“I See”

by Harvey Wrightman
Perhaps the biggest problem with these Environmental Review Tribunal appeal hearings is we get only the “appearance” of a fair hearing. Tuesday’s session was at the Kohler Community Centre, a WW2 Air Force barracks, well maintained by the onsite caretaker who obviously must do wonders with a limited budget – I hope that point is appreciated by the team of lawyers (some @ $500/hour) who descend on our rural communities. Wishful thinking – all we get from these people are averted looks, fake smiles and condescending remarks. Like a crew of evangelists sweeping into a new land, there is no regard let alone respect for local opinion and knowledge. Our thoughts are to be replaced with the new “green” beliefs.

The room is small and we sat directly behind the Samsung counsel, Sarah Powell and Matthew Milne-Smith (hired gun prepped and loaded for the day), sitting side-by-each to the Ministry of Environment’s Frederika Rotter and Sarah Kromkamp. A tangle of cords going to the court recorder and from there to the panel members connected them all to netbook computers so that they could scroll through all the documents, and read the transcript easily. But the lines ended there. None of the appellants had the electronic hook-ups. Why? – well it was all paid for by Samsung. They aren’t going to feed the locals/plebs. Yes, that means OUR MOE has documents that as a government ministry should freely make available to us. Another example of “loading the dice”, but no surprise as this government is deep into money addiction and casinos.

The opposing counsel were nervous – Freddy back to nail biting, repeatedly turning to the audience and faintly expressing a wolfish grin. Milne-Smith (umbrella man), sat stiffly with his shoes turned up and I couldn’t help but notice that his shoes had been resoled more than once, the last time a partial heel was applied at a very odd angular cut. I guess Matthew hangs onto his nickles!

The main witness was Scott Petrie, executive director of long point waterfowl and adjunct professor at Western – a formidable, confident expert witness, and like all such people one could see that he enjoyed the advantage of his position. Try as they might, there are so few lawyers who invariably have little in the way of a science or math background, they have a hard time questioning those who do. Someone like Scott, who has 50+ publications in scientific journals can easily sit and wait for them to come to him and then pummel them back into the corner. It really is “unfair”, but given the heavy bias that is applied to appellants, an occasional battle champion is welcome. By contrast, as Dr. Petrie noted, of the 8 consultants who worked on the “natural heritage” reports there were only 5 published works from all of them – no peer-reviewed articles. With no senior manager having a research oriented cv, the pre-construction assessments and post–construction monitoring regimes are not robust. There are many holes in the reports that simply lead one to question the assumptions. Worse, there was no request from the company for data or reports that Long Point waterfowl has on hand, and no use of locals who could also provide useful information on habitats and wildlife. Instead we learn from the survey notes of Sean Male that he was able to identify only about a dozen birds. 350 of his sitings were categorized as “unknown”. Dr. Petrie remarked, “He didn’t know birds.” One cannot expect rigour where there is no basic knowledge.

In Dr. Petrie’s opinion Hatch Engineering conducted studies that were scientifically unsound, and lacking in post-construction monitoring saying, “…they produced a little bit of data and made a whole lot out of it.”

Dr. Petrie dismissed the field work as simple “drive-by” surveys noting that serious studies use aircraft to do actual counts of birds. Surveys for waterfowl were largely done towards the latter part of spring migration, missing significant activity in February and March.

Locating turbines in phalanxes along the shore-line of Lake Erie presents a barrier to the twice daily flight of waterfowl from the lakeside staging areas to the inland grain fields which with the advent of no-till field practices has enhanced the grain fields as food sources and having a positive influence on waterfowl abundance. Each turbine presents a 100m exclusion/avoidance zone for the birds. As Scott said, the birds do not land 100– 200m elsewhere and “walk in for lunch.” He stated also that waterfowl have been recorded as far as 40km inland feeding, with the average distance being 8-10 km. There are a lot of turbines proposed for these inland areas.

Dr. Petrie had harsh words for the MNR guidelines saying, “…it isn’t science…” when wondering where the biological justification for the 120m setback from wetlands/woodlots was established. As he said, “…maybe it’s OK for snakes in a hibernaculum, but not for eagles…”

Samsung’s Milne-Smith must have boned-up for a week on a couple of journal articles and stumbling over pronunciations he read selectively from one trying to make the point that there were other causes for displacement of birds in a particular study. Scott, read further from the article noting that the quote was quite selective and indeed that the author admitted that IWT’s were a major factor in this instance.

