There’s nothing to suggest that Colette McLean is a troublemaker or a threat to public safety. Yet that’s the impression left in the wake of her treatment by the OPP.
For the record, McLean, her husband Walter and 17-year-old son live in the Harrow area and farm about 140 acres of land. She also happens to be a critic of the 24 giant wind turbines near her home. That opinion is shared by many people in the county who have expressed their views peacefully over the past few months.
Out of the blue, Sgt. Dan Michaud, of the OPP’s provincial liaison team, recently phoned McLean to find out if she was planning to protest the official opening of the $110 million International Power wind turbine project in Harrow this past Friday.
McLean, who wasn’t even aware of the official opening, declined to be interviewed by Michaud. Good for her. It was a needless fishing expedition on the part of the OPP.
But the provincial police force didn’t stop there. Michaud, based near Toronto, showed up at McLean’s farmhouse the next day. She wasn’t home and the officer left a business card.
McLean is calling her treatment “political intimidation,” and while you can disagree with her views on wind turbines, her concern is understandable.
As she has said, most people worried about wind turbines are middle-aged homeowners who are focused on things like health issues, the cost to taxpayers and what they believe are minimal benefits to the environment.
It appears the OPP came calling on McLean after International Power contacted the force after learning of a major protest three months ago in Wellington county that involved another company’s project. International Power said it was concerned about out-of-town protesters and didn’t know the OPP would contact McLean.
For his part, Michaud denies the attempt to track down McLean was intimidation and, instead, was an attempt by him to better understand the people who might show up at the International Power event.
At the very least, this is a case of unnecessary harassment by the authorities.
Certainly, everyone has the right to protest in an orderly fashion, and there was simply no reason to believe that McLean was, or would be, a troublemaker. And while there were people demonstrating at the opening, there were no serious problems.
One also has to wonder about the way the OPP is using its resources.
As McLean says: “I don’t understand why they’re using taxpayer dollars to investigate ordinary people.”
It would seem if the OPP can dispatch an officer from the Toronto area to spend a couple of days trying to track down Colette McLean — it raises serious questions about the how the force is spending tax dollars and whether it simply has too many people on staff.