What is the Scandal, Really?
At the provincial level of government in Ontario, the Progressive Conservative Party is attempting to stick the new leader of the current Liberal minority government, Kathleen Wynne, with responsibility for the fiscal penalty Ontario incurred when the previous government cancelled approved Gas Plants in an attempt to ensure re-election.
While government fiscal irregularity is nothing to be sneezed at, we should note that Mr. Hudak’s outrage is never directed at his own party’s past malfeasance. Take, for example, the sale of the 407, an Ontario Toll Highway back when the Progressive Conservatives last held power in Ontario.
The construction of the 407 was taxpayer funded for years, bankrolled largely by funds collected through inflated license renewal fee for local drivers (charged far more than other Ontario drivers). But as the highway neared completion, instead of adding the new 407 to the province’s existing system of free highways paid for by taxpayers, the PC Government of the day sold it out from under taxpayers.
Without any consulation at all.
It was a very good deal for an unaccountable private company, but a rather bad one for the Ontario taxpayers who funded it without any benefit. Unless, of course, you were a taxpayer who could afford to pay to drive on the private highway created largely at public expense.
The important part of the gas plant story isn’t that it was cancelled due to political expediency, but rather that it was approved at all.
The cancellations clearly illustrate that the McGuinty Liberal Government understood very well that the majority of local residents were opposed to the gas plants. The fact is, Liberal government policy gave unfair advantage to commercial interests ignoring the public good.
One would assume that the point of embracing green energy would be in support of environmental improvement. Yet plunking gas plants down in a heavily populated area doesn’t improve the environment for the local citizens. Siting undesirable industries in close proximity to residential areas loses sight of the public good.
No legislation should allow developers carte blanche. There must be a balance between citizen needs, corporate interests and government policy, absent from the Green Energy Act. The disturbing part is that Mr. Hudak doesn’t question the undemocratic imposition of a provincial policy that strips away citizen rights. If he held majority power, would he govern any differently?
Ontario’s Green Energy Act is an example of law made without proper scrutiny or balance, only possible because we are saddled with an inequitable unaccountable First Past The Post electoral system that gives 100% of the power to a few. Proportional Representation is necessary at all levels of government if we are to have real democracy. No government should be able to ignore the needs of citizens with impunity.
The real question should be:
“Why were the gas plants approved in the first place?”
Now is the time that Kathleen Wynne’s government should be working to effect meaningful electoral change. Ontario desperately needs an electoral system that will provide Ontario with Proportional Representation.
We will never have accountable government until all our votes count.