For immediate release:
September 27, 2012
“…he saved two jobs here; my riding lost 400 jobs” – Toby Barrett
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett has voiced his contempt for a government that has manipulated and mismanaged Ontario’s energy sector.
While Ontario Legislative debate continued on decisions to cancel the Mississauga and Oakville plants – saving the seats of two government MPP’s and costing taxpayers/ratepayers over $640 million, Barrett expanded on the collateral damage of government’s politically driven decision-making on energy.
“I mentioned we have the workforce [at Nanticoke]; I should have said we had the workforce. Mr. McGuinty has eliminated over 400 jobs now at the OPG Nanticoke power generating station. Granted, he saved two jobs here; my riding lost 400 jobs,” Barrett charged. “I see at Nanticoke this experience being tossed out of the window by this contemptible government.”
Barrett’s speech addressed a motion of contempt for the Minister of Energy and his foot-dragging in producing documents regarding the cost of cancelling two natural gas plants in the Oakville and Mississauga. The Haldimand-Norfolk MPP stressed the secrecy and game-playing is only the latest in nine years of questionable decision-making.
“I proposed in writing that Nanticoke receive consideration. Of course I would request that, as did area mayors up in that neck of the country, our local Haldimand county mayor as well,” stated Barrett. “At that time, as we would recall, this government hadn’t put a shovel in the ground at Oakville. We told you it was not a good location again and again. It wasn’t up to us to make the decision. The government made the decision. The gas plant was located in—as was referred to earlier—the Clarkson airshed. That was a government decision.”
“…We’re debating a motion about contempt. There are people in my area, and think of 400 people that aren’t working there anymore––they have nothing but contempt for this government. They worked for an organization that has one sole shareholder, the Ontario government. They cannot speak out. They have to remain silent. That contempt is there; you can see that on their faces.”
Barrett will have a petition regarding ongoing energy policy concerns at both the Caledonia and Norfolk County Fairs.
For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at: (416) 325-8404,
(519) 428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
Wednesday 26 September 2012
Mr. Toby Barrett: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this motion—obviously a historic motion that this government has brought upon itself, essentially, through this constant secretive hide-and-seek game playing, all at the cost of $640 million to ratepayers, taxpayers, citizens of the province of Ontario. In my view, it’s an egregious example. We see a government out of ideas. Through the estimates committee we have asked for some paperwork, some documents, and again, after some foot-dragging and after a historic Speaker’s declaration, we now have been provided with documents, documents that have been redacted.
That’s a word that isn’t necessarily that familiar in my riding, “redacted.” I assume that means manipulated, edited, revised. I suppose we could look up the word “redacted.” We know some of the documents were whited out; some of the documents are incomplete. That’s unparliamentary. That isn’t the way things should work. It’s a slap in the face to what we try to do in this Legislature, and, obviously, it’s an effort to hide something. I assume it’s an effort to hide the truth, given that the decisions, both Oakville and Mississauga, were politically driven to save some jobs, cancel the plants, again at a cost of $640 million, although we are counting. We may be getting up to $650 million.
Again, who pays that? Initially, the ratepayer; probably, through various means, the taxpayer as well.
When debate commenced, in what I consider his first kind of desperate response to our motion, House Leader Milloy—I wish to quote Hansard—stated, “I’m old enough to remember the party of Bill Davis…. What’s going on here today … is not the party of Bill Davis or John Robarts.” If I could paraphrase a Democratic vice-presidential representative—he was up against Dan Quayle. Some may remember watching this on television. It was a 1988 vice-presidential debate. We had a kind of similar line of reasoning—
Mr. Jeff Leal: Lloyd Bentsen.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Lloyd Bentsen, thank you.
If I may paraphrase Democratic vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen: Mr. Milloy—he was with the NDP recently—you’re no Bill Davis. Mr. Milloy, you’re no John Robarts. The reason I say that—perhaps the whip did watch that on television—
Mr. Jeff Leal: I did watch the debate. He said, “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Mr. Toby Barrett: Good for you.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Sit down, please. I’m glad you two are having a lovely discussion between you. Don’t forget the little Speaker.
Mr. Toby Barrett: We’re going down memory lane.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Yes, well, while you’re going down memory lane, tow the Speaker with you. Thank you very much.
Mr. Jeff Leal: I apologize, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Toby Barrett: No apologies necessary, in my view—
Mr. Jeff Leal: I just had the exact quote, and that was it.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Well, we looked it up, and back then the Republican Dan Quayle—we all know Dan Quayle—said, “I have as much experience in Congress as Jack Kennedy when he sought the presidency,” and Mr. Bentsen rebutted, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” By extension I say: Mr. Milloy, you’re no Bill Davis.
