The Grits are known for breaking promises. And it’s no different when it comes to the McGuinty government’s record on arresting smog. For every encouraging step forward, there are a few steps back. Here’s a rundown of the Grits’ hazy record.
What the Liberals promised: To crack down on industrial polluters.
The reality: Despite introducing higher emission targets for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, eco activists say these targets, which don't have to be met until 2014, aren't high enough. The province has also established new standards for key air pollutants, but polluters have up to 10 years to develop a plan of action.
What the Liberals promised: To shut down Ontario's coal-burning power plants by 2007 and replace them with cleaner energy.
The reality: Lakeview has been shut down, but the final coal plant won't close its doors for good until early 2009. The phase-out of Nanticoke, the province's biggest polluter, won't begin until 2007.
What the Liberals promised: To require that Ontario electricity suppliers obtain at least 5 per cent of their electricity from new, renewable sources by 2007 and 10 per cent by 2010.
The reality: While eco activists applaud the government for promoting electricity conservation, more needs to be done. Says Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, "They need to dramatically increase their conservation budgets, and Ontario Power Generation needs to start paying customers to reduce their demand at peak times."
What the Liberals promised: To cut overall energy consumption by 5 per cent by 2007.
The reality: The 5 per cent consumption cutback was implemented during peak periods only. Now the consumption target has been reduced by 5 per cent only relative to where it would have been if consumption had been growing at 1.7 per cent a year, according to Keith Stewart of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. Confused? So is he. "In a year, you can actually increase consumption and still meet conservation targets, which doesn't sound much like conservation to me."
The McGuinty government has also dropped the Tories' tax rebate program for the purchase of energy-efficient home appliances "at a time when we should be encouraging people to buy the most energy efficient appliances," says Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace
What the Liberals promised: To reduce the government's own electricity use by at least 10 per cent by 2007.
The reality: The government has won praise for plans to hook Queen's Park up to the Deep Lake Water Cooling System, but NDP MPP Michael Prue is less than optimistic that the government can reach its target. "Everything from the sprinklers on the front lawns to the air conditioners tells me they're not going to make it."
What the Liberals promised: To allocate 2 cents of the provincial gas tax to municipalities to double the provincial investment in public transit.
The reality: The Grits came through with 1 cent a litre.
What the Liberals promised: To expand power generation at Niagara Falls, creating enough new, clean electricity to power every home in a city the size of Brampton.
The reality: The Liberals have approved construction of the Niagara Tunnel Project, but energy from the project won't be realized for some years.
What the Liberals promised: To require that ethanol make up 5 per cent of gasoline by 2007, 10 per cent by 2010.
The reality: The Ministry of the Environment has taken baby steps, announcing a $520 million Ontario Ethanol Growth Fund to encourage the development of ethanol plants.