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Ontario’s power trip: Green industries and ENGO’s mount campaigns to reelect McGuinty Liberals

The concern that “green” jobs will be lost if the Liberals lose their right to govern Ontario on October 6 appears to be a real direct concern among a number environmental NGOs and various “charities.” In what looks to be an unprecedented effort to shape election results, the major green activists and industries that created Ontario’s green energy regime have launched campaigns that effectively endorse Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal Party.

It all began in the spring, when ENGOs each released studies that all came to the same conclusion: wind turbines and solar panels are the energy of the future (see my Ontario’s Power Trip report from July). Now that we are in the home stretch of the election campaign, the same power groups are becoming much more politically active. First out of the box was David Suzuki endorsing the McGuinty team on their green energy plans on July 21, 2011.

The Pembina Institute’s Ontario Policy Director, Cherise Burda, issued its advice to voters in a press release on September 5, 2011, a strong endorsement of the Liberal Party platform. Here is what she had to say: “The Liberal platform stays a strong course to phase-out coal and create 50,000 jobs with the Green Energy Act, and its commitment to clean transportation will result in cleaner air and even more clean energy jobs – despite these tough economic times. It’s a win-win approach to protecting our environment and ensuring a strong green economy.”

The Sierra Club’s John Bennett took a decidedly more hands-on approach. He wrote municipal councils throughout rural Ontario and then attempted to arrange for presentations to those councils that had endorsed a “moratorium” on future wind development projects. He wanted the councils to reverse their requests for the moratorium. He apparently believed he could convince them of the benefits of “renewable” energy. So far Mr. Bennett has been unsuccessful in this endeavour.

Environmental Defence’s Rick Smith decided to use a different approach by deploying an 8-year-old girl, Penelope, to Queen’s Park on September 1st with a message for the people of Ontario. The media release for this “campaign” had this to say: “At Queen’s Park today, Penelope launched the Penelope 4 Ontario election campaign, pushing to make sure that when Ontarians vote on October 6th, they think about her future and those of her little friends too (who don’t get a vote!).” With the start of the school year, shouldn’t Penelope be in school rather than out “kissing babies, shaking hands,” as suggested by the Environmental Defense release?

Penelope (last name withheld presumably to protect her parents) is making some headlines. The Barrie Examiner> ran a story about Penelope with a news story: “The youngest candidate to not run in a provincial election stopped in Barrie to shake hands and shake up the campaign trail, Thursday.” A man called Adam Scott was described as her “Campaign Manager” but he is in fact project coordinator for green energy at Environmental Defence. Mr. Scott said: “We’re doing a non-partisan campaign to make sure the environment is a bigger issue during the Ontario election.” Non-partisan. Right.

The latest ENGO to jump on the bandwagon is the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). A new TV ad campaign begins Monday in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the voters.

Kristopher Stevens, OSEA’s Executive Director, said: “The ads were produced in response to calls from our membership. They are proud of the positive aspects of the green energy economy in Ontario.” He went on to say: “The ads tell the stories that I hear every day about the excitement growing around this industry of the future.”

OSEA’s supporters include government-created community power companies and green energy companies. Where OSEA obtained the money to launch their campaign is an unknown. Taxpayers are one possibility. OSEA’s members get a lot of cash from Queen’s park. OSEA members are spending money to protect one of its main sources of money.

OSEA is not a charitable institution, but it has an arrangement with Tides Canada (a large registered charity ) to donate offline to the “OSEA Education and Research Fund. The OSEA Research and Education Fund supports research and education to promote and enable community and commercial sustainable energy in Ontario.”

I presume the OSEA ads are to educate the public at this crucial time as are the other efforts by these ENGOs, all of whom were instrumental at getting the Liberals to create the Green Energy Act!