Advertisements over-emphasize benefits of turbines

To the Expositor:

While reading the ‘Manitoulin Wind News’ published weekly in The Expositor, I have noticed a number of incredible statements in the past (such as the presence of industrial windmills actually boosting tourism!) However, three statements stand out in the recent advertisement ‘Turbines – Best in Class’ (October 15). I respectfully submit that the writer is not at all objective about this project as it pertains to Manitoulin.

Paragraph one ends (speaking of the construction of 24 massive Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs)), “It’s all good news for this island.” This should come a big surprise to those many opposed to the construction of Industrial Wind Turbines on Manitoulin, on environmental as well as social and cultural grounds. Their ‘lifestyle,’ as Mr. Martin phrases it, includes maintaining as unspoiled and natural an environment as possible, free of towering, blinking and whirring concrete ‘skyscrapers.’

Next comes the assertion, “I know there remain a few naysayers” (paragraph two). Well, this surely indicates a classic propaganda technique: reversing positive and negative. Mr. Martin is quite aware of the growing (not diminishing) number of opponents to the wind turbines, in rural areas especially. By stating the reverse, he no doubt wishes to convey an impression of stronger support for the Maclean’s Mountain project than in truth it has. I’m sure Mr. Martin could wallpaper his Worthington Street office with the many opposing letters that have appeared in The Expositor, up to the present.

The reader later sees the statement, “They will complement and not harm the natural beauty vistas of this wonderful island” (paragraph eight). This opinion, offered as fact, shows another tendency in his numerous columns as spokesperson/propagandist for Northland Power. Correct me if I’m wrong, but each of the 24 turbines would tower approximately four times the height of the tallest trees on Manitoulin (rather distracting, wouldn’t you say?)—the closest parallel being the many 50-floor skycrapers of Toronto. ‘Manitoulin, the Toronto of the North?’ No thanks, say many who have either moved here, visit or, for generations, have inhabited this place of idyllic beauty. No doubt, viewing a vast array of concrete towers would be a beautiful sight for Mr. Martin. He will feel he’s earned his undoubtedly substantial salary from Northland Power (is there a bonus for each IWT erected as well?). Passing on an island of unsurpassed beauty to future generations is the goal of the many who oppose this location for these (literally) ‘sky-scraping’ structures.

Mr. Martin has previously claimed to be apolitical in his private life. Fair enough (although, is it not a pretty good bet his latest vote was Liberal?). But this assertion must surely be qualified since Mr. Martin is quite skillful at most propaganda techniques employed by politicians (and, of course, corporations.) Two have been noted in the above paragraphs representing as true an idea that is more likely to be false, and dressing up an opinion as a factual statement. Overemphasizing the benefits while de-emphasizing the downside, are further ploys Northland Power share with McGuinty’s government. Adding to this I would like to note Northland’s own emblem: a pristine green tree. Funny how you see no manmade structures overshadowing this symbol of unspoiled nature.

As for the viewpoint that “the voters have spoken,” it should be pointed out that this too has a flip side. In three ridings that I am aware of, including Algoma-Manitoulin, the Liberal incumbent was booted out in the recent provincial election (others include Prince Edward and Huron counties). In each case, it is no secret that the unpopularity of the wind turbines contributed to the change in elected representative.

Perhaps before forever altering the skyline of Manitoulin with towering IWTs, we should heed the advice of Joni Mitchell, the great Canadian songwriter: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…”

Paul Best

Gore Bay