Liberals fail to provide oversight of recycling organizations

February 5, 2014

QUEEN’S PARK – Last week, the Toronto Star reported that several individuals with inside information on the province’s recycling programs, including the environment commissioner, have invested in a new “green” company that will focus on Ontario’s recycling industry.

“For 10 long years, the government has provided no oversight of the organizations that are legally responsible for administrating Ontario’s recycling programs,” said Michael Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga and Environment Critic for the Progressive Conservatives.

“With no checks and balances in place, Ontario taxpayers have no way of knowing if the recycling programs they pay hundreds of millions of dollars for every year are being used by a few insiders to get an unfair business advantage in the market.”

Under current legislation, it is unclear if holding a board position or investing in a company targeting the province’s recycling programs is a conflict of interest for the environment commissioner.

The commissioner, as an officer of the Legislature, is technically not considered a “public servant” and is, therefore, not subject to conflict-of-interest rules under the Public Service Act. The commissioner is also not covered under the jurisdiction of the Integrity Commissioner.

The only standard that applies to this officer is in the Environmental Bill of Rights, which states the commissioner “shall not do any work or hold any office that interferes with the performance of his or her duties.”

“There clearly is a lack of clarity in the legislation,” Harris concluded. “Although the Liberals have had 10 long years to fix it and to ensure there’s true accountability, they’ve done nothing. Now they want to have a committee meeting to have a conversation about what to do. Ontarians expect more from their government. They expect actual leadership and accountability, not indecision and delay.”