Category Archives: Ontario Politics

Elections should be easy for voters: Part One

RHBS 160In one year we will be in the middle of a writ period in Ontario. Leaders of all of Ontario’s main parties will tell you “this is the most important election Ontario has ever had”. Let’s be clear, every election is always more important than the last one – the future is at stake, the four year ‘near’ future.

Instead of talking about how this coming election was more important that the 2014 election, wouldn’t it be better if the next election was presented in such a way that voters would know what to expect and understand what will take place based on a “real” election promise, not something vague. Somethings about the needs of Ontarians that is real to them and will make a difference.

Election promises are made, some are kept and others, well…aren’t. But to be honest sometimes the promises don’t make sense and just provide an agenda (if you don’t like the platform) or plan (if you support the leader and the party) for a four year mandate. Here is a simple idea – a simple four year plan to the voters of what will take place until the next election on four major themes. If you think about what happens now, each year of spending is a pot pouri of promises without a specific theme. Budgets are like Mambo #5; a little bit for you, a little bit for that group and little bit here and there. Lets talk about changing that with thematic budgets that address specific areas of the lives of Ontarians.

Simply put there are four areas that matter to voters: Health Care; Education; the Environment and Energy. Yes, yes…there are other important areas, but they can exist in one or  more of the four sectors mentioned. Each year of the mandate would feature a budget that focuses on one sector and its sub-sectors. It could look something like this:

Year One: Health Care

Year Two: The Environment

Year Three: Energy

Year Four: Education

Here is my theory, you do health first because changing health care is like steering a oil tanker on the seas, turning around takes a long time – it can’t make that turn on dime.  It will take four years for changes made to be seen and felt  for Ontarians.  If it works then Ontarians will see improvement in how health care is delivered by the time the next election comes around. In the second year the Environment is the theme and ties into year three with Energy. In year four Education is addressed for action after studies and consultations are done in the first 2-3 years of the mandate. If successful the four year platform rolls out smoothly, is successful and sees positive results that will ensure a second mandate.

Now, it will be problematic if there is no plan to follow up four years of success. Think back to Mike Harris and his five priorities, he completed his five priorities successfully however without a plan that could follow them up and because of that, under Ernie Eves, the Ontario PC’s fizzled. The lack of additional priorities was death bell of the Ontario PC’s in 2003 and brought us McGuinty and Wynne – we know how that has worked for Ontario.

The needs of Ontario do not stand still, neither should election plans, but governments get tired and try to stay relevant based on yesterday’s success. In this series of posts, I will look at the possibilities of having a structured election plan. It may even be considered as free advice heading to the June 2018 Ontario election.

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Is 25% enough for you?

wynne-and-electricity

Illustration from Ontario Wind Resistance (www.ontario-wind-resistance.org)

25%, that’s the answer from Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. Mired with a personal approval rating of 11% (as of 01/03/2017) the Premier announced a further reduction in the electricity bills of 17% this summer (after an 8% reduction that was set January 1st) as way to avoid the knives that would cut her and the Liberals out of government in the on 2018 Ontario General election. In the announcement, Wynne also stated that following the summer reduction in rates, increases will be tied to the annual rate of inflation.

Rates are currently frozen between November 1 2016 and May 1 2017 and tradition shows that previously approved rates go up on May 1st. So a question: with a reduction coming in the summer, will the 17% rate reduction have to take in any increase that may come on the first of May?

With this “olive branch” from the government, there are so many questions and so few answers.

I recently attended a meeting about Hydro costs hosted by Nepean-Carleton PC MPP Lisa Macleod; it featured a presentation by Peter Gallant from Wind Concerns Ontario. Mr. Gallant went behind the line items and presented what was represented on each line. There is so much more behind your electricity bill than just a box that says please pay this amount.

It will come as no surprise that your monthly bill is political. Political in such that choices are made in how the bill is written to make it seem that you should feel good about the fees you pay, right down to the final line of your statement indicating how much you saved on electricity because of reductions and time of use savings (I hope that makes you feel better).

