Wednesday, 7 March 2012

When is a walk-out more like a bathroom break?

When it's at the ROMA/OGRA conference.

Premier Dalton McGuinty spoke to the annual Ontario Good Roads Association and Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference on February 27, 2012.  Prior to the speech, a number of municipalities had called for a walkout protesting the Province's policies regarding wind energy.

Immediately after he spoke, online headlines appeared claiming that 100 politicians had walked out.  Approximately 1000 delegates were in the room.  Here are the first volleys as posted on the Ontario Wind Resistance website (with bolding and underlining added):

Bulletnews, Heather Boa, February 27, 2012: More than one hundred municipal politicians – including some from Huron County – walked out on Premier Dalton McGuinty en masse in protest of wind energy development during his opening address at the county’s largest annual conference for rural municipalities, according to estimates from local delegates.

The Sun Times, Denis Langlois, February 27, 2012: About 80 municipal politicians walked out on Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty Monday to protest his Liberal government’s wind turbine policies.
“It felt good. It was empowering to leave the room,” said Arran-Elderslie Deputy-mayor Mark Davis, whose motion sparked the boycott of McGuinty’s keynote address at the Ontario Good Roads Association/Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto.

Bayshore Broadcasting, Dianne Colgan, February 27, 2012: Over 100 politicians walked out today on Premier Dalton McGuinty at the annual Ontario Good Roads Association and Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference.
Central Huron Councillor Brian Barnim was one of them.
Barnim says ....
It appears that the estimates may have come from the delegates talking to the reporter, not the reporters themselves.  Then came a number of other reports, none of which appeared in the Ontario Wind Resistance website:

The Canadian Press, February 27, 2012: A handful of local politicians walked out on Premier Dalton McGuinty's speech to the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association today to protest his green energy policies.

The Star, Rob Ferguson, February 27, 2012: His [The Premier's] comments came just hours after a handful of delegates to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association convention at the Royal York Hotel walked out on a speech by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty over their wind turbine concerns. ......At the Royal York, McGuinty acknowledged the walkout of about a half-dozen people as he took the podium.
“That is their choice . . . I support clean energy, I support the tens of thousands of jobs that it creates. They chose to leave. I knew this could happen but I came anyways,” the premier said., Chris Fell, February 28, 2012: At the Good Roads/ROMA convention at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto dozens of municipal representatives and local MPPs walked out on Premier McGuinty as he prepared to deliver a speech to the delegates at the convention. The walk out made headlines locally.

So, what's the right number?  Who got it right?  We don't know for sure, but two sources close to this blog independently placed the number at 30 to 40.  That's a big handful but it is, technically, dozens.  So, I guess that Chris Fell wins.