Note to new premier . . .

lfp1London Free Press
“Pay attention. We vote.”
That’s the overriding message The Free Press heard during a 600-km road trip through Southwestern Ontario’s heartland as Ontario Liberals get set to choose a new leader and premier this weekend.

The 10-riding region is largely an ocean of Tory blue, with a two-seat Liberal island. Little wonder some residents feel they’re afterthoughts to Queen’s Park policies on wind turbines, education, job creation and other issues.

We hit the road with the question: If you had one message for Ontario’s new leader, what would it be? Here are some of their answers.
[excerpts]
RIDING: Chatham-Kent-Essex
PARTY LEANINGS
: Strong Liberal loyalties, even against a Tory tide, but voted Conservative last time.
ISSUES: Turbine towers, farming are rural hot buttons, with boom-and-bust manufacturing sector underpinning the urban economy.
Wayne Glassford, Muirkirk- A power struggle — its source, availability and cost — is frustrating Glassford in his plans to add a dryer and storage facility to his corn-growing operation. A line of turbines starts just south of the Agris co-op where he’s parked himself to check out grain trends, but somehow it’s still too expensive to get sufficient, reliable power to his farm a few kilometres north. “Energy is what this all revolves around. How to generate it, how to distribute it and how to make sure we make best use of it. We need equitable distribution of energy within the province so that all people have access to it, and access to it within a reasonable price level.”

RIDING: Sarnia-Lambton
PARTY LEANINGS
: Has a Conservative MPP now but the riding has been known to vote against the provincial tide.
ISSUES: Announced closings of Sarnia jail, Hiawatha Horse Park, coal-fired generation plant. Natural gas power plant to be built; ethanol, solar, wind economies growing.
Jean-Guy LePage, Wyoming – Wind turbines are the big issue, with hundreds either planned or built within half-hour drive of his home. “I don’t think it’s working, the windmills. I think it’s bad for the health. It devalues your property.”

RIDING: Lambton-Kent-Middlesex
PARTY LEANINGS
: Conservative now, but historical voting preferences all over the map.
ISSUES: With no community populations larger than 14,000, this is one of the largest ridings in region. Wind turbines, farm policy and education dominate political landscape.
Christopher Thorne, Kerwood – He’s baking tea biscuits for his two children as they return early from school. His daughter, having had to forgo her favourite school sports, is worried about the fate of her Grade 8 graduation party and school trip. Meanwhile, Thorne’s anxiety grows about a wind turbine that will soon sprout in the cornfield behind their country kitchen. To the soft-spoken Thorne, both issues have a common theme: his children. “This is my backyard and we bought this house to bring our kids up in a safe area.” McGuinty forced turbines on rural residents and will leave before he sees their impact; he imposed a teacher contract and then left parents, kids and teachers to sort it all out. “I think he came in and made a mess and then walked away with his tail between his legs.”
Phil Patterson, Strathroy – Gardenia Restaurant is the unofficial gathering spot for town pundits and local and visiting politicians. Patterson, the cook here, rarely gets to speak his mind but he wonders why none of the politicians seem to bring spending under control. “The onus is on the people to bail out (politicians’) bad decisions.” He’s annoyed that wind turbines have been forced upon surrounding communities despite neighbours’ objections.

Riding: Perth–Wellington
PARTY LEANINGS
: There have only been two elections since the riding was founded in 2003. It’s Conservative now, but the first election went Liberal.
ISSUES: St. Marys, Stratford, Minto and Mapleton all fall within Perth–Wellington’s boundaries. The towns are full of independent businesses, and soaring hydro expenses have put an extra strain on small business owners.
Ron Cottrell, St. Marys – Cottrell has chocolate on his apron, which is just one of the perils of owning The Chocolate Factory. But making the sweets requires more than getting your hands dirty — it also means using a fair bit of electricity. “We’ve noticed a sizable increase in our hydro bills,” Cottrell says. He says small-town businesses already fight to keep customers from heading into nearby cities and rising expenses are an added strain. He hopes a new premier could bring relief from the rising costs. “Take another look at how much the whole green energy thing is going to be costing consumers and business people.”

