Some election reflections

June 18, 2014   ·   0 Comments

thankfully, we refrained from making any predictions as to the most likely outcome of last Thursday’s Ontario election.

Had we done so, we probably would have predicted another minority government, without venturing to suggest whether it would or should be Liberal or Progressive Conservative.

The voters having surprised one and all by not adopting The Globe and Mail’s call for them to pick a Hudak minority government (having found that option wasn’t on the ballot) may have wound up being scared off by the prospect of a PC administration being even more right-wing than the Stephen Harper Conservatives at Ottawa.

However, there’s also the possibility that a lot of voters simply didn’t buy the notion adopted from Tea Party Republicans that corporations would turn tax savings into job offers rather than keep the money or share it with shareholders – something too many of them are already doing.

PC leader Tim Hudak having resigned, it will be interesting to see who the Official Opposition picks as his successor. At the moment, we’d be inclined to predict it will be Christine Elliott, who was easily re-elected MPP for Whitby-Oshawa. At Ms. Elliott’s camp Thursday night supporters were enthusiastic about the suggestion, but she said it was too early for anyone to speculate on the leadership question. But the widow of Jim Flaherty is already the party’s deputy leader, is eloquent and would leave Ontario in the unprecedented position of having women as leaders of all three parties in the Legislature.

Whoever it is that takes on the PC leadership, he or she should look closely at what lay behind the Tories’ successes between 1943 and 1985, when leaders like Leslie Frost, John Robarts and Bill Davis concentrated on providing good government with little attention to whether a particular move could be seen as too conservative or too liberal, two examples being creation of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) in 1969 and strong support always given Crown corporations like Ontario Hydro.

And speaking of Ontario Hydro, we were pleased to see Premier Kathleen Wynne confirm that hearings will continue into the cancellation of natural gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

With the legislature committee no longer dominated by the two opposition parties, and the issue of erased computer hard drives subject to a police investigation, we hope the committee will turn its attention to what we see as an issue that’s just as important as the wasting of more than $1 billion on the cancellations.

One thing we do know is that nothing of the sort happened in the 93 years of Hydro’s existence. Sure, there were some major cost overruns, particularly at the Darlington nuclear power station, and even some plant cancellations, but they were mainly the result of a failure of predicted consumer demand to materialize, not because of political interference.

Had Hydro not been axed by a government that wanted to see power production and distribution fully privatized, the utility would still have been under pressure to switch off coal, but it would likely have opted to convert at least some of the coal-fired stations to natural gas, particularly when it became obvious there was plenty of it to be had.

That being the case, Hydro would likely have chosen between converting some units of the Lakeview Generating Station to gas or replacing it with a new gas-fired plant having four 500-megawatt units instead of Lakeview’s eight 300-MW units.

The committee should find out why neither option was apparently ever on the table.

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