New Tory platform fighting caribou ESA plan – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 12, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Two key criticisms of the caribou conservation plan will be addressed by the Ontario Tories’ revamping of Endangered Species Act, says the party’s natural resources critic.

MPP Laurie Scott (PC – Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock) told The Daily Press Thursday the Progressive Conservatives will unveil a natural resources/northern development platform in Thunder Bay on Monday which outlines promised changes to the ESA.

Scott said the Tories would make it mandatory to consider the socio-economic impacts of any recommendations made under the ESA before its implementation. “Right now the legislation has it that the minister may consider socio-economic factors. We’re saying it must consider the socio-economic factors,” said Scott.

The Tories would also require that any scientific analysis used to determine recommendations would have to be posted publicly to the Environmental Registry to allow stakeholders to provide input.

While these changes would apply to the ESA as a whole, they also respond to key concerns raised by organizations like the Ontario Forest Industries Association about lack of peer-reviewed science and absence of any consideration of socio-economic impact in the caribou conservation plan.

Scott said it is not only forestry that is being impacted by the ESA.

She suggested it also has an effect on agriculture, aggregate extraction, land development and even outdoor recreation.

Scott had proposed these changes in a private members bill back in May but the bill died when then Ontario Liberals prorogued the provincial legislature.

“So we’ve incorporated those changes (originally proposed in the bill) and more into a … combined Northern Development and Mines and Natural Resources white paper,” said Scott. “It’s going to be in our white paper, it’s going to be out there, because rumours are we may be in fall election.”

The full PC Northern and Natural Resources White Paper will be officially launched on Sept. 16 in Thunder Bay.

Scott will be there for the launch along with Conservatives leader Tim Hudak and MPP Norm Miller, the Tories’ critic for Northern Development and Mines.

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