gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Why I’m not voting for John Tory and company

October 07, 2007 @ 21:59 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

As you should know if you live in Ontario, there’s a provincial election taking place on Wednesday. While I haven’t completely made up my mind about who I will support this time, I do know who I will not support and his name is John Tory.

Apart from running negative attack ads from day one, something that I can’t believe converts any significant number of undecided voters, I just don’t find the messages in the Ontario PC Party ads, both negative and non-negative, credible.

For example, there’s an ad that has your “typical resident of Ontario” talking about deaths from smog. The number they quote is something like 1900 per year, and go on to say that equates to 5600 unnecessary deaths because Dalton McGuinty didn’t live up to his campaign promise of getting rid of the coal-fired generating plants. There may well be something like 1900 deaths a year in Ontario that can be attributed to poor air quality, but that doesn’t mean that eliminating the coal-fired power plants will eliminate the poor air quality. There are many other sources of pollution that contribute to poor air quality, particularly automobile that are a non-trivial source of the pollutants that make up smog. Other sources include heavy manufacturing such as refineries. But, the ad is worded to lead the viewer to believe that the coal-fired power plants in Ontario are directly responsible for 1900 deaths a year. What about the air pollution that is generated by extra-provincial sources upwind of Ontario?

Another ad talking about coal-fired power plants has John Tory bemoaning the fact that the coal-fire power plants weren’t closed as promised and outlining what he will do with respect to coal-fired power plants. His solution is to order the installation of scrubbers on the smoke stacks to reduce the pollutants emitted. A short-term plan — that’s all. He doesn’t go on to tell the viewer what the long-term plan is, which is a much more important issue. Is he going to commission new nuclear power plants, or gas-fired power plants, or build more hydroelectric generating capacity, or invest in alternative technologies such as wind or solar? Is he going to decommission the coal-fired power plants? Or are we going to increasingly rely on imported electricity, shifting the emissions from Ontario to another jurisdiction, some of which are using coal-fired generating plants that happen to be upwind of us, which brings us back to the previous ad.

Many of the other ads I’ve seen have similar messages that basically tells you that everything will instantly be wonderful if you vote for the Ontario PC Party. I find that hard to believe.

4 Responses to “Why I’m not voting for John Tory and company”

  1. Squid says:

    There’s nobody worth voting for in this election, unfortunately. It’s like choosing between getting kicked in the nuts, kicked in the head or kicked in the solarplexus.

    I live in McSquinty’s riding anyway, so my vote is utterly wasted.

  2. gordon says:

    True, but we have to vote for someone. I’m leaning towards voting for the Liberals, primarily because they’re saying “hey, it’s taken a while but you’re starting to see improvements” and from what I’ve seen I believe them. Change takes time, something that the PC ads seem to gloss over. No party is going to be 100% perfect and those who say they will be aren’t being honest.

    Maybe it’s a bit of “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”…

    It’ll be interesting to look at the popular vote once everything is tallied and figure out what the makeup of the legislature would have been with MMP.

  3. MSkib says:

    Nuclear power is a very serious and potentially dangerous source of energy. I think any prospective leader who uses the phrase “fast-track” in conjunction with nuclear power should be given careful consideration. First, John Tory gives an inaccurate timeline for building a nuclear power plant. It takes ten to fifteen years, not nine to ten as he stated. Second, pushing through the construction of a nuclear power plant is not akin to speed dating where one hopes to be married within 2 years. A bad date can be erased with a pint of ice cream. A structural error at a nuclear power plant can result in an environmental catastrophe and very likely innumerable deaths. Tory says that by ignoring the energy issue, we are putting our economy and our environment and our way of life at risk. He is right however his solution to build more nuclear plants, hastily erected ones at that, is clearly at odds with preserving our economy and our environment and our way of life. Despite what some politicians are saying, we have the technology and the know-how to make a clean energy plan possible now. All that is lacking is political will.

  4. gordon says:

    Every form of electricity generation has its positive points and negative points. Nuclear energy has a lack of GHG emissions as one of the major positive points. On the other side of the coin, a catastrophic failure of a nuclear power plant can have serious short- and long-term impacts. However, it should be pointed out that the CANDU reactors have one of the best safety records of all the various types of nuclear reactors in the world. Chernobyl happened because the safety systems were deliberately disabled by the engineers so they could run some sort of tests, leading to a catastrophic failure and fires fueled by the graphite used as insulation in the reactor. Hydroelectric facilities also have almost no GHG emissions, but there are major environmental impacts because they interrupt the natural flow of the rivers and require the flooding of huge areas to build the reservoirs behind the dams. Wind generation facilities are good on the GHG-front, too, but have several downsides. One is that you need to build a lot of them to replace a conventional plant. Another is that it appears there are impacts on wildlife and even the people who live near them because they’re not silent when they’re operating. Natural gas-fired plants are better than coal-fired plants because of lower GHG and other emissions, but like coal-fired plants they’re fossil fuel-based systems so sooner or later we’re going to have to adapt when the fuel stocks are depleted. Coal-fired plants are probably among the worst because of emissions of all sorts, GHG and otherwise.

    Of the sources I’ve listed, I have to say that I think nuclear is probably the way to go, even though we’ve got to deal with the long-term storage of the waste. I don’t advocate accelerating the construction schedule to the point where safety is compromised, but a lot of sources I’ve seen quote 10 years as the average length of time to build a plant.

    I haven’t talked about solar, methane capture and other alternative “clean” sources because those technologies aren’t yet proven for large scale electricity generation. Wind power is just coming into its own as a proven technology, but I’m not sure it’s sufficient for being a major source of power in Ontario. You need to have the right location for wind to be viable and building wind farms on places like the Niagara Escarpment isn’t viable because of the impact it would have on the farming industry that’s established there.

    Don’t get me wrong: Alternative forms of electricity generation need to be investigated, but we also need a primary source of electricity that is relatively clean and reliable, and that may very well be nuclear. It definitely isn’t coal-fired plants with John Tory Brand scrubbers on the stacks.