Rex Murphy: The Green Energy Act is dead. Let that be a warning to green politicians Ontario’s Green Energy Act was a horror for business, a gross invasion of municipal authority, and sent successive auditors general to whatever is the chartered accountants version of a hospice centre
September 21, 2018
2:28 PM EDT
With apologies to the cowboy folk-music tradition, and in particular to Mr. Roy Rogers (film star, balladeer) and his horse Trigger (the golden palomino) for the mauling of a noble classic, may I offer, in homage to Mr. Ford’s euthanasia of the Green Energy Act, a few campfire lyrics:
Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little boondoggles,
It was McGuinty’s misfortune, and none of my own
Ontario’s Green Energy Act was a horror for business, a gross invasion of municipal authority, and sent successive auditors general to whatever is…
Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little boondoggles,
You know that Ontario’s no longer your home.
The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which the Ford government announced Thursday it would officially cancel, was one of the most monumental government follies of our time. It was a hydra-headed monster of regulations and fiat that bludgeoned Ontario’s rural communities, stripped Ontario’s municipalities of every right to the slightest participation in their own planning, placed a darkling pall over the manufacturing industry, and imposed the highest electricity costs in all North America on some of Ontario’s lowest-income citizens.
It is a challenge to give a comprehensive account of its many follies. A saga that started in 2009 under then Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, received a full and smothering embrace by his successor, Kathleen Wynne, that subsidized at dizzying multiples the electricity provided by the most inefficient sources, put the small towns and outlying cities of the province under a green iron fist, stimulated both the construction of gas plants and their subsequent abrupt election-inspired cancellation, produced power it had to give away or pay other jurisdictions to take, castrated small businesses, burdened the most impoverished of the province with a choice between power and bread, and then precipitated the greatest slaughter of the Liberal Party of Ontario in modern-day history, cannot be encompassed in a column.
The story of the McGuinty/Wynne crusade to impose, at any cost, full green moralism on Ontarians should serve as a drastic caution to politicians everywhere that “going green” isn’t the innocent
All in all, it was the most staggering story involving hallucinations about windmills since the great Cervantes inscribed — to give the full, elegant title — “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha,” which an obliging Google amanuensis translates as “The ingenious knight Don Quixote of La Mancha.”
It’s quite queasy being a green. The story of the McGuinty/Wynne crusade to impose, at any cost, full green moralism on Ontarians should serve as a drastic caution to politicians everywhere that “going green” isn’t the innocent, costless Boy-Scoutism it is always portrayed as. That it is never quite enough to keep telling your citizens in the condescending tones of the Sunday morning TV evangelists to “take your medicine, it’s for your own good.”
It is an amazing thing how often politicians elected to serve a particular jurisdiction — could be municipal or provincial — set themselves these grand glorious and green global agendas. “Sorry. Can’t fix the potholes, clear the drains before a storm, unlock the traffic snarling every street and expressway or get the streetcars here on time — but, hey, we’re banning plastic straws and grocery bags and we’re going solar on the billboards.” If you can’t run the city, leave the planet saving for another day. If you’ve got to send out government money to private citizens to allow them to pay their power bills because your policies are the very ones that drove power bills to a level they cannot pay, then reconsider the delusion that global warming is what you were elected to fix.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act was a horror for business, a gross invasion of municipal authority, and sent successive auditors general to whatever is the chartered accountants version of a hospice centre. It had some glorious moments. Following the politically motivated billion-dollar cancellation of the Oakville gas plant — a plant necessitated by the Green Energy fiat that shut down all coal power — and the destruction by Liberal staffers of the very emails in the premier’s office that might have illuminated this billion-dollar waste, Mr. McGuinty, at one hearing offered this immortal rationalization: “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”
They have not baked, nor will they ever, the fortune cookie worthy to receive that compacted, gnarly, choice slice of perfect condescension. It should be engraved in granite on the steps of the Ontario legislature, enclosed in glass, with the instruction: For Use Only When Every Other Excuse Has Laid Down And Died.
An addiction to greenism is never free. It hollows the political mind. And in the light of last week’s great horror over Premier Ford toying with the notwithstanding clause — the very birth-giving instrument of our sacred Charter of Rights — the green-energy saga offers yet another lesson. Its fiercest opponents, the Liberals and the NDP, saw constitutional Armageddon in Mr. Ford’s resolve to call out the clause. They were most intensely angered because he was “depriving Toronto’s municipal government” of its rights, short-circuiting democracy itself.
Where were they and their Everest-high concerns for municipal democracy when Premier Never-Too-Late stripped all municipal authorities of their capacity to protest, participate in or engage with the epidemic of windmill construction in their own communities? The Toronto Sun Lorrie Goldstein put it very clearly: “(They) deprived Ontarians of natural justice, turning neighbour against neighbour as developers quietly signed deals to lease privately-owned lands in rural communities for massive wind turbines and solar farms, with the projects then sprung on those communities as a fait accompli, in which they had no meaningful say.”
Two final points: when they people got to judge their glorious green future in an election, the Liberals were transmuted into a rump. If any politician wants to see how greenism and the famous equation of federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna works out in the real world (“the environment and the economy go hand in hand”) check out Ontario. Note those Liberal numbers, and note well too, that a Mr. Doug Ford “I am become Destroyer of Carbon Taxes” is Premier.