Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Vanity Production?

Yesterday morning, I read a piece by Martin Regg Cohn on the impending sale of Ontario's Hydro One. When it is completed, 60% of our publically-owned asset will have been sold off. During a brief walk in the afternoon, I decided to write a letter to my local MPP with a copy to Premier Kathleen Wynne to protest the sale. While it may be of some interest to people residing in Ontario, my letter may be regarded by those residing elsewhere as a vanity production, perhaps, given the ultimate futility of speaking or writing to our representatives in our currently debased democracy.

Whatever its ultimate utility may be, writing this missive has at least been personally cathartic:
I am writing to express my deep disappointment over your government's decision to sell off 60% of Hydro One. It is a profound betrayal of the people of Ontario and a flagrant abuse of democracy that I fear will have far-reaching consequences.

I was one of the many who chose to cast my vote in the last election, not for the NDP but for the Liberals. Their platform seemed sound, and I was repulsed by what I saw as the political opportunism of Andrea Horwath in forcing the election. A leader's integrity is one of my paramount considerations when I vote, and I thought I saw it in Kathleen Wynne.

While I admire that Ms. Wynne has shown strength of conviction in some areas, such as the revamping of the sex-ed curriculum, despite fierce opposition from some quarters, I lament the fact that she does not have the same courage and principles to resist the neoliberal siren call of privatization of public assets. As we well know, the private sector's sole responsibility is to its shareholders and the profits they expect, and we have no reason to believe that its majority ownership of our Hydro assets will change that. The public good will always be, at best, a tangential consideration.

Not once during her bid for re-election did the premier talk about privatizing Hydro One. To say that a general review of all assets was to be undertaken as the cover for this decision is, frankly, dishonest and insulting. Also, the Hydro assets are, as you well know, generating very healthy annual profits. To suggest their sale is needed to fund infrastructure projects is disingenuous, and indicative of a very narrow vision that excludes other possibilities, such as road tolls or an increase in the income tax rate to fund such construction. I will also state the obvious: those assets belong to all Ontarians. They are not your government's to sell.

At a time when cynicism about the electoral process is widespread, and voting numbers continue to decline, the decision to sell such a prized asset can do nothing but promote more of the same. If you are so convinced that this is a good decision, then hold a provincial plebiscite. Only with the approval of the people can you make any claim to be representing them in this matter.

I am one of the electorate with a very long memory. I can assure you my support for your party and government ends the day the sale of Hydro One begins. Next election, my vote will be for the NDP.


  1. You speak for me too. I also voted Liberal in the Provincial election despite my unhappiness with what McGuinty had done (Orange scandal, G8/G20, etc.). Like you, I had felt Wynne was a person of integrity and I was also unhappy with Horwath/NDP for opportunistically triggering the election. Hudak and Cons were out of the question as it must have been for you too.

    BTW, it is for almost the same reason that I hesitate to vote Liberal in my riding even though the Liberal candidate is more likely than the NDP candidate to beat the Harper candidate. Justin Trudeau's blatant denial at the Foreign policy debate that he had ever suggested that he and the Liberals were only supporting Bill C-51 because they were afraid of Harper accusing them of being soft on terrorism further evoked this feeling of mistrust of the Liberals again.

    Trudeau even had the gall to defend the indefensible on supporting C-51 and then had a bigger gall to deny the public reports that he had suggested to U.B.C. students that he would have voted differently on C-51 had it not been an election year. The latter actually made me wonder how much one can trust Trudeau despite his claiming to tell things honestly (for example, in regard to having to run a deficit). If he can apparently lie so blatantly on C-51, what are the chances he is not lying on other important issues, eh?

    Thus, I am thinking a pox on strategic voting. I am thinking that I should vote for the NDP, my preferred choice because of C-51, and a few other issues, and forget about voting for the Liberal just to beat the Cons and then later wondering, as in this case with Wynne, whether it was really worth it.

    1. Your comment, Anon, I think captures quite effectively the conundrum Canadians face as they go to the polls. Time and time again, we have been disappointed by those we elect; their repeated failures to live up to the expectations they raise during their campaigns are stark and depressing.

      Truth seems to be such a fluid and malleable concept for most politicians, and it is hard not to be cynical about democracy these days.