Government decision already made
Toronto Premier Ernie Eves decision to privatize the provinces electricity grid, known as Hydro One, in the face of public opposition and a damaging court ruling last week shows that he is not prepared to defend the interests of citizens against the interests of banks and private investors, the unions who won the court case say.
The unions the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada – want the government to abandon any plans to sell the provinces electricity system to private investors.
The premier had a choice. He could listen to the residents of Ontario or he could listen to Bay Street. Clearly hes Bay Streets boy, said Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, one of the unions that took the government to court over Hydro One. On the eve of the market opening, Ontarians want the government to back away from this whole mess. Its bad for consumers, its bad for the economy and its bad for the environment.
Under pressure to hold independent public hearings, Mr. Eves instead announced that Energy Minister Chris Stockwell will hold consultations before new legislation is introduced. He made clear that nothing will derail the privatization, and said I believe it is important that Hydro One be privatized.
We need the equivalent of a Walkerton Inquiry into this ill-conceived deal, said Brian Payne, President of the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Scrutiny of any plans to privatize electricity has to be totally independent of the government and must provide financing for intervenors, otherwise we are bound to get a whitewash, he said. Instead we are getting a dog-and-pony show. What an insult to the people.
Last week, in a court action brought by CEP and CUPE, Mr. Justice Gans of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled the Conservative government does not have legal authority to sell Hydro One. Today, Premier Eves said that the government will appeal the courts ruling, in addition to moving quickly on the legislative front to push the privatization through. CUPE and CEP said they are ready to go back to court.
In a letter sent last week, before the court ruling, the CEP and CUPE presidents requested a meeting with the Premier. They have not received a response yet. The unions have plans to continue their public campaign to make sure that hydro stays in public hands in Ontario.
For more information:
Robert Fox, CUPE Communications Director