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NEWS: Flaherty’s new port authority could contradict Great Lakes Commons imperative

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced a new federal Oshawa Port Authority to replace the Oshawa Harbour Commission and has appointed Gary Valcour, the president of the Mr. Flaherty’s riding association, to establish the new body.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Plans by an ethanol company to build an industrial plant on the port lands are at the heart of a heated local battle over the future of Oshawa’s harbour. Oshawa City Council and environmentalists want the existing waterfront to include options for public use and strongly oppose the proposed plant. The creation of a federal port authority is raising concern that the needs of industry will win out. Oshawa councillor Nester Pidwerbecki said he fears the seven-member board of the port authority – filled mainly by the federal government – will approve the construction of the plant, despite the unanimous opposition of city council.”

“Mr. Flaherty’s riding association also includes Tim O’Connor – a director of FarmTech Energy Corporation, the ethanol company looking to build a plant at the port to export corn and ethanol.”

As noted in an August 2011 campaign blog:

FarmTech Energy Corporation is seeking to build an enthanol refinery on the Lake Ontario waterfront of the southern-Ontario city of Oshawa, located about 60 kilometres east of downtown Toronto. Opposition to this plant has been expressed to the federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ministry by the City of Oshawa, 3,300 Durham Region residents, the Council of Canadians, the David Suzuki Foundation, author Margaret Atwood, artist Robert Bateman, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, and Friends of Second Marsh.

In a letter dated July 26, 2011, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow writes, “Great Lakes Basin Commons would reject the view that the primary function of the Great Lakes is to promote the interests of industry and the powerful and give them preferential access to the Lakes’ bounties. …Several aspects of the proposed ethanol plant contradict the notion of the Great Lakes Commons including the importance of public participation and a program for wetlands protection. …I urge the Federal Government to withdraw any consent and withhold any further consideration to establish an ethanol plant on Crown land at the Oshawa Harbour until the concerns of the community are adequately considered.” To read Barlow’s letter, please go to

The City of Oshawa has stated, “The (City’s) submission emphasizes that the (federal Environmental Assessment) Screening Report does not comply with the legal requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), fails to address serious land-use compatibility issues, and does not provide the data and analysis necessary to evaluate the environmental effects of the ethanol refinery.” The City asserts that, “CEAA assessment requirements were not met regarding environmental effects (from) surface water contamination (and) groundwater contamination…” They also note that the proposed enthanol plant “would result in approximately 168,000,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) emitted annually as a byproduct of the fermentation process.”

According to a 680 News report on August 15, “Agriculture Canada is now reviewing submissions from those for and against the proposal but it could be several months before a decision is made.”