Tag Archives: Ontario Liberals

Is the selling of Guelph Hydro already a cooked deal?

By Gerry Barker

August 4, 2017

For those of us who were around when former Mayor Karen Farbridge attempted to persuade us to merge Guelph Hydro with electric utilities in Hamilton and St. Catharines, even members of her council caucus voted no.

So, here we go again, with a public relations campaign amply financed from public funds, to persuade us to merge our electric distribution system with another as yet unknown utility. The city website features a list of pop-up information tables at six locations around the city starting August 3 to August 22.

The title of the web address is energizingtomorrow@guelph.ca.

The city is inviting the public to ask anything about the plan to “merge” Guelph Hydro with another utility.

Here is the administration’s reason for selling off our utility with an asset value of $228 million.

“Guelph Hydro is a high-performing utility company with a solid reputation. In light of changing provincial policies and global energy technology trends, City Council appointed a Strategies and Options Committee (SOC) to review options to help ensure customers to continue receiving excellent service and value from the City-owned electric utility company.”

It should come as no surprise that the leading contender to grab Guelph Hydro and control of its 55,000-customer base is, Hydro One.

Now, you will recall Hydro One, the operator of the entire hydro power system in Ontario, is owned by a private, publicly traded corporation. The former owner of one of the world’s largest power distribution systems is keeping a minority share. It was a $9 billion gain for the provincial government. Also it was a key maneouver leading up to a pre-election provincial balanced budget eliminating the deficit just in time for the June 7, 2018 general election.

Gee, that looks a lot like we’re being bought with our own money.

But there is more. Premier Kathleen Wynne has unveiled a plan to cut electricity costs for four years by as much as 25 per cent starting in 2018. Part of that 25 per cent is already affecting hydro customers with the government reducing the HST by eight per cent. So there is another decrease coming just in time for the provincial election.

With the Premier’s personal approval rating settling in deep freeze territory, below 20 per cent, the hydro gambit is essential for her government’s survival. The fact that the Progressive Conservatives are holding a 13 per cent edge over the Liberals, portends deep trouble over the next few months for the Grits.

So, here are some questions:

  •  If and when this sale is consummated, what’s in it for the shareholders, the people of Guelph and Rockwood, who are the owners and customers of Guelph Hydro?
  • If this happens, who will service the system when repairs are needed in the event of a major weather event or power outage?
  • What recourse have citizens got to reject the sale?
  •  If Guelph Hydro is sold, what will the city do with the proceeds?  *
  • Why does the city persist describing the disposition of Guelph Hydro as a “merger” and not a sale?

This is all about a sale of the city-owned utility. The argument that the sale is provincial policy is just not true. It has been discussed and municipalities have been told that the province wants greater efficiancy of power distribution. There has never been any debate about this or any specific directive from the province to merge with another utility.

The second argument speaks of advances in “global energy technology trends.” That’s partially true but why is Guelph Hydro being put up for sale? Why indeed, following the disasterous experiment by Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc., personally administered by the former mayor and her Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert? Neither of whom is no longer employed by the city.

The record shows that the loss of GMHI was more than $160 million, according to the GMHI consilidated audit costing some $2.8 million, some of the loses have already been written off.

Still glowing in the dark are the two unsecured debentures with outstanding balances of $103 million taken out by GMHI. The only clue of who provided those debenture funds came from the Chief Administrative Officer of GMHI, Pankaj Sardana, who said the debentures, came from a group of unnamed investors.

In my opinion, I believe those investors were soured through or part of Guelph Hydro.

Ask yourself, if you were owed $103 million by a city-owned corporation that is virtually bankrupt, wouldn’t the only way of recovering the capital would be to sell your organization (Guelph Hydro)? Or in this case, demand payment from the City of Guelph.

One of the most interesting items in the Guelph Hydro’s financial statement is a $94 million debt.

If Guelph Hydro is sold, then the purchaser will retire that debt and the proceeds return to the city as part of the settlement.

No purchaser in his or her right mind would want to take on a $94 million debt of a corporation with $228 million in assets. These figures are takeb from the 2016 Guelph Hydro financial report.

