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Mayor defends tweet

Mayor Dennis Travale has criticized local wind turbine opponents for aligning themselves with Six Nations residents on the issue, calling it a “bad decision” in a tweet on his Twitter feed Tuesday.

“People against windmills are trying to use the First Nations to support their cause. Bad decision!” Travale wrote the day after a dozen Six Nations residents in traditional headdress showed up in the chambers to support a deputation by Clear Creek resident Stephana Johnston who lives close to a set of turbines.

Senator Doug Finley of Norfolk County also responded to the mayor’s tweet with this entry: “ppl who claim to sufr helth issues have invited Haudenause to meetings thinking it will help their cause. NOT in Norfolk.”

Finley did not respond to a call requesting comment.

In an e-mail exchange, Travale defended his tweet, saying he was not against the natives being in the chambers but was criticizing Johnston and other wind farm opponents for “trying to involve the First Nations locally in what is a provincial matter and especially where the local council has no, I repeat no jurisdiction.”

Under the Green Energy Act, the province now has the sole authority to decide where wind turbines will go. Town halls have no say in the matter.

“I seriously question their (wind farm opponents) motivation and judgment,” Travale wrote in the e-mail, noting that council has supported opponents’ calls for a provincewide moratorium on the building of new turbines until health studies are conducted on two occasions.

Told of the tweets, Johnston, 81, said she feels they show Travale and Finley are “definitely on the record against” the anti-wind turbine movement.

“Here we are a group of people suffering the effects of wind turbines and they don’t care,” she told the Reformer. “They don’t care about us one wit. That’s what their messages say to me.”

Johnston asked elected officials Tuesday night to order the health unit to study the health impact on 70 residents in the west end of the county of living next to a group of 18 windmills. The matter will be considered at a meeting in January when council sits as the official board of health in the area.

The visit to the council chambers of the Six Nations natives this week has marked another turn in the debate over wind turbines.

Bill Montour, one of two Six Nations residents who stood beside Johnston during her address to elected officials, said he expects to return to council on Dec. 6 to make a deputation.

Natives, he explained, are concerned about wind turbines because they hurt the environment, killing birds and deterring other animals such as deer.

Native hunting rights in much of North America, including Norfolk County, are protected under a 1701 treaty, Monture noted, and many Six Nations residents still hunt in Norfolk.

Town halls, he said, have not completely lost their power over the issue and suggested they should simply refuse to issue the permits necessary to allow the turbines to be built.

“These people are elected by their constituents and they are not listening to them,” Monture said in an interview. “They take direction from the people, not the government of Ontario.”

He called for natives and non-natives “to stand shoulder to shoulder” to protect the environment.

“We need to come together as one to fight this,” said Monture. “If there’s any difference between us, it’s done, it’s in the past.”