Energy Policy and Canada
Normally, I don't write about problems I encounter in getting information from government because I feel it's too "inside baseball" for readers.
I'm making an exception because I think this incident illustrates the problems besieged opponents of industrial wind turbines living in communities across Ontario are encountering in getting straight answers from their own government.
This, as Premier Dalton McGuinty appears hell-bent on erecting these giant steel structures, up to 40-storeys high, as fast as he can.
The last time McGuinty was this juiced we got ... eHealth.
Mr. McGuinty warned last month that he won't tolerate NIMBYism when it comes to wind farms unless objections are based on safety issues and environmental standards. This doesn't solve anything, however, as a new report yesterday by Environment Commissioner Gord Miller illustrated.
The main point of the report is that the 183 species facing extinction or endangerment could be further threatened if the government doesn't bolster its new Endangered Species Act.
The centerpiece of the McGuinty agenda was his controversial green energy policy.
The idea here had three parts. First, electricity consumers would subsidize new forms of power generation, such as wind power, through their hydro bills. Coal would be phased out as a source of electricity generation and replaced by natural gas.
Today, the wind power generated in Ontario is both expensive and useless. The province actually pays hundreds of millions of dollars to other jurisdictions to take surplus power off its hands. Energy-intensive companies are leaving because their hydro bills are too high. And taxpayers are stuck with 20-year contracts that will add billions to their hydro bills (and/or the provincial deficit).
On Tuesday, Progressive Conservative energy critic John Yakabuski proposed it be sent to committee for analysis - as a much less complicated piece of energy legislation had in the past - so second-reading debate could be more informed and productive.
Predictably, even a reasonable request got a sneering slap-down from Smitherman.
"I do apologize to the member if the matter at hand has caught him off guard and it's too complex for him to be able to participate in the legislative debate," he said.