Ontario Premier slammed for ‘politely’ asking people to stop campfires rather than issuing ban

Approximatley 50 wildfires are currently burning in Ontario, Canada

Ariana Baio
Thursday 08 June 2023 20:28 BST

Orange smog envelops Ottawa as Canada wildfires continue to fill skies

Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, is facing mounting criticism for refusing to acknowledge climate change’s impact on the unprecedented wildfires in Canada and failing to take action by banning campfires.

During Wednesday’s question period, Mr Ford accused New Democratic Party leader Marit Stiles of “politicising wildfires” when she questioned him about climate change’s impact on the wildfires.

Mr Ford claimed a report he heard attributed 50 per cent of the fires to lightning strikes and the other 50 per cent to people not extinguishing their campfires properly.

“So I’m asking every Ontarian, please do not light any campfires,” Mr Ford said.

Still, Mr Ford did not enact a fire ban.

Instead, Mr Ford pushed back against Ms Stiles’ comments about climate change, saying: "I’m actually in shock that the Leader of the Opposition is politicising wildfires. It’s staggering, really.”

Although Mr Ford did not push for a fire ban, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Graydon Smith, has noted that there are multiple fire restrictions throughout Ontario and municipalities have the ability to impose their own restrictions.

At the moment, most of Ontario is under restricted fire zones, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 

In a statement provided to The Independent a spokesperson for the Office of the Premier said: “Outside of the fire region ban in regions, which the province has acted on under our purview, additional outdoor fire bans are regulated by local municipalities through municipal fire bans and by-laws.”

But Mr Ford’s brushing off of climate change talks is what has garnered attention online.

“Today, Doug Ford again refused to acknowledge the link between the climate crisis and raging wildfires,” Ms Stiles tweeted. “This isn’t normal. We can do so much better.”

“Fires are burning across the country and some politicians (ahem, Doug Ford) can’t even say the words "climate change,” writer David Moscrop tweeted.

The forest fires in Canada have burned over 9.4m acres of land thus far. The heavy smoke from the fires has drifted into parts of the US causing unhealthy air quality in cities like New York, Detroit, Washington DC, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

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