Kathleen Wynne Plays Politics as Toronto Suffers From Worst Ice Storm of Century – Over 300,000 Without Hydro #icestorm2013

sook bike

(photo courtesy of Sook Yin Lee Facebook)

CFN –  With over 250,000 Torontonians still without power in what’s been the biggest storm of the Century in Ontario, and conditions not seen since the huge Ice Storm of 1998 is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne playing party politics?

With some of the highest Hydro rates on the planet the bigger question is how the Province could be so beaten by the storm?  Surely there was plenty of time for preparations and staff being put on alert?  Word is that some residents of Toronto will not be seeing their power back before Christmas (Wednesday)

With word that power may not be on for those in Toronto for as long as 72 hours people are scratching their heads wondering how this could happen to this degree?

So why does it seem that the Premier of Ontario is refusing to work with the largest city in her province’s Mayor?   LINK   Communities across Ontario are struggling with the aftermath of the storm, but Toronto has been hit the hardest.

In a statement released late Sunday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne reported reaching out to mayors of affected cities across the province, from Kitchener to Kingston, Ont., where residents were photographed skating down residential streets. But the premier did not report speaking with Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto — one of the hardest hit areas where felled trees and ice had stymied much of the city’s transit system and caused mass blackouts that were expected to last as long as 72 hours.

Check out her body language and referring to the Deputy Mayor of Toronto by his last name.   LINK

Some Tweets:


Here in the Cornwall Ontario region Cogeco Cable Phone service was down; but the severity of the storm was nowhere as bad as it was further to the West.   Quebec in fact saw only about 20% of amount of homes without Hydro than Ontario; partly due to lessons learned in the 1998 Ice Storm.   Cornwall receives its power from Quebec which could be why the lights stayed on during the storm?

How did you fare during this storm and are you coping without power if you’re one of those still in the dark?  You can post your comments below and please check on any neighbors that might be at risk.




  1. The schadenfreude is delicious. The only way Kathleen Wynne knows to deal with an emergency is to stick her finger in a dike.

  2. always prepared, candles,flashlights, lotsa batteries, extra blankets, propane to cook and heat water, and a solar powered substation with battery backup and power inverters. bring it on

  3. Author

    John I haven’t started my car since Thursday. I did all of what I needed to do by then and just hunkered down. Today is the dig out day 🙂 420, politics aside that has to be about the most clever comment for all of 2013! Well played sir!

  4. I’m curious how you can lay blame for the weather at Ms. Wynnes feet or Hydro One/OPG. Did they call in some dancers who brought on the storm? Did they conspire with Mother Nature to get the freezing rain to fall exclusively in Toronto to screw Rob Ford? And if hydro One/OPG brought in all kinds of staff “in case” the power went out, folks would be crying even louder than last week when the auditors report came out. “Surely there was plenty of time for preparations and staff being put on alert? ” To what end? What would they have done in preparation?

  5. Wynne probably thought it best to discuss the situation with an adult, so she bypassed Ford and spoke with the deputy mayor. Pretty simple, really.

  6. Kathleen Wynn cannot be blamed for the weather, but neither can she take any credit for leadership. She is taking cheap political shots instead of bringing us together during a crisis. She should be ashamed of herself. At least most Torontonians have put aside their differences and are reaching out to help their neighbors. As usual, the citizens are setting the example, instead of the politicians.

  7. Thanks Admin. I’ll be here all week.

  8. Sorry, But if 1998 didn’t teach anyone anything then what can you do !!

    We had no power for weeks, but always had hot meals clean water and heat in our house. Hydro is a vulnerable item when it comes to the weather I don’t think anyone from any agency said this storm was a joke, they knew where it was going to hit and how hard. People were told to prepare and obviously some did not ! We were ready here… Furnace was set to be wired to a generator upstairs and hot water tank were all prewired to run during an outage.

    If you can not prepare to live during a power outage what will you do when the lights go out for good, Either from a natural disaster or rising costs?

  9. @ Rob. Being prepared with generators, wood stoves etc is pretty easy for people living in their own houses.
    Not so much for people living in apartments or condos.

  10. Admin said, “With some of the highest Hydro rates on the planet the bigger question is how the Province could be so beaten by the storm? Surely there was plenty of time for preparations and staff being put on alert? Word is that some residents of Toronto will not be seeing their power back before Christmas (Wednesday)”

    I have read more misinformed opinions about the power system in Ontario but yours, Jamie rates up there in the top ten. It always amazes me how little people know about the power system they like to state their opinions over but as a Newspaper “reporter” one would think you would take a little more time and effort to report fact and stay away from the Conservative taking points and political bashing of opportunity.

