Yesterday I took the train 60 kms east of Toronto to Oshawa and spoke at a meeting organized by the Friends of Oshawa’s Waterfront, a local group that is fighting against a proposed ethanol refinery being forced upon them by the Harper government and the Conservative Party insiders Harper appointed to the Oshawa Port Authority.
The City of Oshawa is dead set against the ethanol plant being built on its waterfront and the citizens of Oshawa are against it by a 2 to 1 ratio according to a recent opinion poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians. There are communities nearby that would love to be willing hosts of the ethanol plant so why is the Conservative government so determined to see the plant built on the land it controls on Oshawa’s waterfront? More to the point, why does the federal government have all the power over what should be a local decision?
The connections between the proponent- FarmTech Energy Corporation and the Oshawa Port Authority and the Conservative Party would have had the old Steven Harper raging about cronyism had it been the Liberals that made the deal. Since it is his Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty that is at the centre of it, we should not expect to hear any criticism from these former champions of transparency and virtue.
There is no need for the ethanol plant to be built in the Oshawa harbour. There is no need to use ships to produce the ethanol. Farmtech claims they will be buying local corn to make their product and selling it in Toronto. The facility could be built in any number of places in the surrounding countryside- not on prime waterfront land with its stacks looming over the last great wetland that exists on Lake Ontario- Oshawa’s Second Marsh.
Many people at last night’s meeting expressed a willingness to physically prevent the construction of the plant, to block the dump trucks with their bodies if need be. They are mad as hell and refuse to allow the Conservatives to force this stinking deal on their community. At this point, civil disobedience looks like their only option.