STRATHROY, Ont. – Fired up and feisty, farmers angered at Ontario’s growing crop of wind turbines shut down much of a major southwestern Ontario trade artery Saturday.
With about 150 vehicles, including pickups, massive tractors and other farm machinery – including a manure wagon – the massive convoy with police escort shut down the 30-km mid-section of Hwy. 402 west of Strathroy.
“Premier Wynne, you will learn we are a tough crowd to deal with when we are pissed off,” activist anti-turbine firebrand Esther Wrightman told a post-convoy rally of about 300 in Strathroy.
“We will not be bullied and terrorized any more,” the organizer told the crowd of protesters who endured a steady cold rain.
Wrightman has been waging war against plans for a forest of industrial wind turbines planned for the farmfields west of Strathroy and into Lambton County.
“This is a demonstration of we the people, against we the corporations. Wind companies are strangling rural Ontario.”
Wrightman admitted earlier she was surprised at the strong turnout from as far afield as the Niagara region and Grey County.
“It just shows the anger out there,” she said moments before the convoy took to the highway at Hwy. 402 south of Forest.
OPP escorted the rolling protest and closed the highway’s entrances in the affected section.
“We understand they have a right to express their opinions,” said Const. Kevin Howe, noting police were on hand to ensure public safety. He said no violence was reported and no one was arrested during the peaceful event.
Signs were everywhere, some rather crude and pointed and others noting 74 municipalities in Ontario have signed on as “unwilling hosts” for new wind turbines as the Liberal government continues to push renewable energy.
“Stop the Rape of Rural Ontario,” “No Means No,” and “The Wynne Scam,” were a few of the more reportable messages.
Conservative MPPs Monte MacNaughton, Bob Bailey and Lisa Thompson were joined by the party’s energy critic Lisa McLeod, all of whom blasted the Wynne government for ignoring rural concerns and promising to revoke the Green Energy Act.
“This is the most distrastrous policy in the province’s history,” MacNaughton said, blaming the loss of 300,000 industrial jobs on the energy policy of the Liberals.
When organizers thanked the OPP for their understanding and patience at their act of civil disobedience, the crowd responded with warm applause.