Politics + the Environment + the Media; the game begins again.
Ontario has a provincial election coming in the fall of 2011. For months the Liberals and the media have been demanding that Tim Hudak, the leader of the Conservative Party in Ontario, articulate his own policies rather than just attacking those of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Well to his credit, Hudak dropped a bombshell last week. Mr. Hudak has continually attacked the “green energy” policies of the McGuinty government. Specifically the sweetheart deals (as he calls them) that have encouraged new alternative energy developments, like wind and solar installations, but have resulted in kilowatt hour costs that are up to 20 times the existing rates.
As controversial is McGuinty’s decision to sole-source a contract with the South Korean, multi-national Samsung to build plants to manufacture wind turbine components in Ontario. The Liberals contend that the deal, valued at $7-billion, will create up to 50,000 “green jobs”. However, there has been no construction on these facilities to date.
Tim Hudak calls these programs and the deals “unsustainable for the taxpayer” adding that if he is elected in 2011, he will abandon and scrap both the Samsung deal, and the wind and solar contracts for alternative energy.
Now, for a politician going into an election… that takes balls!!! I think it was a smart move. He stakes out his ground, he follows up on his opposition to these deals with a concrete policy, and he now makes the Liberals defend themselves. I also like his timing; he took a stand well in advance of the election because the “war” over the policy will be fought out in the press and the public, before the election.
The facts are simple. The environment will not be a major issue in the next election. Jobs, the economy, and the management of each will be the issue. As we just witnessed in the Federal election, hardly a word was said about the environment, even though the oil sands out here in Alberta have been a major international issue for the last 24 months. In the fall it will be the same in Ontario.
Hudak is also right on the sole sourced contract with Samsung. A contract given to one company, without competitive bidding, goes against free enterprise. The wind industry is in the doldrums due to cost and the environmental opposition to siting turbines. McGuinty, as a result of public opposition, has taken the normal political move and changed the rules, putting developments on hold or eliminating them altogether. Remember the Adams Mine Landfill anyone!!!!
Over the past fifteen years I have often watched politicians try to use environmental issues for political gain. Good intentions aside, this is what McGuinty did with his policy on alternative energy. Hudak has demonstrated the courage to call him on it. It will be a fight but, in today’s economic environment, Hudak will win this one.
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