Opening the Doors to Better Environmental Decision Making
TORONTO – Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Eva Ligeti, submitted her first Annual Report today to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, urging thirteen government ministries to establish benchmarks and measurable standards of environmental protection and to continue their support of the principles of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR).
In her report, which covers the period from December 14, 1993 to December 31, 1995, Commissioner Ligeti reviews how Ontario ministries have complied with the EBR.
“This report is the beginning of my examination of the stated environmental values of Ontario ministries, and how they are reflected in laws, policies and practices. We are starting to appreciate the full dimension of the relationship between the environment and other social, economic and scientific factors,” said Commissioner Ligeti. “The Environmental Bill of Rights recognizes the connections among these factors and insists that government honour them when it makes decisions that affect environmental quality. It’s my job to make sure these connections are honoured.”
As Ontario’s first Environmental Commissioner, Commissioner Ligeti reviews the implementation of the EBR in the prescribed ministries and reports annually to the Legislative Assembly.
The Environmental Bill of Rights gives Ontario residents new opportunities to participate in, and even influence, government decisions that affect the natural environment. It legally guarantees the public access to government environmental decision making, provides a mechanism through which the public can participate and facilitates accountability by opening the doors to government decision making.
To emphasize this point, the first Annual Report is titled, “Opening the Doors to Environmental Decision Making.” It examines the degree to which the ministries open that door and how often the public crossed the threshold.
Commissioner Ligeti makes several recommendations concerning the ministries’ stated environmental values and the process by which the public participates in the EBR. She also reviewed a number of decisions that were posted on the Environmental Registry, a computer bulletin board system that gives the public access to environmentally significant proposals, decisions, appeals, court actions and other information related to the government’s environmental decision making.
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