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‘How do you sleep at night?’: Rap video takes aim at Ontario premier and hydro price hikes

‘How do you sleep at night?’: Rap video takes aim at Ontario premier and hydro price hikes

‘How do you sleep at night?’: Rap video takes aim at Ontario premier and hydro price hikes

Dylan Kristy, Postmedia News | January 19, 2017 1:07 PM ET
More from Postmedia News

Jeremy Renaud released a three-minute video for his song Hydro Bills, on Monday, calling out the premier of Ontario for the province’s soaring hydro rates and her ties to the controversial hikes.

“I grew tired of constantly paying overpriced bills and not having any way to be heard about how unhappy I am,” Renaud said Wednesday.

Dan Janisse / Postmedia

Dan Janisse / PostmediaWindsor rapper Jeremy Renaud (J Reno) is shown at his Windsor home on Jan. 18, 2017

“I figured there was no time like the present to get it off my mind and use my platform to get it out there.”

Performing under the moniker J Reno, the music video had been viewed nearly 105,000 times by Thursday morning.

Renaud said his hydro bills have been well over $500 some months, which he attributes to the absence of natural gas in his neighbourhood of Little River Acres.

“I guess the logical thing would be to move but my kids are in school here, their friends are here and this is where I grew up,” Renaud explained, who has two sons ages nine and 13.

“I love my neighbourhood and it just sucks that we don’t have any assistance.”

Dan Janisse / Postmedia

Dan Janisse / PostmediaJ Reno’s song called Hydro Bills

Renaud said he will often use a space heater to avoid using the electric baseboard heaters, but when temperatures plummet he is left without a choice.

“You sit comfortable, while most people here struggle. You’re corrupt,” Renaud raps in the video, wearing a hoodie draped over his head and pointing at the camera.

“You don’t know what it’s like to decide whether to give food for your family or keep on the lights. You’re killing us.”

The 30-year-old rapper said he never expected the video to become this popular and he’s been interviewed by national media and contacted by politicians.

I can’t say I know the ins and outs of Canadian politics, but I do pay attention to the issues that directly affect me and my family

Renaud said he did make a conscious decision to keep the lyrics professional and respectful in an effort to reach more people.
Since the video’s release on Monday, Renaud said he has been accused of being a mouthpiece for the Conservatives.

“It’s absolutely hilarious,” Renaud said.

“I’m not a super political guy. I can’t say I know the ins and outs of Canadian politics, but I do pay attention to the issues that directly affect me and my family. Hydro is the biggest one.”

Wynne told the Ontario Liberal Party’s annual general meeting in November that she was well aware of the “mistake” she had made.

“People have told me that they’ve had to choose between paying the electricity bill and buying food or paying rent,” Wynne said. “It is unacceptable that people in Ontario could be facing that choice. So our government made a mistake.

“It was my mistake. And I’m going to do my best to fix it.”

According to Liberal polls released last year, 94 per cent of Ontario residents were eager for hydro pricing relief. The high electricity prices spawned several protests and were also cited as a factor in the Liberals’ byelection loss.

Renaud said the day the video went viral was “the most crazy, emotional, rollercoaster I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

As the messages and likes were pouring in on Tuesday, Renaud’s grandmother died in hospital.

“It’s been tough but I try to be a positive person,” he said.

“There’s a reason everything happens and right now it feels like she’s pulling some strings for me.”

With files from Postmedia News

A local hip-hop artist has a poignant question for Kathleen Wynne: “How do you sleep at night?”

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Chris Selley: Wynne’s spineless attempts to save her job drown out Toronto’s courage on road tolls

 

Chris Selley: Wynne’s spineless attempts to save her job drown out Toronto’s courage on road tolls

Chris Selley: Wynne’s spineless attempts to save her job drown out Toronto’s courage on road tolls

Chris Selley | January 27, 2017 | Last Updated: Jan 28 10:04 AM ET
More from Chris Selley | @cselley

Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkPremier Kathleen Wynne puts the brakes on tolls and pledges gas tax money to Toronto at press conference in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Friday January 27, 2017

TORONTO — At a quintessential Friday morning press conference at a bus terminal in Richmond Hill, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced she had spinelessly caved to her cabinet and caucus and reneged on a pledge to allow Toronto to toll the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, for fear that her hot shambles of a government might lose votes among commuters in the 2018 election.

Sorry, I mean she announced she’s a really excellent listener: “Any leader who doesn’t listen to those voices, doesn’t listen to the team, … isn’t actually leading.”

