If I comment on issues regarding Politics, the Media and the Environment, this one is easy – Pure Politics!!!
The background. Two weeks before the last Provincial election in Ontario, the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty cancelled the construction of a gas fired power plant that was under construction in Mississauga, Ontario. This week Mr. McGuinty is quoted as saying; “we listened to Ontarians who made a very compelling case”.
Wrong Dalton. Your election team listed to the political polls. The polls said that every one of the liberal candidates from the four ridings surrounding the proposed power plant were in serious trouble on their re-election. Tell the truth, Dalton … winning came first – the people came second. It’s Politics, and survival trumps all other issues.
Well, the Liberals did save those four seats and now Chris Bentley, the Minister of Energy, has announced the cost and that number is $180 million dollars!!! That means those four Liberal seats cost the taxpayers of Ontario $45 million per Liberal member. Now, that is a real ‘campaign contribution’ if I ever saw one.
And there is still one more shoe to drop. The Liberals also cancelled a planned $1.2 billion dollar plant in Oakville and this settlement negotiation continues with TransCanada so stay tuned.
What’s the message here? The reality is that politics is all about power and staying in power. All of the political parties are the same. Although the Conservatives and NDP are outraged, they would have done exactly the same thing. The concern is the apathy we share as taxpayers because we let this happen on a continuing basis. The plant opposition in Mississauga won that war. The opposition in Oakville won their war. Nobody is asking those residents to pay for the settlement costs; we will all pay that bill. Whether the plants were actually needed and what the costs would be to cancel them had no bearing on McGuinty’s decision, it was only survival that counted.
As you may be aware I had a similar experience with the Adams Mine Landfill. The circumstances may have been different but, again, politics was the motivation. Notwithstanding the fact that, for over twelve years, we had the support of a vast majority of the residents and councils of Kirkland Lake, Englehart and Larder Lake (the communities surrounding our site) Dalton McGuinty killed the only newly approved landfill that Ontario had seen in ten years.
David Ramsay, who at that time was the member for Temiskaming, had been named Minister of Natural Resources in the new McGuinty government. Ramsay had threatened to resign if the Adams Mine project was not stopped. Dalton rolled over at the threat and passed legislation to put us out of business. My book, TRASHED, gives the behind the scenes details.
Yes, we got a miniscule settlement, but not much, only enough to pay the bills we incurred. But the message on the Adams Mine is not what it cost the Liberals to settle, but what it has cost the Province and the local communities, as a result of that short-sighted political decision.
I did a brief calculation to show the economic benefits that the Adams Mine would have created if it had been allowed to open. At this point in time the local communities would have received in excess of $50 million in royalties, job creation and other benefits. That does not include the huge environmental benefit the system would have delivered to Ontario by moving waste by rail, not truck, and getting thousands of trucks each year off highway 401. (Interestingly, the Liberals are now closing one of the railways that was part of that partnership). Where has that money gone – to Michigan!!
So my message here is two-fold. Political survival can cost the taxpayers many millions of dollars in out of pocket settlements, but it can also cost millions in benefits for safe projects that would have been environmentally sustainable and progressive had they not been killed to satisfy political agendas.
Some may say it is “the Power of the People”. I say, without any hesitation, it is the need for “Political Survival”. The unfortunate part is we just pay the bill and the political system carries on until the next bad decision. If you ask me, it is more than a little scary for all of us.
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump