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In Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Liberal, Green and NDP candidates support review of Angus tree seed plant closing

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In AWARE News Network
May 28th, 2018
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-Financial Post photo

Cone collection at the Ontario Tree Seed Facility -Financial Post photo

AWARE News Network

At a Friends of Simcoe Forests all-candidates’ meeting last week in Midhurst, the question was raised as to whether the candidates for the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte would support a moratorium, consultation and review of the closing of the Ontario Tree Seed Facility in Midhurst.

The Liberal government announced last year, without consultation, that the plant would close this coming September. An outcry ensued from the forestry industry and other stakeholders, including the local municipality – but there has been no government response and plans proceed as announced..

The Green and NDP candidates both said they would support a review. Liberal Jeff Kirk said he needed to do some research, and subsequently sent out his position. The other candidates, including PC Doug Downey, who did not attend the a-c meeting, were then invited to do the same for posting on this website

Here are their statements:

Jeff Kirk Liberal Party of Ontario

As I stated at the debate, the economy, healthcare and the environment remain my three top priorities.

I have signed the petition calling on the government to review the decision to close the Angus seed facility. After additional research and consultation I can now state with confidence that I am in support of a program review that includes consultation with invested stakeholders and a detailed risk assessment of the proposed solution. Whatever decision is brought by this process, it needs to be transparent and open.

I believe the basis of your petition is a fight against the government’s incomplete knowledge of the benefits of the Seed facility and am supportive of ensuring the education and risk gaps are clarified prior to damage being done.

I am interested in an MPP representative who does not concede to populist opinion, but rather approaches problems pragmatically in the pursuit of knowledge. Mr. Wilson is the MPP for Angus and has came out against government on this proposal. Mr. Wilson also supported the privatization of the tree nurseries under the Harris government. I wonder what he thought would happen to the industry.

To be clear, I support postponing the closure of the OTSF until a program review and risk assessment are complete. This will include stakeholder engagement in a manner which is sensitive to the Human Resource component of OTSF.

Keenan Aylwin – Green Party of Ontario

The Ontario Liberal government’s short-sighted decision to shutter the nearly 100-year-old Ontario Tree Seed Plant must be reversed immediately. Less than one week after the International Day for Biological Diversity, it is critical that we preserve this important institution and its work on protecting our planet and supporting Ontario’s forestry industry.

We need to be moving forward, not backwards, on environmental issues. This decision puts us back years in the fight against climate change and the fight to protect biodiversity. It’s time for an MPP in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte who will put people and planet first.

Dan Janssen – New Democratic Party of Ontario

I know how important the Ontario Tree Seed Facility (OTSF) in Angus is to everyone in the Barrie region, and I share the community’s frustrations that the Liberal government made the decision to close the facility without adequate consultation with community and industry stakeholders.

And the Liberals’ problems on the natural resources file go back years. In 2012, the Liberals gutted funding for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, hindering its ability to protect Ontario’s natural heritage and biodiversity. The Ontario Environmental Commissioner said MNRF “did what was easiest and cheapest, instead of what works.”

It appears the decision to close the OTSF in Angus is just another part of that pattern, and with Doug Ford’s abysmal environmental voting record and his promise of further cuts across the board, the PCs can’t be trusted to make this right.

I’m proud to stand with the Ontario NDP and its track record on important environmental issues. The NDP will update the Environmental Bill of Rights to affirm the public’s right to participation, access to information, and government accountability whenever the environment is impacted.

In this case it’s clear to me that this decision will have an impact on the environment, and there wasn’t enough consultation. If elected I will be strong voice for this community, and fight to make sure this decision is revisited in consultation with the public and all relevant stakeholders.

* A note from Kate Harries, AWARE Simcoe communications director: at the Friends of Simcoe Forests meeting, I asked a question about the Ontario Tree Seed Facility, and stated that Jeff Kirk, the Liberal candidate, had been approached two or three months ago by supporters of the OTSF. I now know that not to have been the case, I apologize for the mistake.

More information 

Petition

Anne Learne Sharpe 

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