Sorry again, I mean she announced tolls weren’t appropriate because she had suddenly realized — since last month, when she said she would approve them — that there aren’t enough alternatives for commuters. “Part of the fairness of decisions that we make has to be that people have choices. It has to be that whatever we do is more affordable, not less affordable for people,” she said.

Michael Peake / Toronto Sun files / Postmedia Network

Michael Peake / Toronto Sun files / Postmedia NetworkToronto’s Don Valley Parkway

I’m just going to pause here to note that the maximum toll anyone has thus far proposed, $5.20 a trip, is about twice as “affordable” as a GO train ride from Burlington to Union Station.

Oh hell, sorry a third time. I’m such a Douglas Downer. Wynne had good news! Beginning in 2019, Ontario municipalities will get a bigger share of the gas tax, doubling from two cents to four by 2022. That would likely net Toronto about $175 million annually — “the same money” as tolls would have brought in, Wynne said, to fund Toronto’s giant list of much-needed transit and transportation projects.

 

Kathleen Wynne focussed on her job, not the polls 2:51

In fact, there was no official estimate of what tolls might bring in. A very preliminary staff report suggested it could range from $166 million a year at $2 per trip to $336 million at $5.20. Indeed, the most basic questions remained to be answered: How quickly could tolls be implemented, and at what cost? Once the ever-increasing price of rebuilding the Gardiner was factored in, how much would be left over for sexier projects?

Crucially, however, these were the city’s decisions to make. Toronto had hitched its wagon to a big, new, plausible and sustainable funding source over which it had maximum possible control.

Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkToronto Mayor John Tory responds to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s announcement about transit and then knocking out his proposed road tolls initiative on Friday January 27, 2017.

“I think that it’s important that they have the ability to raise the money to augment (provincial funding),” Wynne said way back in, uh, December. Now we’ll have to make do with a promise of $175 million a year, in 2022, from a premier who’s roughly as popular as athlete’s foot. Roll out the barrel!

A source with knowledge of the discussions between Wynne and Tory in September says the premier told the mayor to “go for it” on tolls. “I canvassed with the premier and others in the Ontario government a whole host of other options,” he said — a liquor tax, which (like tolls) is specifically contemplated by the City of Toronto Act, and others that aren’t, like a sales tax or a share of the HST. There was zero interest, he said.

“We are a global metropolis,” Tory thundered. “It is time that … I stop being treated as a little boy going up to Queen’s Park in short pants to say ‘please, could you help me out’.” And if the Liberals are going to say no to everything, he ventured, then they have “an absolute obligation” to provide their own “predictable funding.”

Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkPremier Kathleen Wynne puts the brakes on tolls and pledges gas tax money to Toronto at press conference in Richmond Hill, Ont. on Friday January 27, 2017.

It would seem the Liberals disagree. The premier’s word is not bond, and by rights she won’t be premier for much longer anyway. There’s no love for tolls among her potential replacements: the Progressive Conservatives mount the same populist objections as the New Democrats. In a statement, Tory Leader Patrick Brown declared Friday’s announcement “a big victory for commuters.” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said municipalities should get the gas tax money sooner — so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. But it’s not all that much.

“We need more than ($175 million a year) to address $33 billion in unfunded projects that have been sitting around here for decades,” said Tory. “I don’t intend to be the mayor who leaves city hall with that number having (risen).”

Well, that is going to take some doing. There are other revenue options that don’t require provincial sign-off — a vehicle registration tax, a parking tax, property tax — but some are even more politically radioactive than tolls, and a smorgasbord of smaller ones might be a harder sell than one whopper. Tory showed courage in advocating tolls; that courage having vanished into the bottomless pit of Liberal cowardice and expediency, he may soon find himself more or less back at square one.

Wynne has her gas-plant moment with about-face on Toronto tolls

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/wynne-has-her-gas-plant-moment-with-about-face-on-toronto-tolls/article33799192/

 

Wynne has her gas-plant moment with about-face on Toronto tolls

There comes a moment, late in some political leaders’ careers, when their abandonment of what they once believed crystallizes in a single, desperate attempt to preserve their hold on office a little longer.

For Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne’s predecessor as premier of Ontario, it was the cancellation of a planned gas-fired power plant – not the scandal that followed, involving his government’s handling of the costs related to that about-face and a subsequent, similar one, but the initial cave-in. Having to that point prided himself on standing up to NIMBYism as the province built energy supply where it was needed, Mr. McGuinty decided, a year out from his final election as Liberal leader, that it just wasn’t worth incurring the wrath of the suburban swing riding where the plant was to be located.