These are just some of the reasons why I will oppose any merger or sale of Guelph Hydro. The citizens have been excluded from the entire GMHI disaster and have paid a heavy price for an attempt to make Guelph a world-class renewable energy provider.

In my opinion, I believe that negotiations are currently underway to sell Guelph Hydro. The SOC schedule calls for the final consummation of the deal next spring before the provincial election.

Unfortunately, that deal is already baking in the oven.

Council will still have to agree on any proposal to sell Guelph Hydro. This means that as the date approaches citizens should express their opposition to members of council.

This is no frivolous attempt but a well-financed proposal, using your money, to sell Guelph Hydro.

Is this the price we pay for five years of total incompetence?

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Whats the difference between Volkswagen and the Ontario Liberals?

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 28, 2015

Volkswagen was the world’s largest car manufacturer until it became embroiled in a monumental scandal over lying about the fuel efficiency of its diesel engines. In the current quarter it announced a loss of $1.8 billion and slipped to second place in sales behind Toyota.

Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals have been stumbling along for two years with a $10 million operating deficit. Now we learn that her government has been making under the table payments to teacher’s unions who, in turn, have spent some $6.1 million supporting the party in at least three provincial elections.

The premier calls the payments “normal” while Liz Sandals, MPP, Guelph and Minister of Education, is quoted as saying the payments were ”nothing about anything.”

So what’s the difference between Volkswagen and the Wynne Liberals?

Volkswagen fired its CEO, shook up the board of directors and acknowedged its mistake of lying to the public about the diesel mileage of its cars. They are pledged to fix it.

Kathleen Wynne and her sidekick, Liz Sandals, are still in charge and driving the public education system into the grave of John Ross Robertson, a key individual who originally set up Ontario’s public education system.

This government has participated in a deal with three teacher unions in payoffs totaling $7.1 million. In exchange for labour peace the quid pro quo of the teacher union’s exclusive support, the unions contributed money and manpower, to the Ontario Liberal party.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was a party to this in the last three provincial elections, first as Minister of Education and more recently as Premier.

The unmitigated folly of these two former public school trustees, thanks to a leaked secret 42-page document to the Globe and Mail, has created a political firestorm of outrage by the public. Thousands of elementary pupils, their parents and the taxpayers are at the mercy of the Elementary Teacher Federation of Ontarto (ETFO) and the government negotiators.

The strategy that backfired on the Wynne Liberals, authors of this debacle

The ETFO is the largest teacher’s union in Ontario. It is the only public education union that refused to accept the million dollar government bonuses.

Last August, three unions settled a new contract, including a 2.5% increase and were paid as follows: The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), $1 million with 66,000 members; the Ontario English Catholic High Teachers Asssociation (OECTA), $1 million with 33,000 members, and the French language teachers (AEFO), $500,000 with 10,000 members.

But the ETFO refused to agree to a similar settlement and refused any so-called, undocumented payment for additional bargaining costs such as the other three major unions had received.

Today, Premier Wynne, announced that receipts were required before any under the counter payments were made. This was a complete slap in the face for Minister Sandals who told the media that her department did not require receipts because they were familiar with the costs of the union negotiating team.

Instead, negotiations broke down. To make its point the ETFO leadership moved to its job action program that started to inconvenience children and parents. Today, October 28, the teachers will leave the classroom at 3:15 and refuse to participate in parent/teacher interviews, will not write report cards, or work on any extracurricular activities.

It would appear that the premier is saying the offer the other three unions accepted, is still on the table. She has threatened to start docking the pay of those elementary teachers who do not carry out their responsibilities and end their job action starting this weekend.

So because the EFTO refuses to agree to the government’s demand to settle on its terms; because the EFTO won’t accept under the table payments or donate money to the Liberals; because the EFTO has some regard for its responsibility to the children and their parents; they are left with no choice.

The Wynne Liberals are determined to bring the ETFO to heel and accept their terms.

For Premier Wynne and Minster Liz Sandals to continue to inconvenience the lives of elementary pupils and parents for their party’s personal gain and to maintain power, is an unconscionable misuse of their fiduciary responsibility and public trust.

It’s time to resign, both of you, and turn out the lights when you leave.

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