by Jim Merriam, Toronto Sun
Early on each week holds a glimmer of hope that I will be able to write about something other than the Dalton Gang.
But as the days unfold, something outlandish, sometimes even outrageous, usually happens that can’t be allowed to pass without comment.
As a former Liberal supporter (I came close to seeking the McGuinty-led Liberal nomination in my riding a few years back) I find this troubling to say the least. This is a government that came to power with promise but has deteriorated beyond the point of no return. That deterioration just never seems to end.
This time it was a visit by Agriculture Minister Carol Mitchell to a meeting of farm leaders in the southern Georgian Bay county of Bruce.
This area, you might recall, is the centre of some of the hottest debate about industrial wind farms that have been springing up around rural Ontario to help feed electricity to the beast that is the Golden Horseshoe.
Press reports have Mitchell pointing out to the gathered farmers and politicians that wind farms are part of renewable energy policies critical to a 25-year plan to develop a sustainable energy system while getting rid of coal-fired generators.
That’s fair enough for a “why,” but it ignores the fact that the “how” is causing the problems.
The Ag minister also said the hated Green Energy Act, under which wind farms are being developed, includes a consultation process between a developer and the local municipality.
Here’s where problems begin to arise. First, nobody seems to know exactly what such a consultation process should look like. Second, the act has emasculated municipalities so they have absolutely no power over the developer or the development.
Such an imbalance leaves meaningful consultation as nothing but a Queen’s Park dream and a rural Ontario nightmare. The definition of consultation under these circumstances is the big boys talk and rural people listen.
Mitchell also spouted the party line that available evidence shows no correlation between turbines and ill health, which is funny because there’s all kinds of anecdotal evidence in areas where turbines are in operation right in Mitchell’s riding.
The minister claims to have visited some of these, but if she talked to local folks in distress it must have been the kind of consultation described above.
On the health issue Mitchell mentioned a number of reports government officials have “seen” which show no health issues, plus a ruling by the Supreme Court that there is no direct correlation between turbines and health. That is cold comfort for the folks on the ground suffering from a variety of maladies.
The bottom line about Mitchell’s appearance before farmers is this. She clearly came to represent the interests of big government to the little folks who are governed.
Therein lies the essence of the problems with the Dalton Gang and all its apologists. They’ve lost sight of the fact that their government members were elected to represent our interests in Toronto.
It’s mind-numbing how that simple philosophy got so twisted around as soon as Grit hands touched the levers of power at Queen’s Park.
Unfortunately the alternate strategy of ramming policy down the throats of electors takes a lot of time and energy for folks like Mitchell, whose attention is needed elsewhere.
Stumbles of the ministry of agriculture make it clear it is in serious need of leadership. Leadership that it, and much of the rest of the government, is not getting.