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Wynne government blocks MPPs from debate

Dear Editor,

Once again the Wynne government did what they do best – stifle debate, and put the interests of the Liberal Party above the interests of the people of Ontario.

MPPs have been blocked from speaking to the Electricity Rebate Act. Shortly after introducing their new energy bill, the government stopped debate, and called a vote. They refused to allow almost the entire opposition to speak to the energy crisis in Ontario. They refused to listen to any stories about local families struggling from their skyrocketing hydro bills. And they refused to hear any potential solutions from the opposition.

Premier Wynne and her Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault spent months denying an energy crisis even existed in Ontario. Aided by mounting anger over skyrocketing hydro rates and the premier’s own personal popularity hitting new lows, they suddenly saw the light and turned their attention to the hydro crisis.

They began with the major move of proroguing the legislature. All the resulting Throne Speech provided was a band-aid solution to remove the provincial portion of the HST on hydro bills. They squandered the opportunity to provide Ontarians with meaningful relief from skyrocketing hydro rates.

Since the Liberal government first took office, average households in Ontario are paying $1,000 more a year on their annual hydro bills. Frankly, a rebate that saves ratepayers less than 36 cents/day is too little, too late. Nor does it address the systemic issues that have caused hydro rates to skyrocket in the first place, meaning rates will continue to rise.

The Wynne government’s decision to stifle debate on this legislation means a number of important questions will go unanswered. Why are we not addressing the root causes leading to Ontario having the highest hydro rates in North America? Why are we generating surplus electricity and selling it at a loss to Quebec and the United States? Why are we proceeding with the sale of Hydro One even though we know it will leave ratepayers and taxpayers worse off?

It’s clear why the government doesn’t want any of this debate to be heard. For instance, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) disclosed 567,000 families were behind in their hydro bill payments at the end of 2015, owing a total of $172.5 million. The OEB also revealed that 60,000 residential customers were disconnected from their hydro services in the past year, for being unable to pay their bills.

After spending months denying a hydro crisis even existed, the Wynne government now feels it’s so urgent that they introduce a bill (that doesn’t come into effect until 2017), but stifles debate by the opposition on real solutions.

Lorne Cie

MPP – Whitby-Oshawa