TORONTO Two unions that had been booked and then bumped by the Minister of Energy have denounced the consultation process on the perils of privatizing Hydro One as a sham. The government has already said it wants to meet with groups to discuss how, not whether, to privatize the provinces electricity grid. Now it appears the on-again, off-again consultation is to be held out of the public eye.
Stockwells roadshow has run into a brick wall, says Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Clearly the government is trying to duck media scrutiny, canceling presentations they had called in haste because the Premier doesnt want media coverage of what we have to say before Thursdays by-elections.
The government is stumbling from one crisis to the next, says Cecil Makowski, Ontario Vice-President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union. They called us on a Friday night to make a presentation on a Monday. Then when they realized they didnt want the public to hear what we had to say, they called us Sunday to put us off.
CEP and CUPE are the unions that threw a spanner in the governments plan to privatize Ontarios electricity transmission grid by launching a successful court action. Mr. Justice Gans of the Ontario Superior Court ruled the government did not have the authority to sell Hydro One. Environment and Energy Minister Chris Stockwell is conducting a behind-closed-doors tour of the province before introducing legislation to force the sale.
Rather than hiding from this issue and the electorate, the government should be holding a genuine inquiry into the dismantling of Ontario Hydro, says Darcy. Privatization is bad for consumers, the economy and the environment and before they take one more step forward, we deserve real answers to hard questions.
A Ministry statement says the Toronto meetings were postponed in order to allow presenters more time to prepare their submissions but the unions, along with the Ontario Electricity Coalition, the Clean Air Association and several expert witnesses had been confirmed and were prepared to make their presentations.
Its evident the Premiers office is trying to stage manage the consultation and doing a poor job of it, says Makowski. Were ready to address the substance of the issue while the government is still focused on damage control. Its important for the government to realize that the people of Ontario dont want to privatize Hydro One any way, anyhow.
For more information, contact:
Diane Chester (416) 537-6100 ext. 69