used by the current provincial government.
  • The Ontario NDP believes in protecting greenspace and affordable housing – those would be circumstances that could be appropriate, but there has been way too much downloading of accountability and responsibility on these initiatives at the municipal level, which harms citizens’ rights and environmental rights.

Zachary Typhair (Green): How about this? Ministerial Zoning Orders were meant to be used only under exceptional circumstances. Doug Ford’s government’s excessive use of them has been an egregious abuse of power. The Green Party platform, which I represent and support, calls for the immediate reinstatement of the Conservation Authority regulatory powers and the respect of municipal zoning plans and bylaws. I am open to the continued existence of the MZO mechanism; but it should ONLY be used as a last resort under circumstances that effect multiple jurisdictions or the province as a whole eg. Flood Zone planning.

Ted Hsu (Liberal): I and the Ontario Liberal Party would replace MZOs with a similar mechanism that is much more targeted and restricted so that it can only be used to do things like build affordable housing and preserve green spaces.

Question 4. Asked by Kyla Tienhaara, School of Environmental Studies, Queen’s University

What steps will your party take to phase out gas-powered electricity and support renewable energy by 2030?


Ted Hsu (Liberal): Our party is committed to stopping the burning of natural gas for baseload power — in opposition to the plan of the current government. We will ban new natural gas plants. Instead, we will invest in clean energy and storage to replace the nuclear plants being decommissioned.

Gary Bennett (PC): Although Ontario produces 96% of its electricity emissions free, natural gas currently represents an important demand component of our needed electrical needs. Our government supports the development of alternative sources of energy and electrical generation including renewable gas (Bio-Gas), hydrogen and small modular reactors which represent future alternatives to the current use of natural gas for electrical generation.  

Mary Rita Holland (NDP):  Municipally, we have made a huge investment in our infrastructure: a $60- million network and we are moving in the direction of biogas, and we are working through a proposal to develop a biogas facility that would a more efficient way of producing energy and a way to move away from natural gas.

  • The Ontario NDP’s goal is to achieve net-zero electricity by 2030. We are committed to expanding clean renewable energy, including wind and solar power, improving grid storage, and bringing a conservation-first model to energy planning. We will also stop privatization and expensive private power contracts to move towards public ownership.
  • The Green New Democratic Deal also includes launching an energy retrofit program (with the goal of retrofitting at least five per cent of Ontario building per year to meet international energy efficiency standards), ending fossil fuel subsidies to transition towards zero-emissions sources of energy and reimplementing the cap-and-trade system.

Zachary Typhair (Green): The Green Party is going to establish a Fair Share Carbon Budget for Ontario, for the rest of this century and incorporate a legal annual reporting requirement on progress and pollution reduction plans. We need to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030. We need to take over administration of the federal carbon fee system and increase the price by $25 until it reaches $300/tonne in 2032. All carbon fee revenues collected from individuals will be returned to individuals as dividends. We will work with the federal government to establish border carbon adjustments to create a level playing field for Ontario’s low-carbon producers. Eliminating fossil fuels from electricity generation is the fastest way compatible with our fair share carbon budget, aiming to phase out fossil gas by 2030. We must Stop new gas hookups and new fossil fuel infrastructure by 2025.

Question 5. Asked by Food Policy Council for Kingston

How does your party platform protect Ontario’s food-producing land? 


Zachary Typhair (Green): We are going to permanently protect prime farmland from being lost to non-agricultural use, such as urban sprawl, highways, and gravel mining. Move class 1 and 2 soils from the Whitebelt to the Greenbelt. We need to buy more locally. That is why we are going to provide tax incentives for local food and beverage manufacturers who purchase inputs grown by local farmers. We are going to invest in the next generation of farmers by implementing policies that support the retention of family-owned farms, farming by experienced farmers among new Canadians, and the succession of farms to a younger generation of farmers. We are also going to provide education and grant opportunities to encourage students to enter into the agri-food business. We need to make family farming more profitable. We will eliminate property tax penalties for farmers with small-scale, value-added production facilities on farms.

Gary Bennett (PC): Our government starts at the top by appointing a farmer to the position of Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This ensures that farmers have a voice at the cabinet table when policies related to Ontario’s food-producing land are reviewed and determined by government.   

Ted Hsu (Liberal): Our party is committed to expanding the Greenbelt to protect prime farmland and making sure farmers, communities, and Indigenous groups are all a part of this process.

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): The Ontario NDP is committed to stopping developments that pave over farmland. Before a project takes place, it will be subject to a mandatory Agricultural Impact assessment, in partnership with the agricultural and environmental protection communities.

  • We’ll support farmland by creating a Provincial Food Strategy that will put healthy, local food on the table. We’ll work to get with healthy, locally sourced food onto Ontario tables, that includes improved supports for farms. • We will also support young farm families with loan guarantees so that young and first-time farmers can get established in agriculture with mentorship and financial support, as well as expanding the Greenbelt.

