Toronto Sun – Ontario’s two opposition parties, operating in a minority Legislature, are failing Ontarians with their weak, predictable reaction to the Auditor General’s scathing report on the McGuinty government’s green energy policies. The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats, if they can put their differences aside in the interest of Ontarians, have the tools necessary to compel an arrogant premier and his secret circle of advisers to answer questions raised by the auditor.
They can use their combined majority in the Legislature to refer this to a standing or select committee, frame the terms of reference, and insist the committee has the independent counsel and subpoena power it needs to answer questions such as:
Why were the Ontario Energy Board and the Ontario Power Authority not consulted during negotiations leading to the $7-billion sweetheart deal with Samsung, and why was cabinet approval not sought prior to the announcement?
Why are there no cost-benefit-analyses of that deal, and the hundreds of other contracts under the Feed-in Tariff program — contracts that make little or no economic sense? Indeed, who was consulted when exorbitant rates — rates that will beggar consumers and force companies to cut or close Ontario operations — were established under the FIT program? And who benefited from those decisions?
Why were guidelines ignored and regulations violated in the rush to approve these projects?
Who was involved in the development of the Green Energy Act, which removes arm’s-length, regulation and oversight in favour of concentrating decision-making in the offices of the premier and the minister of energy?
The main challenge will undoubtedly be getting the NDP to the table. Their performance in the Legislature following release of the auditor’s report was a case of missing in action.
While the PC’s did focus their questions on the bombshell green energy elements of the report, the NDP seemed content to ignore the whole matter, apparently for fear of being labelled anti-green. A shameful and disturbing abdication of responsibility and a failure to recognize that this isn’t about the merits of green energy.
It’s about the conduct of the premier and a senior cabinet minister. It’s about who designs policy and who profits from it, and whether there’s any link between the two.
McGuinty and his crew must be delighted. The premier, who didn’t even have the basic respect for the Legislature or for the auditor general to show up to answer questions the next day, has contemptuously dismissed the findings.
Recent Liberal musings about holding off on planned corporate tax cuts — an NDP proposal — in the wake of the NDP’s silence on the revelations from the auditor, should raise eyebrows about a possible tit-for-tat relationship that effectively closes the door on Ontarians seeking answers to what is potentially one of the biggest scandals in Ontario’s history.
Tim Hudak’s PC’s have to make every effort to work with the NDP to use the power voters gave them on Oct. 6 to get to the bottom of this mess. And the NDP’s Andrea Horwath has to stare down the radical elements in her party and not allow this scandal to disappear into the ether.
To do otherwise makes her and her party complicit in McGuinty’s abuse of power.