Then there are the acronyms! My goodness, the number of acronyms that are used is mind-blowing. LDC, NUG, OPG, RPP, TOU, FIT and MicroFIT, GA, the list goes on.

My take away from the session was that producing hydro is burdened with levels of debt payment and delivery fees. But also that green energy, the McGuinty Green Energy Program, is going to burden Ontario Taxpayers for years as FIT (Feed in Tariff) contracts guarantee fees paid to generators that are up to 6 times more than what we currently pay for its use. The difference, and the bulk of what we pay, lies in the delivery and renewal generation connection charges created to bring in the revenue that time of use electricity rates cannot for the creation of wind and solar energy in Ontario.

The announcement by Wynne and Energy Minister Thibeault is going to push paying for contracts, repairs and expensive energy generation through to the next two generations or more. By only allowing rate of inflation increases for the next four years, debt payments of billions are being delayed, increasing the provincial debt further and increasing debt financing payments closer to the top the expense sheet of the province.

Prior to the announcement from the government, the NDP pledged to cut electricity rates by 30%. No word on how to do it, but just to cut rates by a third.

So now of course, Ontarians want to know how the Brown led PC’s will challenge the Liberals ‘reduce and almost freeze’ plan. MPP Macleod told those at her meeting that there will be a response, but it will be thought out (unlike the NDP plan?) and a workable plan to provide affordable electricity for Ontario.

We’ll have to wait, but I hope that the plan will include a dash reality, acknowledging what path Ontario has been led down by the McGuinty-Wynne Green Energy Coalition.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

A Cap ‘n Trade happy ending

happy-endingsDISCLAIMER: I am not a climate change denier, I have been on the earth long enough to know that our climate is changing and that everyone must do something so that when Canada celebrates 250 years our great great grandchildren will have a just as great country as we did 100 years previous. But, I am also aware that wages are not increasing in the private sector as fast as taxes are going up and being introduced. The end of being able to fund EVERYTHING the government wants/needs to do is coming.

Somehow I got an email from a company that was announcing its purchase of Cap and Trade credit, I do not know how they had my email address but that is beside the point here. An Ottawa area real estate team annouced that they had figured our their carbon footprint and purchased carbon credits to offset the carbon they create/use each year.

My first reaction was great – thank you for recognizing your environmental impact. My second was, you have a new cost and now you are going to pass it on your clients? On top of that in the email, there were suggestions on how to reduce our individual carbon footprint like using LED bulbs, lowering our thermostats when we’re not home, using cloth or reusable grocery bags an fill our green, black and blue bins for recycling.

Did the writer of this email think that we weren’t already doing those things? People are doubling up sweaters when they are home to reduce electricity consumption to stay warm. Many have to decide do I heat or do I eat? I asked the company to talk to the government and let them know that consumers are reaching the end, the disposable incomes of Canadians are thinning out because of the passed on costs of taxes and carbon credits to consumers.

They Real Estate company probably don’t expect any replies, but I decided I should ask a few questions on their decision to purchase Carbon Credits. How many did they buy? How much did they pay? Will they be passing the cost of their purchase onto their clients? Are they aware that by passing on the cost, they are adding to the cost of homes in Ontario making it more difficult for first time buyers and families that need a new home to replace the once they have grown out of?

I was not expecting a reply, but I received one the next day. in the email I was told:

“…as a company (we) decided to take this initiative on and fund the costs of doing so without passing them on to clients.”  

Further more they wrote when I asked why they were doing this at a time when cap and trade is going to cost consumers more, they wrote:

“My belief is organizations and individuals should all look at doing this for themselves and that means paying for it themselves not passing it down the line.”

So, kudos to them, I applaud their stance that believing that they alone were responsible for their carbon footprint and that they alone should pay for it.

Kudos to the Adam Mills Real Estate Team in Ottawa for taking a stand for consumers. They won’t get much press for doing what they did, but I hope that word sneaks out and that they have set the bar high for others to follow. That the government will be adding a Carbon Tax line to our hydro costs is expected – that one company in Ottawa has decided NOT to is unexpected.

I hope others WILL take note and follow their lead.

