Minister stomps out of Hydro One ‘Ontario Electricity Restructuring Forum’
Toronto – For the second time in less than week, Minister of Energy Chris Stockwell angrily left the room when opponents of Hydro privatization challenged rationale and preparation for the sale of Hydro One.
Following a presentation by CUPE National President Judy Darcy and Ontario President Sid Ryan, Energy Minister Chris Stockwell refused to respond to any of the questions raised. Instead to the surprise of the audience he declared, “your questions will be answered in the legislature, with legislation,” before packing up his papers and leaving the room.
“The people of Ontario have tough questions about privatization – questions the government refuses to answer,” said Ms Darcy. “Chris Stockwell can keep running but he can’t hide from the truth. There is no evidence whatsoever that privatization of Hydro is better or cheaper.”
“Another Chris Stockwell temper tantrum,” said Sid Ryan. “We finally have an opportunity to have a discussion about why the government insists on proceeding with the sell-off of the electricity system and instead of answering our questions, they flee the room.”
The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Communication Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the unions that went to court to halt the privatization of Hydro One, challenged the government to produce past reports which had discussed privatizing Hydro, or provided any justification for doing so. They argued that privatization will not accelerate the retirement of the former Ontario Hydro debt, since the government has made no guarantees that the proceeds of any sale will be used to pay down the debt. They stressed that the electricity transmission grid is a profitable public enterprise that can pay down the debt and generate funds to support other public programs.
The unions challenged the government to provide documentation showing they considered the consequences of foreign ownership under the rules of NAFTA, or the risk that privatization would mean an expansion of dirty coal-fired power plants in order to boost electricity exports. CEP Ontario Region Vice-President Cecil Makowski read a prepared statement from TEMBEC Corporation President Frank Dottori predicting sharp rises in electricity rates which would threaten the competitiveness of Ontario businesses and risk the loss of thousands of jobs.
“Whether its price increases, foreign ownership or the environment, the government simply has not considered the implications of privatizing Hydro One,” said Makowski.
CEP and CUPE have described the public consultations as bogus, calling on the Ontario government to completely abandon plans to privatize the electricity transmission grid.
For more information:
Diane Chester (416) 537- 6100 ext. 69