Comment

by bill Jackson - The Regional

September 28, 2011

Leaders sometimes need to make difficult decisions, but it isn't Haldimand Council's multi-million-dollar agreement with wind developers that's a hard sell in isolation. It's the timing of it, a lack of public consultation, and the promotional work that the mayor did on behalf of Samsung that has people fuming.

It's true that the McGuinty government is already dictating green energy policies province-wide, but you wouldn't know it listening to a Samsung commercial featuring Ken Hewitt that lauds the benefits of such a developer. On one hand he's promoting green energy and the company in a commercial, but on the other he's telling reporters that he doesn't really want the product that it's selling. It's blatant doublespeak.

Hewitt also claims that he isn't trying to play politics, and if he is indeed telling the truth I shudder to see him try.

In his opinion, Haldimand is in the strongest position to make this agreement now.

"We haven't gained, we haven't lost anything," he said. "But what I have gained, if I've gained anything, it's that I can now go to a Hudak government and say 'You've just taken $40 million out to this county.'"

Not playing politics?

Such retort could only be uttered by Hewitt if a PC government put the kibosh on wind development in Haldimand. And while this is perhaps unlikely, at least in its entirely, it's exactly what many of Hewitt's constituents are hoping for. Even Hewitt himself said that he'd stop the wind turbines, if he could. Council asked for a moratorium. So what gives?

Haldimand is essentially being thrown a bitter bone, cowering to the it must obey. And that said, I believe that the vast majority of people would probably be on board with the Community Vibrancy Fund Agreement if it wasn't just days before a provincial election.

As CAO Don Boyle pointed out, Haldimand won't start getting paid until the turbines are in commercial operation. Before that time, the agreement could be null and void for a variety of reasons.

If so, then why not wait until after the election to announce it? Of course, that's a rhetorical question with direction on energy policy hanging in the balance.

If politics aren't being played, the deal should be just as good after Oct. 6th. But there's more to the timing than meets the eye. After all, the developers didn't have to make any concession at all. So why would they? Kindness?

Hewitt admitted to reporters that the timing of the agreement and the commercial maybe wasn't the best.

"In hindsight I don't disagree with the commercial, but I can understand why it would cause some emotion in people," he said.

It's one thing to live in Caledonia and say that you're making lemonade out of lemons for the average taxpayers, but it's entirely different thing to be living in say, Rainham, where dozens of wind turbines are slated to be erected during the next couple of years. The Community Vibrancy Fund Agreement no doubt aggravates many residents close to the lake who would rather their politicians stand up and just say no in the midst of an election.

It the Liberals are re-elected and the turbines are built, it's doubtful that anyone would refuse millions of dollars in funding. But that's putting the cart before the horse, because the promotional work is needed to help the McGuinty government get re-elected. There would be no deal, no "vibrant" agreement after the election, Even the hicks in Haldimand know that.

It' the taint of blood money that's leaving a bad taste in people's mouths, mostly because the small glimmer of hope to stop these monstrosities from coming is now even fainter. In fact, exactly the opposite is true thanks to council bolstering the Liberal election platform. The door is open that much wider to more of them.

It's one thing to get some funding for residents, but it's another thing to politick, promote green energy and leave the public out in the cold.

Council would have been well served to wait until the provincial election is over before announcing such a multi-million dollar agreement, but then again, people understand that the agreement and the promotion of green energy before an election went hand-in-hand.