I am not in the market for a new home, but if I were they would be getting a call from me.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

 

Surprises of 2016

joey

2016, the year that is about to pass gave us a few surprises, though the surprises that came in the form of the deaths of many great entertainers and leaders provided the saddest of surprises.   For the year that was to be of #SunnyWays, there were many dark days.

February 3, 1959 was the day “that the music died”, 2016 is becoming the year that took the best of music from us, starting with David Bowie in January, two thirds of Emerson (March), Lake (December) & Palmer and closing out (hopefully) with George Michael on Christmas Day. CNN provided a look back http://www.edition.cnn.com/2016/12/26/entertainment/musician-deaths-2016-year-music-died/index.html.

The Rolling Stones #BlueandLonesome Lp is the best thing they have put out in many years.

David Bowie produced a masterpiece even while knowing he was dying.

Some Toronto sports teams were good! The Raptors, Blue Jays and Toronto FC challenged for league titles.

Ontario by-election results in Scarborough-Rouge River (expected the worse) and Ottawa Vanier (expected better).

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens was SO GOOD (No surprise there).

That I was back in Ottawa after 10 months in Queens Park and that I would be busier with one file to monitor and advise on than I was with 7 in Toronto.

The Tragically Hip delivered one of their best yet on vinyl  – and on stage they delivered a show for a Nation.

Henry Burris, the Ottawa Redblacks AND becoming #GreyCup104 Champions.

The collapse of the leadership of Thomas Mulcair at the NDP Conventions and that the assumed frontrunners for the party leadership have stepped aside and decided not to run.

There are still 14, FOURTEEN, contenders for the Leadership of Conservative Party of Canada.

It was a banner year for books about musicians with biographies about Springsteen, McCartney, Robertson, Collins and Wilson all marking pages.

Kathleen Wynne is still here.

Hilary Rodham Clinton.

Donald J Trump.

What surprised you in 2016?

Finally, thank you for reading #RedheartBlueSign in 2016. With 45 posts, 1000 visitors and over 1300 views it was a good year. I look forward to continuing that in 2017 – with you along with me. Thank You!

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

121: I don’t get that they don’t get it

I am gobsmacked.

This week saw the federal Liberals drop their Climate Change plan on the provinces. It was disguised as a simple motion to have Parliament ratify the Paris COP21 Agreement. In Ontario the provincial Liberals have already started down the road of carbon pricing with a Cap and Trade partnership with Quebec and California. BC and Alberta have a Carbon Levy, with Ontario and Quebec the four provinces have the combined population of 80% of Canadians.

Through generations there have been causes that have had to be addressed; Acid Rain, Reducing waste, Clean Lakes…government has come and done what was needed. Here we are and there is an need to act to slowdown, stall and reverse the changes in our climate. I get that, some people don’t – that’s OK and that is a discussion for another day.

Here is what I don’t get. I don’t get that they don’t get it.

There is a cost to all of what Kathleen Wynne has done to Ontario. Increased Hydro rates, bad Wind and Solar contracts driving up the cost of doing business in Ontario which is driving businesses out of Ontario to the States who – get this – get our hydro for a steal, for next to nothing.

The Ontario Green Energy Plan (GEP) was forecast to create 27,000 jobs. That’s fine, but the 27,000 only represents 0.4% of Ontario’s total workforce of 6.9 million. The GEP will not financially benefit every worker in Ontario. In fact the additional costs we already know about, 4 cents/litre at the pumps, $5/month on hydro bills plus HST on a the Carbon tax will affect every worker in Ontario. Ontario’s plan is not a revenue neutral plan for Ontarians.

Ontario’s Premier, Canada’s Environment Minister (and Ottawa Centre MP) along with Prime Minister Trudeau have not expresssed one iota of recognition that this is going to be tough for many Ontarians, it will hit many in the pocketbook. Sure it may be good for the planet and the earth we leave our children and grandchildren may be better than it is today but while we get there Ontario families are going to hurt financially and the lives they dreamed of having are more and more becoming unreachable because of it.