Now, Ms. Wynne has her own version. Maybe it won’t prove as disastrous in terms of the financial and ethical fallout. But if anything, her decision this week to block Toronto’s municipal government from introducing road tolls on the city’s Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway is an even more poetic symbol of what power – and the fear of losing it – does to people.

Read more: Bitter over tolling veto, mayor says Toronto being treated like child

Marcus Gee: Wynne’s veto of Toronto road toll plan is an act of political cowardice

That’s because back when Ms. Wynne won her party’s 2013 leadership contest to succeed Mr. McGuinty, she not only supported road tolls or dedicated taxes as a way of funding upgrades to transportation infrastructure, she held up that support as the definitive sign of principle and courage that would breathe new life into the tired government she inherited.

Mr. McGuinty, his successor’s team was not shy about hinting, had lacked the stomach to introduce such levies, even though there was lots of evidence they were needed. Ms. Wynne would set herself apart by going where he had feared to tread.

Within a few months, she was retracing her steps down that path. A new campaign team – brought in when she responded to some disappointing by-elections by jettisoning people who had steered her leadership win – advised her that tolls were a loser with voters. So out that idea went, supplanted – as her differentiation point – by a proposal for a new provincial public pension plan, which tested better.

Still, you could believe – and Ms. Wynne almost certainly did – that she hadn’t done a complete one-eighty. It just wasn’t the time. Maybe later.

Well, now it is later. Toronto Mayor John Tory, with whom she enjoyed a close relationship to this point, proved willing to go beyond abstract talk of tolls and actually propose a specific one. City council, not usually known for its fortitude, went along with it. By initially making positive noises, Ms. Wynne demonstrated that she still thought this was an okay idea – as long as someone else took most of the heat.

Then even that proved too much for her, and she decided that she couldn’t afford to let Mr. Tory be bold, either. Little more than a year out from the next campaign, her party’s polling numbers are already brutal. Fees on suburbanites entering Toronto’s core, which provincial opposition was already trying to pin on her, could make them worse. Better just to send a wad of provincial cash the city’s way – not as much as the tolls were expected to raise, mind you – and make the problem go away.

Never mind whether tolls are a good idea. Ms. Wynne thought they were – still thinks so, as far as anyone knows. The point, as she once set out, was not just to fund particular projects but to start a new, sophisticated conversation about how we pay for necessary infrastructure. Now, she’ll prevent anyone from having that conversation if doing so moderately improves her chances of another term – one that nobody, Ms. Wynne included, seems to know what she would do with.

It’s not inconceivable it will help in that regard. Mr. McGuinty did manage to keep office after the gas-plant cancellations, albeit reduced to a minority government he would have won anyway – and one that he seemed to regret seeking by the time he resigned. The ability of Ontario’s opposition parties to improbably give the Liberals another lease on life should not be underestimated, based on recent history; neither, in fairness, should Liberal operatives’ ability to plot election strategy.

It is equally possible it will make matters even grimmer for Ms. Wynne. What precisely infuriates most Ontarians about their Premier can be difficult to put a finger on; most of the biggest policy grievances (most notably energy prices) were inherited from Mr. McGuinty, yet Ms. Wynne inspires a level of antipathy he rarely did until the very end of his premiership. Sexism and homophobia, the worst examples of which her office recently flagged, probably contribute to some of it. But so, too, does a sense that a disarmingly genuine long-time activist who promised to bring a different sensibility to provincial politics has instead come to look – through scandals and compromises and cynical ploys – like a very typical politician indeed. And the obvious calculations behind her latest walk-back fit right into it.

Whatever the benefit or fallout with voters from this week’s decision, it’s around this point that Ms. Wynne should be asking herself why she’s even bothering – why she still wants to be premier, beyond the creeping fear of any incumbent of being replaced by some barbarian at the gate.

The Kathleen Wynne who presented herself as an antidote to the cynicism that Mr. McGuinty allowed to overtake him might look at her slim re-election prospects in next year’s provincial campaign and see the remainder of her mandate as a chance to do tough things she believes in. But it feels now as though she’s passed the point of no return, letting that cynicism overtake her as well.

