THUNDER BAY – The lead question on Wednesday in the Ontario Legislature was on the subject of wind turbines, with the Ontario Progressive Conservatives seeking information from Premier Dalton McGuinty on his government’s direction on the issue.
The Premier has determined that there is no basis for any of the concerns raised by Ontario residents and other experts from wind turbines.
“This isn’t the same Dalton McGuinty who people thought they voted for. It’s not even the same Dalton McGuinty of last month, who called municipalities “a mature, responsible level of government.” This is the Dalton McGuinty whose Green Energy Act overrides municipalities and cuts out local families so he can drive his agenda of building industrial wind farms in everyone’s backyard but his own,” stated John Yakabuski.
Earlier in April, the McGuinty Government offered out $8 Billion in renewable energy credits. The number of companies lining up to grab a share of the money. The Premier is claiming that 36,000 jobs will be created from his wind energy plans.
Here is the exchange from Queen’s Park:
Mr. John Yakabuski: My question is for the Premier. Just like his plan to teach sex education to six-year-olds, Dalton McGuinty thinks he knows better than families when it comes to industrial wind farms. Hopefully, just like his sex education plan, Dalton McGuinty will distance himself from what his minister said during question period, admit he wasn’t listening to families and offer to do a “serious rethink” of industrial wind farms. The opposition day motion I proposed is his chance to do just that. Can we count on your support for municipalities that want you to give back planning authority over industrial wind projects that you stripped away in your so-called Green Energy Act?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I’m pleased to take the question and have an opportunity to speak to this. We welcome the continuing debate. I do not support the position taken by my honourable colleague opposite, nor the position embraced by the official opposition.
We think it’s really important that we pursue clean energy opportunities in Ontario. We’re a little late, frankly, when it comes to this. They started harnessing the power of the wind in order to generate electricity, they tell me, in the 1880s. But I’m glad that we’ve gone from, I think, some 10 wind turbines to 700.
I look forward, in the supplementaries, to outlining in a bit more detail why I think it’s important for all of us that we find a way to move forward on this.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?
Mr. John Yakabuski: To the families from Wind Concerns Ontario who are at Queen’s Park today, it sounds like the Premier thinks the reason he gave for a flip-flop that humiliated Ministers Pupatello and Dombrowsky on the need to consult families applies only to teaching sex courses to six-year-olds and not to industrial wind farms being built right outside their back door.
If he had seriously changed his ways, Dalton McGuinty would listen to families from Prince Edward-Hastings, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Nipissing, Essex, Scarborough Bluffs and Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. They want input into where you put your industrial wind farms. They want an independent study that shows your industrial projects are safe for them and safe for the environment. Can you do better than offering the word of Samsung or Minister Gerretsen?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: I want to welcome the families that are here today and I want them to know we are listening very carefully to the concerns that they are expressing.
But I want to say that we’ve taken a long time to consider the policy that we have put in place. The choices aren’t all easy when it comes to electricity. We’ve decided that it’s important to eliminate coal-fired generation. That’s something that compromises the health of our children and contributes to global warming, so we want to shut that down. Gas-fired generation is not easy either. It does contribute to global warming. But when it comes to wind turbines, we now have in place the most aggressive policies in all of North America when it comes to location, noise emission levels and all those kinds of things-in fact, they’re some of the strongest in the world. More than that, we’re now funding a research chair devoted to putting in place a longitudinal study so we can ensure that we are in fact not compromising the health of Ontarians. I think we’re doing exactly what we need to do at this point in our history.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Final supplementary.
Mr. John Yakabuski: This isn’t the same Dalton McGuinty who people thought they voted for. It’s not even the same Dalton McGuinty of last month, who called municipalities “a mature, responsible level of government.” This is the Dalton McGuinty whose Green Energy Act overrides municipalities and cuts out local families so he can drive his agenda of building industrial wind farms in everyone’s backyard but his own. Ontario PCs stand with families on deciding where to locate industrial wind projects in their communities, not so-called experts and elites.
Will you show that your humiliation of Minister Pupatello was not in vain and that you’ve truly taken to heart the need to consult families and support my opposition day motion today?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Again, I certainly support my colleague’s right to move ahead with his opposition day motion. It’s not something that I can support, of course.
Let me tell you about one of the other benefits, apart from us harnessing the clean power of the wind for Ontario families in a way that does not compromise their health. In addition to that, so far, the investments that we have landed-and they total over $16 billion-will translate into 36,000 clean energy jobs in the province of Ontario.
Some of the strongest support we have for our wind turbine program comes from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which is a really important constituent group in rural Ontario. We’ve given this a great deal of thought. We’ve listened to a lot of people who think it is important, as part of a progressive energy plan, to ensure that we’re harnessing the clean power of the wind.