By Matt Gurney, National Post
It’s a green job bonanza! Premier Dalton McGuinty has had his political soldiers working overtime this week, zipping around Southern Ontario, spreading good cheer and green energy jobs wherever they go. Tillonsburg? BAM! Three hundred jobs! Windsor? PRESTO! Another 600 jobs. Essex County? ZAP! Step right on up and help yourself to 126 jobs. And remember who you have to thank for this bounty of economic recovery — The Ontario Liberal Party and their Green Energy Act. Thank God for that Green Energy Act, that’s done so much to create over a thousand jobs (some will be full-time positions, other, temporary construction jobs, but hey, every job created in Ontario is directly thanks to Dalton McGuinty, right?)
And it’s like totally a bargain, too. All these jobs cost was a projected 46% hike in hydro rates, an extra billion dollars in debt and God only knows what else, since none of the numbers add up. Hmm. Not so good after all. But still, congratulations, Tillonsburg. Don’t spend all 300 jobs at once.
You can’t blame the government for desperately trying to make lemonade out of the bumper crop of citrus that the Green Energy Act has provided them. Basically every part of the government’s energy plan has been a total disaster so far, so they’re obviously going to take what good news they can get. But it’s going to take a lot more than a few hundred jobs here or there to turn this around, especially when every single Ontarian — including the ones benefiting from these new jobs — are going to spend the rest of their lives paying for it through increased hydro rates and the taxes necessary to pay off the deficit the province is accumulating.
Let’s look at the numbers. The average hydro bill in Ontario is about $1,500 a year. Ontario has promised to discount that by 10%, so make it $1,350 per annum. And they’re warning it will run up by 46%, so that takes us to $1,971 — almost 500 bucks more per year than Ontarians were paying before. Is it all because of McGuinty or the Green Energy Act? Of course not, there’s any number of factors that influence the cost of power. But McGuinty will get the blame for both overselling the benefits of his hydro reforms (it’ll save you money! … not) and for how badly it’s underperformed (we still burn coal and desperately need more nuclear plants just to keep the lights on). Ontarians aren’t going to fork more cash just because the transmission grid is obsolete. They’re going to wonder why they bothered getting the smart meter and the high-efficiency furnace and the eco-friendly dishwasher when their bill ended up climbing anyway, and then they’re going to flip on the TV and see the Premier gushing about all the jobs his hydro plan has created.
What do you think will resonate more, a fleeting news story about a new wind turbine factory or the $500 a year you no longer have in your wallet? It’s not a hard question to answer, and explains why the McGuinty Liberals are looking so nervous these days.