We must fight the Ford government and Bill 23 | Daily News Byte

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On a Friday afternoon in December, a group of students, faculty, staff, elected officials and community members gathered at Western University for a student-led demonstration about Bill 23, the “More Homes Built Faster Act.”

On the surface, omnibus Bill 23 appears to address Ontario’s housing crisis by removing “barriers” to development. In reality, the students acknowledge that Bill 23 has little to do with building affordable housing, and is instead focused on eliminating important processes for land use planning. Bill 23 limits the role of conservation authorities, municipal governments, and the public in reviewing and approving new developments that may affect habitat, biodiversity, farmland and mitigation and adaptation to climate change. climate Bill 23 was passed by the government on Nov. 28, before the end of a public consultation.

The Western event is dedicated to educating the community about the effects of Bill 23 on current and future generations of people living in Ontario and First Nations. The event included speeches (now on YouTube) by various student leaders, London city councillors, and MPPs, followed by a march across campus. Party chants, including “Mother Nature’s Not Free, Stop Bill 23!” and “Housing is a Human Right,” was accompanied by a marching band and enthusiastic honking from passing cars.

Following its Climate Emergency Declaration, the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) at Western University is taking a stand against Bill 23. SOGS recognizes that the single largest cause of biodiversity loss is habitat conversion to development in Ontario. and around the world.

Graduate students from SOGS have called for collective action against Doug Ford’s government. First, they expressed support for Ontario workers launching a comprehensive province-wide general strike, similar to what some of Canada’s trade unions organized last month in response to the government’s behavior during negotiations on CUP. It is time for Ontarians to stop reacting to individual crises like Bill 23, or Bill 39, or Bill 124, or the systemic defunding of the public health-care system and form a united front to oppose the ethics of our government.

Second, the students called on Doug Ford’s government to reveal its secret mandate letters right away, according to its legal obligation. The Auditor General of Ontario’s 2022 value for money report warns that the province is failing to provide the transparency it owes its constituents. How much taxpayer money has this government spent fighting legal battles to stop the mandate letters?

Third, students recognize that Bill 23 causes international conflicts. They pointed to a statement from the Chiefs of Ontario’s First Nations acknowledging that Bill 23 violates treaty rights, and that First Nations were not consulted before the bill’s royal assent. The students indicated they will contact representatives in the federal government to question whether Ontario is violating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is a signatory.

Fourth, students are calling on the Ontario government to answer questions directly and provide evidence-based justification for its decisions and policies related to the housing and climate crises. It is unacceptable that we continue to tolerate outright lies, distortions and marketing gimmicks from the majority government in response to questions from the opposition in the Legislature.

Finally, students urge everyone to continue sharing your concerns about Bill 23 and other changes imposed by this government. We must continue to apply pressure and prepare for our next opportunity to vote for real leadership in 3.5 years. We need more effective public education and organizing, with messages designed to reach disaffected voters and young people in particular. Readers, please consider this an open call for spicy memes in Ontario.

Ontario universities are training the next generation of leaders to pursue and speak the truth. We must hold our current leaders in the Ontario government to a similar standard, or we risk surrendering our environmental rights, condemning more people to homelessness and food insecurity, and destroying our -hope for a climate resilient future in Ontario.

Brendon Samuels is Sustainability Coordinator of the Society of Graduate Students at Western



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