Thursday, July 08, 2010

Those Sneaky Politicians Have Done it Again

Those calling Canada’s largest province of Ontario “home” may question just how publicly democratic the provincial government is, as they continue to pass legislation secretly.

Sounds more like a dictatorship than a democratically elected government – but that has been the Ontario government’s method of governance for at least two – that we now know of – policies.

First there was the controversial and ever hush-hush passing of a war measures-like act just prior to the G20 and G8 Summits held in the province. A new law was passed temporarily allowing police across the province to detain and arrest people without just cause, if they just happened to be too close for comfort during the summits.

That’s how a number of local residents got arrested during the gathering of the world’s most 20 powerful leaders in Toronto late last month. One person was just coming home from picking up a jug of milk for her infant son, and was tossed to the ground, handcuffed, and stuffed into a moving van by police, and held for over 48-hours in a temporary jail created especially for the anticipated increased numbers of detainees.

The law providing the police these sweeping – and highly questionable powers – was passed without any debate, and wasn’t made public until a handful of hours prior to the first summit (the G8) was to be held.

Then, just today the province lets us know about another new tax, which has already been in effect for exactly one week – yet there wasn’t any mention of it until today.

On the same day the province’s controversial Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) kicked in, a new eco-fee also took effect on thousands of everyday household products. We’ve been paying both since Canada’s Birthday on July 1 – happy Canada Day from the province of Ontario!

The new fee bumps up the price of aerosol containers, household cleaning products, even fire extinguishers – which you’d expect the province would encourage people to have through tax cuts or savings, as those actually save lives.

Stewardship Ontario is the government body in charge of the levy, and they claim the money collected by the new eco-fee will be used only for recycling of the products on the list.

Sounds like a similar scam being run by the City of Toronto, where retailers must charge a nickel for every plastic bag they provide you. The logic behind this fee is to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags, to reduce the amount of plastic bags going to landfill sites.

So far, the “bag tax” in Toronto has proven more of a nuisance than anything else, as the fee is so small, many simply pay it to bring home their groceries (or other purchases). However, since the introduction of the “bag tax” many checkout clerks have stopped bagging. This causes longer line-ups, as customers have to bag their own purchases, in their own bags.

I’ve certainly felt the pressure to rush my packing, as I fiddle with my purchases, trying to get them into my own bags, as an angry and impatient mob waits for me to finish.

Not a pleasant shopping experience at all.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has the right idea, but just is going about it all wrong. Green legislation is a good idea – any sign the government is actually moving towards protecting our planet is a good idea.

However, just as the temporary military law-like changes were made for the G8 and G20 Summits, passing green laws without discussion or debate defeats the essence of what it means to live in a democratic society.

And when democracy itself is at risk, no good can come from that.

Drop the ego Premier McGuinty – we the people elected you into office, and we the people can just as easily NOT elect you the next time there is an election.

That is, unless you quietly change those laws too.

What the new Eco-Fee Is Applied Too
As of July 1, 2010, thirteen new categories, covering thousands of products have been added to this new eco-fee, including:
• batteries
• pharmaceuticals
• sharps and syringes
• aerosol containers
• antifreeze
• drain cleaners and other corrosives
• spot removers and other irritants
• fertilizers
• fire extinguishers
• fuels and other flammables
• fluorescents
• moth balls and other leachate toxics
• thermometers and other mercury containing devices
• oil containers
• oil filters
• paint and coatings
• pesticides
• pressurized containers
• metal powders and other reactives
• adhesives and other toxics.

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