Energy in the Ontario by elections: round II

The McGuinty Liberals in the October 2011 general election won the most seats—and lost their legislative majority—for the exact same reason: “green” energy. Only voters in urban districts love wind power; they don’t have to live with giant turbines spinning over their heads. There are more voting districts in urban areas. Experience has shown that when people do have to live with this kind of thing, they don’t like it at all. And that dislike translates into voting behaviour. So last October, the Liberals, because they dominate urban voting areas, maintained power but lost their majority because they lost a number of key rural ridings in which wind power was a major issue.

The Liberals know this, but you couldn’t tell from their public utterances. Dalton McGuinty is a highly-disciplined communicator, at least as good as George W. Bush. I mean that as a compliment. It is not easy to hold a rhetorical line when all occasions inform against it. McGuinty has been doing exactly that for years. I admire him for it.

Today, a number of the wind and solar companies that bought his rhetoric are suing his government for changing the rules mid-stride. McGuinty promised them fast and profitable access to the Ontario electricity grid, and it turned out that was easier promised than done. Now, as it has become clear that the highly touted “green” energy is a bumbling, embarrassing non-performer (see my article about the lamentable but predictable absence of wind from Ontario’s grid in the recent heat wave), McGuinty is, rightly, wondering why he should be forcing senior citizens in downtown Toronto to pay top dollar for it.

How will this play out in the upcoming by elections in Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo? The “green” energy lawsuits might actually help him there.

However this plays out, the Ontario premier is probably thanking his stars that the nuclear plants have remained faithful and reliable. They are the Number One reason Ontario’s electricity is clean, cheap, and reliable. He came to power with the support of the “green” crowd, who for all their complaining about greenhouse gases are even more opposed to the one technology that emits no greenhouse gases. He must be wondering what, if anything, will please them.

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Bernie Ewing
8 years ago

Mr. Smitherman, lost since departed, and given a cold, sobering shower by those voting for the Mayor of Toronto must surely carry some responsibility for Ontario’s unenviable situation vis-a-vis wind energy. He championed, with much noise and vigor, and a very deaf ear to other points of view his favorite brand of energy supply. George never allowed reality, advice or criticisms to hinder him in his pursuit and accomplishment of unnecessary, expensive dreams. He did win some award or other from wind energy proponents.

Perhaps Mr. McGuinty would have been further ahead to have found an effective method of harnessing George Smitherman’s energy instead of letting the latter run amok with harnessing Ontario’s fickle breezes.

A Bemused Maritimer.

Steve Aplin
8 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Ewing

Bernie, that reminds me of the circumstances under which the former energy minister entered the race for mayor. He left cabinet after getting overruled by his cabinet colleagues on the Samsung wind deal. The boss then overruled them, I guess by reminding them how they came to be ministers in the first place.

McGuinty is a loyal person, which like his communications discipline is highly admirable. You dance with him who brung ya. But if him who brung ya turns out to be an irredeemably hare-brained prima donna with no appreciation for reality, eventually you start wondering if it’s right that the loyalty only goes in one direction.

Bernie Ewing
8 years ago

Touché Steve!

Mr. Smitherman, lost since departed, and given a cold, sobering shower by those voting for the Mayor of Toronto must surely carry some responsibility for Ontario’s unenviable situation vis-a-vis wind energy. He championed, with much noise and vigor, and a very deaf ear to other points of view his favorite brand of energy supply. George never allowed reality, advice or criticisms to hinder him in his pursuit and accomplishment of unnecessary, expensive dreams. He did win some award or other from wind energy proponents.