Yesterday morning, I read a piece by Martin Regg Cohn on the impending sale of Ontario's Hydro One. When it is completed, 60% of our publically-owned asset will have been sold off. During a brief walk in the afternoon, I decided to write a letter to my local MPP with a copy to Premier Kathleen Wynne to protest the sale. While it may be of some interest to people residing in Ontario, my letter may be regarded by those residing elsewhere as a vanity production, perhaps, given the ultimate futility of speaking or writing to our representatives in our currently debased democracy.
Whatever its ultimate utility may be, writing this missive has at least been personally cathartic:
I am writing to express my deep disappointment over your government's decision to sell off 60% of Hydro One. It is a profound betrayal of the people of Ontario and a flagrant abuse of democracy that I fear will have far-reaching consequences.
I was one of the many who chose to cast my vote in the last election, not for the NDP but for the Liberals. Their platform seemed sound, and I was repulsed by what I saw as the political opportunism of Andrea Horwath in forcing the election. A leader's integrity is one of my paramount considerations when I vote, and I thought I saw it in Kathleen Wynne.
While I admire that Ms. Wynne has shown strength of conviction in some areas, such as the revamping of the sex-ed curriculum, despite fierce opposition from some quarters, I lament the fact that she does not have the same courage and principles to resist the neoliberal siren call of privatization of public assets. As we well know, the private sector's sole responsibility is to its shareholders and the profits they expect, and we have no reason to believe that its majority ownership of our Hydro assets will change that. The public good will always be, at best, a tangential consideration.
Not once during her bid for re-election did the premier talk about privatizing Hydro One. To say that a general review of all assets was to be undertaken as the cover for this decision is, frankly, dishonest and insulting. Also, the Hydro assets are, as you well know, generating very healthy annual profits. To suggest their sale is needed to fund infrastructure projects is disingenuous, and indicative of a very narrow vision that excludes other possibilities, such as road tolls or an increase in the income tax rate to fund such construction. I will also state the obvious: those assets belong to all Ontarians. They are not your government's to sell.
At a time when cynicism about the electoral process is widespread, and voting numbers continue to decline, the decision to sell such a prized asset can do nothing but promote more of the same. If you are so convinced that this is a good decision, then hold a provincial plebiscite. Only with the approval of the people can you make any claim to be representing them in this matter.
I am one of the electorate with a very long memory. I can assure you my support for your party and government ends the day the sale of Hydro One begins. Next election, my vote will be for the NDP.