Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pay More, Get Less with Promise Breaker McGuinty

Today saw another item added to the 50-plus list of broken McGuinty government promises, with their announcement that, starting May 1st – just in time for the summer heat – most Ontario homeowners will pay up to 15 per cent more for their electricity. From the Toronto Sun website:

Currently, Ontario homeowners are charged five cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity they consume each month, and 5.8 cents above that amount. But that rate will increase to 5.8 cents at the low end and 6.7 cents at the highest after May 1. The lower amount will be paid for consumers who use less than 600 kilowatt-hours during the summer season, from May to October. The threshold increases to 1,000 kilowatt-hours for the winter season of November to April.

Incredibly, this is the second time in less than three years that the McGuinty branch of the Fiberal tree has broken a promise to control electricity rates. Yes, the Fiberals have become so adept at promise breaking, they are now figuring out ways to break previously-broken promises all over again.

This was their electricity pricing promise in the 2003 election: “4.3 cents is the price that we are going to keep on our bills”(McGuinty, scrum, November 18, 2002); and “the price freeze stays until 2006” (McGuinty, Focus Ontario, Global TV, September 20, 2003).

A month after taking office, the Liberals announced the 4.3-cent cap would be removed in April, 2004. They tried to tie the broken promise to Ontario’s finances, but Ontario Hydro’s books and debt have been separate from government finances for two decades.

(Say, did you know it was yours truly who first slapped the moniker “Promise Breakers” on the McGuinty Liberals in the aftermath of the 2003 election? Now you do. (I was working for the PC caucus at the time. Come to think of it, I still am. I mean, I am again.) What’s the point of having a blog if one cannot be immodest once in a while? But then I guess having a blog is kind of being immodest a lot of the time.

No doubt Premier Pinocchio is hoping that raising electricity rates will help him keep demand down and the lights and A/C on until after the October 2007 election, while his energy minister Donna Cansfield scrambles to bring new energy supply on line.

Though it is fair to lay some of the blame for Ontario’s straitened energy supplies at the feet of the Eves government, which in November of 2003 backed off the scheduled electricity market opening, it was McGuinty who promised to shut down all of Ontario’s coal-fired power plants – approximately one-quarter of Ontario’s supply – by 2007. They have already broken this promise; now they say the last coal plant will not close until 2009. (The Eves government’s schedule for shutting down coal power was a more realistic 2015.)

Regardless, when people’s air conditioners sputter to a stop in July, they won’t be blaming Ernie Eves; they’ll be blaming a Liberal government that’s been in power (no pun intended) for almost three years.

The stated motivation for the coal promise is air quality. Yet at the times that Ontario does not have sufficient supply, it will be importing higher-priced power from U.S. coal plants, whose emissions don’t require a passport to cross lakes Ontario and Erie. This was all foreseeable to anyone capable of dressing himself.

So there you have it: three broken promises, higher prices, and more smog. Another bang-up job by erstwhile strip-mall lawyer McGuinty. No wonder his brother isn’t running for federal leader, while his former education minister Gerard Kennedy left skid marks on the cabinet room floor.

As I have said elsewhere, although many aspects of the Common Sense Revolution have survived the change in government, the next big test will be the election in October 2007. Does “doing what you said you would do” still count? Or does “the cupboard was bare” story still fly? Only time will tell.

If you missed the lowlights of the Fiberals’ March 23rd Budget – the one that was going to win McGuinty as many as two of the three by-elections scheduled for March 30th (they won zero) – check out the Ontario PCs’ Pay More Get Less website.

11 comments:

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I'm glad someone else posted on this as well today. I am hopping mad! I cannot wait until the next provincial election. I will be campaigning against McGuinty with every bit of energy I can muster!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

*LOL* That was an unintentional pun. There may not be much energy. ;)

x2para said...

Will the air conditioners be off at Queen's Park and all government offices? We'll see.

Mark Francis said...

Neither the PCs nor the Liberals have adequate anwers or positions on this file. The NDP remain fixated on price as being the issue, which is also incorrect.

It was a mistake for them to raise the lower bracket price.

It is quite possible to close down the coal plants on time without importing more power, but no one in the legislature has the appropriate vision.

Hangin to the left said...

There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with making people pay fair market value for a product that they wastefully consume.

Why should we collectively pay for those who use too much? Make it so that those who use alot will see a reflection of that in their electricity bill.

Maybe this will encourage:
1) conservation
2) energy efficient appliances
3) more energy efficient homes

Robert McClelland said...

Everyone still remembers that it was Mike Harris who did this to us.

MadMacs of Bytown said...

To the lefty contributors-

Yes, conservation is indeed a large part of the solution, but, with the vast increase in housing and commercial ventures such as big-box stores, indeed an increase of supply is required. Nuke the subject with appropriate controls.

Yes, successive governments are at fault. However, it is currently in Dalton's court. He can't leave us in the cold for the sake of coal.

James said...

You should see what the Ontario Tenants Rights site has to say about this.

In particular look at their Ontario Hydro and Ontario electricity news pages.

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Dalton McGuinty said...

You only have to look at this article to see why you can't believe any election promises from the Ontario Liberal Party.

Anonymous said...

DRIVER EDUCATION IN ONTARIO HAS GOT TO CHANGE

It seems that our premier, Dalton McGuinty, has broken yet another promise. In 2008, he promised to improve road safety in Ontario with changes to the standards for Beginner Driver Education (BDE) courses to increase instruction time from 35 hours to 40 hours.

However, this has not happened. Now the standard is 20 hours in class (a decrease in instruction time), 10 hours in car and 10 hours as homework for the student. How can decreasing direct instruction and increasing homework make a better driver? Homework is written exercises that the student hands in to be placed on file. It’s simply a reduction of class time, so the schools can charge less and get the drivers on the road faster. How does this make our roads safer?

This week, I experienced firsthand the type of driver that is coming out of the driving schools now. I was behind a driver education vehicle that was being driven by someone who was undoubtedly a beginner. The car completely paralyzed traffic on the small street we were on, as the driver drove from side to side at about 20 km/h, making rapid movements to correct the vehicle’s position. There was no way to anticipate what was going to happen. The instructor should have had the student practice in a parking lot away from traffic, while getting used to the feel of the vehicle on the road. Or better still, make the use of driving simulators a mandatory part of the BDE curriculum, so novice drivers can get the feel of the vehicle without endangering themselves and others. Simulators are already being used in some Ontario driving schools; they’ve come down substantially in price, from $100,000 to less than $1,000; and there is a company in Ottawa that manufactures them.

Teaching drivers how to share the road properly is a huge part of any driver education course. Do we really want to reduce the teaching hours for new drivers? Let’s remind Mr McGuinty of his promise – let’s remind him of what we need to make our roads safer.