MPP Jim McDonell writes: Last week, Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner reported back to the Legislature on her investigation into the release of information on the power plant cancellations. She was requested by the opposition to look into the situation when the documents ordered released by the Speaker were heavily redacted and clearly incomplete or missing altogether. She commented: “The fact that you’re just wiping it all away indiscriminately is just appalling. Obviously, it reflects a culture of no accountability because you’re retaining nothing.” A Government that would so blatantly ignore its duty to be transparent to its own people as to warrant such stern condemnation from a respected and independent officer of the Legislature is unworthy of our great Province.
The power plant cancellation fiasco is just the latest in this government’s record of waste, spin and deception, designed to keep them in power at any cost and the people of Ontario in the dark. In his 2011 report on the Green Energy Act, the Auditor-General identified billions of dollars wasted on the Liberals’ failed flagship policy without any prior comprehensive evaluation on the impact of the billion dollar commitment on the future electricity prices and the corresponding job losses. He went on to say that the government had a responsibility to let the people of Ontario know just what this policy costs. Electricity rates have almost tripled since the Liberals came to power, now the highest in North America, and are forecast to increase another 45% over the next five years. Our low hydro rates used to be a competitive advantage for our businesses, and now energy costs are chasing them away. We are paying up to $0.80 per kWhr for what the Liberals call Green Energy, that is available on the open market for less than $0.06 and then giving it away to Quebec and southern neighbours for free and in some cases, at a cost. Between 2005 and 2011, the Auditor-General estimated that this surplus power policy has cost taxpayers $1.8 billion. To make matters worse, the 3% power generated by wind and solar, has required that we spill water over our dams to lower our hydro power by the same 3%.
We met the same attitude of concealment and denial in our investigations into the ORNGE scandal, where hundreds of millions of taxpayer’s dollars were used to set up over a dozen private for-profit companies owned by ORNGE’s Board of Directors. The Auditor-General has reported being blocked from getting information during his investigation. This kind of obstruction of independent investigations is just not acceptable in a free and democratic society.
This Liberal Government has run out of excuses and the OPP are knocking at the door of the Premier’s Office. With over 500,000 people looking for work and over 300,000 lost manufacturing jobs lost in this province, it’s time for a change in leadership to a transparent and accountable Government that would put jobs and growth first.