Toronto bag-ban critics launch protest campaign
Toronto city council is the target of a new campaign aimed at reversing the plastic bag ban before it takes effect in the new year.
The "ReverseTheBagBan" coalition which, according to its website is comprised of "environmentalists, manufacturers, recyclers, remanufacturers, retailers, and business groups," gathered at city hall Monday morning.
According to the various speakers who addressed reporters there, the bag ban is wrong for a variety of reasons that range from its impact on local businesses and jobs to the the environment. Plastic bags trump the paper bags that would replace them, they said, insofar as shifting to paper would mean using the equivalent of Toronto's tree canopy in the next ten years.
"The plastic bag ban is bad for Toronto. It makes no sense environmentally, or operationally, or for the city. It will destroy local, high-tech, green jobs," the group's spokesperson Kevin Gaudet told reporters.
The plastic bag ban was introduced by Coun. David Shiner in June, as city council debated whether to eliminate the five-cent levy retailers were charging consumers for plastic carrier bags.
Instead of voting to either scrap or uphold the fee, council voted 24-20 in favour of Shiner's motion to altogether eliminate plastic bags instead.
The ban is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013, but critics of the policy say the decision was made too hastily and without public consultation.
In a statement Monday, the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition said that the "unprecedented move to ban a common household item with no prior consultations has put the city on shaky legal ground."
City solicitor Anna Kinastowski has indeed warned councillors that the bag ban could open the door to legal action.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association has already said if the city doesn't reverse the ban, it will argue in court that it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But Coun. Shiner said earlier this month he believes Toronto residents support the ban.
"It's not the public that’s outraged about this," Shiner told The Canadian Press. "There's 3.5 million (people) in the city: I got eight phone calls."
"People understand that it's the right thing to do now and for the future," he said.