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A speech given by CUPE Local 1 (Toronto Hydro) President Bruno Silano to the convention of the UGT, one of France’s trade union centrals. Brother Silano gives a good synapsis of the history of electrical utilities in Ontario, the political context in which the efforts to sell off Hydro One took place, what was at stake for the public, and how people fought back.

Ontario’s tradition of publicly owned electricity systems started in 1906. But in the mid 1990s the province got caught up in the fad of electricity deregulation. Private companies seeking to get in on the action argued that competition would reduce rates, improve consumer choice and bring in extra money needed to maintain and upgrade the power transmission and generation infrastructure.

None of these things turned out to be true, Silano argues. Instead, we’ve seen massive rate hikes, increasing reliance on high-pollution energy sources, and an electrical grid that’s produced North America’s largest ever blackout.

The Ontario Electricity Coalition, in which CUPE and CUPE Local One have played a large role, has been instrumental in fighting the sell-off of Hydro One. And while the battle is far from over, Silano argues electricity deregulation can be defeated.

Download the entire speech below: