Lobbying begins to repeal plastic bag ban
Beware of the "grassroot" initiative to reverse Toronto’s ban on plastic shopping bags, due to kick in Jan. 1.
Those who keep score of Mayor Rob Ford’s accomplishments will recall the proud day earlier this year when he brought a motion to city council to repeal the 5 cent tax we all pay for shopping bags.
Ford succeeded (not that stores have stopped charging it), but council poked him in the eye by passing another motion to ban the use of plastics bags for shopping purchases, starting next year.
Score one for Ford, eh?
I, for one, do not like the bag ban. I didn’t particularly like paying a nickel, but I find of plenty of uses for them and appreciate the small stockpile in my pantry.
Since the bag tax kicked in, I don’t see nearly as many shredded plastic bags fluttering from the branches of trees as I did a few years ago, an anecdotal measure for sure, but a sign that it is having a positive environmental impact.
If the bag ban, which has been implemented in other North American cities without calamity, further reduces street trash and bags in landfills, I can get along without them.
We managed quite well before plastic bags were used for groceries and retail purchases, and will again.
But it was no surprise when a press release dropped into my inbox today from “a broad based coalition of environmental and economic interests,” working to overturn the bag ban.
“The coalition (ReverseTheBagBan.ca) will be launching a campaign that will include a website, videos, and a way for the public to voice their opposition,” said coalition spokesperson Kevin Gaudet.
I recognized Gaudet’s name, so I Googled him to jog my memory.
Among other things, he is described as a candidate for the presidency of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, former federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an external relations consultant and a failed PC candidate in the Pickering-Scarborough East riding in the last provincial election.
The most interesting entry was an Apr. 12 announcement from Grassroots Public Affairs that Gaudet is “an associate consultant to the firm. A lifelong fiscal conservative, Kevin has significant relationships within both the federal government and the provincial PC party.”
The Grassroots website says its “focus and strength is the creation and execution of effective “grassroot” campaigns that highlight important matters for you and your stakeholders.
“We help prioritize your issues, confirm your targeted audience and equip stakeholders to apply multiple points of awareness to elected officials at the community level.”
It goes on to say “campaigns can be designed locally for issues within a single city…”
In other words, “stakeholders” that have a vested interest in the continued use of plastic bags (maybe the people who make and sell them to retailers?) have hired a lobbying outfit to push their agenda.
So much for the “broad based coalition” that includes environmental interests.
When the lobbying kicks in, you can bet that the environment is far down the list of considerations.