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The Ontario Legislature rose for the summer on June 4, with two environmental proposed environmental laws having received second reading, but awaiting Committee review and public hearings. The third environmental law, Bill 52, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015 (anti-SLAPP) has been debated but has not yet received second reading.

Bill 82, the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Amendment Act (Anti-Fracking), 2015 is an opposition private member’s Bill that received rare government support and may actually pass. Proposed by NDP MPP Peter Tabuns, Bill 82 would ban any new fracking permits in Ontario. Bill 82 has received second reading (approval in principle) and has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government for public hearings, likely in the fall.

Bill 66, the Great Lakes Protection Act, 2015 is a government Bill now reintroduced for the second time. It would give the government much broader regulatory powers to protect the Great Lakes, in consultation with a GREAT LAKES GUARDIANS’ COUNCIL. Bill 66 has also been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government for public hearings, likely in the fall.

The preamble and purposes of Bill 66 are:

1. (1) The purposes of this Act are,

(a) to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin; and
(b) to create opportunities for individuals and communities to become involved in the protection and restoration of the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

(2) The purposes set out in subsection (1) include the following:

1. To protect human health and well-being through the protection and restoration of water quality, hydrologic functions and the ecological health of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin, including through the elimination or reduction of harmful pollutants.

2. To protect and restore watersheds, wetlands, beaches, shorelines and other coastal areas of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

3. To protect and restore the natural habitats and biodiversity of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

4. To protect and improve the capacity of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin to respond to the impacts and causes of climate change.

5. To improve understanding and management of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin by advancing science and promoting the consideration of traditional ecological knowledge relating to existing and emerging stressors and by establishing and maintaining monitoring and reporting programs or other actions with respect to the ecological conditions of the Basin.

6. To enrich the quality of life in communities in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin through support of environmentally sustainable economic opportunities, innovation and environmentally sustainable use of natural resources.

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