As Federal Liberals meet in Ottawa this weekend to begin the party's rebuilding process, who they elect President will have a dramatic impact on the party's fate. Pundits have pegged the race for president of the Liberal Party of Canada as being between former Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps and Mike Crawley, the President of an internationally-owned, Ontario-focused wind developer.
With the Liberals reduced to just 11 seats in Ontario, electing Mike Crawley president of the party this weekend might be their best chance at attracting crowds in his home province -- even if there are protests against their new president.
Crawley's day job as chief of International Power Canada poses a significant risk to the Liberal Party and makes his calls for grassroots inclusion ring hollow. The "start-up renewable power company" Crawley boosts of having built up and sold to a foreign multi-national has had a devastating impact on Ontario residents who are forced to live in the shadow of Crawley's work.
In June 2010, The OPP was accused by an Essex County resident of using police to intimidate her from protesting the official opening of the $110-million International Power wind turbine project
and the company threatened to sue democratically elected councils who chose to put citizens' interests over Crawley's bottom line.
Canada's former Assistant Deputy Minister of Public Health, Dr. Robert McMurtry, alerted Crawley that his industrial wind development was making residents of Clear Creek sick. Crawley and his business partner were asked "what they were prepared to do to extricate (victims) from the toxic environment caused by living in the environs of industrial wind turbines?"
Crawley's platform speaks to, among other things, "engaging Canadians" and "making membership matter." As a businessman in Ontario, Mike Crawley has made citizenship matter less in communities forced to host his projects, and has a proven track record of engaging in legal threats and other intimidation tactics when things don't go his way.
Industrial wind energy was a hot topic in the ridings of Essex, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound during Ontario's last general election thanks in part to the shenanigans of Crawley and International Power Canada. The provincial Liberals placed third in both Essex and Haldimand-Norfolk. Essex had been held by the Liberals since the 1990s, even during the Harris years.
Mike Crawley should have better sense than to think with a public record like his, that he is well-suited to be President of the Liberal Party of Canada. Should he not, let's hope for the party's sake, delegates do.
John Laforet is the former Federal Liberal Riding President in Scarborough Guildwood.
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