By Don Crosby/QMI Agency Welland Tribune
OWEN SOUND – Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak says he’ll change the province’s Green Energy Act to give local councils the option to decide the location of commercial wind turbines in their municipalities.
“That’s the way it’s always been traditionally in our province, but Dalton McGuinty has stripped that away and is trying to make all of the decisions from Queen’s Park. That’s wrong and as premier I would restore the decision-making ability of local municipalities to have their say on these projects,” Hudak said during a brief stop at Grey-Bruce Farmers’ Week in Elmwood.
Hudak said he’s concerned about the impact some of the McGuinty government’s energy policies are having on the long-term cost of electricity, in particular an agreement to heavily subsidize South Korea-based technology giant Samsung Corporation to build components for the wind and solar energy industry in Ontario and for export.
“Dalton McGuinty signed some pie in the sky scheme for multimillion subsidies to Samsung Corporation — a foreign based corporation to build wind/solar farms at exorbitant rates,” Hudak said during and interview in Elmwood.
“Any kid knows you can’t run a lemonade stand by paying 84 cents for lemons and try to sell the lemonade for a nickel. It doesn’t add up, but that’s what Dalton McGuinty is doing with our hydro policy and its driving up bills,” he added.
Bill Walker, the PC candidate chosen to replace Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch in next year’s provincial election, echoed some of the views of his party leader.
“Where wind farms are located should be up to local councils. That I will fight very strongly for . . . I’ve heard people complain all over the place. They say their hydro bills are climbing every time you turn around. The government has lost touch with the local people,” Walker said.
“I want to do my part to turn that around and get Ontario to again become the economic engine that it can be.”
On the question of removing the HST from some products and services, Hudak said his party has set up a website, www.haveyoursayOntario.ca, that is seeking suggestions from Ontario residents about where a Conservative government could adjust or remove the sales tax.
Hudak said he’s open to suggestions for how to mitigate the effects of the tax, whether it’s removing it from certain goods and services or lowering it by one or two percentage points.
“Basically all options are on the table. We want to hear from people what’s going to help them the most, to spend on their priorities and not Dalton McGuinty’s,” he said.
The opposition leader told a few dozen farmers gathered at tThursday’s event that his government would implement farm subsidy programs for the agricultural industry in Ontario.
“It is the backbone of so many ridings in Ontario, including my own, where agriculture is the Number 1 industry. That’s why I said that among my priorities are to support supply management 100% for the commodities that have it and for those that don’t let’s move forward with a business risk management program that is going to encourage long-term investment and help pass the family farm on to the next generation in good shape,” Hudak said.
Hudak promised to promote a grown-in-Ontario food policy if the Conservatives form the next government.
“Public institutions buy a lot of food, whether it’s our schools, long-term care homes, hospitals, even our prisons. If we supported local products and our agricultural sector we would make a difference and set a good example for the major chains to follow by supporting our locally produced food products,” he said.