feel ‘betrayal’ as A-G to intervene in appeal of dump
By Annette Phillips
The Kingston-Whig Standard
Local News - The Ontario government is being accused
of sneaking into a legal case it promised to avoid a week
"There’s a sense of frustration and even a sense
of betrayal," said Richard Lindgren, the Canadian
Environmental Law Association lawyer who represents citizens
opposed to expansion of a Napanee-area landfill site.
"There was a promise to withdraw from the case and
now it looks like the government is entering the litigation
through the back door."
Until last week, Canadian Waste Services Inc. and the
Ontario government had been pursuing a joint appeal of
a court decision that ordered broader terms of reference
in the environmental assessment stage of a planned expansion
of the dump.
Last week, Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky, whose
Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington riding includes
the site, signed an order that ended the government’s
participation in the appeal. Canadian Waste Services vowed
to continue with the appeal on its own.
At stake is the sixfold expansion of the former Richmond
Landfill site, which Canadian Waste says is a critical
component in its ability to handle the bulk of Ontario’s
garbage in the future. Kingston’s trash is trucked there.
If the appeal fails, the expansion will be buried under
another long and costly set of studies that could ultimately
render the entire project unfeasible.
Many Napanee-area residents have opposed the expansion.
Dombrowsky, along with Premier Dalton McGuinty, campaigned
on a promise of withdrawing the government’s appeal.
On Tuesday, Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General
notified Lindgren that it would intervene in the court
Lindgren said his clients - Tyendinaga Township residents
and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte - see no difference
between the Attorney General and the Ministry of the Environment
and believe the government has gone back on its word.
Citizens also question why the government is pursuing
the same legal issues through the former ministry that
it said it wouldn’t argue through the latter.
"This intervention has a very peculiar odour,"
Lindgren told The Whig-Standard.
Dombrowsky, in an interview yesterday, said intervening
in the court case is different from fighting an appeal.
The Attorney General is arguing points of law that have
nothing to do with the facts of the environmental assessment,
on which the original legal appeal was based, the minister
"The Ministry of the Environment will not seek to
appeal this decision. We have kept our promise,"
Dombrowsky told The Whig.
The minister has also launched a review of the Environmental
Assessment Act, which sets out the steps to be taken to
protect the environment when roads, sewer pipes and industries
Environmental assessments have been criticized as being
too complicated and cumbersome for private companies to
"The challenge is to strike a balance to ensure
all aspects of [the environment] are being considered
and yet ensure development can be completed in a timely
fashion," Dombrowsky said.
Attorney General Michael Bryant didn’t respond to a request
for an interview yesterday because he doesn’t discuss
matters that are before the courts, said Brendan Crawley,
a ministry spokesman.
Nonetheless, the government’s intervention in the Richmond
landfill case isn’t unusual, Crawley said.
The government routinely intervenes in court cases where
the outcome could have widespread implications, he added.
"While the appeal has been abandoned by the minister
of the environment, there are a few outstanding legal
issues we feel should be addressed."
In the landfill case, the appeal will seek to clarify
legal issues surrounding ministerial discretion and to
determine whether the authority of a minister exceeds
the authority of the court.
The Attorney General is intervening on a piece of legislation
- the Environmental Assessment Act - over which the Minister
of the Environment has sole authority, Lindgren said.
"It seems very strange and completely unprecedented."