Mirror, mirror on the wall, who are the biggest hypocrites of them all? Well, you would be right if you answered the decision-makers at the Canadian Auto Workers union — which is ironic to say the least. I mean, this is the union who says they represent the little guy. For example, check out this CAW website.
On their left sidebar, it shows a text box with a banner that states: “Fighting Back Makes a Difference.”Except, when the fighting back is by an entire community against the CAW’s financial interests, then it doesn’t seem to make any difference at all to CAW administrators.
So, why are the citizens of picturesque Port Elgin, Ontario protesting and fighting back? Because the CAW is installing one of the largest and noisiest wind turbines available right in the middle of their town, and given what has been alleged, they are doing so by skirting around every rule in the book. Why? In their own words:
“The CAW is erecting a wind turbine on the grounds of its Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. The construction of this wind turbine is an important milestone in our union’s efforts to build a more sustainable future. A vision that was lead by environmentally-conscious union members and activists in 2003 is now coming into focus.”
The tragedy is, of course, the primary reason the CAW would have chosen Port Elgin for its world class education and conference centre was because of its pristine beauty.
However, there are grand visions and reality. As Karen Hunter wrote in the Huffington Post:
“Despite all the places CAW could have located the mammoth structure, it picked Port Elgin, ‘considered — one of the leading recreational playgrounds in Ontario’ for an industrial wind turbine. CAW’s vacant 128-acre property nearby was deemed too environmentally sensitive. Besides, the land had just been subdivided and its lots stood to rake in $2 million. The FEC’s densely-populated neighbourhood didn’t have such sensitivities.
The turbine’s proposed location was so beautiful, it posed a problem: the land’s picturesque, clean beach and nature trails led to its classification as a tourist and recreational community. Therefore, the turbine’s noise emission would exceed legislated standards. Not easily deterred, CAW found a quick fix: Classify the small tourist community as ‘urban’ on the turbine application since acceptable noise emission levels are higher. No one will notice. The scheme worked, and the Ministry of Environment (MOE) approved it. Voila.”
There are other issues as well. According to Hunter, the CAW is using non-labour to build the turbine. And jobs in construction and related trades are being held up because people backed out of new home deals as soon as they found where the turbine was going to be built.
In other words, when it comes to the leadership of the CAW, it is do as I say, not as I do. I mean, can you just imagine if the shoe were on the other foot and it was the housing developer who shut out CAW workers? Well, we know what would happen don’t we, given recent CAW threats to occupy the London Caterpillar plant.
So, the next time you see or hear Ken Lewenza protesting about something he disagrees with (particularly how industries are ruled by their profit margins), stop and ask him why he is putting the CAW’s financial interests ahead of an entire community
In the meantme, it is obvious that the people of Port Elgin are not going to give up without the very fight the CAW tells other people to undertake to make a difference. And, while I don’t live near Port Elgin, but in the Niagara Region, I wrote this post to support that community from the hyprocrisy shown by the CAW.
Endnotes: (1) For more on this topic, check out the archives at quixoteslaststand.com and ontario-wind-resistance.org, as well as this Google Search page. . (2) If the attribution to any photographs is incorrect, please send me the correct information or link via my Contact Form.