Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am pleased to be given this opportunity, on the eve of the Ontario provincial election, to deliver a warning to voters about Bill C-69 about why they need to elect a majority Doug Ford Conservative government.
While there are many aspects of this government legislation that I find objectionable, the greatest cause for concern is the politicization of the Canadian energy board. The decision to move from a fact-based, scientific decision-making process to one based on greed is a regressive move that Ontario electricity ratepayers are all too familiar with.
Whereas under the previous Conservative government Canadians had an environmental and regulatory system that commanded the confidence of all Canadians, the Liberal strategy to invoke a culture war to deflect from the true fallacy of what is being proposed can only end badly for all Canadians.
Under the Conservatives, the National Energy Board was an arm's-length regulatory agency in the way the Ontario Energy Board used to be. The decision by the Toronto Liberal Party to stack the Ontario Energy Board with political appointees, which is similar to what is being proposed federally in Bill C-69, has resulted in the highest electricity prices in North America. Energy poverty in this province has become the new normal, particularly among seniors, anyone on a fixed income, and the working poor.
What is so very unfortunate is the support given by the NDP for these same failed energy policies, failed policies that are being repeated at the federal level in misguided legislation like Bill C-69, which we are discussing today.
Let me be clear: There is a direct link between the failed policies of Kathleen Wynne and the NDP, which supports those same policies. The direct link is Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister's principal assistant. He is the most powerful unelected, unaccountable, technocrat in Ottawa today. He is in the same position he held in Toronto when he set up the greedy policies that have resulted in Ontario being the most indebted subnational government in the world today.
As for the green hustle, anytime anyone questioned the “Greed” Energy Act, the environment was used as an excuse, with zero facts to back up the claim.
For the benefit of all Canadians watching this debate, I encourage voters in Ontario to go to the Global News website for stories from June 1, and watch its investigative story exposing the corruption that has reduced Ontario to a have-not province.
Global News obtained 4,000 pages of internal emails and documents from the now-defunct Ontario Power Authority showing billions of dollars in unnecessary spending that could have been avoided had the government followed the early advice of the Ontario Power Authority, which was tasked with designing many of Ontario's energy policies. In fact, according to Global News, when it comes to the FIT and microFIT programs, which are a key component of the province's greed energy act, documents show that decisions made by the Liberal government in 2009 and 2010, when Liberal Party insider Gerald Butts was in Toronto, as well as design flaws in the programs themselves, put Ontario on a collision course with rising electricity costs.
Brady Yauch, an economist and executive director at the Consumer Policy Institute, independently reviewed all 4,000 pages of documents and shared his views with Global News. According to the director of the Consumer Policy Institute, “The province hijacked the [FIT and Micro-FIT] programs from the very expert agencies it established to handle these types of technical, complicated energy policies. Worse still, [the Liberal Party ignored]...concerns of those experts [about] overpaying [electricity] generators.” Mr. Yauch observed, “That’s very concerning, because now you have a political electricity system, as opposed to one that’s based on economics or cost-effectiveness.”
This is what Bill C-69, the federal legislation we have before us now, will do at the federal level.
Further quoting Global News, the man responsible for designing the FIT and microFIT programs, Jim MacDougall, also said that the government “ignored” expert advice that could have saved Ontarians billions of dollars in greed energy spending. So much for fact-based, scientific decision-making. The Liberal Party refused to answer specific questions about the FIT and microFIT programs in relation to the Global story.
As Global News reported, “Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which merged with the Ontario Power Authority in 2015, also refused to answer specific questions about design and implementation of” the failed programs. “Instead, it provided a written statement to [Global News] saying the OPA 'worked closely'” with its political masters “to make sure that the programs met the government's 'broader economic and environmental policy objectives.'”
On October 1, 2009, the OPA started receiving applications through the renewable energy programs it was directed to create. Unlike the main program, designed for large-scale commercial projects, such as big solar farms, industrial wind turbine installations, and hydroelectric dams, the microFIT program was supposedly “created so homeowners could put a solar panel on their roofs to 'offset' electricity use and lower hydro bills.”
The Global News report continues:
What ended up happening, however, is the [Ontario Power Authority] was quickly overwhelmed by the number of Micro-FIT applications it received.
Electricity bills started to skyrocket.
By mid-November, about six weeks after the program was launched, emails show the [Ontario Power Authority] was worried some applicants were “gaming” the system—meaning that people were submitting multiple applications for small solar projects on the same property, which, though technically not against the rules, violated the “spirit” of the program.
“Aggregators”, as they became known, submitted hundreds of Micro-FIT applications with plans to set up solar panels on “vacant lots” or on farmers' fields. This was a problem, because Micro-FIT contracts were to pay nearly double what large solar projects received.
And because the cost of building larger projects was significantly lower than what a homeowner might pay to put a solar panel on a roof, aggregators received higher government payouts than the...OPA initially intended.
One of the worst abusers of the greed energy program was the Ontario president of the Liberal Party of Canada, Mike Crawley. His company received a contract that guaranteed $66,000 a day for 20 years, or $475 million over the life of the contract. During the bidding process, he even had the nerve to send out an email encouraging various other parties to attend an infamous pay-to-play soirée, at $5,000 a pop. Liberal Party—