Letter to the Editor, Kevin Devitt

Letter to the Editor, Toronto Star, Oct. 26, 2000.:

I was somewhat heartened by both today’s op-ed “Make Recycling an Election Issue”, which referenced Mayoral candidate Mel Lastman’s visit to the Edmonton composting facility, and by the GTA story challenging Lastman’s ducking of the electorate and of his opponents (“Where’s the Bad Boy when we need him”). Both of these items merit coverage.

One of many such facilities across Canada, the Edmonton plant not only transforms the majority of their waste stream into valuable compost, while increasing recycling rates, but it also provides the opportunity to capture methane – a potent greenhouse gas – which can be used for electricity generation. Toronto, with its large waste volumes and highly constrained electricity transmission system, could greatly benefit from both waste management and local power generation – a win-win for both environment and local economy. It would also go a long way to meeting Toronto’s GHG reduction targets.

And Lastman should have had to defend his recent support for Adams Mine (in direct opposition to an advanced composting/energy system), either at last night’s forum at the St. Lawrence Centre, or in a Mayoral candidates debate – any Mayoral debate. You were right in saying this should be one of the many issues for this election.

But Lastman refuses to debate the issues, anywhere. I know, because I have tried, to report on his platform, in my capacity as a researcher & writer for a prominent Ontario independent energy trade organization. But to no avail: Mel refuses to debate in a public forum, and his office will not respond to requests for info on his eneryg & environment platforms.

But there the kudos end. Today’s Star contains the following phrases: with virtually no one to challenge him (Mr. Lastman) as mayor” and “With no viable opponent in the municipal election, Lastman” But these statements are only true because the coverage isn’t there for Lastman’s challengers. Tooker Gomberg, as you surely must know by now, as an Edmonton municipal councillor, spearheaded the drive to install the composting facility that now serves Edmonton so well.

What more does a candidate have to do to meet the Star’s criteria for viability? It is disengenuous at best, and dishonest at worst, for you to challenge Lastman to be proactive on recycling, and to participate in the democratic process, while at the same time refusing to cover campaigns such as Gomberg’s. Torontonians – and democracy – deserve more consistency from the Star than this.

Kevin Devitt
Toronto, ON