    There is so much wrong with above article I can’t address it all…..but let me start here;
    First and for most, Hydro One is not Toronto Hydro, which is owned and operated by the GTA. So if some of the “residence of the City of Toronto” are out of power till Christmas they need to take that up with their City council, not the Province or its utility Hydro One.

    Really Jamie, are you suggesting that Hydro One did not prepare for this storm??? I know for a fact (a friend is a lines Manager for an area office) that on call personal lists were padded with volunteers to be called out if the storm is as bad as forecast. Bucket Trucks, line cable, triplex, fuel, Snow removal equipment, cranes and other supplies all checked and prepared to be ready to go ahead of time. You are suggesting the possibility that Hydro One ignored weather forecasts (which it does not) and did not prepare for this storm is a slight to the many dedicated professionals whose very job it is to prepare and restore the power system after storms and power blackouts.
    Even hinting at lack of prep in your veiled manner is an insult to the very people that are out is this storm risking their lives to cut back dangerous fallen trees and restore power. Or the men and women in the control room co-ordinating restoration efforts……these people too will be missing their Christmas.

    So when the good people of this province are sitting in the dark this Christmas with their families, remember that dedicated people (the very people that seem to take the brunt of public discord) are out working in a dangerous storm, spending their Christmas away from their families to restore power to you and yours.

    Jamie you have been disingenuous in your opinion and ignorant in your understanding of the dedicated workers of the Ontario power system.

  11. Author

    Bob I think you’re partisanship might be showing. Hydro One after the 98 storm made a major push to clear foilage from near hydro lines. For some reason the same cannot clearly be made for Toronto. The biggest damage caused to infrastructure in these storms are tress and branches falling on power lines.

  12. I appreciate Bob’s argument. However I disagree that Admin has disregard for the linesmen. This is where the linesman earn their pay, however inflated for the degree of skill required for a maintanence job. It is manual labour at $125,000 a year man. Most professionals don’t make more than that after 7 years of study and apprenticeship. If I had to do it all over again I would have gone from high-school to hydro and got cold a few days a decade. #$%%9tyuuy7

  13. It is obvious Admin that I have an understanding of how the power system works and am familiar with the politics behind it….I don’t think that makes me anymore “partisan” than your misinformed critique.

    Trees are trimmed back from power lines not cut down, are you now suggesting the best course of action would be to cut down all trees that could possibly impact power lines during a storm that occurs once every 15-20 years?
    Holy crap can you imagine if Hydro One or any Municipal Power company made a policy of cutting down trees that could impact lines during ice storms………..in the beaches area (upper class neighborhood) of Toronto there would be no trees left as most of these are mature, very large and most all can reach the miles of above ground power lines and equipment that crisscross this neighborhood.
    If fact most trees in any town, city or municipality would have to be cut down………is that what you suggest, the slaughter all these trees for a storm that comes once every 15 years?
    What if the next storm is worse? Should we spent 5 trillion dollars and bury our entire infrastructure in the ground because that would be the only way to protect the grid from an ice storm.
    Your memory grows short Jamie, although I will concede that trees are a hazard to lower voltage equipment and the cause of most damage in Toronto, the ice storm that hit this area in ’98 was not just trees and branches but the weight of the freezing rain accumulating on 230 KV and 500 KV towers and lines that brought these behemoths down and these are the very lines that delivery bulk power to different parts of the Province. It takes only a couple of hours to replace a pole once the linesman arrives but it takes days of planning to replace these massive structures………Hydro One’s push to trim back trees was mostly political in nature…..and having these trees trimmed back would have down nothing to change the outcome of the ’98 storm.

    Curious though why you are blaming Wynn for your perceived inadequacy’s of The Toronto Power authority……..she has nothing to do with them????
    As I said if the good people of Toronto have a beef they should look no further than their own city council.
    One thing further you are mistaken in your shout out to Hydro Quebec giving them a “down low slide High five” for keeping the lights burning in Cornwall and only having 20% of outages than in Ontario.
    The reason is not “partly due to lessons learned in ‘98” as you suggest but the simple fact that Quebec was not hit with anywhere near the same storm intensity as southern Ontario….we had no/very little freezing rain but ice pellets which do not collect on power equipment.
    Lastly your claim that the lights stayed on in Cornwall (due to the all prepared Hydro Quebec), why just this morning I heard a report on 101.9 that there were in fact customers in Cornwall that went without electricity until repairs could be made.

  14. I sure had a good laugh at what 420 said. How very true indeed. Both the McFiberals are as useless as can be for anything. I remember the ice storm back in 98 and we had our house and no electricity. We survived using our wood stove which was in the basement and we threw potatoes on the fire to survive. My husband and I were just talking a while ago with our daughter saying that people should always be prepared and yes in places like apartments and condos we people are stuck when the power goes off especially in places with elevators and garage doors as well but we can pull our garage door open manually when we have to. There are elderly and sick and disabled people here in our building and other buildings and they need to be looked in on. I would never vote Liberal ever since they literally bankrupted Ontario. Winnie can live behind her high walled mansion and so can Ford with all their wealth but the little people are suffering. I would never buy a house unless I was equipped with a generator and of course another wood stove which saved our lives. The horrible weather isn’t finished yet so we don’t know what is expected our way.