In the opening debate Mr. Milloy also stated, with reference to the member of Haldimand–Norfolk—Speaker, can I call you to order for a second here? I pointed out the potential for Nanticoke OPG instead of the proposed Clarkson plant. We called it the Clarkson plant; that’s the Oakville TransCanada operation. I proposed in writing that Nanticoke receive consideration. Of course I would request that, as did area mayors up in that neck of the country, our local Haldimand county mayor as well.
I wrote a letter to the minister on June 21, 2010. At that time, as we would recall, this government hadn’t put a shovel in the ground at Oakville. You hadn’t dug any footings; you hadn’t poured concrete. We told you it was not a good location again and again. It wasn’t up to us to make the decision. The government made the decision. The gas plant was located in—as was referred to earlier—the Clarkson airshed. That was a government decision.
What have they done now? They’ve moved it to Bath. They’ve moved it to Lennox and Addington. Not much demand for electricity down in that part of Ontario, I understand, from my colleague opposite. That plant is close to mothballed—
Mr. Randy Hillier: Less than 1%.
Mr. Toby Barrett: There’s an interjection—something like 1%; we’ve heard 5%, 10%. There are no wires, no capacity—the transmission to get the electricity from down in the Kingston/Bath area back up through Toronto over to the west side of Toronto, the western GTA: Oakville and Mississauga area; even if they were to do that, it would cost something like $200 million.
Going back to Nanticoke: Nanticoke has the infrastructure and has had the infrastructure for well over 40 years. It has a massive transmission corridor; many corridors run north and south through my riding from Middleport up to the western part of Toronto. We are southwest of Toronto, as you would know. I normally say we’re south of Hamilton; in this case, we’re southwest of Toronto. We have the workforce, as you know. We have received an environmental assessment approval for a natural gas pipeline, a $300-million project, to run—again, looking at the future and the declining and very competitive rate for shale gas—shale gas. Anyone in the United States knows shale gas is the future for manufacturing.
My son and I were down south of Pittsburgh a few months ago trying to get a motel room anywhere south or west of Pittsburgh—the drilling rigs down there. Things are cooking, Speaker.
I mentioned we have the workforce; I should have said we had the workforce. Mr. McGuinty has eliminated over 400 jobs now at the OPG Nanticoke power generating station. Granted, he saved two jobs here; my riding lost 400 jobs. So this government makes an ill-conceived decision to locate a gas plant in an area where nobody wants it.
I wrote the minister with an alternative, as was pointed out by Mr. Milloy, the government House leader, an alternative that municipalities in the area felt made sense: Reconsider. Look at Nanticoke as an alternative. Further to that proposal—ask the Power Workers’ Union. Nanticoke assets are already paid for, and that’s with selling electricity at four cents per kilowatt hour. Convert the plant to natural gas, convert it to biomass; don’t build a brand new plant. I’ll come back to Nanticoke, if time permits.
Before there was any talk of the Oakville/Mississauga project, we had Lakeview, an OPG property. It was destined for natural gas. As I recall, Hazel McCallion put pressure on this government, indicative of how this government makes some decisions, and again the politics kick in. Now it’s become obvious over the past few years—and very clearly we knew this—people in Mississauga/Oakville don’t like natural gas. We recognize natural gas as a greenhouse gas, something this particular government also has concerns about. But you know, in that area—and there are probably some members here from that area. I would assume, Minister, that every single home in Mississauga and the Oakville area has a steel pipe coming into the house, piping in natural gas—natural gas for furnaces, for home heating, for air conditioners, for cooking stoves.
The good people down in that part of the southwestern GTA may not want natural gas in their backyards, but they have it in their basements and they have it in their kitchens. But again, a government such as this government—they flip-flop, they weather vane—I’m not sure if that’s a verb or not—with the changing direction of the wind. That’s no way to make a decision about something as important as Ontario’s energy.
People are now raising the question with respect to the decision-making of other energy-related issues in this province. Go a little further north in the western GTA; there’s a new gas plant in Halton Hills. Anyone who drives on the 401 saw that one go up. Go a little further north and to the east. There’s the Holland Marsh peaker plant. Ask Jamie Reaume and the Holland Marsh vegetable growers’ association about that one. So I see a trend here. Liberal ridings don’t have to put up with industrial generating stations, hence saving the jobs of people like Kevin Flynn and Charles Sousa. Let’s not forget Laurel Broten—I’ll name some names—from Etobicoke–Lakeshore, and Donna Cansfield, the member for Etobicoke Centre. Let’s throw in Mississauga–Streetsville—Bob Delaney, just to be clear; Mississauga–Brampton South—election politics at the expense of the electricity ratepayers.
