bombardier

Premier Dalton McGuinty announcing new contract at Bombardier in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – Dalton McGuinty will resign his seat in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday. The former premier has come under fire in recent months over several issues, the main one being the Gas Plant Scandal. The Ontario Government, under McGuinty’s leadership cancelled two gas plants, at a cost to taxpayers of almost $500 million.

Dalton McGuinty Set to Resign

For Thunder Bay, Dalton McGuinty seemed to have a love-hate relationship with the north. In 2007, during a campaign stop in our city, then Premier McGuinty told an audience at the city’s Bombardier manufacturing facility that “Ontario Liberals think Ontarians can – and should – lead the development of hydrogen alternatives for the world,” enthused the Liberal leader. In a press release, the Liberals said, “The hydrogen commuter train is exactly the type of initiative envisioned when the Ontario Liberal government created the new $650 million Next Generation Jobs Fund”. McGuinty said. “Ontario Liberals want to expand the Fund by a further $500 million after the October 10th election”. 

It was the last time the Premier mentioned the word hydrogen and the issue has not been raised since.

Flood Announcement – Nope

Premier Dalton McGuinty never stepped up and made an announcement in support of the May 2012 Flood in Thunder Bay. Thats right, not one word. At the time he dispatched now Premier Wynne to the north to check out conditions in our city. 

Later in the summer, the Premier’s press staff made a point of tweeting how they did make an announcement about the flooding in Wawa. It was in effect like rubbing salt in a Thunder Bay wound.

Far North Act

The Far North Act, is another case where Dalton McGuinty promised then Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief that the legislation would not pass without consent from NAN. Then Dalton got into the airplane south and seemingly forgot that promise. The Far North Act was passed without consent from First Nations.

Victoria Inn

Premier McGuinty and Grand Chief Beardy talk with Sandy Lake First Nation Elders

“The Premier has some explaining to do. He is not beyond accounting for his actions,” statedthen Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “If the McGuinty Liberals were serious about working with First Nations and addressing these issues the Premier would make himself available.” The Deputy Grand Chief says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is ducking First Nations issues by refusing to participate in a northern Ontario leaders’ debate in the run-up to the provincial election.

“The Premier has a duty to answer the tough questions that are being put to him by First Nations, and other northern Ontario leaders. Dalton McGuinty is willing to come north for a barbeque, but won’t show up when there are tough questions to be answered,” charged the Deputy Grand Chief. “This is a question of accountability. If the Premier is a no-show for the debate, it simply proves our concern that First Nations are not a priority for the McGuinty Liberals.”

Northern Leaders Debate – No Show

For business leaders in the north, Dalton McGuinty’s skipping out on the Northern Leaders Debate hosted by NOMA was another sign, perhaps that the Premier didn’t hold the North and its massive wealth potential in mining royalties as seriously as he could.

Charming and Engaging

In contrast, to sit down with Dalton McGuinty the former Premier comes across with a bevy of stories and is an engaging person. His policies however no matter what your political leanings impacted the north.

The Rosehart Report that led to the Northern Growth Plan and to the creation of a Northern Think Tank is likely one of the most positive legacies that McGuinty could have left the north. 

It is hard when a politician retires not to be all congratulatory. On a personal level, one can wish Dalton McGuinty all the best. On a provincial level, Dalton McGuinty ran up the credit card bill and left a massive debt that will be generations to pay off.

Our two local MPPS have praised the former Premier for his vision.

It would be wrong to completely hammer Dalton McGuinty for all of Ontario’s ills. Voters supported Dalton McGuinty for his vision and policies.

Here in Thunder Bay we have two hard working MPPs in Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle. We can hope that both our local MPPs are able to get their voices and northern issues front and centre at the cabinet table and around the caucus table.

Our region faces serious challenges, and it will take more than happy words to fix them all.

James Murray

Enhanced by Zemanta

NANTHUNDER BAY – “The Premier has some explaining to do. He is not beyond accounting for his actions,” states Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “If the McGuinty Liberals were serious about working with First Nations and addressing these issues the Premier would make himself available.” The Deputy Grand Chief says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is ducking First Nations issues by refusing to participate in a northern Ontario leaders’ debate in the run-up to the provincial election.

“The Premier has a duty to answer the tough questions that are being put to him by First Nations, and other northern Ontario leaders. Dalton McGuinty is willing to come north for a barbeque, but won’t show up when there are tough questions to be answered,” charged the Deputy Grand Chief. “This is a question of accountability. If the Premier is a no-show for the debate, it simply proves our concern that First Nations are not a priority for the McGuinty Liberals.”