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It’s Time For Kathleen Wynne To Consider Stepping Aside

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/andrew-tumilty/wynne-liberal-party_b_14337348.html

It’s Time For Kathleen Wynne To Consider Stepping Aside

Posted: 01/23/2017 3:43 pm EST Updated: 01/23/2017 3:43 pm EST
KATHLEEN WYNNE

Some decisions in politics are easy. It is not hard to oppose Trump and every vile thing he stands for.

In general though political decisions are not often so clear cut. In 2017 — sooner rather than later — Premier Kathleen Wynne will have such a decision to make about her future, and in fact the future of the province.

New polling indicates there has been little change in her popularity, or lack there of to be specific. Her approval ratings sit barely into double digits, and show no sign of improving. The decision she faces is fairly obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of politics, or math for that matter.

I’m known to hold unpopular opinions at times — Friends is better than Seinfeld — so I have no issues with sharing another one. Premier Wynne has by and large done an excellent job. She put forth a bold platform and won an unlikely majority, at a time when many counted her party out. She has gone about implementing many much needed changes in pressing social issues, education, transit, and the environment.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of the electorate does not care.

I believe a great deal of the negative — at times visceral — reactions to Premier Wynne stem in no small part from the fact that she is both a women and openly gay. Women in politics from across partisan divides, are subject to abuse and levels of contempt rarely experienced by their male counterparts. Such vitriol is occasionally even promoted by major media outlets.

However, her dismal approval ratings cannot be laid solely on the denizens of commentville or the local chapter of the “I hate lefties” club. It runs deeper than that.

People in Ontario have seen life get progressively more expensive while their wages have stayed the same or vanished all together. Hydro costs in particular are often cited as what’s driving up the cost of living, and driving down the premier’s popularity. The Globe and Mail broke down hydro costs recently, showing how little of your hydro bill is actually Wynne’s fault. Perception in politics being what it is, I doubt many people are open to that argument though.

Premier Wynne should seriously consider what’s at risk in 2018.

In 2015 we saw Canadians embrace a progressive platform and elect a majority Liberal government. Clearly there is an audience for the progressive values Wynne has championed. The Liberal party polls better than the premier, suggesting another win is not out of the question. Particularly if mistrust of Patrick Brown grows, and if his party continues to pack their guns with feet seeking bullets.

Premier Wynne should seriously consider what’s at risk in 2018. With a radical conservative agenda taking hold in America, a slightly softer version here could seem palatable to the people of Ontario. Leaving Patrick Brown and his party to unwind much of the progress the Liberals have made.

Hopefully, Premier Wynne has at least considered the option to step aside. She has worked hard to put forth programs meant to benefit all of the people of Ontario, and for that work to continue someone else may need to take the lead.

I suspect Premier Wynne already knows that because after all, that’s essentially how she got the job in the first place.

 

The Canadian Press | December 17, 2015 | Last Updated: Dec 17 9:31 PM ET
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Former Ontario Premier and Liberal Party Leader Dalton McGuinty after testifying at Queen's Park on the cancelled gas power plants May 7, 2013.

Peter J. Thompson/National PostFormer Ontario Premier and Liberal Party Leader Dalton McGuinty after testifying at Queen’s Park on the cancelled gas power plants May 7, 2013.

Ontario Provincial Police have laid criminal charges against two aides to former premier Dalton McGuinty in connection with the deletion of documents related to two cancelled gas plants.

The former premier was never the subject of investigation or suspected of criminal wrongdoing. It is his former chief of staff, David Livingston, and his deputy, Laura Miller, who each face three charges under the Criminal Code. The allegations include breach of trust and the misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief.

Two former top aides to Dalton McGuinty face criminal charges for alleged roles in the gas plants scandal

Two of former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s top aides face criminal charges for their alleged role in the deletion of emails related to the controversial cancellation of two gas plants.

David Livingston and Laura Miller — who served as chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to the premier respectively — face three counts under the Criminal Code for “wrongdoing involving the handling of computer data,” according to an Ontario Provincial Police press release.

They were each charged Thursday with one count of breach of trust, one of mischief in relation to data and one count of misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief. All are federal charges under the Criminal Code and were laid in consultation with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada — federal prosecutors brought in to avoid any conflict of interest with the provincial attorney general’s office.

Here is a list of key events in the long-running scandal that culminated Thursday with these charges:

September 2009: Ontario Power Authority announces it has accepted TransCanada’s bid to build a 900-megawatt natural gas-fired power generation facility in southeast Oakville.

Dec. 11, 2009: The fast-growing Citizens for Clean Air coalition in Oakville steps up opposition to the project with campaign slogan: ’It just doesn’t make sense.’

