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Bridge Forum Speaker Series, 2015

Part 3: Hon. John McKay, July 2015

Originally from the Belleville Intelligencer:

By Jason Miller, The Intelligencer

BELLEVILLE – There needs to be community buy-in for wind turbine projects like those causing a firestorm of public apposition in Prince Edward County, says the Liberal federal environment critic, MP John McKay.

McKay’s comments were echoed by Bay of Quinte Grit candidate, Neil Ellis, who said the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government have to work in tandem to test public appetite for projects like the White Pines and Ostrander Point wind farm projects.

Ellis is cognizant the wind turbine debate is a key issue in the County which falls within the boundaries of the Bay of Quinte riding.

“These projects should be municipally-owned or by the mush sector, so therefore you have community buy-in and community planning, and, in this case, that hasn’t happened,” Ellis said, while standing with McKay at the Belleville Farmers Market, one of their stops during the tour of the riding. “We have to have community buy-in.”

Ellis said decisions surrounding the fate of such installations also need to be driven by environmental studies which community groups and politicians can use as a road map to making more informed decisions.

“We have to look at those and rely on our scientists, as opposed to corporations pushing them through,” Ellis said.

He said provincial and federal levels of government are sometimes disconnected from what’s happening on the ground.

“We need to be talking to municipal council and people on the street and saying ‘Why are we cramming it down, if there is a ground-swell of not wanting it because of environmental impact?’,” he said. “We need everybody at the table talking about it instead of screaming.”

Some County groups have expressed disappointment over the Ministry of Environment’s recent approval of wpd Canada’s White Pines wind project. Several bird and nature conservation groups have voiced concern over the impact the 27-turbine installation will have on bird species depending on that area of Prince Edward County.

That’s not the only county-base project taking heat from environment advocates.

The County Field Naturalists have taken their fight against the nine turbine Ostrander Point project to Ontario’s top appeal court, claiming the project would have a negative impact on the endangered Blanding’s Turtle.

Though not highly familiar with the County case, McKay said in general alternative energy is the way forward.

“There isn’t anything that’s a free ride, even solar panels which are relatively benign have environmental impacts,” he said.

He said turbines are popular in places like Germany.

“If you fly over Germany it’s wall-to-wall wind farms,” he said.

McKay said for the most part, in Germany, contention over where the turbines are erected is quashed because the “community is involved in the design and construction of the project. The approach here may need to change.”

But, winning public backing here requires a series of trusted studies.

“You can have all the permits in the world but you still have to have the social licences and support of the community,” he said. “There is a real opportunity for the community to participate in these exercises.”

When it pertains to residents’ reluctance to warm to the concept, he said a “lot of it has to be kind of not in my back yard. A lot of that drives the other issues.”


Part 2: Rodger Cuzner, February 2015

 odger Cuzner and Neil Ellis Capers

Rodger Cuzner was first elected on November 27, 2000. He is  about to mark his 13th year as a Member of Parliament, having been re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011 to represent the people of Cape Breton-Canso.

Rodger has held many key positions during his time in Parliament, including Parliamentary Secretary to former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, chair of Nova Scotia Caucus, chair of Atlantic Caucus, and Chief Opposition Whip. He currently serves as the Liberal Critic for Human Resources & Skills Development and Labour.

Rodger represents the Liberal Party on the weekly M.P. panel on CTV News Channel’s Power Play, with host Don Martin, and he is regularly asked to appear on other national political affairs programs, on television and radio.

Prior to entering politics, Rodger studied physical education at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. He worked as the Special Event Coordinator for the Cape Breton Department of Recreation, Culture and Facilities, where he was responsible for major events like the Millennium Countdown 2000. Rodger and his wife Lynn live in Glace Bay and they have three sons: Mitch, Scott and Brad.

Rodger has been very involved with hockey throughout his life. He coached Team Nova Scotia at the Canada Games in 1995 and 1999.


Part 1: Mauril Belanger, February 2015

Neil, John

The association was pleased that the Hon Mauril Belanger, MP for Ottawa Vanier, was the first of the Bridge Forum speakers in 2015. First elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier in a by-election in February 1995, Mauril Bélanger was re-elected in the 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006 general elections.

Mr. Bélanger is the Critic for Canadian Heritage. He has previously served as Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister responsible for Official Languages, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform and Associate Minister of National Defence. In May 2005, the Prime Minister asked him to assume additional duties as Minister for Internal Trade.

He was first appointed as Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Chief Government Whip in December 2003. And in July 1998, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. He held this position until August 2000.

He has chaired the Standing Committee on Official Languages and co-chaired the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Group. He has also served as member of the Standing Committees on Industry, Citizenship and Immigration, Canadian Heritage, and of the joint Senate and House of Commons special committees studying bilateral constitutional amendments for Newfoundland and Quebec. He was also a member of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Urban Issues.

Prior to entering politics, Mr. Bélanger held various positions in the public and private sectors. In the early 1980s he was an assistant to the late Right Honourable Jean-Luc Pepin, who was then Minister of Transport; afterwards, he worked as a financial advisor and in the early 1990s, was Chief of Staff for the Chair of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.

A native of Mattawa, Ontario, Mauril Bélanger and his wife Catherine reside in Ottawa. He is a graduate of the University of Ottawa, where he served as President of the Students’ Federation.