McGuinty never understood what rural Ontario needed

By Connie Woodcock, Sudbury Star
After a few decades of elections, you get used to it. You sit down in front of the television on election night, knowing you’ll never hear your riding mentioned all evening and that you’ll have to wait until the next day to find out what happened. So imagine my surprise on Oct. 6 to hear my obscure, little, provincial riding mentioned repeatedly on all the broadcasts, right to the end of the evening.

Turns out Northumberland- Quinte West was the last seat declared — and the last hope of the McGuinty Liberals to form a majority government.

In the end, it chose the rookie Progressive Conservative, Rob Milligan, a

teacher/beef farmer, over Liberal incumbent Lou Rinaldi, owner of Brighton Speedway.

Along with its neighbouring riding, Prince Edward-Hastings, which unceremoniously dumped Liberal education minister Leona Dombrowsky in favour of another rookie PC, Belleville radio broadcaster Todd Smith, it’s a perfect example of why the rural-urban divide in Ontario is today bigger and more intractable than ever.

Rural people have more reasons to despise the McGuinty government than urban voters.

It costs more to live out here. Our taxes are higher and the price of electricity is always greater because we’re farther from the source of production.

Meanwhile, incomes are usually lower in rural communities, so the HST and skyrocketing electricity prices hit us harder than city people.

The most enduring conversation starter I’ve run into the last few years has been Hydro One — the big bills, the expensive alternate energy plans and the hated smart meters.

People just haven’t gotten over them — especially since more price increases keep kicking in to remind us.

All around, we see the evidence of why it’s happening.

In Northumberland, the landscape is littered with hundreds of solar panels, many of which are earning 80 cents per kilowatt hour, the exorbitant rate the McGuinty government was forced to back away from as more and more applications flooded in. Many local farmers were quick to see the opportunity and got in before the price came down.

In Prince Edward-Hastings, they’ve had long and bitter battles over wind turbines and the fighting continues. There’s another such project being fought in Northumberland. The same story repeats across Ontario.

PC leader Tim Hudak’s promise to kill the Samsung megaproject to build wind turbines appealed to us, even as we wondered what cancellation would cost.

It’s bad enough the McGuinty government never seemed to understand or care about rural issues from the start. But it never woke up in its entire eight years of majority government.

Rural voters wanted jobs. They gave us all-day kindergarten — a massive disconnect.

Rural folk were furious when they first heard of Premier Dad’s “no NIMBY-ism” policy that short circuits municipal councils’ right to reject wind and solar projects.

They were further enraged when they realized that policy doesn’t apply to Scarborough, where off-shore wind farms were scrapped, or to Oakville and Etobicoke where gas-fired generating station plans were scuttled — all to preserve Liberal seats.

These issues aren’t top of mind in heavily urban areas but they rubbed rural people raw in many ridings.

Hudak’s promises to drop the HST on electricity and home heating fuel, to make time-of-use billing optional, kill the old Ontario Hydro debt repayment charge on every bill and to end many of the Green Energy Act’s excesses were music to our ears.

So on election day, the map of Ontario outside large urban centres like Toronto, turned blue.

At least, with no majority, the next four years should be more interesting than the last — if the government lasts that long.

13 thoughts on “McGuinty never understood what rural Ontario needed

  1. I experienced problems election night getting any information from the Toronto based TV networks, for SW Ont. ridings. I noticed the electoral map, similar to the one pictured here,
    eliminates Georgian Bay, and Bruce peninsula entirely. With oversights like this, it is little wonder why rural alienation exists.
    When it became apparent that McGuinty would not get his last seat, the CBC anchor sniffed that local irritants like “wind mills” affected some of the voting in rural Ont. The implication was that voters there would not get on with the program..

    • There’s a lot of sniffing going on …

      On their election coverage, CTV anchor Paul Bliss fretted that the Liberals were losing rural seats because the farmers were upset about not getting their energy projects hooked up to the grid.

      Oh, was that the reason Paul?

      Another uninformed, biased television mouthpiece. Sniff this …

  2. Better still, apply for a permit in Ottawa South, (McGuinty’s home), where there is lots of space 550 m from houses. I believe the catch is that an owner of a private piece of property would have to be involved. All wind developments now are on private property, are they not?
    This was the reson given when I asked a Liberal minister why turbines were not placed on hydro corridors in Ottawa. The distance requirement there is ample, but the land is owned by some public utility.
    Not a very good excuse, to be sure, but the one given.

    • Good idea: all we would have to do is find a willing landowner in Manotick, a wealthy suburb of Ottawa, make an application, and then watch the fireworks. The difference though is you wouldn’t be a big corporation with lots of $$$ to make promises of jobs, jobs, jobs and money for all.

    • The site where the gas fired power plant was to be built on the Mississauga – Toronto border might be a good place for IWTs. IWTs are harmless afterall and only NIMBYs oppose them.

  3. Google maps should show if there are any vacant parcels of land or industrial sites in Ottawa South that can be used for IWTs. And commercial/industrial sites for sale or lease are also listed on the internet. Maybe someone will apply for a permit to install IWTs in Ottawa South.

  4. Maybe they should build them in McGuinty’s backyard. Anyone know if David Suzuki has any near his mansions?

    • Are you kidding? Neither Suzuki’s oceanside property, nor any of his several other houses are within miles of any wind turbines. This is the basic question begging to be answered, but never, ever posed by any journalist. I would love to hear his answer.
      Others in this position include Dalton McGuinty, Al Gore, Robert Kennedy, fill in your Green energy advocate here.
      Journalists are either too polite to ask, or they believe the question is too simplistic to put to someone as important as the above individuals.

  5. You have to understand TO etc. Majority is now new immigrants , far removed from issues we know and face. They live , as once had in downtoen cores , all their world is either concrete sidewalks or parks or harbourfront.
    They just aren’t affected and live in what we in rural areas would consider wasteland of too many people and large tall buildings with noise , noise and more noise.
    They just have different immediate issues.
    There the only focus that may strike a nerve is cost.
    The wouldn’t care about health issues or birds or our property values.
    Most are not bad people , just different priorities

    • All the same but there are many sites in urban Ontario that can be used to install IWTs. Transmission costs would be greatly reduced. There is now no reason why rural Ontarians should have to be the only people having to live with IWTs very close to their homes. Farm land should be used to grow food.

      • Urban people will start caring about their property values when they get IWTs within 350-550 meters from their homes.

  6. You have to understand TO etc. Majority is now new immigrants , far removed from issues we know and face. They live , as once had in downtoen cores , all their world is either concrete sidewalks or parks or harbourfront.
    They just aren’t affected and live in what we in rural areas would consider wasteland of too many people and large tall buildings with noise , noise and more noise.
    They just have different immediate issues.
    There the only focus that may strike a nerve is cost.
    The wouldn’t care about health issues or birds or our property values.
    Most are not bad people , just different priorities

  7. After listening to Bennett from the Sierra club at our local council meeting, i am sure he would want one of these lovely turbines on his front lawn as well.

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