  15. I think 420 deserves a lunch for both offense and defense. Bravo 420!!

  16. Did you know that when that horrible ice storm hit it was the first time that we all sat down together as a family and talked for a change instead of being on something electronic or going our separate ways. It reminded me of the days when I was a child and beyond and mom and dad always had a wood stove in the house and we heated with that method before we got an oil furnace in the house. I remember when we had some ice storms in the past and we lived with the old coal oil lamp on the kitchen table and we would bring in a few of our neighbors who were elderly to get warm. My parents never trusted anything in life and always said to be prepared that you never know if an ice storm comes along or anything else and how right they were. Mc Winnie will not be cold at all and will have power – those crooks in government never have a hard time in life. We the little people pay the price. Pay the price you want to believe it and we remember when the power went out and we paid the full electrical bill even though we had no power – thieves the whole bunch of them and I swear to God as my witness that I will never vote again and two more in my household says the same. I wonder how Mel Lastman is doing (the former colorful mayor of Toronto) if he contacted the army yet to dig him out and that was funny of him. What a character.

  17. @ 420. Most professional degrees entail four years of university and no apprenticeship.
    The “linesmen” as you call them, have have at least two years of post secondary education, and lots of training after that. Working around high voltage power lines at night and bad weather is not my idea of a good time.

  18. Author

    Yes Furtz; blessed be all of our emergency service people. Compared to most politicians and bureaucrats they deserve every penny they get.

  19. @420,
    I never wanted enter to debate about compensation but since you mentioned it (wrongly I add) I have to comment and try to clear up your misconception.

    A Powerline Maintainer for Hydro One is not just a “manual labourer” as you belittle in your comments. No more than a pipe fitter paid 90K a year in private industry is just a maintenance guy.
    But let’s just stick to your compensation concern.

    A Powerline Maintainer in 2012 made $38.75/hr which does not equate to 125,000 a year as you suggest but is $77,500. I will concede that there were Linesmen that made the Sunshine list (>100,000). But 125,000 represents over 600 hundred hours of overtime.

    That is 600 hours of slugging it out in the worst of weather, not to mention the inherent dangers of working with high voltages, dangers I think we can all agree are significant compared to a janitor mopping a floor. They are out in the middle of the night away from their families and nice warm beds to make sure you get your lights back on promptly and most times this is in addition to working all day.

    But hey obviously this won’t convince you that they are not over paid so let us compare their wages with other power entities.

    Enersource Powerline Technician – 38.95/hr
    Powerstream Linesperson – 38.31/hr
    Horizon Powerline Maintainer – 37.88/hr

    So we can see in the report below Hydro One is neither the highest paid not the lowest but somewhere in the middle.

    This is the link to the report I got the numbers from

  20. @Furtz
    You are wrong. Apprentice or high school grad most of them. Your description of professional must be in an alternate universe. A commerce grad is not a professional.

    I accept.

  21. There is a huge difference between an electrical engineer and an electrician and it is thanks to the electricians out there who put their lives on the line to put back the power lines. Engineering is a complete different ball game. The two do not always meet. A lot of times the electrician knows more than the engineer since they are working at it all the time whereas the engineer’s specialty is mostly in the design.

  22. @ 420. I am a retired electrical engineer. I know what is required to become a “professional”.
    You are blowing smoke big-time on this.
    @ Jules. You nailed it. Electricians often have way more practical knowledge than engineers do.

  23. Do you have an Iron Ring Furtz? You know, P. Eng.

  24. @Dear Bob
    I went to high-school with a knucklehead who knew somebody his dad worked for and he is a reactor operator. You are a bunch of Homer Simpsons. Do you think a house painter on a ladder is worth $100 K plus plush overtime. Knowing red, white, and black is a kindergarten feat. Gloves and clothes make the job a bit easier.

  25. @ 420. I do, but it’s been tucked away in my sock drawer for a few years now.

  26. There is a world of difference between an electrician and a power lineman. Power linemen work the storms outside, not the electricians. Comparisons can not be made. Lets just say, “been there, done both”, know what it’s like at night in the cold and ice.

  27. @ 420. You should stick to being funny. You’re pretty good at it. Spouting BS for the sake of spouting BS isn’t so funny. It’s just stupid. Know any knock-knock jokes?

