Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday February 24, 2024
Doug Ford’s “Get It Done” Act: A Gimmick in Environmental Clothing
Premier Doug Ford’s introduction of the Get It Done Act has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism from various quarters, and for good reason. While the government’s intent to expedite infrastructure projects is commendable, the bill appears to be more of a political gimmick than a comprehensive solution. The legislation, echoing the campaign slogan of “Get It Done,” seeks to streamline environmental assessments for highways and hasten expropriation processes, but its broader implications are cause for concern.
The bill’s primary focus on fast-tracking major infrastructure projects, especially highways, raises questions about its alignment with Ontario’s environmental priorities. The decision to categorize highways as “low risk” for rapid environmental approvals seems shortsighted, potentially sacrificing thorough assessments for expediency. Critics argue that the emphasis on projects like Highway 413 distracts from pressing issues such as healthcare, affordable housing, and education.
Environmentalists and opposition leaders, including Green Party leader Mike Schreiner and NDP leader Marit Stiles, have voiced reservations about the bill. Schreiner labels it the “Get It Done Wrong Act,” emphasizing the government’s misplaced priorities. Stiles expresses concerns about the government “tinkering around” with vital processes and questions its ability to listen to the needs of the people.
The claim that the bill aims to make life more affordable for families and businesses by streamlining processes seems disconnected from its actual provisions. Freezing the fee for renewing a driving license, a seemingly unrelated measure, is thrown into the mix, further diluting the bill’s focus and raising questions about its coherence.
However, it’s essential to acknowledge instances where Premier Ford has demonstrated collaboration and effectiveness in governance. Recently, the City of Toronto received over $100 million from the Ford government as a reward for surpassing housing targets. Premier Ford and Mayor Olivia Chow jointly announced the funding, highlighting Toronto’s accomplishment in breaking ground on 50% more houses than required.
This collaborative approach in addressing housing challenges is commendable, showcasing a positive aspect of Premier Ford’s administration. Encouraging other municipalities to emulate Toronto’s success in meeting housing targets is a step in the right direction, fostering a sense of shared responsibility among local leaders.
While Premier Doug Ford’s “Get It Done” Act may be seen as a politically charged move to fulfill campaign promises, its focus on expediting environmental assessments for highways raises concerns about environmental stewardship. On the flip side, the collaborative efforts with Mayor Olivia Chow on housing initiatives demonstrate the potential for constructive governance. Striking a balance between expediency and environmental responsibility is crucial for Ontario’s future, and the government must carefully consider the long-term implications of its legislative actions. (AI)