Four motions aimed at stopping new industrial wind turbine developments until further studies are completed were wiped out last week when Premier Dalton McGuinty moved to prorogue the Ontario Legislature.
Huron-Bruce Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa Thompson added to the order paper separate calls for a moratorium pending the results of four studies – an already approved assessment by Health Canada on the health impacts of turbines, along with investigations on the economic impacts of the Green Energy Act and approved renewable projects, the environmental impacts of wind projects and the social impacts of turbine developments.
“Those are all gone, so we have to work really really hard to find a workaround in terms of keeping this as a priority and trying to keep a ministry accountable for their actions,” Thompson said Thursday in an interview.
Thompson, the PC party’s deputy energy critic with a focus on the Green Energy Act, had tried before to stop wind turbine developments, introducing her first private member’s bill as MPP in March that called for a moratorium on projects until health, environmental and other impacts are properly studied. Liberal and NDP MPPs voted together to defeat the bill.
Thompson had hoped to bring her four motions forward separately, to keep the heat on the Liberals and the concerns over turbine developments in the forefront.
The motions were killed – nine government bills and 94 private member’s bills in all – were erased Oct. 15 when McGuinty announced his planned resignation as premier and the prorogation of the Ontario Legislature.
Simcoe-Grey PC MPP Jim Wilson’s private member’s bill that would force arbitrators to consider a municipality’s ability to pay when deciding on public sector wage settlements also died. Prorogation killed a PC private member’s bill aimed at protecting the harness racing industry and NDP motions intended to keep youths out of indoor tanning beds and to extend ombudsman powers to Children’s Aid Societies.
McGuinty has said he decided to prorogue the Ontario Legislature to provide time to find his replacement and negotiate wage freezes for public-sector workers.
But opposition MPPs, including Thompson and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Walker, say the move was unnecessary and simply the Liberal government’s way of getting out of scandal.
“It’s just McGuinty and his gang running away from the mess they’ve made,” Thompson said.
“All the while, closing the door on Legislature, taking away the only venue we have to hold this government accountable. And I worry on behalf of the taxpayers about what’s happening now behind closed doors.”
Walker said the provincial Liberals have “tarnished their image.” He pointed to the $230-million gas plant fiasco that saw the Liberals cancel two facilities in Mississauga and Oakville to save seats in the Oct. 6, 2011, election as well as ORNGE air ambulance and eHealth boondoggles, anger over the Green Energy Act and now the prorogation controversy.
“I would really have to question how people could give them another shot,” Walker said of the next provincial election, whenever it might be.
“You just kind of go is their time is up? They’ve been there nine years. It’s almost as if they’ve run out of gas. They’ve lost their way. They’ve become more self-serving in regard to putting their own interests in front of the taxpayers’.”
Both Walker and Thompson said they will not slow down while the Legislature is prorogued.
Thompson said she is “busier than ever” doing work in the riding, meeting with constituents and attending conferences and meetings.
Walker said he will also be meeting face-to-face with constituents and plans to hold round table discussions on important issues and attend as many events as possible.
“First and foremost, I’m not going on holiday to put my feet up for the three or four or five months or however long it’s going to be. We’ll just ramp up most of our activities,” he said.