Bypassing public hearings, debate on Ontario Place bill is undemocratic: opposition

TORONTO — Ontario's opposition parties say a move by the Progressive Conservative government to bypass key debate and public hearings on a bill to push Ontario Place redevelopment plans forward is undemocratic.

The legislation enacts the province's promise to take control of two Toronto highways, largely exempts Ontario Place land from further environmental assessments and heritage protections, and allows the minister of infrastructure to issue minister's zoning orders, which override local laws.

Government House Leader Paul Calandra has now proposed skipping committee hearings, which provide an opportunity for public input and normally come after a bill passes second reading, and skipping debate on the bill's third and final reading.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles says rushing the bill through allows the government to avoid public scrutiny.

The move also limits the participation of members not in an officially recognized party in the legislature, including the Liberals and the Greens, and Liberal John Fraser says it silences 12 per cent of the House and the two million people who voted for those members.

Calandra says he has already indicated he would use all the tools at his disposal to move ahead with Ontario Place plans.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press