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Green motion has politicians seeing red

A motion about endorsing a green economy for Hamilton had some politicians turning red during last week’s council meeting.

Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla introduced a motion for the city to develop a green economy and to urge provincial parties and MPPs to “respect the importance of the Green Economy to Ontario’s economy …”

But the motion, which was described by Mayor Bob Bratina as a “great motherhood statement” embroiled politicians in a combative debate whether or not to accept it.

Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark rejected the motion, arguing by backing such a vague “green economy” motion, the city could be endorsing such a complicated and emotionally-charged idea as a carbon tax, for instance. He also worried the city was delving into Ontario politics, and siding with a particular party’s agenda, especially with a provincial election less than two months away.

“We shouldn’t be allowing ourselves to getting involved in federal or provincial elections,” said Clark.

He said political parties and candidates could “misrepresent” Hamilton in the campaign.

“We should show our leadership by action,” he said, “not by advocating through political positions. I don’t even know what a green economy is.”

Stoney Creek councillor Brenda Johnson said the Liberals with its Green Energy Act has taken the decision-making powers away from municipalities,’ such as allowing wind turbines. She said the installation of wind turbines in Niagara, near Glanbrook residents, has prompted criticisms from homeowners in her ward.

Tim McCabe, general manager of planning, and Neil Everson, executive director of the city’s economic development department, said Hamilton has already incorporated green planning into the city’s economic strategy.

“We’re already doing it,” said McCabe. “It’s part of the corporate document.”

The contentious motion was approved in an 8-6 vote.

Merulla’s motion was prompted by a presentation by Bill Thompson, regional co-ordinator for Blue Green Canada, a partnership between the United Steelworkers and Environment Defense. It advocates for working people and the environment.