Wind activist Esther Wrightman says she’s surprised United Way Canada is willing to take the money wind giant NextEra Energy is seeking in its lawsuit against her.
A statement of claim filed by the Florida-based company suing Wrightman over altered NextEra logos that were posted online says any damages would be donated to United Way Canada.
Wrightman said her father wrote to that organization after a United Way official spoke at a meeting of her local municipal council about how it helps the poor in rural communities.
“I think I’m kind of in that target area,” said the Strathroy-area married mother of two, whose family’s modest income comes from her husband’s disability supports, and her job at her parents’ nursery business.
“If they want to get anything from me, there’s nothing,” she said. “I don’t know if the United Way understands that.”
A reply from Sylvain Beaudry, a vice-president with United Way Centraide Canada, says the organization wasn’t aware of the lawsuit, but “will accept the award for damages that may result.”
Wrightman said, “My dad wrote back and said, ‘Are you serious?'”
The United Way replied that they were.
Beaudry’s letter is posted on the Ontario Wind Resistance website and several of Wrightman’s supporters have posted comments about ending their support of the United Way.
Wrightman said she believes that’s a decision for individuals to make on their own.
“I think a lot of them want to stick behind the little guy on this and say, ‘No, we’re not going be part of this, and neither should you United Way. You should be sticking up for the community, instead of the corporations,'” she said.
Marcelle Brooks, a Thedford-area resident who is active in the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group with Wrightman, wrote to United Way Canada and urged it to reconsider.
“I was a little stunned that regardless of where their money comes from, they’re willing to take it,” she said.
“I don’t think they thought at all about it, and I don’t think they clearly understand what’s going on in rural Ontario, that’s for sure.”
The Observer contacted United Way Canada, but its spokesperson declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Wrightman said Nextera’s lawyers contacted her this week about setting up a timetable for the lawsuit.
The NextEra wind projects that Wrightman has been opposing in Middlesex County are now proceeding and she said she wasn’t certain the company would go ahead with the lawsuit.
“I mean, they’ve got their project,” she said.
“They’ve got everything they want. I guess they want this too.”
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