There has been no real recogition, that the choices being made in Ontario are costing the middle class and fixed income voters of a good lifestyle, from Wynne, McKenna and Trudeau.

As recent as today there were two exampIes that the Federal Liberals have no clue what to say about the impact on Canadians a carbon price will have. In Question Period MP Lisa Raitt tried to relate how taxes keep going up and the impact of higher costs for everyday goods are very stressful. The federal reaction to this quest was for government MP to laugh. The laughter was so loud MP Raitt had to sit and stop for the Speaker of the House to have peace reclaimed.

On today’s CTV Power Play. Host Don Martin asked Environment Minister Catherine McKenna three times about the cost of the Carbon pricing on Canadians, three times! Three times there was no answer except that the provinces will decide how the impact will be felt on Canadians. Catherine was also asked about the impact the Federal GST would have on the price of carbon, again crickets.

The very same On broadcast, Lisa Raitt appeared with Toronto Liberal Adam Vaughan for a panel discussion. Vaughan was asked the same question and gave a response that the if Lisa Raitt was not the calm and collected politician she is I am sure she would have walked out, it was all over her face.

It really is as if they really don’t know what it is going to be like when all the extra costs of a Cap and Trade or a Carbon Tax finally kicks in.

I don’t get that they don’t get that.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

118: Dear Glenn, Charles and Kathleen (Sung Prudently*)

Dear Glenn, we don`t know how to pay
Dear Glenn, we struggle to eat each day
The new bill is in, the previous is past due
It’s higher than the old one from you
Dear Glenn, we don`t know how to pay

Dear Charles, we don`t know what to say
Dear Charles, we don’t see a sunny way
The wind is dead but charges still ping
What you do won’t change anything
Dear Charles, we don’t know what to say

The meter goes around
And around round round
Goes around

Dear Kathleen, we see you meekly smile
Dear Kathleen, from your QP mile
Delivery charges cause me distain
Even less 8% is not a gain
Dear Kathleen, you are why you’ll never see me smile

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117: Be an Adult about Bad news

queenspark_interior

Prorogation is a legislative tool at the disposal of a government. It is legal, but when it is used it comes up as an ethical issue. Former Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak said it correctly, “it’s a pretty typical move for governments to make halfway through their mandate” and for this I would say it was acceptable – IF that was the real reason. He also added that the by-election loss in Scarborough-Rouge River may have caused the Wynne government to put the legislative reset into action.

The problem is that through the entire summer, the Ontario Liberals were not communicating anything that sounded like a restart was needed. Checking through the list of press releases sent out this summer the government thought it was doing great, there was no urgency to have a midcourse correction. Then September 8th came and a safe Liberal seat suddenly turned blue with the election of Raymond Cho as the area’s MPP following the mysterious resignation of Liberal Bas Balkinsoon.

Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod, speaking with Evan Solomon on CFRA (https://youtu.be/USOFyfYLxeI)  called it an act of desperation. She also correctly stated that there is “a lot of anger (around the province), the government is out of touch with everyday Ontarians. Hydro prices are skyrocketing and we are losing jobs.” She goes on to say that the government “was called out, in a by-election in Toronto of all places”.

The realization that energy pricing is out of reach of more Ontarians that the government thinks, and now that voters won’t give her a ‘pass’ on this one issue has forced Kathleen Wynne to react, not proactively act on a major concern for Ontarians. Some may say that there are programs out there to help low income families – but the requirements to receive the smallest of rebates are so outrageous that a very small percentage of applicants will see any money.

IF the urgency of their energy policy and pricing is the sole reason for reset, is the reset needed? Why not head back to Queen’s Park, accept, as the government (and as adults), what is waiting for you (the government) in question period? Why not present your plans with new legislation? Why not start turning down rate hydro rate increase requests? Why not start addressing the costs associated with the compensation of Hydro One and OPG executives? All of these can be done without asking Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell to make a political speech on behalf of Kathleen Wynne.

When it comes to an honest reset, we don’t need the pomp and circumstance of speech from the throne. All we want from a government is action – not a reaction because you got a bad report card.

Thank you for reading this post, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.