RE Hearings on Bill 150:
A measure of healthy democracy is the willingness of a government to listen to input from citizens. A friend from British Columbia recently called my Ontario government Stalinist. I am beginning to understand why.
There has been no meaningful public consultation on Bill 150. I recently took the trouble and traveled 8 hours to attend the so-called workshop on Bill 150 held by the Ministry of the Environment in North York Public Library. The exercise was condescending, insulting and pointless. Participants were given “workbooks” and urged by a hired facilitator to write down their views on pre-selected aspects of the act. Only after numerous participants repeatedly demanded open discussion was a limited plenary session allowed. One person asked the presiding civil servant what he intended to do with their comments. We haven’t decided was his vague reply. Would they become part of the public record? He did not know.
In fact he did not have answers to most other questions either. Most participants left feeling frustrated and affronted, especially when the facilitator suggested the workshop was to provide them with an opportunity to “vent”. Does the Ontario Government and particularly the Ministry of Energy not understand the meaning of dialogue?
I have just been offered one of 14 spots to make an oral presentation to the Standing Committee discussing Bill 150 in Sault Ste. Marie. I live in Bruce County. Is this a joke? I wish I could share your sense of humour.
You do realize that the trip takes 7 plus hours each way and a midday presentation would require overnight accommodation. Yesterday we had
another snow storm that made roads treacherous and sometimes impassable. Monday may be no different.
I asked your assistant why you could not add another half day to hearings in Toronto or London? I was told this is logistically impossible. Hmmm.
Is not the only logical explanation that it is government policy is to discourage public consultation on this issue? Has not the Minister of Energy done everything in his power to sell his version of the bill to the public even by going to the extent of plastering his own portrait over Toronto bus shelters?
Has he mentioned his plans to jeopardize the World Biosphere Niagara Escarpment with infrastructure projects?
Has he mentioned disabling environmental assessments or taking away planning powers from local municipalities and conservation authorities?
Has he told people the true cost his bill will have on electricity rates and the likelihood that more industry will leave the province?
This has already happened when wind turbines were installed in Spain and electricity prices skyrocketed? Denmark has the highest electricity prices in Europe. Has the public been informed that wind turbines in German and Denmark actually led to an increase in CO2 emissions and coal and gas consumption for electricity production?
Of course not. His failure to accept input from very well informed citizens suggests either that he knows the truth and is being deceptive when he insists that electricity costs will rise by only 1%, or that he is naïve and uninformed and all the more in need of the consultations that have been asked for by Ontario’s electorate.
Your offer of a spot at the hearings in Sault Ste Marie is all the more surprising because I was one of the first to request an appearance before the committee, telephoning your office before the hearings had even been publicly advertised. At that time your assistant took my name and particulars. Several weeks later I was telephoned and asked my preference of location and I indicated Toronto.
And yet yesterday, in Toronto, there were four spots for which no one was confirmed to speak. Is this total incompetence or more sinister manipulation?
Citizens do not appreciate being insulted in this manner.
Why have only 125-150 of the approximately 300 people who have asked
to speak to the committee been allowed to do so? Why has the selection
of those who did get to speak been so unbalanced?
Barbara Ashbee, who has suffered serious health effects and who has written countless letters to ministers, was denied the opportunity to speak at any of these hearings.
John Harrison, retired Physics professor from Queens University has spoken out in the past. He also was denied.
Tony Clark led a citizen’s group in the OMB hearings of the Enbridge Wind project. He also was denied.
From the volume of applications and the widespread concern about Bill 150, it would appear that the committee should be adding quite a few more sessions for people in Southern Ontario who still wish to participate.
I have to say that I shall have to decline your offer to travel 14 hours with an overnight stay to speak for 10 minutes to the committee in Sault Ste. Marie. I am not prepared to jump through the hoop this time. It is the duty of the government to consult with citizens and to make appropriate arrangements to do so. Such arrangements are quite inappropriate and indicate arrogant contempt for the public consultation process.
I am sending a copy of this letter also to those who have directed you to make this decision.
George Smitherman, Minister of Energy firstname.lastname@example.org
Dalton McGuinty, Premier email@example.com
David Orazietti MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Brownell MPP email@example.com
Linda Jeffrey MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Kuldip Kular MPP email@example.com
Rosario Marchese MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Mauro MPP email@example.com
Carol Mitchell MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Bailey MPP email@example.com
Joyce Savoline MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Murdock MPP email@example.com
Andre Marin Ombudsman of Ontario firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Hillier MPP email@example.com
Christine Elliot MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Hudak MPP email@example.com
Bob Runciman MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvia Jones MPP email@example.com
Elizabeth Witmer MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
John Yakabuski MPP email@example.com
separate e-mail for
Peter Kormos MPP firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Horwath email@example.com
Trevor Day, Clerk for Standing Committee firstname.lastname@example.org