“Dalton McGuinty’s record of billion dollar boondoggles and ideological mismanagement of Ontario’s energy sector makes it clear that this latest sweetheart deal cannot be trusted. Only the Auditor General can provide Ontario families with assurance that the McGuinty-Samsung deal does not violate the public interest,” charges Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak.
Toronto Star Leader Tim likens the deal to eHealth
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s $7 billion “sweetheart deal” with Samsung Group to develop green energy technology in Ontario should be vetted by the provincial auditor general before proceeding, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says.
Hudak warned that the agreement, which McGuinty will unveil Thursday at The Exchange Tower, could end up being “a massive multibillion-dollar giveaway to a foreign-based conglomerate without even the most basic of public reviews.”
“At its core, it is a preferential, sole-sourced deal that is likely in violation of Ontario’s procurement rules,” the Tory leader said Wednesday at Queen’s Park.
“Dalton McGuinty once famously promised the people of Ontario that he would end sole-sourced, secretive and untendered contracts. Yet this sweetheart deal with Samsung is the mother of all untendered contracts.”
Hudak said that’s why Auditor General Jim McCarter, who probed the eHealth Ontario spending scandal last fall, should be called in.
“Ontario’s auditor general has already helped smoke out the billion-dollar McGuinty eHealth boondoggle … only a similar full auditor general review can protect the public interest and make sure the secret Samsung deal represents a fair deal to Ontario ratepayers.”
As first disclosed by the Star, the accord with the South Korean industrial titan to build renewable energy equipment, such as wind turbines, and develop wind and solar farms in Ontario, could create 15,000 jobs in the province.
At issue is the special treatment that McGuinty’s administration is giving Samsung.
Former energy minister George Smitherman, who has since resigned to run for mayor of Toronto, personally negotiated the arrangement and directed the Ontario Power Authority to set aside at least 500 megawatts of scarce transmission capacity for Samsung.
That moved the South Korean company to the front of a long line, ahead of domestic renewable-energy firms. The Liberal government also agreed to pay Samsung more than other firms in the new feed-in-tariff program, which awards a premium to green-power generators.
In exchange, Samsung is pledging to invest between $6 billion and $7 billion in Ontario.
But several of McGuinty’s own ministers vehemently opposed the deal at a rancorous cabinet meeting on Oct. 28 out of fear Ontario electricity ratepayers would end up subsidizing Samsung to the tune of “billions of dollars.”
Sources told the Star that interim energy minister Gerry Phillips and at least two other senior cabinet members tried to scuttle it after Smitherman left provincial politics earlier this winter.
It was only after McGuinty shuffled his cabinet on Monday — replacing Phillips with a more pliant Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid — that the Samsung deal is moving forward.
“Brad is with the program,” a senior Liberal confided.
But Hudak said the cabinet schism should set off alarm bells.
“Something smells about this deal when you hear that it divided cabinet,” he said.
NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns expressed concern about “this backroom deal.”
“Ontarians deserve assurances that their interests are protected and that provisions to create local jobs and source from local suppliers are ironclad,” he told reporters.
But the premier has strongly supported the deal throughout all the political turbulence.
On Nov. 9, McGuinty emphasized that he wants “Ontario to be the place where we are manufacturing those wind turbines,” not just for use here, but for export.
With the Liberals promising to create 50,000 jobs over the next three years through the Green Energy Act, the Samsung deal is crucial to their strategy.