TORONTO — The controversial provincial environment minister has resigned to go work for a not-for-profit energy think-tank.
Glen Murray announced at the end of July that he will step down as MP on Sept. 1 and on Sept. 5 will become the executive director of the Pembina Institute, which supports reducing fossil fuels and puts more focus on green energy sources.
There will be no byelection to replace Murray as there is a provincial election set for June 7, 2018. Murray, a long-time politician, was mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004 and has been MP of Toronto Centre since 2010. Murray was re-elected in the 2014 election taking 58.2 per cent of the votes. The riding has been Liberal ever since it was created before the 1999 election. He also ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013 but dropped out and backed Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Newmarket-Aurora MPP Chris Ballard is the new environment minister. The former journalist was first elected in 2014 and was the housing minister before making the move to the environment portfolio.
Murray became Minister of the Environment and Climate Change after the 2014 election and was responsible for two significant changes that impact farmers. He was lead on the new neonic regulations that state farmers must conduct pest assessments before being allowed to use neonic-treated corn and soybean seeds. Some farmers say it takes an hour of paperwork and scouting for every 100 acres of farmland they plant.
Murray apologized to farmers at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s 2016 annual general meeting for the neonicotinoid regulations that was forced upon the ag community and admitted neonics are not the sole cause of bee deaths, and that mites, diseases and nutrition also play a role. At the time, he said changes to the regulations were being worked on to make it easier for farmers, but those changes never happened.
Murray also brought in the cap-and-trade cash grab. Promoted as a way to reduce carbon being produced, the carbon tax sees farmers pay an extra 5 to 6 cents per litre for gasoline and diesel starting this year. Although there were rumours there would be carbon credits for farmers, that hasn’t materialized.