Electricity as an Ontario (and a Canadian) election issue
I mentioned in my October 3 post that the Ontario Liberals’ loss in Parkdale–High Park occurred for reasons other than their nuclear expansion policy. This is not to say electricity won’t be an issue in the provincial election in October 2007. It will.
With all the talk of Kyoto and climate change these days, together with the fact that it will cost billions to rehab and build reactors—and Ontario’s past experiences with fission—it can’t not be an issue.
The really interesting thing is, what role will the federal government play in Ontario’s nuclear plans? There will likely have been a federal election by the time Ontario’s election rolls around next October. Let’s say Harper wins again. Will he extend any help to Dalton McGuinty? As I have mentioned in the “Harper’s Kyoto dilemma” series (see Archives from June and July), such a move, if skillfully packaged, could solve Harper’s Quebec–Kyoto problem.
But if Harper were to follow my advice, he could not prevent the McGuinty Liberals from also capitalizing politically. If he supported their nuclear expansion plan in the name of Kyoto, then he could not take sole credit; he’d have to share it with McGuinty. Ditto for McGuinty: if he touts his nuclear plans as green (which they are), and demanded federal support, and got it, he could not prevent Harper from benefiting.
Where does this leave the Ontario Conservatives? Remember that three prominent members of Harper’s cabinet—finance minister Jim Flaherty, health minister Tony Clement, and treasury board president John Baird—were cabinet ministers in the Harris and Eaves governments. All have close ties, if not to John Tory himself (Flaherty, backed by Baird, ran against Tory for the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives in 2004), then to their former colleagues at Queen’s Park.
So the next question is, would Harper and his Ontario cabinet ministers hand Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals an election victory at the expense of the Ontario Conservatives if it meant extending the federal Conservatives’ stay in power?
This might be why neither McGuinty nor Harper has said much about nuclear power. The rubber hasn’t hit the road yet.
But it will. A federal election will happen soon, and McGuinty has less than a year before he hits the hustings.