A focus on that latter qualification is one that Ontarians should expect is the pinnacle of member qualifications, because the “tribunal”, is a quasi court; set to administer justice as defined under the “Act” which it adjudicates. Looking at members of the ERT one notes that four (4) of it's members have the “experience” but one must question that those four have the “aptitude for impartial adjudication”. Appointments to the ERT are made by the Premier or the Minister and follow “a recruitment and review process managed by the Public Appointments Secretariat” (PAS). All appointees are required to sign a “Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement” which asks the question: “Have you been involved in any issue or controversy in the past, or that may be subject to public review in the future, in which the government may have an interest?”
One would assume that extensive lobbying of the government in the past on energy related matters would have automatically generated a “yes” to the foregoing question that may have rendered the applicant inappropriate. At least one (and possibly four) of those now sitting on the ERT may have answered that question with a “yes” but that yes didn't generate a rejection.
The first is Paul Muldoon, Vice Chair of the ERT. In his prior position as Executive Director with the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) Mr. Muldoon had occasion to lobby the current Liberal government. In fact Mr. Muldoon on November 4, 2003 sent Premier McGuinty a letter claiming CELA were one of the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Phase-out and that CELA supported renewable energy with the words; “Energy efficiency programs and renewable energy are cheap, clean, and safe ways to secure Canada's energy future”. The letter finished with the words; “We look forward to working with your government on appropriate energy solutions for Ontario.” CELA continues it's lobbying efforts under its current Executive Director, Theresa McClenaghan yet they are not registered with the Ontario or Federal Lobbyist Registries.
CELA get the bulk of its funding (73% or $1.2 million) from “Legal Aid Ontario”, according to their March 31, 2011 annual report, with a big chunk of the balance (17% or $295,000) from grants. Two of the latter came from the Trillium Foundation who report they granted CELA $502,200 between 2007 and 2009. CELA list other funders including; the Canadian Environmental Network, Environmental Defence, CAW and several others.
CELA team up with other environmental groups such as Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund and Jerry DeMarco's [another ERT member] former employer), Environmental Defence, Sierra Club, etc. to push their “renewable energy” views to the Ontario Provincial government (as recently as June 6, 2012). CELA claim their organization is a “Legal Aid Clinic”.
The “legal aid clinic” aspect is interesting as the writer is aware that CELA was approached a few years ago for legal help by a small conservation group, concerned that industrial wind turbines on the shores of Lake Erie would harm migratory birds. That group never even received a response. CELA tout objectives in their 2011 annual report including this one; “to prevent harm to human and ecosystem health through application of precautionary measures” but apparently they tend to pick and choose those health and ecosystem issues when it suits their purpose. One such example appears to be the Sierra Club (revenue reported to the CRA Charities by the two “foundations” that comprise the Sierra Club were in excess of $2 million) who they name as a client in the annual report. This is a blatant example of our tax dollars (legal aid and government grants) being used to fund a charity's legal actions so taxpayers effectively pay twice for those activities.
The annual report also mentions that CELA “continued to work very hard over the past year to secure progress on the issue of energy poverty in Ontario.” Apparently the author didn't recognize the irony of that statement. CELA's list of “Key Partners and Partnerships” include CIELP, Pollution Probe, Canadian Environmental Network, CAPE, Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), etc. all advocates for renewable energy which is driving up the cost of electricity. CELA have a staff of 15 and a Board with 16 members.
Yet another interesting aspect of CELA is that they have an address that they previously shared with the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP), [ NB: refer to two other ERT members-Maureen Carter-Whitney and Marcia Valiante who were with CIELAP] and which they share with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). CELA are also the warehouse for a registered charity; Resource Library for the Environment and the Law Catalogue. Mr. Muldoon was listed as the President of this charity according to the CRA filing for the year ended March 31, 2006. There are three other ENGO's located at the same address at 130 Spadina Ave. All 6 occupy Suite 301 so its no wonder that CIELAP moved!
So Paul Muldoon, who's past involved, via CELA, both controversy and issues, bound to be subject to public review, applied for a position on the ERT. Mr. Muldoon was presumably blessed by PAS, appointed by the Minister of the Environment, Laurel Broten, and is gainfully employed as Vice Chair of the ERT. In my personal opinion, I have difficulty believing that Mr. Muldoon does not continue to harbour some of that green religion in his position and would be personally concerned of bias in any ruling(s) he might hand out and indeed if he has the “aptitude for impartial adjudication”?
Interpretation of the law or the regulations governing our lives is judged through the eyes of the adjudicator who pays close attention to those presenting the best and most relevant “case law”. The MoE with an unlimited budget are in a much better position to do research then the poor appellant. While the “appellant” can certainly appeal the ERT's decision or order he/she must be prepared with a pile of cash to support the process and possibly pay for the court costs. The ability to pay is an attribute the MoE is not concerned with as they use our tax dollars to fight anyone appealing an ERT decision.
It's not a difficult conclusion to realize the odds of winning an appeal favour the MoE, without even stacking the Board with individuals that may be inclined to have a bias or, to some extent, may have actually played a role in creating the legislation/regulations that they now adjudicate.
Bats are dying from “white nose syndrome” and collapsed lungs from wind turbines while rural folks living too close to wind turbines suffer from “wind turbine syndrome”. Two species in Ontario that should be protected are simply ignored by the MoE!
October 10, 2012