News & Views

Premier Kathleen Wynne is downplaying polls that show her popularity in decline and a warning from former finance minister Greg Sorbara that the Liberals are in "grave danger" of losing the 2018 election.

"There's no secret there have always been people in the Liberal party who weren't keen on me," Wynne told reporters Friday after meeting with auto industry executives and union leaders.

The premier said she hopes public opinion will improve once Ontarians feel the full effect of her promised 25 per cent cut to skyrocketing hydro rates this summer.

"I know that the issue around electricity prices has been very, very hard for people," said Wynne, who added she has no plans to step aside.

"I made a commitment to the people of Ontario in 2014," added the premier, who led the minority Liberals she inherited from her predecessor Dalton McGuinty to a majority in that provincial election and enjoyed solid approval ratings.

"I'm doing that job and I'm going to continue to do that job."

Liberals are placing second to Patrick Brown's Progressive Conservatives in most polls and Wynne's personal popularity is in the low double digits. The latest Angus Reid Institute survey has her at 12 per cent.

Sorbara, a key architect of Liberal majorities under McGuinty, raised concerns this week about the party's prospects for the provincial election next year and whether Wynne should step down.

"The fact is this is going to be a very difficult campaign," he said on TVO's The Agenda.

"The (poll) numbers today are the same and getting worse…the fact is the numbers do not lie and the ability to win the next election is in grave, grave doubt."

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid came to Wynne's rescue in a news conference, saying Ontario's economy is the strongest in Canada and the jobless rate is at its lowest in years.

"Energy rates became a lightning rod for all the discontent in the province and when you're premier of a province and that's happening you become a part of that lightning rod."

There is talk in the corridors of Queen's Park about who might replace Wynne as leader if the hydro rate cut doesn't lead to a bounce in the polls.

At the meeting with auto industry types, Wynne said efforts continued to forge a comment front as the Trump administration pushes renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement – particularly with companies taking advantage of lower wages in Mexico.

The aim is to protect the province's auto industry, which accounts for 15 per cent of North American production.

Don Walker, chief executive of auto parts giant Magna International, said it's important to keep Mexico in NAFTA without punitive tariffs.

"If you look at North America, the real competition in the automotive industry is China, is Europe, is Asia…having open access to low-cost labour in Mexico actually helps us be more competitive."

Unifor president Jerry Dias said nine of the last major auto assembly plants to be announced are for Mexico and it's time to reverse that trend.

"I'm not afraid of the renegotiation of NAFTA…all of the investment has been leaving Canada and going to Mexico. So there has to be an opportunity to start to turn that around."

Dias said he's like to see more major components of autos built closer to the assembly plants where they are used, instead of crossing borders or shipping over long distances.

article from Toronto Star

In Ontario, where Kathleen Wynne’s government just foisted a cap-and-trade version of a carbon tax on residents, antagonism is running high. A Nanos poll released this month and conducted for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation found only 31-per-cent support for the scheme, with 61 per cent opposed. PC voters, NDP voters, and astonishingly, Green voters all dislike it. The majority of people even in the enlightened GTA disapprove. Only Liberal voters were more inclined to support it. Meanwhile, nearly 70 per cent of those polled believe the carbon tax will cost their households a lot more than the $13 a month the government claims (the estimate is laughable it's so ridiculously low).

And why shouldn’t they distrust the Liberals’ claims about this, the latest in a catalogue of falsely advertised climate policies? Under former premier Dalton McGuinty, these Liberals promised to “bring stability to Ontario’s electricity market,” only to deliver climate policies that sent rates haywire to the point many can no longer afford their electric bills. They lied, too, about the grotesque cost of cancelling fossil fuel power plants. Yet Ontarians heard Wynne just a year ago still sounding oblivious to the low-carbon catastrophe they’ve been enduring, insisting she’s “happy to defend the changes that we’ve made.”

McGuinty is long gone now, off somewhere lying lower than his legacy. Wynne’s cringeworthy personal popularity numbers, 16 per cent barely a year before the next Ontario election, suggest she’ll soon be joining him in disgraced exile. Ontario Liberals are choosing to ignore the bubbling anger from constituents over being force-fed aggressive, expensive climate policies they never asked or voted for.

an adaptation of an article from: National Post

The Ontario Libertarian Party would Repeal the Cap & Trade Tax in Ontario.

A Chatham-Kent quail farmer is at a crossroads when it comes to paying his hydro bill.

Scot and Cheryl Ryckman own a quail farm near Highgate and say they have been paying what they’re calling “outrageous” hydro bills for two years.

They were charged $590 for electricity usage in November, however, the total bill came to $5,900 thanks to a delivery charge of nearly $1,800 and a global adjustment fee of over $2,700.

Ryckman says the adjustment fee is “ridiculous” and he’s just trying to survive as long as he can, adding “basically they use your usage in kilowatt hours and multiply it by 40 which works out to about a 4,000% increase.”

The Independent Electricity System Operator says the global adjustment charge accounts for the difference between the market price and the rates paid to regulated and contracted generators and for conservation and demand management programs.

The IESO says when the hourly rate is lower, then the global adjustment is higher to cover the additional costs.

Ryckman hopes the skyrocketing hydro bills don’t put him out of business.

“We can continue to survive it’s just that it continues to get passed on to the end user,” says Ryckman. “Whenever somebody decides they’re not going to pay the price, I have to have to be able to pay my bills — that’ll be when the business will end.”

He says he’s in a catch-22 situation and doesn’t have any other option but to pay the bill.

“If you push back and say you’re not going to pay the bill, they just shut you down anyway,” says Ryckman.

article from: Blackburn News

Trouble is brewing as farmers who had tomato contracts with Thomas Canning (Maidstone) Ltd. were left with no delivery dates from the processor so ended up watching millions of dollars just rot away in their fields.

The kicker for some was the news that Thomas Canning was also the beneficiary of a $3,000,000 taxpayer handout announced back in February 2014 and want to know if the money was used as intended. The original Ontario Government news release stated, "The province is providing $3 million for the construction of the new facility, which will process a significant amount of locally grown tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables." The farmers are scratching their heads and looking for answers.

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