Oct. 1, 2010: Opponents of proposed Oakville gas plant bring in famed American environmental activist Erin Brockovich to speak against building the project so close to homes and schools.

Oct. 7, 2010: The Ontario government announces the cancellation of the proposed Oakville Generating Station.

Sept. 28, 2011: In middle of the Ontario election campaign, Liberal candidate Charles Sousa announces plan to scrap a partially built gas plant in Mississauga, but construction continues for another two months.

Oct. 6, 2011: The Liberals fall one seat short of third majority government, but save all their seats in the Mississauga-Oakville area where two gas plants were cancelled.

July 16, 2012: Liberals announce that the decision to stop construction on the Mississauga gas plant and relocate it to the Sarnia area will cost $190 million.

Sept. 13, 2012: Speaker Dave Levac issues a preliminary ruling that Energy Minister Chris Bentley was in contempt of parliament for refusing to produce all documents on the cancelled plants to a legislative committee.

Sept. 14, 2012: Premier Dalton McGuinty tells the legislature the government doesn’t want to release all the gas plant documents until it completes negotiations to compensate developers of the cancelled projects.

Sept 24, 2012: Energy Minister Chris Bentley announces a deal with TransCanada Energy to relocate the cancelled Oakville plant to an Ontario Power Generation site in Bath, near Kingston. He claims total cost of cancelling the plant is $40 million.

Sept 24, 2012: Liberals release 36,000 documents on the two cancelled gas plants. McGuinty and Bentley say that’s all the documents that exist.

Sept. 25, 2012: Progressive Conservatives introduce a contempt of parliament motion asking that the case against Bentley go to a committee for public hearings.

Sept. 27, 2012: Ontario Power Authority advises the government it is searching out more gas plant documents.

Oct. 2, 2012: Conservatives and New Democrats send the contempt motion against Bentley to a legislative committee for public hearings.

Oct. 12, 2012: About 20,000 more pages of documents on the cancelled gas plants are released.

Oct 15, 2012: McGuinty suddenly announces a plan to resign as premier and prorogues the legislature until February to allow for a cooling off period after the bitter contempt debate, and to give the Liberals time to pick a new leader.

Nov. 1, 2012: McGuinty says all documents have been released and total cost will be $230 million.

Jan. 26, 2013: Kathleen Wynne wins the Liberal leadership race.

Feb. 7, 2013: Premier-designate Wynne asks the auditor general to investigate costs of cancelling Oakville gas plant, in addition to looking into Mississauga project.

Feb. 8, 2013: Bentley announces his resignation from politics.

Feb. 19, 2013: Legislature resumes sitting. Progressive Conservatives revive contempt of Parliament charge against the Liberals over cancelled gas plants, which died when McGuinty prorogued the legislature.

Feb. 21, 2013: Government announces a third batch of documents on the cancelled gas plants has been unearthed.

Feb. 28, 2013: Premier Wynne expands mandate of justice committee “to look at the tendering, planning, commissioning, cancellation, and relocation of the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants.”

April 15, 2013: Auditor General Jim McCarter reports the decision to scrap gas plant in Mississauga will cost at least $275 million, $85 million more than the Liberals had been claiming.

May 7, 2013: McGuinty tells legislature’s justice committee he made the decisions to scrap the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants, and did so without knowing what it would ultimately cost.

May 15, 2013: Wynne apologizes for way the government cancelled the gas plants, admitting mistakes were made.

June 5, 2013: Ontario’s privacy commissioner rules top Liberal staff in McGuinty’s office broke the law by deleting all emails related to the cancellation of the two gas plants.

June 7, 2013: Ontario Provincial Police launch a criminal investigation into the destruction of emails involving the cancellation of two gas plants by senior Liberal staff.

July 29, 2013: New Democrats say new batch of emails on the cancelled plants shows unelected officials in McGuinty’s office tried to pressure the Speaker into changing his ruling on contempt of Parliament.

Aug. 20, 2013: Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says staff in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet “misled the public” about ability to recover deleted emails related to the cancelled gas plants.

Oct. 8, 2013: Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimates cost of cancelling the Oakville gas plant at between $675 million and $815 million. Total cost of cancelling plants in Oakville and Mississauga rises to between $950 million and almost $1.1 billion.

March 27, 2014: An unsealed police search warrant alleges authorities believe David Livingston, McGuinty’s last chief of staff, gave an outside tech expert access to 24 computers in the premier’s office to wipe out hard drives during the transition period between the McGuinty and Wynne governments.

