In response to the Ontario Government’s plan to sell 60% of Hydro One, the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) has announced a campaign to inform and energize the public against the privatization scheme.
The Liberals intend to sell Hydro One, the distribution network of Ontario’s public electric power system, to private companies, despite growing opposition within the Ontario legislature and in the population at large. The proposal was part of the omnibus budget bill that passed the legislature on the last day before the summer recess. Part of the budget removed most of the regulatory measures which governed Hydro One as a public utility.
The Government’s excuse for selling off one of the most important public assets owned by the people of Ontario was to provide capital to finance its $30 billion public infrastructure project, the key proposal in its election campaign. It did not campaign on privatizing Ontario Hydro, however.
This privatization plan, the continuation of the corporate austerity campaign, has many aspects that attack the living standard and the democratic rights of the people of Ontario:
- The loss of $1 billion a year in income to fund social programs and public services.
- The hand-over of a highly profitable crown corporation to the private sector, which will immediately turn it into a profitable cash cow and raise residential and industrial rates.
- The loss of control of electricity production in The 2004 blackout due to private ownership and control of the US electrical grids, and Ontario’s reliance on those grids, should be enough reason by itself to keep Hydro public. Add in provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin’s report exposing massive over-billing problems, compounded by a massive cover-up in 2014, and the facts speak for themselves.
- The issue of the public interest and control, which the Premier says are assured with 40% control, is another ruse by the Liberals. In fact, the public’s “representatives” need not be accountable to the government or the public. They could easily end up being bankers or corporate hedge fund managers whose interests are diametrically opposed to the public interest.
A winnable campaign
While the legislation has passed the actual sale will not occur for a while. The government has not worked out the details of its prospective for sale on the stock markets of Ontario or beyond.
The opposition to this proposal is widespread. The independent officers of the Ontario legislature warned that the legislature loses regulatory authority over power generation and distribution in Ontario with the bill.
This privatization is a key part of the growing corporate attacks on the working class and the people of Ontario. The result will be sky-high electricity rates that will only benefit the new corporate owners of Hydro One.
The battle is not over. The labour movement has already organized a coalition opposed to this sellout of Ontario to the private sector. A public campaign in 2002 prevented the privatization of Power Generation by the Harris government – a strong campaign based on mass action can win again!