McGuinty ‘on track’ in Woodstock
September 14th, 2011
By BRUCE URQUHART, QMI Agency
Posted 2 days ago
WOODSTOCK – The setting for Thursday’s campaign stop in Woodstock might have been Toyota’s way of saying thank you to Dalton McGuinty.
Considering the Liberal government’s recent $70.8-million investment in Toyota’s Project Green Light, it was no surprise that Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada allowed the campaigning premier to use its Woodstock test track for a quick photo opportunity.
Racing up the long track in a red RAV4, McGuinty used his visit to tout the “Ontario Liberal plan for clean energy and manufacturing.”
“Ontario already builds more cars than any other place in North America,” McGuinty said in a media release. “Now, as we move to a clean-energy economy, we’re building the next big thing – electric cars – right here in Ontario.”
Stopping in front of the assembled media on the side of the track, McGuinty described Ontario as “number one” in North American auto manufacturing.
McGuinty’s visit to the plant came just four weeks after his last appearance at the Woodstock facility. The premier joined other dignitaries when Toyota announced that Woodstock would be building the electric version of its popular RAV4.
“Our relentless focus on education means we’re creating a high-skills, high-wage economy – making goods no one else can,” McGuinty said in the release. “Only the Ontario Liberals have a plan to build this economy and create these jobs.
“The other parties would take us off track.”
This was already a familiar refrain for McGuinty on the second day of the provincial election campaign. Thursday morning, the premier was in London, where he joined Samsung executives for the announcement of a new manufacturing plant in London that will mean 200 jobs. Unlike the Samsung plants in Tillsonburg, Windsor and Toronto, which are producing wind turbines and blades, the London facility will be building solar modules.
Because of the Progressive Conservative’s criticism of the Liberal government’s $7-billion deal with Samsung – and other facets of the Green Energy Act – McGuinty said a Tory government would mean an end to these jobs.
“( Conservative Leader Tim Hudak) will not honour this contract,” he said. “He will kill those jobs.”
Samsung spokesperson Cheol Woo Lee, speaking at the same event, said the Ontario manufacturing plants would be built regardless of who wins the October election. Since the Liberal government inked the contract, Hudak has vowed to scuttle the Samsung deal while scrapping the provincial Feed-In Tariff program.
” This is a shady deal that Dalton McGuinty signed behind closed doors, that is going to drive up hydro bills even more for seniors and families,” Hudak said in May. ” It is odious, it is wrong, and I will end the deal.”
Hudak said he would honour existing FIT contracts, which pay renewable energy producers up to 80 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity, but wouldn’t offer any new deals.
Instead, he said he would seek cheaper deals through a competitive process.
Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman echoed his leader’s position, saying the Progressive Conservatives were in favour of green energy.
“It should be part of our energy mix,” he said. “At the same time, ( the Liberal approach) is not serving the people of Ontario.”
Instead if inking an exclusive deal with one corporation “with no competition,” Hardeman said a Tory government would establish a transparent and “affordable” system. The Oxford MPP was also critical of the FIT program, saying the contracts were, in the long term, unsustainable.
” It’s not green energy we’re against,” he said. “It’s the shady deal they signed with Samsung.”
At the Woodstock whistle stop, Oxford Liberal candidate David Hilderley and a throng of redclad supporters joined McGuinty at the test track. Arriving by school bus, the supporters, most carrying Hilderley signs, were warmly greeted by the premier after his zip around the track.
” Thank you everyone for all the work you are doing, for all the support,” the premier said before posing with the crowd. ” Now we’ve got to bring it home.”
Speaking after the premier’s visit, Hilderley reiterated the Liberal support for green energy initiatives, saying the province needed to build its capacity to meet future demands. The Oxford candidate said both solar and wind projects in Oxford would also provide extra income for participating local farm families. While acknowledging the opposition to wind farm projects like Prowind Canada’s Gunn’s Hill in Norwich, Hilderley said Ontario had strict guidelines for these developments to protect the health and comfort of neighbouring residents.
” They’ve had wind farms in Europe for decades and decades,” he said. “They saw the writing on the wall a long time ago.”
As for the visit from the premier, Hilderley said local Liberals were “delighted he was able to be here.”
” Toyota is an amazing place for Woodstock,” Hilderley added, “and all of Oxford. It’s an amazing place for Oxford. This is the only place in the world where they’re manufacturing these (electric RAV4s).”