Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says trying to grow the green energy sector is a mistake, based on outdated European policies.
Communities like Sault Ste. Marie that want to build on the green energy sector will find long-term jobs will not be created and, in fact, the economy will be hurt.
“I think that’s a mistake,” Hudak told The Sault Star when asked about the city’s ambition to increase its green energy sector and diversify the economy.
“Reports have shown that for every short-term job you create building a windmill, you lose four jobs in the broader economy.”
But even now, Europeans are getting out of the business because “they have learned they cannot afford it,” he said.
Hudak, whose Progressive Conservatives denounced the Liberal’s Green Energy Plan during the last provincial election and said they would scrap it if elected, argued that Ontario needs to get back to reliable, affordable energy, such as hydro electricity, nuclear power and gas-fired, to give the province an advantage over energy costs and businesses more confidence in working in Ontario.
Hudak is travelling across Ontario to hear business views about what needs to be done to create jobs and help economies.
He was in Sault Ste. Marie Thursday to meet with the Chamber of Commerce.
In an interview with The Sault Star, Hudak said the Tories’ plan to help the economy and create jobs is to rein in spending, balance the province’s books, and pay down the debt.
The plan also involves creating a positive atmosphere for business by lowering taxes and energy costs and investing in skilled labour and education, he said.
Hudak, whose Progressive Conservatives voted against the provincial budget earlier this week, said the budget does not deal with the lack of jobs and economic growth in Ontario.
Hudak said he agrees that Northern Ontario was hit harder during the economic downturn than other parts of the province. Communities have been devastated by mill closures, youth outmigration and people believe they have been left behind by government, he said.
Hudak says than since 2007, energy costs in Ontario have increased above the average with the Green Energy Act.
“We’re paying 10 times the price of power for wind and solar and that hurts the economy, handicapping the resource sector with high energy bills.”
Hudak also wants to see the province focus on modernizing college education and focus on much-needed trades.
He says government needs to change its attitude and get behind job creators and businesses by reducing red tape.
He believes one-third of government regulations need to be eliminated, and that should be tied into MPPs’ pay, making them accountable.
If they meet the goal, they get paid; if not, they don’t.
Hudak said travelling the province to talk to business about jobs and the economy is a chance to stay in tune with what’s going on outside of the legislature.
It also ensures that with a minority government, he’s ready for an election when it happens.
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