So here’s the tally: six jobs saved. My riding lost 400 jobs with the shutting down of coal at Nanticoke. The fact that you vote Conservative—and there are some Conservatives in here behind me, I notice—you get the Halton Hills generating station, you get the Holland Marsh peaker plant. You get Mississauga’s plant transferred to Sarnia–Lambton. You get Oakville’s plant transferred to the great riding—I wrote this one down; someone asked me not to mention names—of Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington. Did I get that right?
Mr. Randy Hillier: You got it right.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Randy Hillier said I got it right.
I’m a Conservative; 64% of the people in Haldimand–Norfolk voted Progressive Conservative. We’re proud to have OPG Nanticoke. To the question I’m asking: What happened? How come we didn’t get a natural gas plant? We’re a Conservative riding. We’ve got this gigantic facility. We have the assets there. This government has just signed its death warrant. We have a century and a half of natural gas experience down in Norfolk, Haldimand and Wainfleet. We drill for natural gas. We work on the lake. We’ve been drilling on Lake Erie since 1913. Haldimand-Wainfleet has more holes pumped in the ground than Saudi Arabia. This is what we do. We are part of a natural gas culture. We would welcome a facility like that, knowing years ago that people in western Toronto did not want that kind of a facility. We have the expertise. We have a wealth of electricity generation knowledge as well, going back 40 years.
It was some 15 years ago that I stood in this House and delivered a speech recognizing the 25th anniversary of the Ontario Hydro, as it was known then, generating station at Nanticoke. Go forward a decade and a half, and here we are: It was about two weeks ago that we recognized 40 years of stable, reliable power production, again, at four cents a kilowatt hour, and a proud workforce that up until recently numbered well over 600 employees at OPG Nanticoke: technicians, engineers, mechanical and electrical maintenance tradespeople, equipment operators, environmental technicians, managers, administrators. At one time we provided 25% of Ontario’s electricity. It’s the largest plant of its kind in North America and one of the largest in the world. Bill Davis opened it. Mr. Milloy is here, the House leader. We emulate Bill Davis during this debate. Bill Davis opened Nanticoke in 1973. I think he was something like two and a half, two hours and twenty minutes late, they were telling me. We had a little bit of a ceremony a week or so ago. Mr. McGuinty wants to close it, as we know.
That’s the difference between Bill Davis and Dalton McGuinty. Bill Davis would open the very large, industrial, primary industry generating facilities like Nanticoke; Mr. McGuinty closes them. That’s the history. That’s the legacy that both parties have.
I see at Nanticoke this experience being tossed out of the window by this contemptible government––we’re debating a motion about contempt. There are people in my area, and think of 400 people that aren’t working there anymore––they have nothing but contempt for this government. They worked for an organization that has one sole shareholder, the Ontario government. They cannot speak out. They have to remain silent. That contempt is there; you can see that on their faces.
To the members opposite: Congratulations for destroying our coal-based electricity-generating economy. That will go down on the record.
There have been some other successes over the last 40 years. I’m part of a government that brought in SCRs, selective catalytic reduction units that get rid of the NOx. We switched over to low-sulphur coal; no more SOx, no more sulphur emissions. Work could have been done. It would have been an ideal opportunity to do research on carbon dioxide sequestration. That’s kind of out of the window now.
During the blackout that wiped out this part of North America, workers there toiled around the clock to get production up again, literally moving those turbines by hand with levers to keep them from seizing up. We have a lot of reasons to thank the people who work down there at OPG.
What has this government done? It’s basically said, “No thanks. Here’s the boot out the door. Don’t get hit by the door as you leave.” I find that contemptible. People in my area have contempt. I know that doesn’t specifically address the meaning of this contempt motion, but it kind of goes with the flow of what I’m trying to explain here, and it’s important to explain this amendment to the amendment of the motion that we’re debating today, which is basically just about what date the report comes out. I’m not going to spend too much time on that part of it.
. More mismanagement, more questionable decision-making.
Right next to those hydro corridors as it crosses the old number 6 highway at Caledonia, somebody sabotaged the Hydro One transfer station. That was a million-dollar fire—again, the mayhem at Caledonia, the lack of action and decision-making on the part of this government. We’ve got to get to the bottom of that. I’ve asked questions about that. I’ve asked questions recently in estimates. Very recently I’ve asked questions going back to 250 years of land claims. We’ll see if we get any response to the estimates committee on that one.
I’ve wrapped up, Speaker. I concur that there’s contempt in this