June 12, 2014: Wynne, who distanced herself from McGuinty, is elected as premier with a majority Liberal government.

June 13, 2014: Newly released court documents reveal that in April, McGuinty told police investigating the deletion of emails in the gas plants scandal that his office was “verbal in nature” and kept few records.

Oct. 21, 2014: Ontario’s opposition parties accuse the government of blocking attempts to call more witnesses before a committee looking into the gas plants. They want to hear testimony from former McGuinty staffer Laura Miller and her computer tech boyfriend Peter Faist about the wiping of computer hard drives in the premier’s office.

November 2014: OPP serve a search warrant at a government office seeking emails and backup tapes for Miller and Livingston related to the gas plants cancellation.

Dec. 11, 2014: Police allege in newly released court documents that the Ontario Liberal caucus paid Faist $10,000 to wipe computer hard drives in the premier’s office.

Feb. 17, 2015: The legislative committee says the Ontario government needs to clarify and strengthen its document retention process.

Dec. 17, 2015: Police charge Livingston and Miller with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief.

Ontario Liberals’ gas-plants scandal: Everything you need to know

ADRIAN MORROW

When Ontario’s Liberal government cancelled plans to build two gas-fired power plants before the 2011 election, it seemed simple enough. Those plants were unpopular in the communities where they were to be built, and then-premier Dalton McGuinty needed to hold on to ridings in those areas to stay in power.

But the price tag for kiboshing the plants is estimated to be as much as $1.1-billion. And two of Mr. McGuinty’s former aides, chief of staff David Livingston and deputy chief of staff Laura Miller, face criminal charges for allegedly orchestrating a plan to delete government emails and other documents that could have shed light on the cancellations. The scandal has dogged the Liberals for several years, and isn’t going away any time soon.

This is how we got here.

A steel frame, shown Feb. 21, 2013, is all that’s left of a gas plant that was supposed to be built in Mississauga. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

How did this start?

In the 2000s, the Liberals contracted private companies to build gas-fired power plants to meet electricity demand in the growing suburbs west of Toronto. One plant, to be built in Oakville, was contracted to energy giant TransCanada. The other, in Mississauga, was to be constructed by a little-known company called Eastern Power run by brothers Gregory and Hubert Vogt, through subsidiary Greenfield South.

But both plants ran into opposition from locals who didn’t want them built in their neighbourhoods. The well-heeled denizens of Oakville even managed to bring in Erin Brockovich, the environmental activist made famous by a Julia Roberts movie, for one protest. Whether there was actually any health or safety risk from the plants is debatable, but the politics prevailed.

Mississauga and Oakville are both in the 905 belt around Toronto, named after the local area code, which is typically the main battleground in provincial elections. The Liberals were trailing in the polls ahead of the 2011 vote and badly needed to hold on to their core of suburban seats to win.

In October 2010, Mr. McGuinty cancelled the Oakville plant. A year later, in the middle of the election campaign, he promised to cancel the Mississauga plant, too. The Liberals won re-election, including all the seats in the vicinity of the plants.

In order to compensate TransCanada and Eastern for cancelling the plants, the government gave each of them a new contract to build a plant somewhere else. TransCanada is now building a plant near Napanee; Eastern is building one in Lambton County, near Sarnia. The electricity will have to be piped from those locations to the Toronto suburbs, where the power is needed.

Extra costs and savings due to gas-plant cancellations

How much did it cost, and why?

Originally, the Liberals said cancelling the gas plants would cost $230-million. That total represented the price for compensating TransCanada and Eastern for sunk costs, the money they had already spent on the plants.

But that total did not take into account the added costs of building the new plants in Napanee and Lambton. It will cost extra to transmit the electricity from these locations back to the Toronto area, where it is needed. So building in those locations will be more expensive than building in Mississauga and Oakville.

The Ontario auditor-general estimates that when you add it all up – sunk costs, plus the extra price of putting the plants in Napanee and Lambton – cancelling the plants cost up to $1.1-billion.

It also cost Mr. McGuinty his job – after details of the cancellations were revealed in the fall of 2012, Mr. McGuinty announced he would quit his post as premier after nine years. Kathleen Wynne, a cabinet minister and co-chair of the Liberals’ 2011 campaign, won the leadership a few months later.

Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty speaks on June 25, 2013. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Why are the police involved?

