Politics and its Discontents: Pillaging The Public Purse: On Hydro One’s Privatization

I have written in the past on my strong opposition to Kathleen Wynne’s selloff of 60% of Hydro One. She has no mandate for this pillaging of the public purse, and no good reason for it except her politically and ideologically-driven obsession with balancing the budget before Ontario’s next provincial election. She will not be getting my vote.

Recently, Linda McQuaig wrote a column that came out strongly against this sale, offering an historical perspective showing the public good that accrues from public ownership of such a utility.

In today’s Star, readers offer their own insights on this issue, one that is likely a big contributing factor in the Liberals’ current poor showing in the polls:

Re: The case against privatizing Hydro One, Opinion Aug. 4

What’s most disturbing about reading Linda McQuaig’s strong case against privatizing Hydro One is that it reveals clearly that Premier Wynne seems to be selling it for no worthwhile reason.

When 73 per cent of Ontarians disagree with the sale and she insists on it, then she is not serving the public will. Further, to trade off the long-term benefits of Hydro One for a short-lived infusion of cash for infrastructure is economically incomprehensible.

With this kind of foolish, arbitrary decision, which is symptomatic of the disconnect between the public will and its leadership, Wynne will certainly join the infamous ranks of other failed premiers of Ontario, such as Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty, who also carried out their personal agenda while forsaking the common good of the electorate.

Pity the serious voters.

Tony D’Andrea, Toronto

Timing is everything. Currently, along with a several other Ontarians, I am particularly interested in the timing of the Ontario Liberals’ Climate Change Action Plan.

Last Nov. 15, the Ontario Liberals privatized Hydro One when they sold off 15 per cent of the former Crown Corporation. Sad but true.

In April, they sold off another 15 per cent. The following month, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change let the world know that Ontario is moving away from natural-gas home heating. Some back-peddling followed. Shortly after that, the Liberals released their official Climate Change Action Plan.

It indicated their intention to move to a more electricity-based society. Once complete, Ontario is to have far more electric vehicles, electric charging hubs, electric home initiatives, etc.

In summary, the Liberals are moving Ontario to a more electricity-based society after privatizing our province’s transmission grid and largest local distribution company! That means Hydro One will now go on to make record profits and a huge amount of potential income is being stripped away from Ontarians.

But why? To balance the current Liberal budget and dangle some shiny gifts ahead of the 2018 election. All this at the expense of Ontarians.

The whole thing reeks of corruption. Just waiting for the smoking gun to be revealed. Timing is everything.

Joel Usher, Newcastle

Thanks to Linda McQuaig for detailing the long history of support in Ontario for a public monopoly on electricity — right up to today. The public instinct is right: it is best to keep this rare and valuable asset so that profits go back to our treasury, and to avoid the risk of the monopoly control falling into the hands of those who would maximize their returns at the expense of consumers and the environment.

Ms. McQuaig could have added that selling off Hydro One is a bad deal, as concluded by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer. After all, investors are not stupid.

They will not pay full price for the value of the future Hydro One profits they would get as minority shareholders, due to the risk, because key decisions affecting profits are taken by government. The monopoly is worth more to the government as the decision-maker.

If you must sell an asset, this is a particularly bad one to sell.

Kim Jarvi, Toronto

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