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Federal government’s closure of Rouge National Urban Park bill ‘depressing’, says Scarborough Liberal MP

Friday December 5, 2014

By Ali Raza
Scarborough Mirror

“Depressing” is what Scarborough-Guildwood Liberal MP John McKay calls the decision on the Rouge National Urban Park Bill.

McKay, also the Liberal Environment Critic, held a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 4, at Parliament Hill with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to publicly oppose the federal government’s decision on Bill C-40.

At Environment Committee in November, the federal government opposed all 18 amendments made by opposition parties to the bill.

Now the Rouge NUP bill is all but passed, said McKay, to the dismay of politicians from all opposition parties and several environmental groups.

“The government brought in closure on a park bill,” McKay said. “This is 84 times so far. If you accumulate all of the closure bills of all the previous governments since Confederation, this government has exceeded that number of closure bills.”

Calling the closure a “new low,” McKay explained that the public only received four hours of time at the committee.

Criticism of the bill has come from groups such as Nature Canada, Environmental Defence, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Ontario Nature and Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition. Those groups have all publicly denounced the Rouge NUP bill and requested MPs oppose the bill.

Critics say the bill does not adhere to the standard of “ecological integrity” established by more than two decades of provincial regulation.

The Government of Ontario is also not happy with the federal bill and is witholding the provincial lands that will make up 40 per cent of the planned Rouge NUP as a result.

McKay said if given the opportunity to form the next federal government in the upcoming October 2015 election, the Liberal Party can “fix” the bill easily.

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