After the 2011 election, the Liberals were reduced to a minority of seats in the legislature. A committee dominated by the two opposition parties started investigating the gas plant cancellations. As part of the investigation, the committee asked for thousands of pages of internal government documents, including e-mails between Liberal political aides. The committee has the right to demand these kinds of documents under a principle called “parliamentary privilege.”

The Liberals released some documents, but the opposition accused them of not releasing everything. Then, two of Mr. McGuinty’s former aides told the committee they regularly deleted all their e-mails. Peter Wallace, then the head of the Ontario civil service, also revealed that Mr. McGuinty’s former chief of staff, Mr. Livingston, had asked him how to erase the hard drives of government computers.

Provincial law requires that political staffers preserve government records. The Progressive Conservatives also alleged that deleting those e-mails violates the criminal code. So they asked the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate.

An Ontario Provincial Police car is seen in this file photo. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

What did the police find?

Police accuse Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller of arranging to get their hard drives and the hard drives of several other Liberal staffers erased shortly before Mr. McGuinty stepped down in February 2013. To do this, police say, they brought in Ms. Miller’s partner, Peter Faist. Mr. Faist, police say, used software called WhiteCanyon to wipe the data off the computers.

Investigators seized government computers and found Mr. Faist erased 632,118 files from 20 different hard drives. They were able to recover some e-mails that suggest Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller were specifically concerned with getting Mr. Faist to wipe the hard drives of staffers involved in the gas plant scandal. Police allege this was a criminal breach of trust, because they say it is prohibited to bring an outside IT expert, with no security clearance, and give him administrative access to government computers.

Another of Mr. McGuinty’s staff, Dave Gene, approved a $10,000 government payment to Mr. Faist for his services. When the payment became public in 2014, the Ontario Liberal Party reimbursed the provincial treasury for it.

Officers also uncovered e-mails from Mr. Livingston in which he discussed “double deleting” e-mails – erasing them from both the inbox and the server – so that they cannot be retrieved.

Investigators also accuse Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller of dodging freedom of information requests related to the gas plants – claiming to have no records related to the cancellations when they actually did.

On December 17, 2015, Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller were charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system to commit mischief.

Both Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller maintain they did nothing wrong.

Ms. Miller further accuses the OPP of having a “bias” against her because she complained about them to the Ontario Independent Police Review Director during the investigation. The police had alleged Ms. Miller refused to be interviewed by them; she said this was untrue and complained to the OIPRD. Ms. Miller said the OIPRD partially substantiated her complaint and ordered a disciplinary hearing for OPP Detective-Constable André Duval; the OPP is appealing the decision.

Who are David Livingston and Laura Miller?

Mr. Livingston, 63, left an executive post at TD Canada Trust in 2005 to become CEO of Infrastructure Ontario, the Crown corporation that builds billions of dollars of roads, schools, hospitals and transit lines. In the spring of 2012, Mr. McGuinty tapped him as chief of staff. He held the post for less than a year before Mr. McGuinty stepped down.

Ms. Miller, 36, is a veteran political staffer who spent a decade climbing the ladder at Queen’s Park. After Mr. McGuinty left office, she moved to British Columbia to work on Premier Christy Clark’s 2013 election campaign. Subsequently, she stayed on as executive director of the B.C. Liberals. Ms. Miller stepped down from that post when she was charged.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

What’s happening now, and what happens next?

The case is before the courts; Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller have their first appearance Jan. 27 at Old City Hall in Toronto. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.

As for the legislative committee that started the investigation, it’s under new management. After the Liberals won a majority government in 2014, they took most of the seats and promptly voted to end the investigation.

10 years of Liberal scandals

https://nationalcitizens.ca/index.php/ncc-initiatives/campaigns/a-better-ontario

SMART METERS

The Ontario Liberals have been an utter disaster when it comes to hydro rates. Over the past ten years of Liberal government hydro rates have skyrocketed and they are set to increase by another 42%.The Ontario Liberals have also forced “Smart” hydro meters on an unwilling public, which have added hundreds of dollars of errant costs to hydro bills across the province. The Smart meters have NOT saved families money – as the Liberals initially claimed. Furthermore at more than $ 1 – billion, the cost to implement the Smart meter program has been an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money.

