By Harvey Wrightman
Driving down-country on the Norwich Road, I was reminded of the beauty of this part of Ontario which still retains a significant forest – very lovely and one could easily imagine a life here; but, then I had a vision of the parasitic wind reps who probably were on the same road, driving some generic white/black SUV with blacked-out windows. They are thick everywhere, and hadn’t I just heard that there were 30 of them bivouacked in the Forest Sands Hotel. The wind companies need a lot of these thugs.
I soon arrived in Hagersville, the site of the ERT appeal into the Summerhaven Wind project owned by FPL – sorry, they don’t like the name of the corporate sire (Florida Power and Light) – so it’s NextEra. A name so much more contemporary and less “industrial”.
TCI, the Irish company (I wonder if ever they will actually build a project), signed all the leaseholders to the original contracts, then sold them out to NextEra. Irish BS goes further than anything the dour reps of NextEra with their pinched faces could ever manage.
The venue for the hearing is an older community centre, a smallish room with a parquet dance floor and simple, functional furniture. The mercury lights are right out of a hockey arena, casting a blue/green synthetic glow and humming so much that it was at times, difficult to hear. But we all made the best of it and a goodly number of locals were in attendance. I have some new friends now.
Since it wasn’t all cushy and proper like the county council chambers in Chatham, the audience acted more like they were at a card party, but a relatively quiet one. The topic was an important one: MOE motions to dismiss both the Haldimand Wind Concerns appeal AND the appeal of Bill Monture, a Mohawk living a traditional life, not aligned with the elected council or the HDI. The MOE lawyer, Ms. Harris, showed lots of gumption, but I’d have to say she had quite a lot on her platter for the day, as you will see.
The arguments started at 9 AM and ran to ~ 4 PM.
The presentations of Eric Gillespie (for Haldimand Wind Concerns) and Bill Monture who took on this “ideal” role of an ordinary person making an appeal to the Tribunal without benefit of counsel, using his own words, struck me as running parallel and complementary. Both said things that just made sense, at least to a typical citizen in the gallery. So, how was that?
The MOE lawyer, Nadine Harris, lead the attack. She argued that the appeal was :
- frivolous and vexatious
- there was undue delay and the appellant failed to produce any consequential medical records.
The gist of her argument was that the medical records of the witnesses were “very relevant” and that in order to understand them the ERT must rely on the expertise of qualified medical practitioners. She stated that a witness is not qualified to opine on the cause of his/her symptoms.
She insisted that it is the appellants responsibility to procure and pay for the extensive medical records the MOE and NextEra were requesting – AND – it all could have been done within the abbreviated ERT schedule.
Whew! – as if that weren’t enough there was also this miserable quibbling by the appellant about “confidentiality” of medical records. Some of the witnesses had requested that their records not become public record – a reasonable request? – not to Ms. Harris who blithely said that any or all of the witnesses could be actually party to the action and therefore the line between plaintiff and witness is blurred!!! Yes, really that was her suggestion. No basis for it, only her imagination I suppose.
Ms. Harris spoke also about the failure of the MOE to accurately predict (with computer models) project noise levels. Consistently projects operate out of compliance for a significant amount of time – Bill Palmer did show this using a wind company’s own data; and, the inability of the MOE to accurately measure project noise, on-site. Ms. Harris glibly stated, ‘…this was not an issue for this Tribunal…” – in other words, the basic tools are broken, but let’s not think about that. Put the towers up, don’t measure noise, and let the people suffer. They’re just a bunch of complainers.
In her summary Ms. Harris suggested that if the appeal were not to be dismissed, the ERT should demand the medical documents be produced within the time remaining (about a week). This was the extent of her “practicality” in dealing with issues which she helped to create.
Later, Mr. Gillespie pointed out no one, neither the MOE nor the wind companies have used medical records as a basis for operating regulations or statements about health issues – begs the question, why are they so insistent now?
NextEra was of much the same mind, though counsel John Terry, took a bit less time to spew the same blather and nonsense. He took pains to explain that he must have the extensive medical records so that he may have them competently reviewed and so “test” the case evidence for verity. Why he needs 10 years worth of records was not explained, nor did Ms. Harris offer any rationale either.
There were a couple of questions from the ERT panel members. One asked Mr.Terry how he would view the call for extensive evidence if this case is viewed as a “public interest” case. Mr. Terry replied that in the interests of fairness to defendants, a “robust process” is needed with appropriate expert testimony.
Another question to him was: Is a family doctor’s opinion (diagnosis) sufficient (evidence). Mr. Terry said that the G.P.’s notes need expert evaluation. Stephana Johnson turned to me and softly said, “There are no doctors expert in this medical problem.” – that from someone who can offer expert (though unofficial) opinion.
More to come…