The head of a provincial anti-wind lobby group is asking voters to carefully consider their choice on Election Day.
John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, on Monday said even though all six major-party candidates in Thunder Bay’s two provincial ridings have come out against Horizon Wind Inc.’s proposed wind turbine farm on the Norwester Mountains, only one party is prepared to stop the project in its tracks.
That would be the Progressive Conservatives, he said, asking voters to consider the voting records of the various parties, especially in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, the riding where Horizon wants to build the controversial wind farm that a year ago had city officials embroiled in a $126-million lawsuit.
“The reason we have the Green Energy Act is the Ontario Liberal Party. (Liberal candidate) Bill Mauro did not take a stand in the legislature over the two years this has been fought by local residents,” Laforet said, reiterating his call for an Ontario moratorium on all wind-farm projects in order to allow proper health and environmental studies to be conducted.
“The NDP voted for the Green Energy Act. They voted against restoring local control. They voted against a moratorium. It’s only been the Progressive Conservatives that have been on this issue for the last two years in the Ontario legislature.”
However NDP candidate Mary Kozorys, looking to unseat Mauro in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, said she’s always opposed the project and her party is ready to take action if elected.
“I’m in favour of a moratorium on this project,” she said, stopping short of asking the stoppage to be province-wide.
“You have to look at things on a community by community basis.”
According to the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee, the project threatens about 5,000 mature trees and 45 kilometres of trails and requires deep drilling and blasting, which they fear could affect nearby wells – all for just three permanent jobs.
“The only way we’re actually getting a moratorium to actually stop Horizon while the rules are changed, to protect the escarpment is if there is a PC government at Queen’s Park,” Laforet said.
Mauro has also openly opposed Horizon’s proposed turbine farm location, and last month produced a letter from Minster of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey that suggested Horizon’s project would threaten peregrine falcons native to the escarpment and because of that, the company likely wouldn’t get an exemption from conditions under the Endangered Species Act.
PC candidate Fred Gilbert (Thunder Bay-Atikokan), who joined Laforet at a local hotel on Monday, said voters should read carefully between the lines of Jeffrey’s statement.
“She didn’t say that she would stop it. She said there are concerns. Of course there are concerns,” Gilbert said. “They’re going to have to do a deal with the peregrine falcons up there. But that letter did not say they would stop it.”
Like Laforet, Gilbert would like to see a moratorium on all wind projects in Ontario, mainly because of the subsidies the province is paying for alternative energy under the Green Energy Act.
Mauro, when contacted on Monday by Thunder Bay Television, questioned who was footing Laforet’s travel costs and other expenses associated with his visit to the city, just three days before the election.
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