By Monte Sonnenberg, Dunnville Chronicle
NANTICOKE – Federal and provincial Liberals are not necessarily on the same page when it comes to energy policy in Ontario.
During a town-hall style meeting in Nanticoke Friday, federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and local Liberal candidate Bob Speller of Villa Nova raised questions about key planks in the McGuinty government’s green energy program.
Speller expressed reservations about the way wind turbines and other green-energy technologies are being imposed on rural communities while Ignatieff expressed bewilderment with the province’s handling of the Nanticoke Generating Station.
The discussion turned to local energy issues when Pat Morris of Dunnville expressed her dismay over the pending arrival of nearly 200 industrial wind turbines in Haldimand County. Morris only learned what was happening in her community because a neighbour took time to bring it to her attention.
“I have a problem with the Green Energy Act,” Morris told the assembled throng at the union hall of Local 8782 of the United Steelworkers in Nanticoke. “I am desperate and I will tell you why. This is a map of the 200 turbines that are going to be brought to my area. Samsung did not bring this to me. The town did not bring this to me. The province did not bring this to me. My neighbour brought this to me.
“I haven’t been able to sleep since I’ve seen this. I cry every day. I need your help. I’m going to be part of an involuntary experiment on the health effects of wind turbines on people.”
Speller and Ignatieff sympathized with Morris. Ignatieff said the way wind turbines are being imposed in Ontario “raises an issue about democracy.”
Speller cited the results of a recent survey which found that more than 50% of people in Ontario want more research into the health effects of wind turbines before they become general throughout the province.
“I have to take what you say to (Ontario Energy Minister) Brad Duguid and tell him there are problems with wind turbines,” Speller added. “I will tell him that you are not being heard.”
Ignatieff spelled out his preferred strategy for the Nanticoke Generating Station now that the province if phasing out coal as a source of energy.
“We have to figure out what to do with coal-fired plants,” he said. “I think we’ve got to keep Nanticoke open. The question is not what do we feed into Nanticoke. We’ve got a billion dollars worth of plant there. Are you nuts shutting this thing down? I’m looking at what’s happening in Japan and I’m thinking one thing – natural gas. We’ve got more natural gas in this country than you can shake a stick at.”
This was Ignatieff’s fourth visit to the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk in recent years. Ignatieff’s itinerary Friday also included a stop in Brantford. Ignatieff said there is a strong chance Canadians will go to the polls sometime this spring.
“Nothing is inevitable in life, but it is kind of looking like it at the moment,” he said. “I think that would be the honest answer.”