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TORONTO - With an election looming the Ontario government is under pressure to grant control of water rights to either industry or local citizens. If the Conservatives reject the pleas for community control, the Green Party of Ontario will ride the issue hard during the election.

"Local citizens must have control over local water resources. We will take this issue centre stage during the election," said Green Party of Ontario Leader Frank de Jong.

The Green Party is challenging Environment Minister Chris Stockwell to uphold the precedent setting ERT decision limiting the amount of water a mining company can take from the pastoral
Tay River near Ottawa.

"What happens to our water, to all our natural resources, should not be decided only by distant governments and even more distant corporations.  Water is a shared resource. Those who drink it every day, must have a say," continues de Jong.  

In a letter to his office yesterday, the Green Party of Ontario challenged Mr. Stockwell to uphold the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal regarding OMYA's application to take water from the
Tay River.

"If Mr. Stockwell overturns the decision, he will be saying 'no' to democratic rights, 'no' to the commitments his government has made to the Walkerton reports and 'no' to fundamental changes that are needed to protect our environment," said de Jong.

The ERT decision, issued
Feb. 19, 2002, prescribed the means for local citizens to monitor and  influence how much water OMYA (Canada) Inc. can take from the Tay River. The ERT applied a precautionary approach  and found that the MoE was bound by its Statement of Environmental Values to take an ecosystem approach to its decisions. OMYA appealed the decision to the Minister of the Environment and to the Ontario Supreme Court. Anyone requiring more than 50,000 litres of water a day must apply for a Permit To Take Water from the MoE. Currently, there is no requirement for the MoE to inform or consult with local citizens or their municipal governments before granting such a permit.

"The Environmental Bill of Rights is being tested.  Let's hope Minister Stockwell makes the ecologically sustainable choice to uphold the Tribunal's decision," says de Jong.

The Green Party of Ontario suggests governments should up tax sources of unearned income (land and resources) and down tax earned income (wages). The
GPO supports shifting taxes away from incomes and onto resources like water, land, and non-renewables. In the coming election, the party intends to field a full slate of candidates across the province.
                        - 30 -

For further information:
Green Party of Ontario 416-929-2397
Frank de Jong 416-533-6798



To: "Chris Stockwell"

cc: "Premier Ernie Eves"

The Hon. Chris Stockwell, MPP
Minister of the Environment
Minister's Office, 12th Floor
135 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1P5

Dear Minister Stockwell,

I am writing to you today on behalf of the many
Ontario voters that are following the Tay River Defence case with great interest.  I refer to an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision in February 2002 which has come before you in appeal by Omya (Cananda) Inc. The ERT Vice Chair Pauline Browes wrote an ecologically cautious decision that nonetheless allows the company Omya to double it's water consumption.  We hope that you will uphold the Tribunal's decision and allow OMYA's dispute to be settled in Divisional Court, as their second appeal specifies.

Your government has an opportunity to take the lead on this issue and manage
Ontario's water resources wisely.  We respectfully suggest that the post Walkerton era requires that your government take the precautionary approach in all water permitting and regulation decisions. The ERT decision does just that.

Yours for a Green future,

Frank de Jong
Green Party of

cc: Premier Ernie Eves
    Minister Norm Sterling
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