Oakville’s lesson for Toronto: if you complain loud enough, Queen’s Park will cave

Oakville’s lesson for Toronto: if you complain loud enough, Queen’s Park will cave

Brad Duguid (Image: mah.gov.on.ca)

In a desperate attempt to retain their majority principled and well thought-out plan, the Ontario government yesterday announced that, after much public outcry, they will not continue with plans to build a large gas-fired plant in the town of Oakville. The Toronto Star reports that while the government says the plant is no longer necessary, the Liberals in government might have had other concerns.

Energy Minister Brad Duguid made the hastily-planned announcement Thursday with Oakville Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn, whose seat was in jeopardy in next October’s provincial election if the plant went ahead….

After insisting for several years that the plant was necessary because of plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2014, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government said the picture has changed.

“When the need for this plant was first identified four years ago, there were higher demand projections for electricity in the area,” said a statement from Duguid’s office.

While we would never dream of calling the province anything other than scrupulously honest, it needs to be said that Duguid and his predecessors (including George Smitherman) spent years arguing that when the Tories stopped building new power plants in Ontario, it hobbled the economy and led to the chaos the system was in after the 2003 blackout. Taking their foot off the gas is exactly what they once accused the Tories of doing.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. Because of the cancellation, the province may now be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, and could potentially be sued for up to a billion dollars by TransCanada, the gas company that was building the plant.

With that much money at play, there may be a lesson for Toronto in all this in getting our transit funding restored: just threaten to stop voting for the party in power.

• Worried Liberals pull plug on Oakville gas plant [Toronto Star]
• Oakville gas plant plan axed [National Post]
• Kelly McParland: Oakville power plant explodes on McGuinty [National Post]
Ontario pulls plug on gas-fired plant [Globe and Mail]
• Coyle: McGuinty’s saving seats — and his own power [Toronto Star]
• Oakville power plant plan cancelled [CBC News]