Nearly 100 demonstrators protested Saturday, calling for a moratorium on operating the C AW wind turbine. Protestors want further studies conducted about the health effects on the local community.
Community members and regional organizations, including Saugeen Turbine Operation Policy (STOP) and the Ontario Farmers Association, paraded down Highway 21 and to the CAW parking lot in tractors, on horseback, on bikes and on foot. Protestors were keen on showing CAW president Ken Lewenza, who had said in a recent interview that he regarded the opposition to be “dwindling,” that the local opposition was stronger than ever. Anti-CAW song lyrics were handed out among protestors and they sang together. They fastened a “Liberal Dummy” to the gate. They shouted “McGuinty is a dictator,” and carried signs that said, “Quit raping Ontario!” Rally organizer and S.T.O.P. cofounder Greg Schmalz said that overall, he thought it was a successful turnout.
“We need rural and town folk to put continual pressure on the CAW until they shut [the turbine] down,” Schmalz said.
Like many community members, Schmalz is concerned that the turbine will have negative effects on the economy and on health. “McGuinty doesn’t get that yet. But he will with province- wide protests.”
Conservative MPP for Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound and guest-speaker during the rally, Bill Walker called the operation of the turbine “an affront to democracy.” He urged the CAW and the Liberal government to “do the right thing and listen to the community.” Walker reaffirmed the PC party’s support against the wind energy initiatives.
Arran-Elderslie deputy mayor and guest-speaker Mark Davis said the turbine is a “monument to government stupidity” and urged protestors to “take back your Ontario.”
Saugeen Shores deputy mayor and guest-speaker Luke Charbonneau addressed the issue of completing more studies on the health effects of the turbine. He relayed a meeting he had recently with Lewenza, who had alleged-l y agreed to front the money for the studies.
After the rally, Lewenza denied Charbonneau’s statement.
“Deputy Charbonneau is absolutely lying. I did not commit to come up with any cash at all. I committed to building a relationship… establish a committee. There was never any talk about providing revenue to defend something that we already are very proudly defending.”
Regarding the London, Ontar io pilot who had recently expressed concerns that the red light on the turbine is too dim at night, causing him to fly close to the turbine, Lewenza said he had heard the opposite -that the light was too bright at night -but said that the C AW will explore every “legitimate” concern that “sounds like it makes sense.”
Lewenza emphasized that the CAW will not budge due to “ridicule and criticism.”
When asked if there is anything local residents can do to effect immediate change, Lewenza sighed. He brought up a recent res-o lution he had passed among union members nationally to support government subsidies in the gaming industry, which would namely affect horseracing in Hanover and Clinton.
“So, I’m being criticized for moving in on green energy that’s a proven alternative to nuclear and coal plants, and at the same time we’re fighting for jobs. I don’t speak for STOP, but at the end of the day, we made a decision and we’re damn proud of our decision and we’re not going to be ridiculed constantly because we care about the environment at the same time we care about jobs.”
With regard to possibly shutting down the turbine in the future for unforeseen reasons, Lewenza said, “All you folks have to do is drive 5km down the road and there are hundreds of them and none of them are shut down so I don’t assume mine will be shut down either.”
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