News from the Park – Hydro One Costs and Rebate

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Michael Mantha MPP - Queens Park

When I first decided to throw my hat into the political ring, I did so holding the firm belief that politicians need to work together for the good of the people who elect them. I still am firmly committed to that ideology and ensure that my staff in Queen’s Park and the constituency office is also committed to this principle. The greatest reward for my office is successfully assisting constituents to wade through some complicated matters, thus hopefully restoring order and setting things right. Helping people is what keeps real politicians motivated.

The people of Ontario deserve a government that is going to work toward the best interests of the people. Unfortunately, that is not always what the people wind up with. A prime example of this is the self-serving decision the Liberals have made to sell-off Hydro One, our most precious and lucrative public utility, just so they can “pay the bills”. Hydro One was built on the backs and tax dollars of workers and families of this province. Under Liberal leadership, our province has found itself billions of dollars in debt because of misguided budgetary management, scandalous decision making and general over-spending.  And now, the only way the Premier can see a way out is to pay off some of our debts by selling off our most precious public utility.  It’s like using one credit card to pay off another.  It may look good in the short term, but in the long term, it is the epitome of irresponsible financial management.

Recently in the Throne Speech, the Liberals announced that they have heard the hue and cry of the people as they complain about unaffordable hydro rates and delivery fees. That afternoon, following the Throne Speech, Liberal staff members were on the street corners and subway station entrances in Toronto handing out flyers announcing the news that as of January 1st, 2016, the Liberal government would be providing an 8% rebate to Ontarians, the equivalent of removing the PST from their bills. If the government really was interested in helping the people they can make it effective now.

The Liberals have also introduced Bill 201 which addresses political party funding. My NDP colleagues and I have been pointing out that this bill provides significant advantages to the governing party, and the party with the wealthiest donors.

New Democrats are tabling a series of amendments to Bill 201 that are focused on levelling the political playing field, and bringing greater fairness to Ontario’s election rules. We are proposing a series of changes, which include an end to cash for access, lowering contribution limits and stopping the government from partisan advertising.

All parties agree that it’s time to ban corporate and union donations, but Kathleen Wynne is using this as an excuse to ram through election rules that are all about helping the Liberal Party. These rules help the party in government, and they help the party with the richest donors. My NDP colleagues and I say that it is essential that the bill have a second round of province-wide consultations after it is debated at second reading, which is expected in the fall.

In effect, the Premier is governing in a way that stacks the deck in favour of the Liberal Party of Ontario. Ontarians deserve so much better than that kind of partisan game-playing with the basic rules of our democracy.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at[email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

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