McGuinty’s view of overburdened Ontario doesn’t travel well

By Craig McInnes, Vancouver Sun

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s re-election campaign took a brief swing through Vancouver this week under the cover of a premiers’ meeting.

It started with a stroll through Stanley Park with David Suzuki, who warmly endorsed his government’s green plan, a renewable energy scheme his main opposition has promised to scrap.

McGuinty claims that green plan has vaulted Ontario past British Columbia to the forefront of action against climate change, an argument that he then turned, in the time-honoured Canadian tradition, into a complaint about the way his province is being shortchanged by Ottawa.

No doubt some of this will play well back in Ontario where McGuinty, who left the conference two days early on Thursday, faces an election this fall. But here, it was all a bit hard to swallow.

In case you missed it, despite having the second-highest average wages in Canada, Ontario is now officially a have-not province. This year – its third on the dole – it will get $2.2 billion, more than any other province except Quebec, which pockets more than half of the $14.7 billion handed out in the program designed to allow each province to offer roughly the same services, regardless of relative wealth.

Three years ago, before Ontario moved into the receiving end of equalization, McGuinty argued that the program should be scrapped.

“To speak of ‘have’ and ‘havenot’ provinces in 2008 makes no sense. We’re a nation of haves these days,” he said that May.

He still doesn’t like the term, but he has come to like the way equalization works, threatening to “flex our elbows and assert ourselves” if anyone tries to mess with Ontario’s entitlement.

Going into the first ministers’ meeting this week, McGuinty took the same blinkered, parochial view to energy policy, arguing that Ontario taxpayers have been subsidizing the oil industry for years so it’s only fair that the rest of Canada, through the taxes we send to Ottawa, should now be subsidizing the green energy business in Ontario.

That claim is so astounding it deserves to be taken down in steps, lest the weight of absurdity fall on some uninvolved bystander and cause grievous bodily harm.

First, it’s true that the oil and gas industry is subsidized through various tax and royalty incentives. McGuinty’s complaint is based on the notion that if the petroleum industry paid higher taxes, Ontario residents could pay less. The point of the subsidies, however, is to encourage investments that wouldn’t otherwise be made. In spite of the subsidies, the oil and gas business generates billions of dollars in revenues that reduce the amount of taxes that all Canadians, including those who live in Ontario, have to pay.

McGuinty should be familiar with that principle, since his province has paid billions in subsidies to the auto industry over the past few decades to maintain that business with the jobs and the tax revenue it generates for Queen’s Park.

Ontario’s green plan is set up on the same principle. The government is offering lavish subsidies in the form of a premium price for the electricity they generate from renewable sources to companies that are willing to invest in the province.

The Liberals say the strategy is working, creating thousands of jobs and allowing Ontario to move toward shutting down the coal plants that still produce a significant portion of electricity consumed in the province. The opposition says it’s an expensive failure that is burdening consumers now without ensuring sufficient generating capacity for the future.

The largest source of electricity is still nuclear energy, an industry that a study done nine years ago estimated had already been given the equivalent of $17 billion in subsidies from the federal government.

So is this a province that British Columbians, Albertans and other Canadian taxpayers should be subsidizing more than we are already?

On a per-capita basis, Ontario is already getting more in total transfers from Ottawa than the provinces with an oil and gas industry, 12 per cent more than British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and 45 per cent more than Alberta.

17 thoughts on “McGuinty’s view of overburdened Ontario doesn’t travel well

  1. “It started with a stroll through Stanley Park with David Suzuki, who warmly endorsed his government’s green plan”

    What McGuinty doesn’r realize is that Suzuki lives in BC, and will not be able to vote for him this fall. He should be walking with people from Ontario instead, they will be the ones voting and they will be the ones to kick him out this October.

    I can’t wait, this vote will be like revenge and will be served cold.


    • Right. Like taking a walk with those affected by Industrial Wind Turbines. Stroll through parts Ontario already destroyed. Get off your My Little Pony Dalton and walk with the people.

      • Why in the world would McGuinty – Premiere of Ontario
        want to talk to Suzuki about?
        Give me a break?
        One ‘loon’ to another.

        Now – people around the world can all have –
        a good laugh!

        Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! – I’m rolling on the floor – Ha! Ha! Ha!

  2. I am appalled at David Suzuki supporting Dalton’s Green Energy Act.
    In Ontario, hundreds of people have been driven from their homes by low frequency sound pollution from 49 story tall industrial wind turbines, located within a few hundred meters of their homes. Dalton’s dictatorial industrialization of the rural countryside is putting millions of tonnes of concrete and cement into prime farmland, taking up the equivalent of over 80 full size farms so far. His plans are to build over 10,000 turbines, each over 49 stories tall, in a country with less than 200 skyscrapers that tall. And none of the 30,000 turbine blades, each the length of 5 school buses are recyclable, as they are carbon fiber. So our landfills will over flow will the garbage caused by the Green Energy Act. The only green in the GEA is the colour of money.
    Dalton’s buddy Mike Crawley got a $475 million dollar guaranteed contract from his friend Dalton.
    Stop the insanity!
    Does David not read about the hundreds of birds and thousands of bats that have already been killed by these industrial power plants?
    Shame on you David.
    Your life’s work and your reputation is in the garbage now in Ontario.
    Do some homework and start supporting the environment again, stop the industrial wind turbines!

    And please, to the author, do not let Dalton get away with claiming wind will shut down coal plants. This is physically impossible. Coal provides base power load, reliable and cheap. Wind is unpredictable and cannot ever replace coal. What is really happening is that Dalton is building new Gas powered, carbon polluting, power plants in Ontario to replace coal. The media and the public and especially David Suzuki, need to stop letting Dalton get away with his blatant lies about the Green Energy Act.

    To those in Ontario – Join us October 8th to kick out Dalton and his insane GEA scam!
    Celebrate October 8, 2011 – Freedom from Industrial Wind Turbine day.

    What we need is a sustainable green energy program, not the GEA, and not Dalton and his Cronies like David Suzuki.

    Spread the word. The truth is out there. Just google it.

    • You should check out Suzuki’s role in the passage of Ontario’s Green Energy Act. Plenty of information about this has already been posted here. Check the archives.

  3. Shame on your comment on the Vancouver site..let him know how you feel

  4. Dr. Suzuki cannot be reached by the main David Suzuki Foundation phone number. All requests should be made c/o Executive Assistant Elois Yaxley by fax at 604-730-9672 or by mail to the Foundation head office address.
    Vancouver (Head Office)

    219 – 2211 West 4th Avenue
    Vancouver, BC V6K 4S2

  5. David Suzuki should build IWTs on his island or in the water to provide the island and surrounding islands with the power he thinks can be produced. No need for set backs has he believes all is good. Walk the walk David or shut up.

  6. McGuinty and Suzuki strolling thru Stanley Park, now
    thats a beautiful thing.
    But for his most blind and devout followers, Suzuki’s
    recent eco-political-philosophical rants range from
    laughable to pathetic. He should have been put out to
    pasture a couple of decades ago.

    • The sad part is that I used to believe whatever Suzuki said, I though his would always be a well researched and balanced approach. I have since awoken.

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