I swear some days when Rob Ford’s opponents say the sky is pink, when the Mayor says its blue. That’s the feeling I get about this latest move by Toronto City Council. Earlier this week they moved to ban plastic bags. The move was part of Mayor Ford’s promise to cut the controversial 5 cent plastic bag charge.
The lack of thought, consultation, and debate that went into this one is shocking. While I understand the environmental argument that plastic bags are bad for the environment there are such things as recyclable plastic bags. Bulk Barn for example uses recyclable plastic bags in most of its stores. And they’re pretty sturdy bags as well. The LCBO has also stopped using plastic bags, but they’ve replaced them with sturdy paper bags, and boxes. My point is: there are replacements, and ways to make the plastic bags more environmentally friendly; why not compromise by taking a step in this direction before going completely plastic bag free?
It was a strategic, well publicized corporate decision by Loblaw to make the Milton Superstore plastic bag free environment not a government one. To my knowledge there is no ban on plastic bags in place here, nor are there plans for one. People knew going into the store there would be no plastic bags offered, that they had to use the canvas bags or shop somewhere else. This should be a decision made by businesses, or even challenging the Plastics industry to come up with an affordable recyclable plastic bag. Where the government could help out is to maybe look at a way of giving a tax break or two to those companies that choose to go plastic bag free.
There was no forethought, and no discussion on the decision to ban plastic bags. Where were the people saying “What are we going to replace the plastic bags with?” Where was the consultation with the business community over the question of cost to replace them or do away with them? Where was the discussion of gasp.. not doing at all? Did the people were against the ban get a chance to air their opinions? Toronto City Council made the decision before thinking through its consequences.
And where are the priorities? I can think of at least three things I’d discuss before a plastic bag ban. For example the fact one of its own workers never fully completed a security check and was working with children; a new policy on that, and a few reassurances wouldn’t go amiss. Or what about the ever-present problem of what to do with the waterfront, or what to do about roads- The Gardiner is literally falling apart. I could go on, but you get the idea.
In the larger picture a ban on plastic bags without thinking about it is petty, and demonstrates a failure to grasp some of Toronto’s serious problems. It also makes you wonder if they pass a ban on plastic bags without studying and discussing it, then what else are they doing without discussion?