Melancthon Mayor Bill Hill was the only political dignitary at the Sun News documentary Down Wind, screened at Grace Tipling Hall in Shelburne last Saturday.
The Township of Melancthon hosts 167 of Dufferin’s 200 wind turbines and continues to face controversy and citizen push-back with the most recent project, owned by Dufferin Wind Power Inc.
Focusing on industrial wind turbines in Ontario, the rather lengthy documentary highlights the stories of rural families and communities torn apart by the ‘ill effects’ of whirling towers, some up to 550 feet high, churning out costly electricity at the expense of citizens’ health and welfare.
Sun News publicly released Down Wind one week before the last provincial election, raising the question of whether wind turbine neighbours, who have been treated with the disregard of lab mice by all levels of government, were once again the victims of a political agenda.
Like the beating blades of the turbines, the documentary endlessly pounds out anti-Liberal sentiment for provincial voters: “If we keep the Liberal government we won’t be able to stop anything,” in conjunction with “Progressive Conservatives seem to be the only hope.”
Mayor Hill says the film “was politically heavy but true.”
As for the Green Energy Act, “This is the most draconian piece of legislation ever introduced in my political career of 28 years.”
Rebecca Thompson, a Sun News reporter since 2012 and the journalist in the documentary, was at Grace Tipling Hall to introduce the film.
Ms. Thompson, although young, worked for nine years in Conservative politics, including for the Prime Minister, and showed a genuine passion for the issue and concern for the subjects of the film. Her rhetoric in the theatre and on film focused on the missteps of government in policy, economics, energy production and Health Canada studies.
Testimonials by residents living by turbines in Ripley, Underwood, Clear Creek and Lucknow were both heart-rendering and resolute.
Experts included economists, energy experts, and health professionals, including Dr. Robert McMurtry, a former Health Canada official, and Carmen Krogh, a retired pharmacist who has done years of research on trauma caused by infra sound.
Dr. McMurtry believes the provincial government has “too much invested to admit error.” Health experts quoted a long list of inflictions resulting from close proximity to turbines, including sleep loss, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, palpations, depression and nausea.
Economic expert Ross McKitrick said turbines “are not run by wind but by subsidies;” at 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour Ontario has the most expensive electricity in North America.
Blame in the documentary was placed squarely on the shoulders of the Liberal government and the Green Energy Act (GEA.) It stated that the Act superseded 21 legislative policies in Ontario, stripping municipal governments of planning authority in a “rush” to push Green Energy projects through and eliminate coal fired plants.
Filmed prior to the election, the documentary suggested that the right thing to do would be to cancel GEA contracts. In it, then PC leader Tim Hudak said he would cancel the Act itself.
Mayor Hill said he believes that “when pressed, Mr. Hudak said they would look at each contract individually and decide on each one.”
Mayor Hill recognizes that a “blanket cancellation of these contracts would be no better than the gas plant issues.”
Mayor Hill said he thought “the message was okay, as it stressed several times the elected people have been left out of the process and ‘the people’ have to challenge the Act and fight it themselves,” which the Mayor believes “is very, very wrong.” He said, “The Government should listen to what the elected people have been saying for some time.”
Audience members at Grace Tipling seemed very supportive of the documentary. It paints a compelling picture and presents an opportunity to bring light to their struggle; one that continues to be daunting, disheartening, and a shameful legacy on our government.
The problem with the Sun News documentary Down Wind is that an underlying motive seems to dominate the message. One week before a provincial election, the documentary’s perfectly timed release plays like an attack ad drawing attention away from a vitally compelling issue and onto the campaign trail. Months after the election, the film’s partisan rhetoric is still an unmistakable distraction.
Thousands of Ontarians are in a real life fight for their lives as they once knew them, before the turbines brought sickness and loss and economic suffering;
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