By: Megan Mattice
Cold winds and late arrival of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne weren’t enough to stop demonstrators from getting their chance to have their opinions heard as they waited outside the Procter and Gamble complex on Tuesday.
Wynne stopped in Belleville, after being in Peterborough, as part of her Eastern Ontario tour to hold round table discussions with Ontario’s small business owners focusing on regional economic growth.
Although the visit was about job creation, Wynne was confronted by over 80 demonstrators who had two major concerns in mind.
The first, being the construction of wind turbines in Ostrander point.
“We’ve been out here since one o’clock, but we’ve been doing this for four years,” says Laurie Caughy, a County advocate for the 90 per cent of those opposed to Ostrander Point.
Gilead Power, a privately-owned Canadian company engaged in clean energy initiatives, has received approval to install nine industrial wind turbines at Ostrander Point within a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA).
“We don’t think it, we know that it is the worst place to put wind turbines,” said Paula Peel, another demonstrator who works for South Shore Conservancy.
The second issue that had community members baring the cold spring weather is the bus contract process.
Smaller, local bus operators said they find it unfair to have to try and out bid larger operators in order to keep the routes their companies have had for years.
“When the Premier was Minister of Education, she promised us issues such as the bus contracts, would work themselves out. Well, it’s what we feared. It’s not happening,” said Frank Healey, the president of Healey Transportation limited, located in Smith Falls.
Once the round table discussion was finished, Wynne took a tour of Procter and Gamble, talking to assembly line workers and shaking hands.
Almost immediately after, Wynne set out to answer questions the worried demonstrators had for her.
“[When it comes to the issue of Ostrander Point], what I have said in the past still stands. We need a better community process. The Minister of Energy is working with [the appropriate people] to create that better process,” said Wynne.
“I’m not afraid to talk to people standing outside with placards. It’s part of the democratic process. But it’s not the way we should be doing business. You shouldn’t have to be here.”
She also addressed the demonstrators focused on the bus contract.
Wynne assured that if there is a due process it will be done fairly, leaving Rolland Montgomery, owner of Montgomery School Transit Limited, feeling hopeful.
“Its our livelihood at stake. She understands that,” said Montgomery.
Wynne started the day with a PEH Liberal association members only meet and greet at San Souci Restaurant, where she was welcomed by a room filled with supporters.
“The Premier is doing a fabulous job. She is taking the issues head on,” said Hugh O’Neil, who served as a cabinet minister in the government of former Liberal Premier David Peterson.