Ask any provincial politician and he’ll tell you one of the biggest complaints he gets is the increasingly unaffordable cost of electricity in Ontario.
It’s killing the province’s economy and will only get worse.
Factoring in the 3.4% hike imposed Nov. 1, the cost of on-peak electricity has skyrocketed 77% since smart meters were imposed in 2010. So don’t be surprised if those Christmas light displays are a little less bright this year.
Another 10% increase kicks in Jan. 1, with massive increases to follow for the foreseeable future.
It’s been clear for some time – the past two provincial auditors have confirmed it – that government policy is responsible, with much of the blame going to the disastrous Green Energy Act.
Yet the madness initiated under Dalton McGuinty is being continued under Kathleen Wynne. If anything, she’s doubling down, continuing to award new long-term contracts at outrageous prices to produce power that we don’t need. And it will only get worse when her cap-and-trade scheme finally takes shape.
Losers under this green energy folly are easy to identify – businesses large and small, seniors on fixed incomes, low-income Ontarians and on and on. There is no shortage of losers.
So what about winners? Are there any? Kathleen Wynne will argue she’s picking our pockets to save the planet. Her usual holier-than-thou retort. What Wynne will avoid mentioning, at all costs, is a group of very big green-energy winners – well-connected Liberals who’ve gotten rich in the process.
Mike Crawley, former president of the Liberal Party of Canada and senior adviser to former provincial Liberal leader Lyn McLeod, managed to secure nearly half a billion dollars in long-term electricity contracts for wind-power generation as president and CEO of AIM PowerGen Corp.
It’s also public knowledge that other well-connected Liberals, including one former MP, have profited mightily after securing green energy contracts.
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is seeking damages of not less than $775 million for what he alleges is Ontario’s breach of obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Pickens accuses the Liberals of changing rules “in a discriminatory manner” and relying on “capricious and irrelevant political considerations in the awarding of contracts.” To be fair, his allegations have not been proven in court.
It could be there is nothing untoward in any of this, but the old bromide – where there’s smoke, there’s fire – should apply here. Ontario’s had public inquiries called in the past on far less compelling evidence and Opposition Leader Patrick Brown should, at an early date, commit his party to calling an inquiry if they form government in 2018.
And the PCs shouldn’t stop there. Over the next few years, they should invest research dollars to gather evidence. At least once a month during question period, they should call for a public inquiry. And they should consider devoting at least one opposition day per year to addressing the need for an inquiry.
When it comes to the Green Energy Act, there is compelling public interest in finding out what lies behind the creation, implementation and promotion of a policy that has benefited so few but hurt so many. A public inquiry is the only way to get the answers Ontarians deserve.
— Runciman is a senator from Ontario and former long-time MPP
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