McGuinty Finally Keeps A Promise ... But The Wrong One
by Guest Columnist Rob Granatstein
After two terms of breaking promise after promise, is killing a power plant really the pledge Dalton McGuinty is going to keep?
Well, a pox on all three parties for letting this happen.
Premier McGuinty, well known for promise-breaking hits like no new taxes (it’s a health-care premium) and closing all the coal-fired power plants (he’s getting to it, seven years late), is apparently going to stick by his plan to tear down the gas-fired generator his government approved in Mississauga, no matter what the cost. The plant, already well under construction, received its stop-work order this week.
Depending on whom you believe, this promise could cost Ontarians hundreds of millions of dollars, or more.
The plant’s death came as a result of an election campaign vow by McGuinty, a bid to save the Mississauga South seat of Liberal MPP Charles Sousa, and insulate Liberal MPPs like Etobicoke Centre’s Donna Cansfield. As a political move, this vote buy turned out to be a hit. Polls showed Sousa in a dead heat with the Conservative candidate during the campaign, so the eventual Liberal win turned out to be crucial for McGuinty, who needs every single seat in this minority government.
Just as galling, though, is the stance of the opposition parties, who do have the majority of the seats. The Conservatives and the NDP continue to insist they will stand up for taxpayers, for the little guy and try to get this province back on its feet.
For the Tories, that means fiscal responsibility. For the NDP, that means treating families right. Both parties have said they will propose pulling the HST off home heating bills, while the NDP also wants it revoked from electricity bills in an attempt to make life more affordable for families. These promises will also cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Yet, in the next breath, these parties are going to let the premier play games, and nail the province with a penalty of hundreds of millions of dollars, at the very least, it appears, to stop the Sherway power plant?
So why are they not stepping forward, using their majority of seats, and stopping McGuinty before he costs us more money?
The province is still negotiating the details over pulling the plug on the $1.2-billion Oakville power plant in 2010, and that’s going to cost a pretty penny, too. The result will be Ontarians paying more than a billion dollars for absolutely nothing. Not a single megawatt of power.
It hearkens back to the days of Mike Harris filling in the subway tunnel on Eglinton Ave. W., at a cost of almost $100 million, yet we’re about to go back into the ground on Eglinton now with a new underground LRT.
So why won’t the Conservatives and NDP hold McGuinty to the gas-powered fire on this deal?
Well, the NDP’s stance is this is unneeded power and the province would be better served by conservation.
Tim Hudak is just as appalling. The Conservative leader campaigned on wanting to move the power plant — but how is that fiscally responsible?
Sure, the Sherway neighbours won’t like it, but Toronto’s west end needs power, and continuing to kill plants already underway at a massive cost does nothing to help.
Dalton McGuinty is already buying the entire province off with our own money with the 10% clean energy benefit that will cost taxpayers $1 billion a year. Now we’re going to stack on the costs of killing two power plants and remove the HST on heating and hydro?
What this shows is putting politicians in charge of planning Ontario’s electricity is a fiscal disaster.
Pull the plug on these promises or Ontario’s energy costs are going to cripple our future.
Rob Granatstein is the former editorial page editor of the Toronto Sun. He can be found on Twitter @robedits