While the other party leaders have committed to a Northern debate, Premier McGuinty has thus far refused to attend.

NAN states, “This is not the first time that the McGuinty Liberals have failed First Nations. On land-use and resource development, without any meaningful consultation, the Far North Act (Bill 191) was passed while First Nations initiatives to modernize the Mining Act and input on the Forest Tenure Modernization Act were ignored”.

At the time, NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy stated, “The Premier of Ontario has failed to honor his promise to NAN First Nations that Bill 191 would not become legislation without our support. In yesterday’s Question Period, Premier (Dalton) McGuinty could not answer as to whether he intended to keep his word. It is obvious that his words mean very little and his promises even less.”

NAN adds that “The Ontario justice system has also failed First Nations as it is currently impossible to strike a valid jury in the north as a result of long term systemic exclusions of First Nations from jury rolls. Tragically, seven NAN youth have died while attending school in Thunder Bay and the justice system can’t (Bushie Inquest) or won’t investigate (call for Commission of Inquiry ignored)”.

In addition, the jailing of the leadership of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) in 2008 for protecting their homelands demonstrates a blatant disregard for the authority of First Nations leaders to exercise their rights over their lands.

Tim HudakTHUNDER BAY – Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak was joined by several Ontario PC candidates to outline “How Dalton McGuinty’s affirmative action subsidy undermines the Canadian values of equality and fair treatment”. “Whether you have been in Canada 1 year, or 6, or 20, or whether you were born here, you deserve equal treatment by the government and an equal shot at a job – based on your qualifications, not based on the government playing special favourites. Dalton McGuinty offers a $10,000 affirmative action subsidy that is not available to some Ontario workers because they have been in Ontario too long. That’s not equal treatment. It’s not a real jobs plan. And it’s just not fair,” asserts Hudak.

“According to Dalton McGuinty’s latest rewrite of his own policy, someone who has lived in Ontario for 55 months qualifies for a massive $10,000 job subsidy, while someone who has lived in Ontario for 61 months or longer gets left out in the cold. Dalton McGuinty’s affirmative action scheme was always divisive. Now it is incoherent as well.”

The PCs are saying that “According to the latest panicky rewrite of the Liberal 2011 platform, Dalton McGuinty will provide businesses with a $10,000 affirmative action subsidy for hiring employees who have lived in Ontario for less than five years. This latest edition of Dalton McGuinty’s divisive policy deliberately disadvantages every Ontario worker who has lived in Ontario longer than five years”.

The PCs state, “According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, you have to be in Canada for 3 years before you can apply for citizenship. Citizenship and Immigration Canada also estimates that that the processing time for a citizenship application is 19 months. This means that a worker must reside in Canada at least 55 months before qualifying for an affirmative action subsidy that will expire a mere five months later”.

Hudak promises, “A PC Government will treat all workers with fairness, equality, and respect. The Ontario PC Party has a real jobs plan that will give all workers an equal chance to succeed by making Ontario’s business taxes more competitive, eliminating job-killing red tape, fixing the apprenticeship system, and strengthening small business”.

iconsTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – One of the dangers of the modern political era is that politicians can be captured on video not just from traditional media, but from increasing numbers of people with video cameras. The impact on a political campaign can be devastating. A quick Tweet can instantly hammer a campaign. A thoughtless Facebook posting can be captured instantly and live on as a ‘Gotcha’ moment well past its initial reaction.

During the 2006 United States Senate mid-term elections, Virginia Senator George Allen was being challenged by Jim Webb. At the end of June, Allen was up by an insurmountable 20 percentage points in the polls, and Webb was starting to run out of money. Then Allen met a Webb volunteer with a video camera. On August 15,

2006, in Virginia, Senator George Allen was headed to what most people thought would be an easy win over Democratic challenger James Webb. Senator Allen was also being widely talked about, at the time, as a future Republican Presidential candidate.

Then the Virginia Senator had his moment of video ‘fame’.

The long-term impact of this Youtube video on Senator Allen remains, the one-time soaring political star has faded drastically.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has reportedly banned Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats from his public events during the election campaign.

Vic Fedeli, Ontario PC Candidate for Nipissing comments, “This behaviour just shows just how out of touch the McGuinty Liberals have become. It’s time for change. Liberals and New Democrats would be welcome at PC events, as long as they are not disruptive”.

