Local MPP Bill Walker is not mincing words in his latest criticism of Dalton McGuinty, saying the Ontario premier and the Liberal government have abandoned rural Ontario by “blatantly” ignoring rural opposition to wind turbines.
“Why does the premier so consistently undermine our rights? In Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, rural residents are considered second class citizens. This political mockery must stop now,” Walker said in a statement.
The comments by the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative politician follow news reports late last week in which McGuinty admitted it was his decision to cancel a Mississauga gas-fired electricity plant project – which will cost Ontario taxpayers $190 million to scrap – just days before the last provincial election due to opposition in the area.
The controversial move saved four Liberal seats in the election, which McGuinty won with a minority mandate.
Walker said McGuinty listened “and obeyed” the call of Mississauga residents.
“And yet the people of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound and all over rural Ontario have been screaming about the wind turbines – it’s not a good thing, it’s not a good deal, it’s not where we need to be – and yet he blatantly ignores us,” Walker said in an interview.
Listening to Mississauga but not rural Ontario shows “hypocrisy. It’s all about him buying his votes.”
Walker said McGuinty should do the right thing and immediately “at the very least” put a moratorium on further wind turbine developments until Health Canada completes a planned study on the relationship between turbine noise and human health.
Results of the study are expected in 2014.
“It’s clear to us in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound that the ending of the Slots at Racetrack partnership, the closure of the local jails and the forced industrialization of rural landscapes through wind turbines means rural Ontario has been officially abandoned by this government,” he said.
Huron-Bruce PC MPP Lisa Thompson also issued a statement in which she said the McGuinty Liberals have “no problem turning their backs on rural Ontario in favour of urban votes.”
Liberal Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told a standing committee on estimates late last week that the decision to cancel the Mississauga project and moving it to Sarnia was made when the party was behind in the polls.
“The finance minster said on the record that the votes in Etobicoke and Mississauga were more important than those in rural areas. This is disrespect(ful) to rural Ontario residents and proves that the cancellation of the Mississauga gas plant was nothing more than part of the Liberals’ vote-buying, seat saver program,” Thompson said in the statement.
She is also calling for a moratorium on wind turbine developments until the Health Canada study is complete.
Federal Conservative MPs, including Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller and Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb, are also calling on the province to hold off on any further wind turbine construction pending the results of the study.
“I am pleased that Health Canada has made the decision to study the health effects reported by those living near wind turbines,” Lobb said in a statement Friday. “The people of Huron-Bruce have been asking for an independent study for years. There are real health-related concerns from those living in close proximity to wind turbines and this study will shed more light on this emerging issue.”
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