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Who will speak for the trees?

Last Updated Jan 4, 2019 at 3:34 pm EDT

(Photo: Daniel Berman / EyeEm)

For the past quarter-century, Ontario’s environment has had a voice in the provincial legislature. The environment commissioner takes questions from the public, writes independent reports on how well the province is protecting its natural resources and fighting climate change, and holds the government to account on environmental regulations. The office speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. Or at least, that’s what it used to do.

A single line in a bill passed in December gutted that office, just as the province’s climate situation is becoming critical. So, what happens next? Investigative reporter Fatima Syed has been digging through the policy to figure out why the office was eliminated, what options citizens with pressing environmental concerns have now and why, just when environmental regulations are needed most, they’re being rolled back not just in Ontario, but in so many places in North America.

THE BIG STORY PODCAST GUEST: Fatima Syed, National Observer

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