ABOYNE – A lifelong Liberal told a large audience here on June 22 he will be voting Progressive Conservative for the first time in his life in the election this fall.
John Laforet is not only a long time Liberal, he was the president of a federal Liberal riding association, but when he was asked to choose between his party and his community, he chose community.
Laforet is president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a federation of nearly 60 groups around Ontario opposing the Dalton McGuinty government’s Green Energy Act, which forces turbines on areas where people do not want them. The province took over planning control of turbines applications from municipalities, and McGuinty said the reason was to stop Not In My Backyard Syndrome – whereby residents oppose things they do not want in their neighbourhoods.
Laforet is in the middle of a Truth About Turbines tour, and has spoken in places as diverse as from northern Ontario to the capitalist bastion of Ontario, The Empire Club in Toronto. He said wind turbine companies tried very hard to prevent that latter stop on his tour, but people from Oppose Belwood Wind Farms Inc. were a big reason they failed – and he got to explain the economics behind the turbines to wealthy and influential people.
Laforet said he is not opposing the Green Energy Act, or even the Liberal government. He simply wants studies done about health effects, something the Liberals oppose. He said he is prepared to work with any government that is elected on Oct. 6, but fears four more years of the Liberals will make it too late.
He told an audience of over 100 people the Progressive Conservatives are the party he sees having the most sympathy towards a health study and a turbine moratorium until it is done.
He said the issue is, “Real people are living in real homes close to real turbines. Computers don’t get sick. We know there is a problem. You [the Liberal government] say there is no problem. We say, ‘Do a health study’.”
Laforet added, “There is nowhere in Ontario that is safe now.”
He said there was a recent photo of Minister of Environment John Wilkinson in the London Free Press purporting to show research that turbines are harmless. Wilkinson had two stacks of papers, with the ones saying no problems being twice as high as a pile saying there are problems.
“Weasel words require far more language to work at than the truth,” Laforet said to loud applause. “Our side is short … because the facts don’t change.”
Laforet said the government is going to “guarantee they will buy wind power – even if they don’t need it,” and argued that makes little sense because “supply and demand works.”
He said demand for hydro peaked in 2005, and is now down to 2002 demand levels.
“We don’t need coal, we don’t need gas, and we don’t need wind. We end up giving it [hydro power] to New York, Michigan, and Quebec – and we pay them to take it off our hands.”
He said that is akin to going shopping at a grocery store, and having the store pay you to take groceries home – so it can re-stock.
The problem, Laforet said, is taxpayers are paying the cost of that policy, and he expects by 2015, every hydro bill in Ontario will include an extra $315 to pay off wind energy companies. As for jobs, he said the calculation is it will cost $179,000 per job, per year – a high price for employment in Ontario.
He added that in the Belwood’s case, ten turbines will like cause a 20 to 40% decrease in the value of their homes and farms. He said the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation does not want to admit turbines devalue property, but, he said, it is difficult to deny what the market says.
He said in the United States, municipalities are now insisting on property value protection from wind companies and “the [wind turbine] developer leaves.”
Laforet said, “We’ve been saying ‘no’ for a long time. If the Liberals won’t listen, we need a government that will.”
He considered the NDP, PCs, and Green Party, but when the PCs called for a moratorium until health studies are done, “The Liberals and NDP voted against it.”
As for the Samsung deal the provincial government set up, Laforet said the province receives $7-billion, but taxpayers are required to buy $22-billion of its green energy over 20 years – a good deal for the company.
“If one [political] party is standing for us, we’ve got to stand with them,” Laforet said.
He added that as of that night, there are 107 days left until the election.
The first question Laforet took after his 40 minute speech dealt with wind turbines in Denmark and Germany, and why those countries seem to make turbines work.
Laforet said Denmark has added no land turbines since 2003, because of opposition to them – and half of its power comes from coal. In Denmark, there are no more subsidies for wind power.
In Germany, the government shut down its nuclear plants. It is the largest wind turbine user in Europe, but it is now building coal fired plants “because they can’t afford wind.”
He said one problem was that for every “green” job created, the economy lost two jobs. And, he said, a dirtier grid made that country “not as green as Ontario.”
He said that there is much support for wind energy from those two countries – because they make and sell wind turbines to Canada.
“There’s not one wind turbine made in Ontario,” Laforet said.
In response to another question, he noted that in California and Hawaii, wind turbines reached the end of their lifespan and were simply abandoned. In some places, companies cannibalized parts for turbines for other locations. He said the industry promises farmers they can sell old turbines for scrap metal, but if the company walks away, it costs $10,000 per hour for a crane to dismantle a turbine, and removing scrap metal then becomes a cost, not a benefit.
Laforet said there is no advertising budget for his group, so word of mouth is important. He said the media are beginning to understand the issues as more citizens protest. He said in Scarborough, his home area, there are now 600,000 people who understand the problems with wind turbines.
As for spreading the word, he said he talks with people, including his neighbours, all the time about the issue, and he also uses social media.
When asked about bird and bat kills, Laforet said on Wolfe Island, with 86 turbines, there are so many birds killed two full time workers drive around in pick-up trucks collecting them.
“The problem is the way the government has handled this, they just don’t care,” he said, explaining the Liberal government’s attitude is “Wind is good. We’ve chosen wind over human health and the environment.”
When asked about the effect tornados could have on turbines, Laforet said it depends on how well the turbine is grounded. He noted someone in Mapleton had asked a wind company working there about tornados, and was told “We build wind turbines in area with far more tornado than Ontario.”
He said in Kansas and Oklahoma, people take tornados “far more seriously” than they do in Ontario, and he would not like to test anyone’s work against a them.
“I’d hate to find out,” he said. “It can break or fall down in [just] high winds. We’ve seen it.”
He added that with a tornado “It’s probably worse.”
When asked if the turbines can affect communication systems, Laforet said they do.
“In contracts people sign, they [turbine companies] acknowledge it. They make people agree to not complain about it.”
When asked about the province spending $1.5-million to have someone study the issue for five years, Laforet said, “it is not enough for an in depth, valid field work. There is no medical panel.”
He added that he is skeptical of that study, and called it “another industry love-in sponsored by the government of Ontario to save the day.”
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