Judge Cavanagh’s decision contains a partial victory, ensuring the Premier and Ministers can’t hide behind legislative privilege, but his overall decision to dismiss the misfeasance suit over the sale of Hydro One is a huge disappointment to the people of Ontario, says Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.
CUPE, along with Fred Hahn, Diane Dowling and John Clark, filed their suit against the Premier and Ministers in December of last year. The misfeasance suit over the sale of shares in Hydro One alleged that the government knew selling Hydro One would hurt the people of Ontario and proceeded anyway, structuring the deal in a way that financially benefited their Bay Street friends and ultimately the Ontario Liberal Party.
“We are pleased, and ultimately relieved, that the judge ruled the Premier and her Ministers cannot hide behind parliamentary privilege. This was the crux of the government’s motion to dismiss, claiming they were not subject to the same law as the rest of us. It is critical to our democracy that the judge dismissed this argument,” said Hahn. “On the other hand, we’re baffled by how he could have reached the conclusion that ‘pleading was unsupported.’”
“We know the government’s decision was not in the best interest of the people of Ontario, we know they structured the deal in a way that benefitted bankers and consultants operating as middle men on the deal, and we know those same bankers and Bay street insiders were invited to Liberal party fundraisers to explicitly celebrate the sale of Hydro One shares, where they made huge donations to the Liberal party. This is all a matter of public record,” he said. “We believe these facts should amply support the case to move forward at this stage and be heard by a judge in a full public hearing in court.”
Prior to the sale of Hydro One shares, experts, including the government’s own Financial Accountability Officer, told the government that selling Hydro One would hurt the province financially in the long-run. Following the completion of the sale of the first set of shares, all the bankers that made tens of millions of dollars from the sale were invited to a fundraiser for the Liberal Party that was billed as a celebration of the deal.
“No elected member of government can use their power to knowingly make a decision that will hurt the people of Ontario and benefit themselves. This is precisely the type of improper conduct by government officials that the law of misfeasance in public office is supposed to prevent, and we believe it’s illegal,” said Hahn. “We are looking into appealing this decision. The people of our province deserve to know what actually happened and who really benefited from the sale of Hydro One, because they certainly know they didn’t.”