POLITICS
01/09/2020 13:22 EST | Updated 01/15/2020 00:04 EST

Australia Fires Should Be 'Wake-Up Call' To Doug Ford, Andrea Horwath Says

The NDP leader says Ford’s government is “waging war” on the environment.

HuffPost Composite/Canadian Press
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says Premier Doug Ford should pay attention to the wildfires burning through Australia.

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford should consider Australia’s massive wildfires as he tears down renewable energy projects, Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath charged Thursday. 

“We’re all witnessing the very real threat we face from the climate crisis,” Horwath told reporters at Queen’s Park Thursday. 

“The devastating bushfires that continue to rage in Australia should be a wake-up call about the urgency to take action. Yet we have a premier who is waging war on the environment.”

Twenty-five people and at least 1 billion animals have perished in Australia’s fires. The destruction comes as the continent experiences record-breaking heat and extended seasons of drought. 

Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
Destroyed cars are seen next to burnt bushland in the village of Mogo, Australia on Jan. 8, 2020. 

Horwath says Ford is “waging war” on the environment by cancelling renewable energy projects and tearing down nearly-completed wind farms.

“Doug Ford’s war on the environment is putting us all in danger.”

Ford’s environment minister, Jeff Yurek, revoked approval for a 29-turbine project, Nation Rise Wind Farm, in December. 

Yurek said the project was being cancelled because it posed a threat to endangered bat populations.

The company behind the project is taking Ontario to court over the cancellation. 

Yurek spokesperson Andrew Buttigieg told HuffPost Canada he couldn’t comment Thursday as the matter is before the courts.

Ontario’s auditor general has agreed to investigate how much it will cost to cancel Nation Rise, Horwath said Thursday. 

Watch: Ontario premier defends cancelling ‘terrible’ wind turbines. Story continues after video. 

 

The Progressive Conservatives acknowledged in November that they had already spent $231 million to cancel other renewable energy contracts. 

They’ve said it will save ratepayers more money in the long run because the previous Liberal government signed contracts for energy the province does not need. 

Horwath also pointed out that the MPP for the area where Nation Rise was being built — a Conservative — warned against cancelling the project last year. 

Jim Mcdonell said that tearing down the project after the contract was signed would be as bad as the previous Liberal government spending $1 billion to cancel gas plants. 

“We can’t do what the previous government did … we can’t just issue government contracts and turn around and cancel them without expectation of paying them out,” Mcdonell told Nation Valley News last January. 

This story has been updated with comment from the minister of environment’s office.