For some in politics, the fear of making a major blunder and having it captured on video and replayed over and over might make them fearful of the Internet and its reach. However, communications from political leaders are a critical component in the modern era. People are expecting from their political leaders a degree of communication that in past generations would never have been either possible, or expected.

However in today’s modern communications world, politicians who want to be successful have to become far more adept of the importance of modern communications.

Gilles BissonTHUNDER BAY – The invitation to party leaders from the Northern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) is hanging out there like a hanging curve ball waiting for a skilled player to try knock it out of the park. However it appears so far that more leader’s debates remain off the political radar screens in Ontario.

It is not just NOMA seeking more debates. “A week has gone by and there’s still no response from Dalton McGuinty or Tim Hudak on the New Democrats proposal for three debates during the election campaign”, said NDP MPP Gilles Bisson. “The silence from McGuinty and Hudak has been deafening. This week all we have seen is more attack ads and posturing. The people deserve to see party leaders who want to be the next Premier on their screens talking policy, not trading insults during the commercial break”.

The New Democrats are finding an unusual friend in their call to increase the number of Leader’s Debates. The Toronto Star editorial today endorsed the NDP’s call last week for more debates.

“…Ontarians would be well served if all parties took their cues from the overwhelming response Canadians had to Layton’s final call for a better brand of politics….That means heeding NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s call for at least three televised leaders’ debates instead of just one to give voters more opportunities to hear about the issues…” – Toronto Star, Sep. 4, 2011

The Toronto Star adds, “Leaders’ debates are not perfect, certainly. But even flawed debates are far better than a month of canned speeches and attack ads that do little to let Ontarians decide who would be the best to run their province”.

“The NDP is calling for three leaders’ debates taking place in different regions of the province including Northern Ontario,” states Bisson. “We want to hear answers from McGuinty and Hudak. If they would prefer to stick to stage managed press conferences and aggressive attack ads then we need to hear that from them. They need to explain why they won’t debate the real issues live to allow Ontarians to judge who they want to see in the Premier’s office”.

Canadian MoneyTHUNDER BAY – British Columbia has voted to scrap the HST. With 54.74 percent of voters in the special referendum voting to scrap the HST it represents a serious challenge to the province’s Liberal government which brought in the tax. The Finance Minister has announced plans to re-instate the Provincial Sales tax and Goods and Services Taxes as they were before.

An action plan has been established to guide the transition process and help ensure an effective and orderly transition from the HST to the PST plus GST system in B.C. The PST will be reinstated at seven per cent with all permanent PST exemptions. The Province may make some common sense administrative improvements to streamline the PST.

The transition period is expected to take a minimum of 18 months, consistent with the report of the independent panel on the HST. During this period, the provincial portion of the HST will remain in place at seven per cent. Eligible lower-income British Columbians will continue to receive the B.C. HST Credit until the PST is re-implemented. The B.C. HST credit will then be replaced by the re-implemented PST credit.

The Ontario NDP say that the vote in British Columbia should send a message to the Liberals in Ontario. “BC voters have spoken out against an arrogant and out-of-touch Liberal government, and Ontario voters will have a similar opportunity on October 6th”, said York South-Weston NDP candidate Paul Ferreira. “Liberals in BC and Ontario have proven that they’re not listening to families struggling to pay the bills,” continued Ferreira. “Today BC voters made it loud and clear the HST is a bad deal. Voters in Ontario will have that opportunity in the upcoming election.”

The Ontario Liberals have stated that the Harmonization of the federal and provincial sales taxes in the province have stabilized the economy. “Almost 92,000 jobs created since bringing in HST. That’s leadership, and hard work by Ontarians. Let’s keep moving forward,” is the message sent out to Liberal supporters by the party’s online email.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives state, “Today BC families had their say on their government’s attack on their pocketbook. In 41 days Ontario families will get their own chance to choose between more taxes from Tax Man Dalton McGuinty, or change with Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party who will give families relief.

“While Tax Man Dalton McGuinty has spent the last eight years hitting Ontario families with his so-called health tax, HST tax grab, eco-taxes and skyrocketing hydro bills, Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party will give families relief”.

THUNDER BAY – The OFIA has come out swinging at the Ontario government over the level of support for road building for forestry. Minister of Northern Developement, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle responds, “I understand that it is frustrating to hear about funding decreases, as nobody likes less money, but the OFIA’s tone in their release is not helpful.  Our government has shown unprecedented levels of support for the forest industry and Northern Ontario, and it is clear, with an election on the horizon that the OFIA has decided to play politics”.