Science not working for advantage, Milne-Smith took another tact after a somewhat curious and oblique entry speaking about the increased incidence of open water during winter on Lake Erie and the consequent increase of waterfowl remaining throughout the winter on the north Erie shore. His voice rose as he stared directly at Dr. Petrie; and, like a preacher from the pulpit shouted,

“Do you believe in Global Warming?”

The audience erupted protest and I said aloud, “What the hell is this – a witch hunt?” That got the attention of the chair who admonished that , “…one might have to remove oneself…” – delivered with a smile. The chair expressed interest in the question.

Unfazed, Scott, thought briefly about the question and replied basically that there were several factors to consider including “ global warming” – maybe, maybe not. He wasn’t sure.

Smith inferred that habituation was possible for waterfowl encountering turbines using another study from the Orkney Is. where large numbers of waterfowl persist. Dr. Petrie said that another possibility is that the site is so attractive to the birds that they are sucked into “a black hole” and mortality is increased. Not much in the way of mortality studies in the North Atlantic. In his opinion habituation is possible but unlikely. Displacement effects in the feeding/staging areas is habitat loss and impacts worsen with time.

Freddy of course lacks any semblance of the scientific mind and chose instead to ask about his status as a hunter and affiliation with hunting organizations. Scott pointed out the Long Point waterfowl receives $12 from the hunting community for every $1 of government money – none from the wind industry.

Hardly listening to this Freddy then asks if he has ever taught a course on the impact of wind turbines. He replies, “No, and I’m not aware of anyone doing so.” Good point Freddy, we need some real info to counter the propaganda that is being forced on kids in grade 4-5 courtesy of McGoosey.

Freddy asked if he, Dr. Petrie, had ever commented on the EBR registry,

Reply: “ I used to comment on them when I thought it might mean something.” – an conclusion which many of us have come to.

Later on Freddy got into mortality statistics from hunting birds – all from the US Fish and Wildlife Service – funny , I seem to remember the MOE objecting to an American expert witness on the grounds he wouldn’t have particular knowledge for Ontario. Stumbling through it, she ended up trying to make the case that a “kill” by an IWT was no worse than a “kill” by a hunter, but as Scott noted, hunters are obliged to use their harvest for sustenance – weird ethical issues coming from someone who rarely ventures out of Toronto. I guess you could say that wind turbines have a right to “harvest” birds too. I never thought of it that way before!

Freddy also questioned why Dr. Petrie had no papers on the subject of wind turbine impacts on wildlife – good point, but as Scott said, it takes time, money and planning to conduct scientific studies – they aren’t cursory reports for wind companies. And, in fact he has 4 graduate students working on wind related projects. Good news too, but I’m sure he shares the fear that it will all come too late. It was now after 5:30 and Bill Monture had the last opportunity to ask questions that arose out of the cross-examinations. Bill, who is unfailingly polite and co-operative with regards to scheduling, etc., wanted to ask Scott broader questions about effects on other wildlife forms. Immediately both Freddy and Milne-Smith jump up like “whack-a-moles” (where’s a paddle when you need one), objecting on the grounds this would new evidence.

Bill stated, “…that there’s things we should talk about…” and that now that we have the expert here it should be done.

With a smile the chair slowly explains it could have been asked by Bill in his initial cross-examination of Dr. Petrie – but not now.

Bill nods and says simply, “I see.”

I’m sure he does.

33 thoughts on ““I See”

  1. So “Do you believe in Global warming?” is allowed, but not witness testimony? Ugh.
    Nice that a professor at UWO thinks the EBR is useless. Provincial government ministries (Health, Environment, Transportation, Energy, Aboriginal affairs, Agriculture, Tourism and Finance) has failed.

  2. Glad to read that I am not the only one who has given up on the EBR process. Sad but true. Waste of time. I realize I should make an effort, but knowing it will go to file 13 (garbage can) makes it tough to get motivated to do so.

    The whole EBR/ERT process is unfreaking believable.

    Thank you for the write up Harvey.

    • I should have used a better word than “glad” in the first sentence above. I am not glad. I should have said that I am not surprised or if someone as educated as Dr. Petrie feels it is useless, then I guess I feel vindicated that I too feel that it is useless.

    • Going thru the EBR/ERT process was necessary inorder to prove just what the results were going to be. This process is also forcing
      the governmnet into a corner as rural Ontarians now can say they have tried legal means. The government can’t come back and say to the people that they did have a legal means but
      failed to use those means.

      • Barbara….. Your observations are very astute!

