The elections are looming again! The provincial elections following suit on the heels of the revolutionary federal election that reshaped Canada’s political landscape are coming in October. To most of us that may seem like an event that is too far away to care about.
But we live in a democracy and in democracies sometimes the other guy wins. On that note, the parties have begun their political manoeuvring again. But has any politician or party made any statements about something we all care about –the environment?
Well the Progressive Conservatives (PC) have taken an onus in belittling the environmental issue and announced that they would abolish the ‘’odious’’ $ 7 billion deal with South Korean industrial titan, Samsung Group. Tim Hudak, the PC leader, has also issued a statement where he said he would throw out the generous, long-term contracts for wind, solar & other renewable Green Energy Act projects if he comes to power in Ontario.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act is one of those rare government policies that promise to institute a paradigm shift in how we do things and produce benefits that go well beyond a four-year election term. Now if it’s implemented well it will cement the fact that more of our energy needs will be met from renewable sources and ensure that Ontario will create more jobs in the potentially vibrant solar panel and wind turbine manufacturing industry.
But if Mr. Hudak has his way, he’ll scrap it all before it has a chance to actually work. Ontarians definitely should be wary of a political leader so willing to kill a deal without knowing the consequences to taxpayers and indifferent about the titanic costs of creating business uncertainty at a time when this province is trying to get more investment inside.
Tearing up a 20-year deal worth $7 billion of private sector investment, 16,000 jobs and 2,500 megawatts of green power is horrendous politics and narrow-minded economic policy. So, too, is getting rid of the preferential rates paid to jumpstart other solar and wind energy projects, which is also something that the PCs under Mr. Hudak are willing to do.
To be sure, the Liberals’ green energy plan has had its share of problems and there are causes for concern. But this was always intended to be a long-term plan to shift energy priorities over a decade or more. But like any problem we tackle, scrapping it shouldn’t be the first option; at least try to mend it before you decide to throw it away.
As a matter of pure politics, it’s understandable why Mr. Hudak has taken this line. Claiming that a deal with a foreign company that we have few details about, is “odious” and a “ripoff” that will foist higher bills on ratepayers is easy to do and it’s definitely easier than offering real alternatives to the Liberal energy plan.
Mr. Hudak’s rhetoric about giving “families the break they need” will no doubt sound pretty good to many Ontarians feeling the pinch on hydro rates. But today’s rates have little to do with the green energy investments that have been made so far, including the Samsung deal. Getting rid of them would not magically drop rates.
Mr. Hudak has become very good at criticizing the Liberals and vowing to undo whatever they’ve done. So far that means his energy plan amounts to political rhetoric that basically becomes negative media blitzes.
Ontario needs a clean, reliable energy system. If the Conservatives have a real alternative to the Liberal plan, it’s time they offered it up.