Proposed policy motion G10-p25, Wind Turbine Health Studies, was greenlighted by the Membership through the online voting process, receiving support from a majority 66.3%of members. On the surface, this motion appears to actually do little more than call for a study to be undertaken by Health Canada. What the net result of its approval might do, however, is call into question our Party's commitment to alternative energy sources.
For the purpose of discussion, I'm going to reproduce the motion in its entirety here, including the inoperative Whereases, which shed some light on what the authors of the motion were trying to get at. Take a close look at the motion, and you'll see that there isn't actually any reference to something called “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, but really, the motion alludes to WTS in a significant way. Here's the motion:
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada recognizes the vast potential for wind energy in Canada;
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada with the Canadian Wind Energy Association has set goals for Canadian wind energy generation;
WHEREAS many citizens in communities with wind turbines claim to be experiencing sleep deprivation, headaches, and heart complications related to wind turbines;
WHEREAS one of the largest obstacles preventing accelerated wind energy development is resistance from citizens near planned turbine sites;
WHEREAS the largest investment Canadians make, their home, is affected as much by real health risks as perceived ones;
WHEREAS many provincial governments have compromised their objectivity with respect to wind energy development;
WHEREAS the Green Party of Canada considers healthy people and healthy communities as necessary for a strong Canada;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada seeks to have Health Canada initiate an epidemiological study on the human health effects of wind turbines in the interests of public health and safety.
What might the effects of the operable clause be? How will the operable clause actually play itself out when Green MP's are elected to parliament? Will Green MP's remain defacto advocates for wind energy, as per Vision Green 2010, or will we need to qualify our support for wind energy by stating that until an epidemiological study is carried out by Health Canada, sorry, the jury is out on new projects.
An additional concern: no matter what we say on the campaign stump, there is now an increased likelihood for other parties to point to this new policy of ours and question whether we are really committed to wind energy as a viable alternative energy source. They'll question why our Party has bought into the coffee-table book notion of WTS being espoused by every NIMBY organization in Canada which opposes wind turbines wherever they may be. They'll ask us what about all of the other health studies which have been conducted throughout the world which arrive at the same conclusion: there are no noticeable health impacts from turbine blades.
Now, I know that I'm simplifying this issue quite a bit, and I don't profess to be an “expert” on wind energy. What I do know is that the NIMBY crowd has been making a lot of hay out of WTS, and generating a lot of kerfuffle in the media. I also know that the we in the Green Party have always prided ourselves on basing our policies on the best available science of the day. And with regards to the science behind WTS, there just isn't any credible, peer-reviewed science out there; there is only junk science.
Again, while the policy we've just adopted doesn't come right out and put our Party in opposition to wind power, it certainly questions our commitment, as the “Party Opinion / Considerations” which preface this motion attempted to red-flag for the voters.
This new policy of ours is going to be an albatross around our necks. I sincerely hope that Cabinet keeps this out of our platform until it can be revisited in the future. I'm saddened and embarrassed that our Members didn't take into consideration the political consequences of this anti-wind generation motion before voting to green-light it.