By JIM MERRIAM, Barrie Examiner
In the early years of the 20th century we had the Keystone Kops for comic relief. Mack Sennett’s boys stumbled and fumbled their way through a variety of misadventures, in both starring roles and as background goofs to the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle.
Some 60 years later, we had The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, a Mafia comedy. The gang first appeared in a novel by the great Jimmy Breslin before becoming a movie.
Flash forward 40-odd years and as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century we have the Dalton Gang.
You can watch this gang’s antics on everything from dogs to cigarettes if you want to see fumbling and bumbling that ranks right up there with the most famous antics of the past. But if you really want a hoot, watch the energy file.
The downward spiral in energy policy began when George Smitherman held the portfolio. By the time Smitherman started Ontario on the road to what was supposed to be worldwide leadership in green energy policy, his political flower had pretty much wilted. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finished the weeding process when he trounced Smitherman in last October’s municipal elections for king of the Big Smoke. But I digress.
Instead of showing outstanding leadership on energy, Ontario is rapidly becoming the green energy laughingstock of the free world.
Look at some of the nonsense that has gone on. First Ontario started out with a plan to pay a premium for solar-produced energy from property owners in the province.
When that became too popular, hence too expensive, the Dalton Gang changed the rules in midstream, reducing the rate.
A storm of protest followed and so the gang restored the higher price for investors already well into private solar projects.
Now we find out that a number of folks who were bitten by solar bug can produce power that has no place to go. Granted, a number of projects are up and working and producing return for the individuals. But others face problems such as lack of infrastructure to carry their locally produced power to the grid.
Then there’s wind. So far the Gang seems to have been able to ignore the storm of protest from folks about the problems with land-based wind turbines or windmills. But offshore is a different issue.
The gang has put a halt to offshore wind turbine development until the “science” has been improved.
Excuse me, but isn’t the “science” or lack thereof also the problem with turbines on land? Questions vary from potential health risks to efficiency, with no answers coming from Queen’s Park.
Moving away from solar and wind there was the cancellation of a planned gas-fired power plant for the Oakville area. It died because of opposition — apparently folks in that area would rather have rural lives disrupted to quench their thirst for power. Now nobody has a clear idea how much the cancellation of contracts associated with that plant might cost us.
Oh yes, and while all this is going on we are selling our excess power at deep discounts, in other words losses for the taxpayers of the province.
Besides being unable to shoot straight, the Dalton Gang seems unable to shoot smart on a variety of other issues from education to health, from taxation to economic recovery.
All of it would be really funny if it weren’t so pathetically sad.