Power politics still problem in Ontario

Greg Van Moorsel, Chatham Daily News
Symbolic reminders of the bad old days of political meddling in Ontario’s electricity system still survive at Queen’s Park.

The legislature building overshadows the modern headquarters of the former Ontario Hydro, once one of the world’s largest utilities despite the province’s modest population.

Nearby, like something a Soviet committee would have put up, is a statue of Adam Beck, the autocratic London politician and father of Ontario Hydro. He straddles a stylized hydro-electric dam, a bronze monument to the iron grip that politicians held on power.

Almost a century later, we know what all that meddling cost. Freezing power rates to buy votes; running monstrous cost overruns to indulge a nuclear binge; letting the red ink flow like water over Niagara Falls — it killed the golden goose of public power ownership. It also left a bloated monopoly, dazzled by visions of grandeur but blind to the bottom line.

All that was supposed to be a thing of the past under Dalton McGuinty’s watch. If there was any doubt, his rookie Liberal government was told otherwise in 2004 from a panel it asked to tell it how to fix the old Hydro’s power-­generating arm. Read article

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