Letter to the editor- Ontario Government

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Dear Editor,

So the Ford government is at it again, doing stuff behind our backs, while we are distracted by the current pandemic.

The first item is the responsibility of our very own Steve Clark, MPP. While Ontarians grapple with the social and economic impacts of a global pandemic, the Government of Ontario is quietly setting the stage for development projects to proceed without public consultation or the right to appeal. Without alerting the public through notices on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO), the government has been issuing and revoking Minister’s Zoning Orders – effectively eliminating public participation in each planning decision.

A Minister’s Zoning Order allows the Minister, (Steve Clark), to directly zone land for particular purposes. The Minister does not have to give notice or consult with the public prior to issuing or revoking a zoning order. Somebody needs to tell these people at Queens Park that we live in a democracy, and that rescinding the safeguards that affect us all is no way to run a government, especially one that is “For the People”. What they are basically telling us is that they know best, so we don’t need to be involved. That is about as elitist as it gets, not to mention the unashamed arrogance of it.

Then there is the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner ruling that Bruce Power and the Ontario government must come clean on the cost of power from rebuilt reactors, noting that “the public has a right to know what the electricity cost will be from the multi-billion Bruce Nuclear Generating Station project, as they are paying for it, and will be locked into paying for it for almost 50 years”.

In her response to an appeal by Bruce Power of an earlier decision, Adjudicator Diane Smith acknowledged that the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has the power to suppress this information, but ruled that the public right to know trumped this authority.

In ruling that the pricing information should be released, the Adjudicator reasoned that “the annual price of the Bruce NGS electricity op-tions… would allow the public to assess and potentially advocate for alternative energy sources, such as conservation, demand response, hydro power imports from Quebec, renewable generation, and energy storage. Further, the Adjudicator found the IESO and Bruce Power rationale for suppressing information about the price of power from rebuilt Bruce reactors to be without substance. She noted that contrary to the IESO’s assertions, “I find that the amount of information already disclosed is not adequate to address the public interest considerations.” She also found Bruce Power’s assertion that disclosing the information would somehow raise electricity prices rather baffling, noting “neither the IESO nor Bruce Power provided particulars that support their concerns about this.” More smoke and mirrors.

It’s important to note that pricing information for all renewable energy projects in Ontario is fully public and there is no need for citizens or environmental organizations to undertake long and costly Freedom of Information appeals to see this information. Similarly, Ontario Power Generation must publicly disclose all its costing information through the Ontario Energy Board. Only Bruce Power has had the special privilege of keeping all its pricing information firmly under wraps – until now.

This has all the makings of a cost cover-up. I have checked an old electricity bill from November 2018, where the costs per Kilowatt hour were 13.2, 9.4, and 6.5 cents. Currently, they are 20.8, 14.4, and 10.1 cents., (prior Covid-19), all increases, as much as 57%, that were brought in by the Ford government, and now they want to hide the cost of rebuilding the generators in the Bruce Power station from us. No prizes for guessing why. I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of all this “For the People” nonsense.

Colin Creasey, Kemptville.

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