PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA — We continue with our series of questions as the Oct. 6 provincial election draws near.
ONTARIO VOTES 2011 — Parry Sound-Muskoka.
A. How would you address electricity cost and supply in this province?
B. What are your thoughts on a return to the spring bear hunt?
Parry Sound-Muskoka Progressive Conservative incumbent Norm Miller:
A. A PC government will give Ontario families a break by taking the HST off electricity and home heating bills, eliminating the debt retirement charge, and letting you choose if a smart meter works for you.
Promoting sources of renewable energy is good for Ontario and good for the environment. A PC government will have an open and fair process for alternate energy sources like solar, wind and biomass that demands affordable prices and respects local decisions.
We will invest in an affordable clean energy supply mix with a focus on technologies that are effective, efficient and clean including natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear.
B. A return of the spring bear hunt is not specifically addressed in Changebook, or Changebook North. There are, however, several initiatives to support hunters and fishermen including: increased access to traditional hunting and fishing areas that have been closed off by the McGuinty government; a commitment that 100 per cent of hunting and fishing licence revenues will go to support conservation; and an exemption for fishing clubs that stock fish from expensive government fees that make it hard for them to do their job.
Green party candidate Matt Richter:
A. The Green Party of Ontario will commit to harnessing safe and affordable electricity for Parry Sound-Muskoka and all of Ontario. Our approach prioritizes low-cost solutions such as energy efficiency and conservation, hydroelectric imports from neighbouring provinces, hydroelectric development in Ontario, and combined heat and power plants — options all available at a lower cost than new nuclear.
For instance, Quebec has a tremendous excess of hydroelectric power. I believe this represents a fantastic opportunity to import cheap, clean energy to meet our needs. Effective immediately, hydroelectric imports from Quebec could replace up to 75 per cent of the energy generated by the Darlington nuclear reactor.
I think it is unacceptable that the old-line parties did not capitalize on incorporating this significant piece of our energy puzzle. I would ensure that sensible solutions like this will be promoted to the public and acted upon.
B. Ever since Ontario banned the spring bear hunt in 1999 it has remained to be a controversial subject. With such opposing public views, I would immediately coordinate forums in our communities where this is a high priority issue, and bring together the MNR and all interested parties to achieve a consensus on what action (if any) needs to be put forward.
Freedom party candidate Andris Stivrins:
A. The Green Energy Act is driving electricity costs to ridiculous levels. Considering the fact that in some cases the Liberals are paying up to 16 times the cost of conventional generation, it should come as no surprise that we have high hydro bills, nor should one be startled at the infestations of large, noisy duck and goose harvesting windmills in our communities.
As far as supply goes, high hydro prices, among other factors, have driven enough industry out of Ontario that there is power to spare. The Freedom party would scrap the Green Energy Act and move to a competitive, free market energy supply.
B. While I don’t hunt, I have no need to impose my preference on people who do. Considering the increased presence of bears in our local communities, it may make sense to engage in some culling of the population.
Liberal candidate Cindy Waters:
A. In 2003, our electricity system was in a state of crisis. Energy demand rose by eight per cent and generating capacity fell by six per cent creating shortages. That is the equivalent of Niagara Falls running dry. The use of dirty coal increased by 127 per cent and Ontario was forced to import expensive U.S. electricity, costing Ontarians almost $1 billion in 2002 and 2003 alone.
Liberals have closed eight coal units, which is the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road, with a goal to eliminate coal units by 2014 to improve our health and therefore reduce health-care costs. We didn’t have any smog days so far this year.
Conservation is key for our environment and it will be reflected in our pocketbooks, too. The Green Energy Act has allowed $20 billion of private investment and provides a good energy mix while creating good jobs for our future.
B. There is no initiative to return the spring bear hunt. Not very long ago Rick Mercer recorded a piece for his television audience that allowed us to see a mom bear and her tiny cubs sleeping in their den in Algonquin Park. There is an educational program in place through the MNR to deal with nuisance bears.
NDP candidate Alex Zyganiuk:
A. Affordable, clean energy is a key plank in our platform. An NDP government will reduce energy costs by relying on public power, ensuring large-scale electricity generation is publicly owned, publicly accountable and affordable. We’ll support renewable small-scale private and not-for-profit renewable energy projects benefiting local communities and maintain the fee-in-tariff for small and community-based projects. And we will be moving away from coal and nuclear energy, for their risks and costs are too high.
Because we can all keep energy costs down by consuming less electricity, the NDP will also encourage energy conservation with incentives such as rebates for home retrofits. As a further savings, HST will be removed from hydro and home heating bills.
B. The spring bear hunt issue is a delicate one that many politicians won’t touch. There is a fine balance between interests here. In our area we have a tradition of hunting and fishing that should be supported. That said, I doubt the spring bear hunt will return. There has been a second tag for bears in order to compensate and it has always been the law not to hunt a sow with cubs in the spring.
Some have suggested that bear encroachment is dangerous as we urbanize and expand into bear habitat. I personally don’t think it is at the point where it is very alarming. Conservation managers have a bear program to deal with nuisance bears. The mechanisms are there, but they may need review. I think bears will gradually, and naturally, move north to open territories with natural food sources.