“In 2005, the Ontario government implemented the roads funding program and committed almost $400 million to forest access roads as harvest levels fell almost 50 per cent,” added Gravelle, continuing to say, “Like most ministries, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry was required to reduce program funding to help address the current fiscal challenges faced by Ontario. The Ministry decreased its funding this year for the construction and maintenance of access roads to $47.8 million, a temporary reduction in line with both lower harvest levels and government constraints”.

Gravelle asserts that “Despite criticism from the Ontario Forest industries Association, the Ministry had indicated to the industry the potential for additional roads funding throughout the year should funds become available”.

“Yes, our government has had to make some tough decisions, but we’ve also invested in several forestry companies throughout Ontario; investments that have put people back to work, and investments that are helping the long term stability of mills,” concludes Gravelle.

 

wind energyTHUNDER BAY – On Tuesday the Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress (TFC) released their Ninth annual report One of the areas discussed was the impact on the economy of the McGuinty Government’s Green Energy Act.

“In May 2009, the Ontario legislature passed the Green Energy Act (GEA), a sweeping piece of legislation without peer in North America. The GEA combines extensive conservation measures with new programs and rules intended to spur the rapid development and connection of renewable energy generation projects in Ontario. In addition to its environmental merits, the Act’s framers claim it will add 50,000 new green jobs to the province in its first three years”.

Those jobs however may also come at a cost; first to existing jobs, and secondly with a very high price tag per job created. Finally the TFC questions the effectiveness of the McGuinty scheme.

“A report from a German think tank found that Germany’s feed-in-tariff regime, which ours is modeled after, initially produced impressive gross job growth, but that other effects of the policy, such as rising electricity costs and the crowding out of conventional energy generation, meant net job gains were negligible or even negative.

“Moreover, the cost of the program on a per worker basis ran up to US $240,000. Our estimates indicate that the GEA’s cost per new job created is about $42,000.”

The impact on the average residential electricity bills will be steep too according to the report. “The government has said that the program’s price tag will manifest itself as a 1 percent annual  increase in consumers’ electricity bills. But other estimates put the cost much higher.

“London Economics International (LEI), a global economic consultancy, estimated the GEA’s cost at between $247 and $631 per household per year, equivalent to paying between two and six additional monthly electricity bills.

“Aegent Energy Advisors Inc, an energy consulting group, estimated that partly because of GEA-related expenses, residential electricity costs are expected to increase at an annual rate of between 6.7 to 8 percent over the next five years.

The outlook may be even grimmer for non-residential electricity users, who may see annual rate increases of between 8 to 10 percent over the same period”.

Dalton McGuintyThe higher home and business energy costs are as a result of the very high subsidies that the McGuinty GEA offers to small producers.

“The centrepiece of the new legislation is a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. Modeled after similar programs in Europe, Ontario’s FIT provides renewable energy developers with guaranteed pricing over a twenty-year contract term.

“The rates offered depend on the energy source (solar, wind, hydro, or bioenergy), the generator capacity (projects below 10 kW qualify for higher rates), and the manner in which the generation facility is deployed (rooftop/ground-mounted solar, onshore/offshore wind, etc.).

Guaranteed prices range from 10.3 ¢/kWh for power from landfill gas to 80.2 ¢/kWh for rooftop solar.

Since the average spot price for electricity in Ontario is only about 5.1 ¢/kWh, the FIT rates are essentially subsidies to renewable energy generators for the electricity they produce.

The overall goal of the McGuinty Liberal plan is for Ontario to have a greener environment. However the Ontario Government’s experts, in this report, suggest that may not happen as a result of the GEA.

“Solar power and wind power are being highly subsidized through the FIT program – but it is by no means clear that these technologies will turn out to be the best solutions for addressing carbon emissions cost effectively. In the end, ratepayers may end up paying a higher cost for electricity without a commensurate benefit in emissions reductions”.

Frustration over increased Hydro rates in Ontario is growing. A Facebook group has started. The group titled, “Join the Fight Against Hydro 1 Rates” has grow in under a day to almost 2000 individuals.

One participant shares, “I am 2 years from retirement with no pension. I can no longer afford to live in Ontario and am starting to plan my move to Manitoba. Northwestern Ontario was where I planned to retire but it has become a nightmare what with Hydro 1 and HST and property taxes, insurance rates etc. All of these things are half or less in Manitoba”.

