Local Liberal Supporter Critiques Privatization

By Emily Haws

The North Bay Nugget (May 26, 2015) — Verdon Vaillancourt is afraid what happened with the privatization of highway maintenance is going to happen with the partial privatization of Hydro One.

Vaillancourt, who made a presentation Thursday to the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs said privatization “and the lack of oversight has not improved highway maintenance, at least in Northern Ontario, and had not cut the cost of Highway 407.

“I’m afraid the same will happen with hydro costs.

“I live in a modest home where electric heat is the only option. My hydro bill was over $600 in [the winter months].”

The Ontario Liberals plan to privatize 60% of Hydro One, which is expected to raise $9 billion. The proceeds from the sale will go toward improving infrastructure in the province, as well as paying down hydro debt.

The move has been controversial, with the New Democratic Party against the sale and the Progressive Conservatives against the Liberal budget altogether.

Vaillancourt said he was given five minutes to make a presentation to nine MPPs – six Liberal, two PC and one NDP. The MPPs were then given nine minutes to ask questions.

Overall, he says the presentation went well. The debate mainly centered on alternatives to privatization that would still result in funding for the province.

“I was treated with respect and was listened to, questioned and debated,” Vaillancourt said via e-mail. “My answer is to raise corporate tax rates – even a small bump in rates will leave us among the lowest tax rates in the G7 or G20.

“The corporations are not going to go anywhere. They need the infrastructure too.

“Selling Hydro One is short-term gain for long-term pain. It’s short term thinking.”

One of the MPPs questioning Vaillancourt was Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

“He made a very thoughtful presentation – he self-identified as a Liberal, but then said he was disappointed,” said Fedeli via telephone. “He basically agreed with everything we’ve been fighting for in the Legislature.”

Fedeli said the number of people making presentations was down significantly due to the smaller amount of time to submit applications to make presentations. As well, presentations were only held in Toronto, unlike in previous years where they have been held throughout Ontario.

Any citizen can make a presentation voicing their concerns to various committees regarding issues the government is facing.

“The revenue from this sale will not be put back into Hydro One, it will be put into the general revenue fund, which pay down the deficit but will make rates eventually increase,” said Fedeli. “It’s like buying a house and instead of paying down the mortgage, you buy a . . . pool.”

Original Story at Nugget by Emily Haws