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Wind-farm protesters were there, too

Toronto media covering demonstrations outside Maple Leaf Gardens last Saturday focussed on a large one staged by teachers, but several who attended an earlier one against wind turbines describe it as a huge success.

For one, Lorrie Gillis of Grey Highlands, who chairs the area Ontario Wind Resistance group, said there has been a lot of positive feedback since the event. She says the two protests complemented each other and many from each group participated in both gatherings outside the scene of the Ontario Liberal leadership convention.

Sherri Lange of North America Platform Against Windpower (NAPAW) said “a couple” of Toronto schools have asked to have representatives of the anti-turbine groups to speak to their students.

It isn’t known how much, if any, effect the estimated 20,000-30,000 in the combined rallies will have had on newly elected Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne. Her victory statement was to the effect that her government would act in a spirit of co-operation rather than confrontation with the opposition parties, and also that the Liberals would build on outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty’s programs.

That might be a tough row to hoe. Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has vowed to scrap the Green Energy Act, and to place less reliance on wind. NDP leader Andrea Horwath is likely to be in agreement with the teachers’ arguments against Bill 115.

Some are predicting an early election despite Ms. Wynne’s aversion to one, and despite her popularity among elected members of all political stripes. There’s even speculation that Ms. Horwath’s NDP would win an early election.

NAPAW organized the anti-turbine rally. In their quest for protesters, they took a cue from a childhood rhyme and called it a massive “Pants on Fire protest.” Their poster and web posting called for the resignation of Dr. Arlene King as the provincial medical officer of health, and a public inquiry into her findings on wind turbines’ health effects.

As well, NAPAW was calling for an “immediate turbine moratorium,” something that some area townships had already asked for by resolution of their councils.

Also just ahead of the rallies, NextEra Energy, had removed or relocated a bald eagle’s nest at Fisherville in Haldimand County on Dec. 31. NAPAW said the move was done with the required but fast-tracked permission of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) over the advice of “the chief monitor of the bald eagle nesting program in southern Ontario, who told the MNR that the nest should be left alone and the turbines relocated elsewhere, and leaving no opportunity for objection from anyone else.”

As a symbol of concerns for the various endangered species that might be affected by turbines, the Watermann family of Norfolk County had brought along their adopted bald eagle, which they named Huxa when they acquired him from a Manitoba sanctuary several years ago.

Huxa became an immediate hit at the rally as a sort of silent protester. He had been invited as a special participant of sorts by NAPAW and Ontario Windpower Resistance, who supplied the Citizen with a photo.

Meantime, on the other side of the bald eagle story, Jutta Splettstoesser of Friends of Wind Ontario says the nest removed by NextEra was a “fall nest” that had never been used.

“In the news it was left out that the fall nest was incomplete and never used yet. It will be replaced by five platforms that are successfully used, according to studies. Also eagle monitoring programs are being put in place by the developer,” she said in an email.