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Anti-carbon tax sticker law unconstitutional, Ontario court finds


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The stickers show the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022. They do not include information about rebates available to residents.

Morgan said in the decision that the message was “blatantly advantage-seeking by a political party and a misuse of a governing party’s legislative power.”

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He pointed to a statement Energy Minister Greg Rickford made in April 2019 in which he said the province would “stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing, regressive carbon tax costs.” That, said Morgan, shows the true purpose of the sticker was partisan.

Rickford said he respects the court decision, “but our government will always stand up for the people of Ontario when it comes to matters that make everyday life more expensive for hardworking families.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which brought the challenge, is thrilled, according to the director of its fundamental freedoms program.

“CCLA is very pleased that the Court recognized these stickers for what they are, an attempt to compel private entities to convey a government’s partisan political message,” Cara Zwibel said in a statement.

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A spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment, saying the department is reviewing the decision.

“As this matter is still in the appeal period, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” Brian Gray said.

But the Official Opposition urged the government not to appeal.

“He has already wasted enough of people’s money on his anti-carbon price stickers that don’t stick — a partisan and dishonest propaganda campaign,” NDP Energy and Climate Crisis Critic Peter Tabuns said in a written statement.

Ontario has challenged Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax, and the Supreme Court is set to hear that case in September.

— With files by Shawn Jeffords.



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Ford forges ahead with back-to-school plan


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Teacher unions, school trustees and, according to polling, the majority of parents have concerns about school reopenings.

A committee of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) passed a motion Tuesday to ask Chair Alexander Brown to write to the Ford government for more resources to implement a COVID-19 plan.

Going before the full TDSB board Thursday is a motion to require all students including the youngest learners to wear masks in schools.

The Ministry of Education has made masks mandatory for students in Grades 4 and up, and recommended face coverings for those in Grade 3 or lower.

When asked about the issue Wednesday, Ford said that as a father of four daughters, he’s not convinced it will be easy to get kids in junior and regular kindergarten to safely wear masks.

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“When they’re four years old, five years old, it’s hard to keep the mask on them,” Ford said. “But, again, we’ll be there, we’ll support the board if that’s what they want to do, but keeping a mask on a JK or senior kindergarten[er] might be difficult. But we’ll support it.”

In Ontario, 2,564 people aged 19 or younger have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest public health data.

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‘We do not want to start a civil war’: Fight grows over seasonal access to cottages during COVID-19


The approach of Victoria Day long weekend — the starting pistol for cottage travel for many in Ontario and across the country — coinciding with a deadly pandemic brings fear of “a civil war” between cottagers and residents of Canada’s waterfront regions.

With concerns that cottage owners from cities with higher COVID-19 caseloads may spread the coronavirus or drain the small grocery and health-care resources of rural communities, the usually warm welcome for summer residents is in a deep chill.

“There is lots of tension between the seasonal and the permanent residents,” said Chris Peabody, mayor of Brockton, Ontario, 190 kilometres northwest of Toronto, which is bisected by the Saugeen River, popular with canoeists and anglers.

“We do not want to start a civil war with our cottagers.”

For some, conflict is already here.

There are some people who are fearful for their lives. They’re really scared

Some popular destinations have issued a ban against cottage owners coming to their property; others discourage cottagers by shutting off their water or closing boat ramps. Others are just pleading with cottagers to stay away.

“It’s a struggle we are all facing as mayors. It is not fun times,” said Mitch Twolan, mayor of Huron-Kinross in southwestern Ontario, which includes a stretch of Lake Huron waterfront. In March he ordered water service to seasonal properties shut off.

“I get it: people want to get away to some form of semblance of their regular life, to put everything else behind. But that’s where the angst is, because for their self-comfort and their mental health and wellbeing they come and they put their thoughts ahead of people who are here year-round.

“There are some people who are fearful for their lives. They’re really scared. We do have folks that decided that, in their best interests they have a right, because they’re a taxpayer, to drive back and forth. So you try to make a decision, it’s the not the most popular decision all the time.”

For Twolan, it is not theoretical.

He said a cottager from Kitchener-Waterloo region was treated in the area’s hospital in Kincardine and later tested positive for COVID-19, sending three or four nurses home for 14 days of quarantine.

“That was what we are all scared of and it happened,” Twolan said.

Many seasonal property owners are pushing back.

Bill Armstrong, who lives in Aurora, north of Toronto, owns a cottage on Horse Island in Carling Township, not far from Ontario’s Killbear Provincial Park, which requires a boat to get to. The municipality has closed boat ramps, leaving him unable to get to his second home, he said.

In response, he is sending regular “invoices” to the township for its “rental” of his cottage at $1,500 a week. He said he also plans to hold the township liable for preventing him from checking his property after the winter, as his insurance policy requires.

“We’re all just fuming,” he said. He warned that if cottagers aren’t welcome now, cottagers might not want to spend their money in the communities in the future.


“I get it: people want to get away to some form of semblance of their regular life, to put everything else behind.”

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Allane Andrusko, a cottage owner in Prince Edward County, said if the municipality bans cottagers from their property it will spark a legal fight.

“I will initiate a small claims court action requesting a refund of all fixed costs for the period they told me to stay away and then ordered me to stay away. This includes taxes, insurance and hydro.”

David Kreaden, a Toronto medical doctor and cottage owner, argued it is safer to stay in his cottage.

“It is much easier to isolate in the cottage setting than it is in a high-rise in Toronto having to use the elevator multiple times a day,” he said. He disputed suggestions he might be a burden on local health care if he has COVID-19: “I daresay it would prompt a quick return to the city.”

Complaints of seasonal owners are not drawing sympathy from many permanent residents.

“We don’t need any extra pressures on our modest hospitals,” said Brian Burke, a resident of Norfolk County in southern Ontario, where the medical officer of health has issued an emergency health order banning seasonal owners from occupying their property.

“Staring at our COVID numbers the past few weeks, the thought of even something as simple as someone from out of town falling off their bicycle and breaking their arm is terrifying — we simply don’t have any room for error here.”

We’re all just fuming

Other residents use social media to try to shame out-of-towners by posting photos of tourists stocking up in local stores.

Cottage country mayors are looking to the Ontario government to bring province-wide rules before the Victoria Day weekend, several said.

Premier Doug Ford, who will be speaking with cottage country mayors this week, said he won’t bring in a ban.

“You have to give a little leniency. If you put down the hammer and say you just aren’t coming, well, people aren’t going to listen,” Ford said.

That sentiment is reflected in a memo dated May 3 from Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, sent to municipal medical officers of health, obtained by National Post.

“My current recommendation is to not prohibit access to secondary residences through legal order, but to continue to provide communications that discourage their use,” it says.

Williams also advised against medical officers of health issuing broad prohibitions against access to seasonal property under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, as was done in Haldimand and Norfolk counties.

Ford said his a message to cottage country is: “Be prepared, people are coming up on May the 24th.”

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