Relax, Algoma wind farm operators.
If Christine Elliott is elected premier of Ontario, she has no intention of tearing down your windmills.
Two months after Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Monte McNaughton visited the Alternative Energy Capital of North America and told SooToday that the province’s wind farms should be decommissioned, the frontrunner in the leadership race is disagreeing.
“I don’t think that’s realistic or possible,” said Christine Elliott, in the Saullt last night to meet party faithful at the Hoiliday Inn Express on Bay Street.
“There are signed contracts there. While I think it’s regrettable – the extremely high subsidies that are being paid for some of the wind turbines and solar contracts – the reality is that we need to honour those contracts. It sends a very bad signal to outside investors that are prepared to put up millions of dollars of investments in Ontario, if we rip up those contracts and decommission the turbines.”
Elliott said she’d like to review existing wind-power contracts to see whether they can be renegotiated to a better price, or if some contracts could be bought out.
“I think there’s certainly a place for renewable energy – wind, solar and other types of renewables. But I think what we lack in Ontario right now is a coherent energy plan…. We’re seeing that now in the huge hydro bills that both residential and industrial consumers are receiving.”
If elected, Elliott wants to convene a panel of energy experts to develop a plan for reliable and affordable power.
But Elliott wants you to know that as MPP for Whitby-Oshawa (east of Toronto) she’s a proponent of nuclear power.
“I have Pickering on one side of me and Darlington on the other side. I think the really important factor is that you have willing hosts. And we are willing hosts for nuclear in our community. And the reality is that it still provides almost 50 percent of the base load of energy needs in Ontario right now.”
Elliott practised law for almost 25 years before running in 2006 for the PCs in a byelection in the Ontario riding vacated by her husband Jim Flaherty, who was elected as a federal MP.
She was elected in the byelection and re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014.
Last year, her husband, who had become federal finance minister, died after suffering a heart attack.
She sought the leadership of the Ontario PCs in 2009, placing third.
Elliott talks about her 20 years of voluntarism in her community, helping out at a mental health and addictions centre, and at a children’s treatment centre.
“I’ve had the oppoortunity to understand a lot of difficulties that many indivduals and families in Ontario face. I want to be able to make their lives better…. That’s why you hear me talk about being fiscally responsible being the base. But why is that important? It’s important so that we can be socially compassionate.”
Elliott was stumping the Sault yesterday with Nipissing MPP and former North Bay Mayor Victor Fedeli, who orginally was also seeking the Ontario PC leadership but dropped his bid in February and threw his support behind Elliott.
“I think that there’s huge untapped potential in the North that hasn’t been realized, in large part because we try to make decisions at Queen’s Park in Toronto without consulting the people that live here,” she said.
“To me, it’s really important to continue to visit Northern Ontario on a regular basis, to meet with people that know what the economy is based on and understand what we need to do.”
Would Elliott be open to providing provincial support for a public seaway-depth Port of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie’s #1 economic development priority?
“I think it’s going to take federal and provincal involvement to make that happen,” she says.
“I certainly look forward to working with the federal government on that because I think that this government has taken an unnecessarily antagonistic position vis-à-vis the federal government’s involvement. I want to work with the federal government for the benefit of all the people of Ontario.”
Elliott said she doesn’t have a hard-and-fast answer on whether she would support the Port of Algoma, “but I would want to look at anything that’s going to potentially further that development in the North and further that potential.”
There are two other remaining candidates for the party leadership: Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton and Patrick Brown, a Conservative MP from Barrie who doesn’t currently hold a seat in the Ontario Legislature but has scored high profile endorsements from people like Wayne Gretzky and Postmedia Chief Executive Officer Paul Godfrey.
Brown has also been very successful in selling party memberships.
He was in Sudbury yesterday, indicating that he wants to rebuild the Progressive Conservative Party in Northern Ontario the same way.
“One of the reasons I’ve criticized the party so heavily the way it was run under the previous leadership was, whether it was showing up in Northern Ontario, which they didn’t do, whether it’s reaching out to new Canadian communities, which they didn’t do, whether it’s showing up on campuses and speaking to young people, which they didn’t do – we didn’t do the grunt work necessary to build the party,” Brown told NorthernLife.ca
Balloting by party members will start the first week of May.
The new party leader will be announced May 9.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding