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McGuinty in Sault. Blows off anti-wind protestors (updated)

Not everyone who wanted to talk to Dalton McGuinty got the chance today during a stop at Essar Steel Algoma early this afternoon.

Not everyone who wanted to talk to Dalton McGuinty got the chance today during a stop at Essar Steel Algoma early this afternoon.

Steven and Sandra Christopher of Lake Superior Action Research Conservation (LSARC) were escorted off Essar Steel Algoma property by Essar staff and told they would have to display their protest signs across the road at the number two gate.

They and the other people demonstrating with them wanted Dalton McGuinty to know that they don't want wind towers on the heritage coast of Lake Superior.

"We saw him on the bus as it drove by," said George Brown, another LSARC member who was protesting today.

"We're not quite sure if he was waving or giving us the finger," he added with a laugh.

But in all seriousness, Brown said LSARC members are worried that they are being disenfranchised because there are not as many voters on the heritage coast as there are in areas of southern Ontario where perspective wind developments were axed.

The many voices of urban centres are drowning out the few voices of the people who actually live where the wind towers would go if proposed developments along Lake Superior are allowed to move forward, he said.

Inside at Essar Steel Algoma, McGuinty fielded questions from media.

Questions like, what's wrong with the idea of a northern debate.

"We were asked, sometime around the beginning of August if we'd like to participate in this northern debate," said McGuinty. "We said that the date they had selected was not suitable to us. We delivered that message sometime around the middle of August. Since that time we did not hear of any alternative being made available to us."

He also said he believes we should have one debate that is open to and discusses all issues of Ontario.

"I've made a specific request that one of those segments in the province-wide debate be devoted to northern issues specifically," said McGuinty. "Here's another important dimension to all this. I want to make sure that the opposition leaders, in particular, aren't delivering one message up here in northern Ontario and another message down there in Southern Ontario."

The NDP are telling people in southern Ontario that they want to put a moratorium on development north of the 51st parallel, he said.

"That would be the end of the Ring of Fire," McGuinty said. "That puts thousands of jobs at stake. It put a bright future for the northern economy at stake."

McGuinty also talked about the work his party has done in the north.

"I'm very proud of the fact that we have a distinct northern platform, as we have had before in our party."

He applauded northern advocacy by David Orazietti and Mike Brown saying they have well represented northern interests to the Ontario Liberal caucus.

He talked about the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, saying the NDP took money out of it and re-deployed it for general purposes.

The Ontario Liberal government took funding for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund from $60 million to $110 million a year, said McGuinty.

"Our commitment is to use the additional funding and make sure that we've created 4,000 new jobs here every year," he said.

To read the full text of a media release from David Orazietti's office, please click here.