A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted May 16th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
I woke up this Monday, May 16th to a top-of-the-front-page story in The Globe and Mail that was worse than any nightmares I could have had while I was asleep.
And at least you can wake up from a nightmare but this story, reporting that Ontario Premier Kathleen is about to have her trained Liberal seals rubberstamp a “climate plan” that will cost those of us who live in this province and can’t afford a Bay Street lawyer to help us avoid paying taxes $7 billion over four years.
Furthermore, Wynne claims she’ll pay for this plan by deploying a “cap-and-trade” regime (rather than a more simply and straightforward carbon tax) she intends to use her majority to ram down our throats within days – a regime, by the way that has already proven, in other regions of the world, to be bureaucratically bulky and hard to understand for reasons that may very well have to do with disguising evidence that it is more of a money grab than it is an effective environmental protection tool.
Then comes the line in The Globe story that should trouble us the most given the record revealed by provincial auditors and others of how many billions of dollars Wynne and her predecessor in the premier’s office, Dalton McGuinty, have already flushed down the toilet over almost anything to do with Ontario’s energy sector. Wynne’s “sweeping climate change plan,” says the story, “will affect every aspect of life – from what people drive to how they heat their homes and businesses.”
Before I go on, I want to stress that anyone familiar with my work as a journalist, going back more than three and a half decades to my earliest years as an environment reporter for a daily newspaper in Niagara, knows that I have been a long-time champion for curbing the pollution and other human activities that contribute to destructive climate changes.
We need to get governments on side in taking effective action to combat what many experts around the world rightfully identify as the environmental crisis of this century. But given the record of the Wynne/McGuinty Liberals to date, I would rather have them do nothing than mess things up even further.
This is a government that has already done more than any other body in Ontario, including lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry, to turn countless people against renewable energy by pushing industrial wind turbines and solar panel instillations on communities without giving them any opportunity to review or challenge these operations, including any impact they may have on neighbouring residents, at environmental assessment hearings.
This is also a government that has been shown through audits and leaked documents to have both overspent and miss-spent billions of public dollars on energy-related infrastructure, including shutting down the construction of gas-fired energy generating plants opposed by residents in two hotly contested ridings in a provincial election.
Given its record of mismanaging money, it is probably not unreasonable to multiply the $7 billion Wynne claims her government’s climate plan will cost at least two or three times.
And given the rising pile of stories The Globe, Toronto Star and CBC has produced this spring on Wynne’s no longer “secret” practice of providing access to her and her key ministers to those that make generous donations to her Liberal Party’s campaign war-chest – including a recent CBC report about the Wynne government giving more than $160 million in grants to Greenfield Specialty Alcohols Inc., a bio energy firm and one of her party’s largest corporate donors – how much of the billions of dollars spent on this climate plan is going to be corrupted by that nefarious business?
According to The Globe report, there is an emphasis in the plan on moving to electric cars. Hmm. Can’t help but wonder what in the way of donations Wynne’s party has received from corporations that make electric cars.
Finally, this is a government that has stood by and done nothing while a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority that is a body created by provincial legislation has fired good staff, laced the top administrative and board positions with people who would destroy provincially significant wetlands (by way of some crackpot scheme called biodiversity) to make way for ever more sprawling development.
Maybe we’ll need all those electric cars to drive out to all the new low-density houses and strip malls where wetlands, woods and crop lands used to be.
I would trust this climate plan just about as much as I would trust Wynne and company to make sure Conservation Authorities across the province stay true to a conservation mandate.
Given the record, there is every reason to believe this plan is going to be a costly disaster that does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario one percentage point.
To read The Globe and Mail’s May 16th, 2016 story on the Ontario Wynne government’s climate plan click on – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-to-spend-7-billion-in-sweeping-climate-change-plan/article30029081/ .
Click on a related story at – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/greenfield-ethanol-kathleen-wynne-ontario-liberal-donations-1.3558156 .
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