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Of Gas Plants and Hydro Rates

This is my response to Marcus Gee's article in yesterday's Globe:

We in Oakville do not see the gas plant cancellation as you do. The Oakville gas plant was dangerously close to schools and homes. There were no regulations against that in the bidding process which put the government in a difficult situation. The Liberals, after public protest, recognised the problem and cancelled the projects. They have subsequently passed legislation so that such a situation cannot be repeated. The fact that they did this in response to ballot box pressure only validates the democratic system. They can be faulted for the original negotiations whose terms led to a high cost, and the actions taken to conceal it, but should be praised for doing the right thing in spite of the expense and the fodder it supplied the opposition. As to the refinancing of hydro debt, to say this adds to the cost may be accurate, but it oversimplifies. Millions of Ontarians were cash-strapped by the high rates, which restricted their spending capacity and thus would have slowed the economy, no doubt, over the course of the refinancing, costing much more in government revenue than the additional $21 billion in interest charges. Just as in a business, a balance must be struck between paying down debt and using leverage to fuel growth. Households make the same choices, between paying down the mortgage and investing in children’s activities. Again, you fault the Liberals for responding to public pressure. The government is there to serve the people: it is only appropriate that it enact policies that reflect their priorities while remaining stewards of economic sustainability. If that is buying votes, then that is how we get government by the people, which is what democracy promises.