Mid-August is bringing the political doldrums to the provincial campaign. On one hand, we see Mark MacDonald caught between defending the Liberal record and trying to carve out a brave new path. It’s a little like trying to straddle two horses mid-stream, with comically predictable and chilly results. The use of social media is the only novel part of that campaign’s message. But what else can one do when people want change and you’re campaigning for the status quo?
Even more worthy of comment is the PC strategy of dressing up social calls by visiting MPPs as campaign announcements. Sometimes it’s Lisa Macleod and sometimes it’s Steve Clarke but the scenario never varies: the local candidate stand solemnly beside the visiting spokesperson who reiterates the message that the premier is a tax man and green energy is bad for you. What neither the visiting MPP or the local hopeful shares is that change in the direction they are leading would result in a leaner, meaner Ontario in a costly nuclear future.
The NDP takes the long view on power and energy and offers real change. Yes, we offer relief in the short term, with immediate relief in hydro and home heating, and yes, we support green energy, but our commitment goes is deeper and farther. Our commitment to green energy isn’t a temporary stopgap measure before a renewal of nuclear development, as it is in the Liberal plan, nor is it the expensive and wasteful cancellation of the Samsung deal and an immediate ramping up of nuclear development. Our commitment is to conservation coupled with green energy development as the new source of energy is for the immediate future and the longterm too. Ontario governments since the 60’s – all of them, Conservative, Liberal and NDP have urged the populace to conserve and but none has made available the financial resources to do so. Andrea Horwath has pledged that an NDP government will. We will institute a rebate program that will make up to $5,000.00 available and allow families to cut $700.00 from heating bills.
More importantly in the long term and on the larger scale, we will open up green energy development to Ontario’s own public generating utility, Ontario Power Generation. Currently, all green energy contracts are awarded to private sector developers. We believe that energy, which is absolutely essential to our economic security and prosperity is best owned and managed by the people of the province. It takes a lot of moxie and a short memory to pretend that the wildly escalating cost of energy is the result of the Samsung deal, the Feed-In-Tariff program or green energy. One irrefutable factor was the fragmentation of the former Ontario Hydro into five separate entities, as a prelude to privatization and de-regulation of the whole system in the late 1990s by the Conservatives. Hard on the heels of the Enron fiasco, that initiative showed definitively that in a competitive generation market, the cards are stacked against any movement to efficiency and conservation. After all, who wants to sell less product?
The other steady inexorable driver of escalating cost in electricity in Ontario has been our enthusiastic embrace of nuclear power. Simply put, we can’t afford it now and we never could in the past, as our debt retirement charges continue to remind us. We can’t afford the construction and we can’t even envision a viable system for disposal or storage of the waste. If you’re still paying the bill long after you’ve parked the car, you know you should never have driven it off the lot. Presently, 50% of our power comes from nuclear. We’ll maintain that current balance but as the plants obsolesce, we’ll maintain and augment supply as necessary through an aggressive program of conservation and renewable energy.
Elaine MacDonald – Cornwall Ontario
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