Question 6. Asked by Seniors for Climate Action Now and

We are in a climate emergency. What are you doing to demonstrate leadership and communicate the seriousness of this situation? What will you do about it, if elected to represent Kingston and the Islands?

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): I was part of Kingston City Council when we declared the climate crisis as an emergency in 2019. I know that climate action is incredibly important to the people of Kingston and The Islands and I’m proud to have been part of projects here like the Better Homes initiative which helps individuals retrofit their homes to conserve energy and reduce emissions.

  • I support the work of organizations like the local chapter by taking part in their events to better understand the needs of our community in regard to climate action.
  • We need to address the urgency of climate change immediately – we can’t wait. If elected, I will advocate for a just transition to revitalize our economy, protect workers and make the changes needed for a prosperous, healthy future.

Ted Hsu (Liberal): The best way I can contribute is by expanding on the work I did in the past on sustainable energy. It is that work which earned me the endorsement from this election. Our party’s goal is to reduce emissions to 50% below 2005 levels, by 2030.

Zachary Typhair (Green): We need true leadership on the climate emergency, and I believe no party is taking a hard stance on the climate crisis. We must become net zero by 2035. It’s my generation that is on the hook if we fail to tackle this issue with haste. We had decades to do that and we didn’t listen. If elected I will work with all parties so we negotiate to buy and/or exchange power with Quebec if both power and transmission are available at a reasonable price. We need to get off of oil-based automobiles, that is why I would Increase the demand for new low-emission vehicles with cash incentives up to $10,000 for buying a fully electric vehicle and $1,000 for an e-bike or used electric vehicle. I would also invest into a company like Arrow electrics that is trying to make Canada’s first net zero car. We need to amend the building code, so all new commercial and residential buildings are built with the lowest carbon footprint possible and net zero by 2028. The Green Party will provide net-zero retrofit grants for non-profit housing providers, co-ops and low-income households to lower their energy costs and consumption.

Gary Bennett (PC): climate change represents a global challenge for every nation and government that must be met. Ontario has been a leader in combating climate change through strategic investments in industries, investing in public transit and protecting our waterways. I will continue to support strategic investments in industries to reduce GHG emissions to allow Ontario to meet or exceed published targets for GHG emission reductions. I will ensure that our government continues to develop and support strategies to address GHG emissions across the industrial, transportation and electrical sectors. Kingston and the Islands are water communities and the importance of water quality is critical to the success and attractiveness of this part of Ontario to the world. I will encourage the development of renewed partnerships with our adjoining Great Lakes communities to improve and protect the water quality of our shared lakes.    

Question 7: What would your party’s platform do to promote biodiversity and science-based protections for species at risk?


Ted Hsu (Liberal): Our platform plan is to increase the number of provincial parks, increase the total percentage of protected land from 10% to 30%, and to expand the Greenbelt. Dr. Katie Gibbs and Dr. Ted Hsu, our candidates in Ottawa Centre and Kingston and the Islands, respectively, hope to get elected and we have a long history of being leading voices in Canada for science-informed policy making.

Mary Rita Holland (NDP): The Ontario NDP would call for an evidence-based and expert-led review of the Endangered Species Act. We recognize that we are in the midst of a “sixth mass extinction”, caused in part by human activity, and that biodiversity plays a crucial role in our environment.

  • We would expand access to parks and green spaces across Ontario, while increasing protections of ecosystems and biodiversity. We would restore funding to local conservation authorities and stop prioritizing developers over our environment.

Gary Bennett (PC): Protecting and promoting biodiversity and species protection requires both protecting and growing the natural habitats of all species.  Our Party’s commitment to land preservation is demonstrated by adding over 600 acres to date to our Province’s Greenbelt, launching the Great Lakes Action Fund to improve water quality and developing the first new Provincial Park in over 40 years. We continue to invest in the Greenlands Conservation Partnership to expand protected areas and we are launching consultations to expand the Greenbelt.    

Zachary Typhair (Green): The Green Party is going to restore the original Endangered Species Act, 2007 and a science-based system for determining species status, recovery, and habitat protection while eliminating exemptions for industry. We need to properly fund and support endangered species recovery efforts and habitat stewardship programs. We must cancel the Species at Risk Conservation Fund (aka “Pay to Slay”) that allows businesses to simply offset their harm to biodiversity by paying into the fund. It’s time to strengthen animal welfare. We are going to ban the breeding, possession, use, and sale of wild exotic animals as pets and implement a more comprehensive licensing system for zoo facilities housing exotic wild animals. We aren’t stopping there though: we are also going to ban roadside zoos and prohibit inhumane and unsafe animal-visitor interactions as per the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines. Oppose the use of furs on ornamental, except by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit persons, and where such use is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will enhance animal welfare standards for animal agriculture. Implement more robust regulations and inspections of the housing, sale, and transport of agricultural animals and ensure enforcement.

Thanks to all the candidates for providing their perspectives and policies on these crucial questions.