Is your vote for sale? The Ontario NDP thinks so with its absurd policy to give every household a $100 hydro refund. Will the NDP pay for this with the same magic money and fairy dust they propose to fund transit? And why $100? Why not $200? $1,000? How much do you want for your vote?
The whiff of an election in the air can bring out the silliness in politicians. Tired of watching the Liberals throw money at trying to win by-elections, the NDP seems determined to outbid the Liberals before the spring campaign begins.
But do people really want our role as citizens reduced to cashing a bonus cheque at the voting booth? The NDP seems to think so. I don't believe it for a minute.
I am convinced politicians can earn votes with integrity, good public policy and a vision for a better future.
I don't have much company these days. The NDP's $440-million hydro hand-out pales in comparison to the Liberal's ongoing vote buying bonanza that borrows $1.1 billion annually to take a few dollars off your electricity bill. The more you waste, the more you get. So much for rewarding conservation or trying to reduce electricity prices by avoiding the capital cost of new generation.
Ontario faces an $11-billion deficit, a record number of food bank visits and a stagnant economy. Yet the Liberals have borrowed over $3.5 billion to claim they've lowered your electricity bill. This vote-buying subsidy has more in common with a carnival shell game than it does with good public policy.
The Conservatives are not immune to using energy politics to buy your vote. They are just more subtle. Tim Hudak's proposed "jobs" bill promises to cancel green energy contracts. This might make anti-wind protesters happy, but we've all seen what cancelling power contracts costs with the Liberal's billion dollar gas plant boondoggle. No thanks, Tim.
How's this for hydro honesty: electricity rates are going up and there's not much politicians can do about it. Generating electricity costs money, and we have to make investments now to bring our grid into the 21st century.
But this doesn't mean your electricity bill has to go up. Investing in energy efficiency and conservation is the only way to reduce your bill. Every kilowatt you save is money in your pocket now, next year and 10 years from now.
Instead of power politics, it's time for an honest conversation about energy prices. It's time to stop trying to fool the electorate with gimmicks and loss leaders. We need energy policy that will deliver for our economy and our environment, and we need it now.
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