Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Parochial Post?

While I realize that a post about Ontario politics is likely of little interest to those living elsewhere, I believe what has happened in my province serves as a solid object lesson about the creeping privatization of public assets.

I have written in the past about Premier Kathleen Wynne's betrayal of the province. Upon winning a majority in the last election (after the holder of the balance of power, the NDP's Andrea Horwath, decided to go for the gold and triggered an unnecessary election), Wynne announced the sell-off of 60% of one of the province's crown jewels, Hydro One, despite the fact that it generated just under $1 billion in annual revenue. Her avowed purpose was to "broaden ownership" (how much broader can public ownership be?) and use revenues from the sale to finance transportation and other infrastructure projects.

Now, a report by the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) confirms the folly of that sale:

To sum up, as Rob Ferguson reports,
It would have been $1.8 billion cheaper for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to borrow money for transit and infrastructure projects than sell a 53-per-cent stake in Hydro One.
Even more distressing,
...the provincial treasury will lose $1.1 billion in dividends from Hydro One this year and an average of $264 million annually until the 2024-25 fiscal year.
So one has to ask, why didn't Wynne simply borrow the money for these infrastructure projects? My belief is that, despite some progressive policies, hers is essentially a neoliberal regime, committed to the notion that government should play only a supporting role so that the depredations of the corporate agenda can prevail. That, and, as New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns observed,
“It was all about making the books look good [i.e., a balanced budget] for the election".
What can the rest of Canada learn from this debacle? If nothing else, it teaches all of us to remain vigilant about our public assets, and to keep a steady eye, for example, on the Trudeau government, which is currently studying privatization of our major airports.

In the latter case, my prediction is we will hear nothing more about it until after the next federal election. Should the Liberals secure another majority, be ready for the next round of corporate nest-feathering at the expense of our federal treasures.


  1. Like government administered student leans, Lorne, the banks are laughing all the way to their head offices.

    1. The concept of government actually working for the people is becoming an archaic one, Owen.

  2. Trying to get one's mind around this horrible phenomenon spreading throughout the upper tiers of our governance is dispiriting, Lorne. "Dispiriting" is the word I chose to use in substitution for the word I wanted to use. I'm against capital punishment but there are polar bears starving in the Arctic that could use the meat.

    1. The betrayal is heart-breaking, Mound, and calls for a stiff reckoning.