From the annals of the pratfall-plagued Seaway Valley Farmers Energy Co-Operative ethanol project comes this latest dilly: One of its most vocal supporters, who at this crucial time should be screaming its praises from the Cornwall rooftops, has been silenced.
Why? Because he owns 25 shares in the co-operative.
The supporter in question is Cornwall Mayor Phil Poirier who, back in 1995 when he was a city businessman, did his civic duty by purchasing the shares from key project instigator Bud Atkins who was selling them door-to-door.
Phil did the right thing. He wanted to back what at the time was a wild dream, one - as the intervening decade has born out - would be a challenge to guide to reality.
Phil wasnít in politics at the time. A few years earlier, heíd gone his first round as Cornwall mayor during a period when thousands of jobs were lost as traditional waterfront factory employers crashed one after the other.
A $50 million ethanol plant in the cityís east end sounded like a damn fine idea at the time. It still does. Only a few air quality permits now separate Seaway Valley from its ultimate goal.
We havenít checked but we suspect that a lot of active politicans in Eastern Ontario, anxious like Phil for all the right reasons to see the plant come to fruition, own some of the 162,000 shares in Seaway Valley.
Buying them was politically correct. It wasnít some get-rich-quick scheme they stood to benefit from because of their elected positions. It was a show of support for a worthy community venture.
When Cornwall Councillor Chris Savard got wind of Philís shares, he blew the whistle and the mayor declared conflict of interest. His legal advice is to refrain from promoting or discussing the plant at a time when it needs to be heavily promoted by all those with sway. Phil has been muzzled when his lobbying abilities are most needed.
And Savard isnít letting it lie there. Heís seeking legal advice as to what other avenues to pursue against the mayorís alleged breach.
Come on! Letís drop the piddly political technicalities and get on with the serious technicalities of finally, finally getting the ethanol plant in place!