        After following all the rules our government has set up, what, may I ask, remains as a remedy to this fiasco? Surely the people of rural Ontario aren’t left with what appears to be the only remaining avenue of protest which could best be described as “civil disobedience”! God forbid that the current Liberal Provincial Government is actually inviting this type of response to what appears to be effectively “gagging” such passionate appellants as the likes of Mr. Monture, Mr. Green, Mr. Slaman, Dr. Petrie the people of Haldimand Wind Concerns and others. We have sunk to a new “low” from which this County and the rural part of this Province may never recover!

  3. It’s very obvious that the worst thing the Government of Ontario can do to show how completely corrupt and out of touch with the real world they really are is to just let “Rotters” and others keep talking in a public gallery!………………….their ignorance can’t be hidden and their intelligence, if there was any, obviously doesn’t get exposed!

  4. “Do you believe in Global Warming?’
    Correct answer;
    ” You sir are a lawyer. Why don’t you articulate to me what you believe “Global Warming” is, and I’ll be happy to answer your question.”

  5. Thank you for puting this on the web. Considering all of the comments on the different projects, hearings, court cases…everything put together shows that the courts and review tribunal are a kangaroo court, and the whole process of public hearings is a scam and a sham. Go to any of the renewable energy tradeshows and you’ll see all of those big law firms used by the government with thier classy booths. Seems like their lawyers are making more money than the wind turbine developers. This speaks to the evil of the GEA. Eric

  6. “Do you believe in Global Warming?”

    That is a question about religion. It is not an inquiry into the Principles of Science.

    Belief is about religion — not science.

    • What do IWTs have to do with global warming anyway? Another one of the big lies in the IWT scam.

      • The ERT chair defended the Samsung lawyer by linking global warming to habitat loss. I’m serious. It was good thing there was an uproar from the gallery, because Milne-Smith dropped the question and moved on.

  7. Pingback: Inside an “Environmental ReviewTribunal Hearing”:………….more like a “kangaroo court”! « The Big Green Lie

  8. A warrior!
    Mr. Milne-Smith’s – big moment
    The world is in a tough spot – crunching the issue

    ‘[excerpt] Science not working for advantage, Milne-Smith took another tact after a somewhat curious and oblique entry speaking about the increased incidence of open water during winter on Lake Erie and the consequent increase of waterfowl remaining throughout the winter on the north Erie shore. His voice rose as he stared directly at Dr. Petrie; and, like a preacher from the pulpit shouted,

    “Do you believe in Global Warming?”’

    My thought overall – hahahahahahahahahahaha

    • In Ontario – you can apply
      for a permit
      to – kill, harm, and harass………..

      Ontario – upside down
      – sounds ridiculous – but true.

  9. Harvey – thank you for the wonderful blow by blow account of the action. I have attended several of these mock hearings at Hagersville, Fisherville, Cayuga and now Kohler. I cannot fathom the amount of money that is being wasted on this farce. The one thing that keeps coming to mind in each and every one of them is this bizarre feeling that I am attending a trial in the movie “Planet of the Apes” Our whole world has been turned upside down. Everything is so far from reality that you start to feel that maybe this is just some nightmare that you will wake up from, but alas that is not so, this is our reality and will be for most of us this is the rest of our lives if this allowed to go through. Slick sales people slinking into our communities, seducing the weak, the poor and vulnerable, plying the town councils and the larger landowners with bribes, gag order upon gag order, sign them up as fast as you can but don’t let anyone know what is happening until several years after the fact, then publish that it is a study area. B** S***. This is not a study area ! This has been going on for maybe 3, 4 or 5 years behind your back – you just don’t know it yet! Oh and by the way you have 15, 20 or 30 days to make your concerns known, Oh and if your objection is filed a day or two late, tough luck, so sad! It will just be thrown out because it does not meet the criteria. You have taken over, you have been assimilated.

    The ones that if feel so sorry for are our children and grandchildren who may never experience what we have taken for granted, the sound of leaves rustling in the trees, hundreds of birds landing in the fields preparing for their long journeys north and south, the beauty of a night sky with millions of stars, Monarch butterflies by the thousands swooping up as far as you can see into the air preparing for the 3000 mile migration, and the list goes on and on. But the best part of this is that we, the people who know this, have experienced this year after year all of our lives are dismissed by proponents lawyers and the MOE as being guilty of providing anecdotal or hearsay evidence. By all means lets put all our faith into the consulting companies that have done minimal studies to tell us that we have no birds in the IWT areas because they did not observe any the one or two days that they drove by! Oh and just who was paying these consultants???

