You have to wonder how bad the Ontario Liberal party’s internal polls are to force the government to fold on its signature green energy policies.
Published polls show both Premier Kathleen Wynne and party have found a basement under rock bottom and it’s likely private polls show the same or worse.
The fact wind factories were destroying communities and tearing families apart in rural Ontario meant nothing at Queen’s Park.
Likewise, the Grits ignored endless pleas and protests from municipal leaders and wind opponents. They dismissed as meaningless complaints about wind turbines driving families from their homes.
Even the mounting evidence giant turbines are contaminating nearby wells didn’t move Wynne and company.
Plus, the Liberals were experts at ignoring the media, who repeatedly pointed out green energy problems that were leading Ontario into power poverty, particularly in rural areas.
As the old joke about always being ignored until you pass gas in an elevator goes, it only took one Scarborough byelection loss to change the landscape.
The Grits’ first response was the throne speech fiasco to “reset” the agenda. That brought the eight per cent tax rebate on energy bills, a give that went over like a lead balloon.
Now future renewable energy projects valued at over $3 billion are gone because experts said Ontario has excess power.
It’s too bad bureaucrats couldn’t have figured that out for themselves months ago when they started delivering extra power across neighbours’ borders at huge losses to Ontario.
The big question is, now what? Cancellation of future projects will keep power bills from rising by a measly $2.45 per month in the future. But that does nothing about the current power crisis.
Obviously there’ll be more goodies to come on the power front as the government gets ready to face the people in 2018 but with a provincial debt of $300 billion and counting, how significant can they be?
Besides all the ways in which the people of Ontario have been victimized by green energy initiatives, the biggest crime is the bad rap the experiment has given to renewable energy.
Former premier Dalton McGuinty and his energy minister George Smitherman got in bed with international companies to bring green energy to Ontario at the highest possible cost.
Had these two done their homework and paid even scant attention to the people of the province, they would have found all kinds of ways to introduce renewable energy on a smaller scale with Ontario residents, not offshore companies, reaping most of the benefits.
Instead McGuinty set the stage for all that was to come by prejudging most criticism of green energy projects as nothing but NIMBYism, (Not in My Back Yard).
From that moment of insult to the intelligence of rural Ontario residents, the entire green energy plan became more farce than future.
Wynne, of course, doubled down on all that was wrong with the program and has brought Ontario to the financial disaster in which it finds itself today. The antipathy is massive towards Wynne in rural Ontario because of the energy mess and other fumbled files from health care to the environment to trail development. Her government is unlikely to recover in the boondocks.
The interesting question for 2018 is how many urban folks can be convinced that the Liberals have learned their lesson and suddenly will become good stewards of Ontario’s money and interests.
Even that seems to be an insurmountable hill to climb.
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