This editorial appeared in the Toronto Star yesterday.
Tim Hudak’s provincial Conservatives have jumped on the anti-wind bandwagon. They say the issue pits “elitist special interests” against “local families.” That is a false dichotomy. What’s really at issue in the wind debate is how to close dirty coal-fired power plants and keep the lights on. The answer to that question ought to be a concern to all Ontarians; it ought not to be obscured by partisan politics. The Liberal government’s Green Energy Act would wean Ontario off coal, a major pollutant and leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, and onto clean energy alternatives like solar and wind, backed up by natural gas. The Liberals also hope to create green-industry jobs in the process. But Tory MPPs spoke out against wind power on Wednesday at Queen’s Park, both at a protest outside and a debate inside the Legislature. The Tories are calling for a moratorium (until a health study is completed) and a municipal veto on all new wind projects. Both are bad ideas. Ontario’s regulations for locating turbines are among the most rigorous in the world and, while some people have honestly held health concerns, there is no scientific evidence to support claims that turbines make people sick. The government has already funded a multi-year independent study on the health effects of turbines and, if warranted, the standards can be altered. As for allowing municipalities to veto wind projects – even if they meet all safety and environmental standards – that would pit resident against resident and put town councils in a no-win position. The Conservatives say they stand with “local families” who oppose turbines. But what of the families and farmers in those same communities who what them? And if not wind, how should Ontario meet its power needs? Should we keep on burning coal? Hudak has not been clear on this point. Ontarians should be asking Hudak how he would keep the lights on.
Well good work Tim for finally getting around to it, but your asking the wrong questions. First you should have been asking questions about municipal zoning limitations and provincial veto powers when the bill was being tabled, instead you wait a year to create a united party to oppose this stipulation of the Green Energy Act (GEA)? Sorry Huddy ole’ boy a little to late. Also the idea of a wind-turbine moratorium is way past its prime. Wind-concerns-Ontario has been campaigning the government for this exact thing since the inception of the bill over a year ago. This collective of anti-wind advocates includes members of your party, so where were the provincial conservatives a year ago. The real questions you need to be asking are, who is winning these wind contracts? Who is advocating for the GEA receiving public funds? What benefit will it provide for ordinary Ontario residents? How much will it cost? Has government overstepped it’s political boundaries in terms of oversight on public utilities such as the OPA and the OPG? If the Conservative party wants to make serious inroads with the Ontario voting populace (those who still bother too anyway) they should be asking the economic, logistical, and political questions about the GEA and not dwelling in the fringe elements of this colossal issue. Get your wet suit on and dive into this mess Hudak you wanted the job, become the rudder of the party. The Conservatives would do themselves a huge favor in the coming year by making the promise that if they are elected to lead the legislature they will repeal the GEA. This will create the watershed of support the Tories need when energy bills increase by 25% in the coming months. You ever wonder why inept policy is made, why inadequate political establishments are able to maintain power? Could it be that their opposition is weak, disjointed and without a central message. It’s time for the Conservatives to have a central message and this could easily be it, if they don’t get bogged down in the shallow and useless arguments of this issue, they need to go to the heart of the GEA and what it means for Ontario’s economy, citizens and energy security.