Hydro up for grabs at our expense

Letter to the editor of Peterborough This Week (Mar. 19, 2016) – Provincially, the sale of Hydro One and locally the sale of Peterborough’s public utility PDI are hot topics of late.  PDI’s report of only six months ago was all rainbows and roses and yet at the recent town hall meeting earlier this month, the sky is apparently about to fall and dire consequences will occur if PDI isn’t sold immediately!

While a huge majority of Peterborough residents don’t buy that nonsense and are quite pleased with their rates and service, our political leaders seem to be on the bandwagon ready to cash in.  Apparently they have forgotten whom they work for.

But this issue goes far deeper than the sale of our local public energy utility.  It is another example of creeping global privatization of publically owned utilities and services.  In the developed nations, this includes power generation and transmission, health care, educational institutions, mainstream media, telecommunication, transit and water supply and treatment.

Apart from loss of control, privatization means loss of access to information and accountability.  A private company answers only to a board and its shareholders.  And in the age of Trans Pacific Partnership-style trade agreements, it also means these companies don’t answer to sovereign governments either; from federal on down to municipal.

The effects of their activities on the environment for example cannot be challenged and local concerns will have no place in that world.A little research shows creeping corporatism is everywhere and politicians of every stripe are buying into it.  Conservative and Liberal labels have become meaningless and the vast majority of our so-called leaders have acquired a view that extends to the length of their term in office rather than what their actions may mean in the long term for us, our children or our grandchildren.

The trend I see for Ontario, which began in the 1990s, will ultimately lead to the sale of all of public hydro, perhaps to a Swiss or French conglomerate who will promptly park its head office and accounts in the Caribbean.  Real taxes paid on profits will be a pittance and reinvestment into local communities will become a distant memory.

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