The political debate over Ontario’s energy plans are also topping the agenda at Queen’s Park.

Thunder Bay AirportTHUNDER BAY – News that electricity rates are set to go up another 45% in Ontario over the next five years as a result of the McGuinty Governments moves to have a “cleaner and greener Ontario” should be sending shivers across our economy here in Northwestern Ontario.

That message resonated far less than it might have with some in the Ontario Government saluting a move to put in place a hydro rate reduction place.

The ever increased costs of electricity in Ontario are going to prove the largest economic impediment to our future prosperity.

Some have discussed how Northwestern Ontario could benefit from secondary or tertiary processing of resources as mining becomes a new economic driver. Ontario’s power rates are already high enough that we are losing business.

The rates in both Manitoba and Quebec are lower. It is quite likely that Northwestern Ontario will see chromite dug out of the ground in our region and shipped to other places for processing. It is a potential lost economic boon to our region.

The reality too is that industry moving to co-generation is taking those companies further outside of the system leaving fewer rate-payers to pick up the costs of Premier McGuinty’s ever greener Ontario.

Finance Minister Duncan is attempting to spin the blame out over all of Ontario’s past governments. “For a long time, governments of all political stripes have neglected the electricity sector, and that’s why we have made the necessary investments to build a cleaner system and to ensure the lights go on and stay on. Ontarians are asking for some assistance with rising costs, especially their electricity costs, and every little bit helps during these lean times,” according to Duncan.

Northern Ontarians likely also remember when Dwight Duncan’s advice was simply to grab a bottle of red wine, a blanket and a good friend and thereby stay warm for the winter.

Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Michael Gravelle states, “I am very pleased that our Government has listened to the people of Ontario and responded with a 10 per cent decrease in electricity on their bills. This along with other significant measures will help Ontarians as we come out of these challenging economic times.”

The help from the McGuinty Government is a benefit for families in the North. However it is another short-term plan.

The problem for the McGuinty Government is simple. Increasingly people are starting to question the wisdom of investing billions of dollars in very expensive, and increasingly less reliable systems of power generation.

“Dalton McGuinty’s crass attempt to kill two birds with one stone by cutting Hydro bills by 10% and calling it the ‘Ontario Clean Energy Benefit’ makes it clear that his Liberal government is following the leaked Sussex Strategy document plan to ‘confuse’ the issue of cost of renewable energy projects in Ontario,” according to John Laforet, President of Wind Concerns Ontario.

The real issue here is that there is a “great divide” between the North and the South in Ontario.

Northwestern Ontario has seen our power generation capacity greatly exceed the demand. The downturn in the forestry sector has seen mill closures, and shutdowns. That has lead to excess capacity.

Likely what should happen in the North, is for that surplus capacity to be priced competitively to Manitoba, and become part of a business enhancement program to boost and diversify the Northwestern Ontario economy.

That is the kind of a goal that would have long-term benefits to both Northwestern Ontario and to Southern Ontario too.

It is a plan that so far none of the politicians are willing to touch.

Wonder why?

James Murray

QUEEN’S PARK – Mr. Arnott today delivered a statement on the October 26th wind farms protest in the Township of Centre Wellington, which he attended.  The following is the text of his statement:

“Mr. Speaker:

“I’m glad the Minister of the Environment is in the Legislative Precinct and I hope he’s listening.

“Today the Guelph Mercury reports that upwards of 1,000 people turned out last night—in the rain—to protest a proposed wind farm in Centre Wellington Township.

“I was there too, Mr. Speaker, arriving as soon as I could to hear what my constituents were saying about the wind farm proposal and about the McGuinty Government’s energy policies.

“I listened to many constituents, and their message was a devastating indictment of this government’s refusal to listen to them before permitting the installation of massive wind farms in their communities.

“People told me the McGuinty Government has stripped away their say as average citizens.  They believe this government’s Green Energy Act has stripped away local decision-making authority.  I believe they are right.

“Again I call on this government to complete a comprehensive and independent study of the wind turbines’ effect on human health before any new wind farm proposals go forward.

“Again I call on the Minister of the Environment to account for his contradictory statements on the role municipalities play in the approvals process.

“Do municipalities have the power to stop them, or not?  He should address this basic question right here in the Legislature.

“Despite this government’s apparent determination to push ahead with wind farms, no matter what the cost, no matter what the opposition, there is hope.

“For when a community is united, and speaks with one voice, that voice is heard—and it cannot be ignored.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”