Windsor Star

Liberals in panic mode

- cvanderdoe­len@windsorsta­ or 519-255-6852

If skyrocketi­ng hydro bills have had you worrying about the cost of hanging all those Christmas lights this season, relax.

Help is on the way from your children. Years from now, whether they like it or not, your kids could be paying off $5.5 billion worth of today’s electric bills that Ontario’s Liberal government has decided to shift onto the provincial debt.

In the fall fiscal update he delivered this week, Windsor’s own Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told us all to quit worrying about those monster hydro bills because he’s decided to shift $1.1 billion of those costs annually onto the provincial charge card for the next five years.

Some of us had assumed that deficit financing had started to fall out of fashion in North America, given what happened to so many bigspendin­g politician­s in recent elections.

Not at Queen’s Park, where our collective debt is now at $212 billion and still rising fast.

The bill-shifting scheme, which is cynically being referred to as a “relief package” for consumers, is actually just another disguised generation­al wealth transfer.

It’s also an economic time bomb rigged to go off in the faces of the next generation — just like the tens of billions worth of deferred costs from the Liberals’ botched nuclear program in the 1980s, which shows up on your monthly hydro bill today as “debt retirement charges.”

The latest hydro scheme will last past its first year only if the Liberals are re-elected next fall — which they are increasing­ly worried about, judging by their panicky decision-making recently.

Progressiv­e Conservati­ves at a nomination meeting in Essex on Thursday were grinning with glee at the political gift they’ve been handed by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s flip-flopping hydro rate policies.

“This is the perfect storm for the Liberal party,” says Ken Zeise, president of the Ontario PC Party, which supervised the unconteste­d nomination gathering.

With strong and popular leaders at the helms of both the Tories and the NDP in Ontario — Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath, respective­ly — the Liberals were already bleeding support from both their right and left flanks, Zeise said.

That’s only going to get worse if the McGuintyit­es continue to exhibit desperate policy wobbles like the hydro rate “con job,” as Sarnia-area MP Bob Bailey called it this week.

That fixed election date next fall must be starting to look to the Liberals like an oncoming train.

Their backpedall­ing on Hydro rates was seen as manna from heaven by the 100 or so Tories who gathered in Essex to nominate former Windsor city councillor Dave Brister as their candidate next fall in the riding of Essex.

The semi-rural riding is currently held by Liberal Bruce Crozier, who until now has looked like he held one of the safest seats in the province. That might not be true any more, now that he’s facing a well-organized and well-financed candidate who polled more votes than any councillor in Windsor’s history.

“I can assure you the party is not going to spare you any expense in helping you win this riding,” Zeise told the cheering riding associatio­n. Other party officials said the group has swollen to more than 400 members thanks to the hard-working and wellorgani­zed Brister.

The candidate lost no time in pointing to the 10-per-cent “phoney rebate” on Hydro rates as the latest reason why Ontario families can’t afford another term of Liberal government.

“That 10 per cent they’re giving you? It’s your money and they’re expecting you to forget how much hydro rates went up,” Brister said.

The cost of electricit­y has already risen by 75 per cent under the Liberals, who until now have brushed away any complaints by telling consumers its good for them to pay through the nose for windmills, $90,000 hybrid SUVs to shuttle some cabinet ministers around, and other green schemes of dubious real value. Despite the Liberals’ sleight of hand this week, hydro rates are still set to rise by another 46 per cent over the span of their fiveyear rate rebate scam.

“It’s just a shell game — they’re just trying to put everything off until after the election,” Zeise said. Still, they’re pretending to cut rates in a way so transparen­tly deceitful you wonder who they think they will fool.

You never know: Stunts like this have worked for the Liberals in the past. But if voters decide they don’t like it, the retributio­n they visit upon the party next fall could be worse than anyone imagines.

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