    We are not anecdotes – we are the backbone of this once great province in a once great country. We are being sold out for money, to the highest bidder, green greed, corruption in every level of government, farmers have been lied to, coerced into believing that what they are doing is a good thing, destroying community after community, neighbourhoods blown apart, the very fabric of what once Ontario was is destroyed. I hope that some day that one of these tribunals will wake up to reality and look at the beautiful community they are driving through on the way to the little shabby town halls with the buzzing lights that are so distracting! (Oh God what about 200 turbines and the noise they create!) and make a real honest decision. I have watched the tribunal members all so closely as they were listening to the evidence and have felt that that you are all very decent people that I would in any other circumstance than this be happy to count on as a member of my community. Please do not be blinded by the hype think of us a members of your extended families and make the only right decision.

  10. Will someone please tell me who the gentleman is in the picture? I see his beautiful headress and am so proud it gives me goosebumps. These are the true people that love the land. The people that respect the land and want to preserve it. I keep thinking about the war of 1812 and how we rose up and saved our “Canada”. If it were not for Tecumseh, we would be flying the Stars and Stripes today not the Red Maple Leaf. Did Sir Issac Brock give his life so that we could all lay down now and let a greedy industry bully us into submission? I think not..I pray not. We must ask ourselves what price are we willingly pay to stop the take over of our beloved rural way of life.

  11. Thank you Mr. Wrightman. These hearings appear to be like the Twilight Zone. The conclusions that should be reached appear to be so obvious, yet the truth is to be neither spoken nor admitted in the course of the investigation. The lack of morality and/or social conscience is palpable.

  12. The Samsung lawyer Milne-Smith really did come quite equal to Freddy for being disrespectful to the appellants and the audience. He stomped his feet like a frustrated horse when the ERT chairs entered and yelled ‘order!’. OK, that just makes me want to sit down instead of stand up for them. Really- what exactly are we standing up for? Are we standing because they are above us, and we respect them, yet they show none in return? We need to think of ourselves as equals in EVERYTHING. Maybe, just maybe, that would empower us, and weaken them. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ERT chairs stood and waited for US to enter, and we said, “thank you, you may be seated”? Just a thought, and not a crazy one.

    • Hey OWR,
      I remember re reading a speech Mr. McGuinty made.
      I re read it – because something glared out @ me.
      He was talking about Ontario schools.
      What was glaring – he did not refer to schools –
      as ‘our schools’
      he referred to schools in Ontario as –
      ‘their schools”.

      I would expect something like that -coming from the mouth of
      Hugo Chavez –
      but, not from the Premier of Ontario.

      There is nothing more to be said here.
      Ontario citizens – by now – should understand.

      What’s more glaring:
      @ the local level of government – they make backroom deals.
      Our elected officials have stooped – to a new low.

      Who’s watching?

  13. Dear Harvey… your narrative is quite compelling… I envy and very much appreciate the artistic nature and quality of your prose. I’m amazed that you have not yet been gobbled up by a main stream media outlet… you are an inspiration to me and I intend to try and emulate your contribution to this typically human endeavor. Thank you!

  14. I attended a Provincial policy statement review, it speaks to ” land uses should be planned to ensure they are appropriately designed, buffered and/or separated from each other to prevent adverse effects from odour, noise and other contaminants, minimize risk to public health and safety and to ensure the long term viability of major facilities”
    When asked why the wind industry was allowed to do what ever it wanted we were told because under the GEA, a different ministry controlles them and we all know that means McGuinty and people like Crawley.
    Do I believe the ontario liberal party has the same problem as the quebec liberal party? YES

  15. Time now to move foreward and gather enough information to get one or two indictments for fraud and/or corruption.

    • There is probably many dozens of instances of FRAUD that we could bring against both Wind Developers and Politicians alike………………..IF…..we lived in a Democracy!……………….that’s how far down the rabbit hole Ontario has gone, yet very few realize it!!!!

      • Not yet! But this needs to be done as federal charges can be laid here. So don’t discourage people from working on this.

      • Legal cases have to be built by gathering information. They don’t just fall from the sky like they do on TV. Project by project may be the best way to approach this as this is how the contracts were awarded.
        One or two cases may be enough as some of the same people are involved in many of these projects. The older projects which received federal funds may be a good place to begin.

  16. UPDATE, Gilead Power, Pristine Power, Veresen Inc.
    Pristine Power is a subsidiary of Veresen Inc.
    Pristine Power Inc. Board includes:
    Robert S. McLesse, on the Board of Gilead Power & also CEO of American Consumer Industries
    Stephen H. White on Board of Pristine Power & Veresen Inc.

    Veresen Inc. Board includes:
    Stephen H. White
    Stephen W. C. Mulherin, Board Chairman, > James D. Hole, Aecon Group and Locherbie & Hole, Inc.

    Worthwhile to copy these charts.

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