Lib­eral’s elec­tric­ity shell game

The Daily Observer - - OPINION - JOHN YAK­ABUSKI

I must con­cede that many of my res­i­dents have in­di­cated that they’re not nearly as up­set with their re­cent elec­tric­ity bills. And I too have seen my bills go down. It is nat­u­ral to be pleased when one is pay­ing less. But ev­ery­one should also be in­formed as to the ‘how’ and ‘why.’

We will start with the ‘why.’ Clearly we in the op­po­si­tion forced the gov­ern­ment to do some­thing about elec­tric­ity bills that have sky­rock­eted un­der their watch. With an elec­tion loom­ing they had to do some­thing, be­cause they were not go­ing to go into a cam­paign de­fend­ing a 400 per cent in­crease in elec­tric­ity bills.

The ‘how’ is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated, but I will try to be as clear as pos­si­ble. What they have done is charge you less for elec­tric­ity than its ac­tual cost. They are do­ing this by bor­row­ing the money to make-up the dif­fer­ence. Ac­cord­ing to the Fi­nan­cial Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fi­cer, that could cost any­where be­tween $45 to $93 bil­lion. But it is also clear that in or­der to pay back the money bor­rowed, from 2028 on­wards, ratepay­ers will be charged a lot more than the cost of the power be­ing pro­duced.

The Lib­er­als did one more sleight of hand to con­fuse ratepay­ers. In or­der to pre­vent the true cost of their scheme from be­ing shown on the bal­ance sheet, the gov­ern­ment is bor­row­ing the money through On­tario Power Gen­er­a­tion and keep­ing it off their own books. This will pre­vent them from show­ing a deficit next year.

The au­di­tor gen­eral (a non-par­ti­san of­fi­cer of the leg­is­la­ture) has con­demned this prac­tice and is es­sen­tially say­ing that the gov­ern­ment is cre­at­ing its own ac­count­ing rules.

What it means to you is this: you will end up pay­ing an ex­tra $4 bil­lion in in­ter­est charges alone be­cause On­tario Power Gen­er­a­tion bor­rows money at a much higher rate than the prov­ince does.

In or­der to hide the facts from the peo­ple, the Lib­er­als are quite will­ing to have those same peo­ple end up pay­ing an ex­tra $4 bil­lion. It is not a stretch to say that in or­der to get re-elected, they are will­ing to spend bil­lions of dol­lars in an un­nec­es­sary and ques­tion­able scheme that amounts to noth­ing more than a shell game.

As I write this col­umn on Nov. 1, we are about to en­ter a very spe­cial pe­riod of the year, Re­mem­brance Week. As the son of a Sec­ond World War vet­eran, it is a time of great sig­nif­i­cance to me, as I am sure it is to you as well. This year we cel­e­brated Canada’s com­ing-of-age with the 100th An­niver­sary of our tri­umph at Vimy Ridge. It is im­pos­si­ble not to think back to the suf­fer­ing and the hor­rors ex­pe­ri­enced by those who have made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice in de­fend­ing the free­dom and lib­erty that we en­joy to­day.

Each and ev­ery year there are fewer vet­er­ans re­main­ing from the Sec­ond World War and the Korean War, and the time is ap­proach­ing when there will be none.

It goes with­out say­ing that we are grate­ful for all of those who have served whether it be peace­keep­ing, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, or other mis­sions through­out the world.

To those who never re­turned, our grat­i­tude is eter­nal. John Yak­abuski is the mem­ber of pro­vin­cial par­lia­ment for the rid­ing of Ren­frew-Nipiss­ing-Pem­broke.

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