by Heather Boa, Huron Bullet News
TORONTO – More than one hundred municipal politicians – including some from Huron County – walked out on Premier Dalton McGuinty en masse in protest of wind energy development during his opening address at the county’s largest annual conference for rural municipalities.
Politicians were gathered for the opening ceremonies of the combined conference of Ontario Good Roads Association and Rural Ontario Municipal Association in the Royal York’s main meeting room, which has the capacity to seat 1,670 people, where McGuinty was scheduled to address municipal leaders for the first time since his third consecutive electoral victory and after the release of the Drummond Report. As he made his way to the podium, municipal politicians from across the province stood and left the room.
Among the local politicians were: councillors Burkhard Metzger, Alex Westerhout and Brian Barnim of Central Huron; Coun. Tyler Hessel of Bluewater; Mayor George Robertson, Deputy Reeve Jim Deitrich and Coun. Dave Frayne of South Huron. Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson and Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker also walked out of the meeting. Outside the room, they were greeted by a crowd opposed to wind energy development, and anti-wind buttons were handed out.
“I have issues with how it’s pushed into the community. [The government] is not listening to the concerns that are out there,” Metzger said. “What it really boils down to is: What is their agenda for rural Ontario? If they choose to behave that way, I think it’s only fair to walk out on the guy like that.”
Metzger said the majority of people who elected him to municipal council in 2010 wanted him to walk out on their behalf.
Prior to the conference, the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie circulated a resolution to Ontario municipalities calling for the Premier to invoke an immediate one-year moratorium on wind energy development with yearly extensions as required. It demanded the moratorium be in place before the ROMA/OGRA 2012 conference or municipal officials would walk out on the Premier “in a show of solidarity to once again demonstrate to our provincial government our frustration, anger and disappointment over their complete and total mishandling of the Green Energy Act and industrial wind turbines in particular.”
The Green Energy Act, in part, created the Feed-In Tariff program and associated pricing structure for renewable energy contracts in Ontario.