RIDING: Huron–Bruce
PARTY LEANINGS
: A Conservative win in 2011 turned the tide after two Liberal victories, but Huron-Bruce was blue in the late 90s, too.
ISSUES: Wind farms have been sprouting up across Southwestern Ontario, and Huron–Bruce is no different. The turbines are championed for their clean energy but have caused debate as many worry about their effects on property values, health and scenery.
Steve Olley, Zurich – Huron–Bruce envelops kilometres of Lake Huron’s scenic shores, but the beautiful horizon might soon be dotted with energy-producing turbines. “Many of the local people think that it’s going to completely destroy the beauty of our area,” says Olley. “I would say the population is pretty split as to if this is a good thing or not.” While he worries the wind farms could wreck the area’s natural beauty, he recognizes the importance of green energy. He says he hopes a new premier will still put up new turbines — just somewhere else. “Find areas that maybe not so many people live in, you know? Not so many people would be affected by what you’re going to do.” Read article

9 thoughts on “Note to new premier . . .

  1. If you had one message for Ontario’s new leader, what would it be?
    Screw off!
    Liberals and what ever colour, I do not want or need a representative anymore
    I am grown up and can handle my life without you or or other colour you represent as you all cause grief and annoyance and are a party to fraud.

  2. There were a lot of sad people at the protest in Toronto today.

    The person I feel sorry for the most is John Spears of the Toronto Star.

    He must be getting really tired of covering this beat.

    No doubt all the money he makes (to do such a poor job) is cold comfort to him.

  3. Wonder if Spears ever throws up in his mouth having to cover these lizards and their disgusting criminal ways?…………..I also wonder how he feels when someone calls him a “reporter” and he knows deep down he’s nothing more than a Liberal “hack”!

    • We’ve seen true Liberalism – they elected their new premier with a lot of hoop & holler, & a big expensive convention & thousand$$ from the Ontario taxpayers, when in actual fact she was elected by a majority of 3 men & a bunch of non-thinking sheep, as all they did was follow their candidate across the floor. What a total disgrace to democracy.

      • Some 1100 people voted for her. A no-name independent candidate in a small riding can get that many votes. We do not have a democracy. We need to demand an election now.

      • I’d prefer to see Comittee get back to work asking questions about ORNGE, the cancelled gas plants, and most importantly, who knew what when about cover-ups related to wind turbine health scandals. We don’t need an election. We need PCs and NDPs to demonstrate that they know how to cooperate. Do we pay these MPPs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to sit around waiting for something better to come along?

  4. Message to liberals, it’s time you got in touch with the real world. Hope you are proud of high hydro costs sending manufacturing to the 3rd world while your voters spend their credit cards at the big box stores to buy stuff made with cheap labour, no red tape, and electricity made from coal and nuclear. Have a nice day!

  5. So…Kathleen Wynn said that if she won the premier’s job, she would become the agricultural minister for at least one year. Then she could convince all of us hicks how good wind turbines are for us. Ya….right, just as good as any other toxic industrial machine in your backyard. If Toronto likes turbines, and electricity that is exorbitantly overpriced, and they still believe they are safe, and green, let them build them all over Toronto, nice and close to where the power needs to go. The turbines they are making now are huge anyway, that won’t interfere with their lives at all….will it?

    • Good idea! I’m sure they could jam them in along the Gardner Expressway and the Lake Shore. As an added bonus the turbine blades could sweep the sky clear of all those “pesky” migratory birds that smack into all those glass towers from time to time. No one likes seeing dead birds on the sidewalks! But seriously they could put turbines in the city. They’re safe ya know. We’re told that at every public meeting we attend.

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