Affordable electricity and demand for more local control over policies governing its delivery sparked a flurry of questions for political candidates debating at the Brooke-Alvinston Community Centre.
PC incumbent Monte McNaughton, NDP Joe Hill, and Liberal Mike Radan, were the only electoral hopefuls able to attend the all candidates debate in Alvinston and the audience kept their feet to the fire with demands to know what those parties intended to do to bring hydro costs down and where their parties stand on the divisive issue of wind turbines.
“The Green Energy Act has stripped all decision making from the municipalities,” McNaughton says. The PC party favours scrapping the act and ending subsidies paid for solar and wind energy projects.
“Let me be crystal clear,” he says. “We are not going forward with these (subsidies); they are driving energy costs up.”
Joe Hill, speaking for the NDP, asks: “Should we allow the provincial government to just ram through any policy they want? The people in the communities should decide.”
Liberal Mike Radan does not favour ultimate decision making power at the municipal level. “Are we going to allow every municipality to have veto power over provincial legislation, resulting in a hodge podge of policies?”
Landowners have exercised free will in the signing or not, of wind leases, he says, going on to suggest a better solution would be to ensure the entire community, and not just the individual signing a lease, should benefit from wind leases.
The candidates were also pressed to state how they would protect farmland in Ontario from being buried under industrial and residential developments and ensure affordable land prices for the next generation of farmers.
Liberal candidate Mike Radan spoke of the Farms Forever program, created with exactly those goals in mind: to ensure enough agricultural land remains designated as such regardless of who buys it, and by recognizing that young farmers will continue to need some forms of support.
PC incumbent Monte McNaughton says supporting educational programs and farm succession planning will help create an encouraging future for young farmers.
“Stop re-zoning farmland as residential or industrial,” says Joe Hill.