For the second time in less than a week, Ontario’s energy minister angrily left the room when opponents of privatization challenged the sale of Hydro One.
Following a presentation by CUPE National President Judy Darcy and Ontario Division President Sid Ryan, Energy Minister Chris Stockwell refused to respond to questions, declaring “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,” says 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.”
“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,” says Ryan.
CUPE challenged the Minister to produce evidence to justify privatizing Hydro arguing the transmission grid is a profitable public enterprise that can generate funds to pay down the debt and support other public programs.
The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, with which CUPE had launched the legal challenge that stalled Hydro One privatization, asked the Minister for documentation on the impact of foreign ownership under NAFTA. They also presented a letter 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.
CUPE and CEP have described the public consultations as bogus, calling on the Ontario government to completely abandon plans to privatize the electricity transmission grid.