Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cancelling contracts in the Ontario election

It's a theme in this election. Seen most recently in the Liberal move to cancel the power plant in Mississauga. A few points on that here...

First, it should be noted that this is not something that was cooked up 11 days before the election, as it was put in the debate last night. It was telegraphed in June that it might not go ahead: “There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing and that's what we'll do,” McGuinty told reporters while visiting an elementary school in Milton on Monday."

There was also much made of the power plant cancellation in this John Ivison column yesterday. I think I'll wait to see public sources going on record about compensation costs before believing anonymous sources to the National Post though.

What's a little rich about some of what's in the Ivison column though, from Tim Hudak in particular, is the hypocrisy. Tom Adams is quoted as asking these questions: “Even if you have no interest in these arcane subjects, managing the power system by electoral district polling results should be unnerving. It begs the question, how much politics do you think is safe? What boundary lines should there be between political decisions and long-term infrastructure questions that are so important to our long-term future?” Good questions all. And those are questions that we know could also be put to Tim Hudak with his promise to tear up the Samsung agreement. So as Hudak postures on the Mississauga power plant ("Mr. Hudak issued an open letter to Mr. McGuinty asking how much Ontario families will pay for scrapping the deal, how much the Ontario government spent preparing the site and where they would “move” the plant."), he's aware that such questions apply to him and his Samsung promise that will affect jobs in Ontario for the sake of Hudak's turning it into a "political punching bag to win votes."

There are other contract cancellations that have been promised during the campaign that could cost Ontario taxpayers money, depending: Horwath promising to cancel the $120 million GO contract to a Quebec firm on September 17th; Hudak promising to cancel the $120 million GO contract to a Quebec firm on September 18th.

Voters will make what they want out of the Mississauga plant issue, whether it's a move that listens to the local community or whether it's electioneering. But it's not as if there's a lot of moral high ground to be found from the opposition parties given the politically opportunistic nature of the Hudak and Horwath contract promises that have been peddled in this election.