Council Watch - October 5 2007

Environmental Priorities for Ontario, Vote for a Fair Deal for Our City, The Case for Supporting MMP Electoral Reform, Toxics Trespass at Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival.

On October 10th, Torontonians will be going to the polls. We won’t just be electing a new Provincial Government, we’ll be voting on whether we should adopt a new way of electing our government.

Both these decisions will have a profound impact on TEA’s mission to promote a greener Toronto and on our ability to advocate for a healthy Toronto based on equity, access, safety and a clean environment. That’s why we’re asking CouncilWatch readers to spend a few moments to consider three important issues as you prepare to decide what you vote for on
October 10th.

Environmental Priorities for Ontario

TEA has joined thirteen of Ontario's leading environmental groups, called the Priorities for Ontario Coalition, to build a comprehensive environmental agenda based on six priorities in the lead-up to the provincial election. Detailed information about the priorities can be
found here by clicking on the 6 priorities on the left side of the home page.

The Priorities for Ontario coalition also asked the political parties to comment on these six priorities.

To see what each party said about these six issues, please go to

We hope this information will help CouncilWatch readers identify which parties are truly committed to environmental protection from those that simply pay lip service to environmental protection.

Vote for a Fair Deal for Our City

The City of Toronto should be using its financial resources to protect its environment, provide valuable services to its communities, support a just society and bring vitality to our local economy. Instead, our property taxes and user fees are paying for important social programs
that should rightly be paid for by the Province.

Ontario is the only province in Canada where property taxes still pay for social programs. All other provinces have reversed this unfair burden. In 2007, the social services download cost Toronto tax payers three quarters of a billion dollars. That’s $280 for each and every one of us – for this year alone.

Social programs aren’t the only burden the province has placed on Toronto. They also forced the City of Toronto to take over a crumbling social housing system that has a $300 million backlog in needed repairs.

And then there is transit.
The TTC’s budget has a projected $100 million hole in 2008. It is a gap that could easily be covered if the Province supported transit like it used to - by paying for half of the net operating costs and keeping fare hikes in check. Instead our fares are going up almost yearly.

We need your help to make sure provincial politicians know that they have to strike a fair deal for Toronto and all other Ontario municipalities - now. We are calling on candidates to commit to restore transit funding, upload social service costs and support our social housing

We need every politician to commit to being part of the solution now - instead of perpetuating a broken system that is the living legacy of Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution.

Click here to send a message to your local candidates.

And finally, on voting day, think about supporting a candidate that supports a Fair Deal for our City.

The Case for Supporting MMP Electoral Reform

Ontarians will vote on whether or not to adopt a new way of electing Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). The proposed system is called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). TEA is asking CouncilWatch readers to consider supporting MMP. Before outlining why, here’s a quick primer on how MMP works.

What is a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) System?

Essentially MMP means every voter has one ballot with two votes:

  • One vote for the local candidate of your choice
  • One vote for the political party of your choice

Under this system, you can vote for a local candidate because you like them – even if you don’t like the party they are running for- and still vote for your preferred party with your second vote. For example, your first vote can be for a local candidate who is with Party X and your second vote can be for Party Y. In other words, the "local candidate vote"
determines which candidate will represent your district, just like now.
The "party vote" determines what share of the seats each party will receive. The new Legislature will be made up of 90 MPPs elected as local candidates and 39 at-large MPPs elected to represent political parties.

With this system if Party X gets 30% of the popular vote, it gets 30% of the seats in the Ontario Legislature.

This system would replace the current system where the winning political party often has a much lower percentage of the popular vote than percentage of seats in the Legislature.

Why TEA Supports MMP

TEA believes the MMP system is better for Ontarians for one key reason: it is more democratic. As a grassroots organization, we draw our power and our voice from civic participation – the ability of individuals and communities to effect change. The more democratic the system, the more opportunity we all have to make our voice heard.

We all know that environmental problems cross riding boundaries, but the environment often loses out because MPPs can’t see beyond the specific community that elected them. TEA believes that at-large MPPs, representing Ontario-wide interests, may also give greater recognition to environmental issues that affect us on a province-wide (or larger) scale.

Experience has shown that proportional systems better reflect the public mind. In other jurisdictions great strides have been made towards improving the environment under proportional systems during times of great public concern. In comparison, the environment
has been a top public concern in Ontario and Canada for some time, yet little progress has been seen.

We know Torontonians care passionately about improving the environment. With MMP, they can vote for candidates and political parties that share this passion and know their votes will translate into real power in the Ontario Legislature.

But Before Deciding…

While we hope you will vote for the MMP system on October 10, we ask you to spend a few minutes learning more about the MMP system by reading what proponents and opponents have to say.

For supporters of MMP, please visit: for a quick link click here

For opponents of MMP, please visit: for a quick link click here

Whatever way you vote, thanks for the taking the time to make an informed decision.

Toxics Trespass at Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival

Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival (Oct 24-28) is premiering a new film, Toxic Trespass, that highlights the issues raised by TEA’s Community Right to Know (CRTK) campaign. The film investigates the effects of the chemical soup around us, starting with filmmaker Barri Cohen’s ten year old daughter, whose blood carries carcinogens like benzene and the long-banned DDT. The film reveals the links between industrial chemicals, environmental degradation and childhood illness - and asks why our governments are doing so shockingly little about the problem. Screening is on Friday, October 26, 2007 at the Royal Cinema, 608 College Street.

For more information on the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival go to