  28. @420
    So you went to school with a “knuckle head” that knew a guy who knew a guy who had a Dad that was a Nuclear Operator, so you did not know this man personally but somehow you can come to the conclusion that “you are all a bunch of Homer Simpsons”……I by the way am not a Nuclear Operator.
    Well Mr 420 you have shown us by your last post that you base your opinions on, well nothing, you present no facts but only offer insult and envy for someone that has achieved some financial success.
    I am perplexed as to why you have moved your position of cynical envy away from the linesmen you claim make 125K/yr to a Painter??? This seems just to be spewed pettifog to mask your escape from having to admit you may not know what you are talking about.
    I know a professional painter that works for himself and make over 100 K a year…..but what has that got to do with linesmen or Nuclear Operators???
    If you are suggesting that there is a position at a nuclear plant for a painter that makes 100K I call BS and again strongly suggest you know nothing of what you are talking about!

  29. @Bob
    Is confused.

  30. Some house painters do make big money especially when they have a company name and employ people. Painting is not an easy job either especially when you have to climb. We painted our house in the past when we had one and it was a mighty hard job. Electricians and linesmen have a very hard job and at times like these when the power is out and the weather is horrific there are not enough thank yous to go around to these people who risk their lives doing that kind of work. Working around electricity is mighty dangerous and with very wet weather it can be deadly. Here in Ottawa the city has been taking away tall trees on their part of the front lots of people and grinding them up and removing the stumps as well and planting smaller trees in their place. Trees are wonderful but when they interfere with electric wires then they become a hazard.

  31. So Jamie did you make some calls yesterday? Did you find out why Hydro One did not remove foliage from the trees in Toronto? Did you find out if in fact Hydro One was the correct target for your scorn, or should it have been Toronto Hydro as BobG suggests? Did you call any hydro reps to enquire as to what they did to prepare for the storm and what was involved in getting the lights back on? Will you be updating this story with corrections or new information?

  32. Author

    Bella, Bella, Bella….Merry Christmas darling.

  33. In my day those who worked as electricians (not the university kind) but as ordinary electricians – they required five years of apprenticeship with a qualified electrician. Today so much has changed especially with technology changing all the time and those going into that trade along with other trades have to go to college and then work as an apprentice with a qualified electrician, plumber, etc. in order to learn the trade. So much has changed over the years. Trees sure do interfere with hydro wires and here in Ottawa the city has been cutting down the big trees in front of people’s home and putting them through the shredder including the stumps. The city has been planting smaller trees and once those grow then those too would be shredded as time goes on. Sometimes the power goes down in the US which affects us or vice versa. Europe is being hammered with winter storms as well.

  34. @admin
    Your comment above to Bella-B could not be more condescending. Her inquiry into whether you, a self proclaimed reporter, actually followed up and did your due diligence to get to the truth and present the facts and to “correct” when you print mistaken information, as you did in your piece above was valid no matter what day of the year she asked. You don’t even know for certain that she is Christian and celebrates Christmas.

    I too am curious, since your very headline screams a Wynn bashing of convenience. Your article blames not only the 250,000 customers in Toronto sitting in the dark til Christmas (Toronto Power jurisdiction) were Wynn’s fault but the very Storm itself.

    You reported this from an unfair, non-researched, biased stance reflective more of the likes of Ezra Levant than someone that presents themselves as “reporter” that is fair and lacking in prejudice.

    Not only that, you belittle and insult one of the few regular readers that contribute on an intelligent level and adds to discussions.

    If what you are trying to achieve among posters is the level of ignorance that can be seen at the FreeHolder, you are well on the way.

  35. Author

    Merry Christmas to you too Bob! Your taunts and barbs are received; but I’m not playing partisan politics. As per our Mission Statement you get to take your shot which is more than can be said for most other media. Hope you get that, and appreciate it even if a story’s slant isn’t to your liking.

  36. @admin,
    First you are mistaken if you think I give two craps on whether you allow me to express my opinion in these comments sections as I don’t. Ban me don’t print my comment I really don’t care one way or another it is your paper to do with what you please.

    Secondly you are not the only publication that has comments sections….most are un-moderated and unedited. Your implication, that you and only you hold the keys to freedom of speech, places you firmly on the high horse of condescension, again.

    Lastly you seem to miss the point; I don’t care if you bash Wynn and the libs, as they have taken the mess that Harris left splitting up Ont Hydro and opening the market and made it worse. They do have to answer for their energy policy and it will probably be in the next election.

    My issue was in the fairness of which you did it by using opinion not routed in fact,
    i.e. you blamed Hydro One and Wynn and their lack of preparation and lessons not learned from the ice storm in 98, for Toronto customers being out of power until Christmas when the Toronto Power authority has sole jurisdiction.

    I am okay with any slant to any story, as long as it is factual and the biased opinion in question isn’t supported by ersatz facts.

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