HST

After promising not to raise taxes the Ontario Liberals surprised taxpayers with the HST in 2010. This new tax scheme has increased prices on many goods and services across the province and has hit Ontario’s families hard. Newly taxable items include: real estate sales, home heating and electricity, used car sales, internet access, as well as domestic air, rail, and bus travel. Let’s not forget the $ 45,000 severance packages for Ontario’s accountants and auditors – many of whom immediately transitioned to working for the federal government.The Ontario Liberals have ignored repeated requests from economists to make the HST “revenue neutral”. They have also ignored seniors groups and low income families that have been particularly impacted by the new taxes. Instead, the HST scandal has become the largest tax grab in Ontario’s history.

THE TIRE TAX

After promising not to implement any new taxes in 2003 – and reaffirming in 2005 that there would be no new tire tax, the Ontario Liberals again broke their promises. In 2009, Ontario implemented a tire tax that is the most expensive in North America.

Instead of calling it a tax the Liberals called it a “fee” and attempted to misdirect hardworking Ontarians. The program was designed to support an over-priced tire recycling scheme, which in itself was another Liberal failure.

MPAC

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation was a government body that the McGuinty/Wynne government was responsible for overseeing. The MPAC significantly undervalued and/or overvalued numerous taxpayers homes resulting in either higher property taxes or a loss in home value. The MPAC refused to investigate the Auditor General’s initial findings.

CANCERCARE ONTARIO

Similar to the eHealth scandal, the CancerCare Ontario scandal involved very lax spending controls and oversight. Ontario’s taxpayers are once again expected to foot the bill for high-priced consultants performing questionable work. Over a brief two year period $ 75 – million was allocated to these consultants, many of whom are close Liberal associates and friends. Nearly $ 20 – million was directed to one organization – the Courtyard Group – without any bidding process whatsoever.

OLG SCANDAL

Allegations of widespread abuse of taxpayers’ money at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. began to surface in the mid-2000’s. These abuses ran all the way from out of control expenses to outright theft of lottery winnings.Ontario’s Auditor General implicated the McGuinty Liberal government in the original mismanagement as well as the attempts to hide this waste from public scrutiny.Millions of public dollars that were meant to reach hard-working Ontarians were instead wasted by OLG employees on expensive dinners, gym memberships, and social clubs.Make sure you check back tomorrow for the next item on the Liberals’ “Legacy of Shame” list!

eHEALTH SCANDAL

This scandal continues to be a strain on Ontario’s taxpayers, as after more than one billion dollars of wasteful spending the program has yet to be completed. Part of the massive cost over-runs involved frequent use of high-paid consultants who performed little or no work and billed taxpayers for large sums. The McGuinty-Wynne government has been unhelpful in trying to discover any wrongdoing and they have utterly failed to provide effective spending controls.The entire eHealth boondoggle has come to symbolize government ‘pork’ and cronyism.

HEALTH PREMIUM

After signing a pledge not to raise taxes in Ontario the Ontario Liberals introduced the Ontario Health Premium, which is the largest single tax increase in our province’s history.
This was only the first of many new taxes and service fees that McGuinty and Wynne would force on Ontario’s families. The Ontario Health Premium was also implemented alongside other legislation that delisted many services covered by OHIP, which now require taxpayers to pay out of pocket.

How charges against Kathleen Wynne adviser could resonate in election

ANALYSIS

How charges against Kathleen Wynne adviser could resonate in election

As Pat Sorbara resigns post as campaign director, Ontario Liberals try to downplay how much voters care

By Mike Crawley, CBC News Posted: Nov 02, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 02, 2016 9:21 AM ET

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's government has been rocked by another scandal that could have an impact on its prospects for re-election in 2018: bribery charges against her former chief of staff, Pat Sorbara, and Sudbury-based Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government has been rocked by another scandal that could have an impact on its prospects for re-election in 2018: bribery charges against her former chief of staff, Pat Sorbara, and Sudbury-based Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Related Stories

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s handpicked choice to run her re-election campaign has stepped aside amid charges of bribery.

No worries, insists Wynne’s deputy: the rest of our campaign team is great and besides, what voters really want to hear about is the job we’re doing on health care and education.

That’s the thrust of the message from Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, co-chair of the Ontario Liberal 2018 election campaign. She was getting grilled by reporters at Queen’s Park about charges of bribery against Pat Sorbara, the party’s CEO and campaign director (until resigning the posts on Tuesday).

I asked Matthews what Sorbara’s resignation would do to her party’s re-election hopes. Her response: “Pat obviously is a key member of our team but it’s a very strong team, and there are many people with lots of experience who can move the campaign forward.”

Matthews then faced further questions about how the bribery charges would hurt her party in the eyes of voters. She brushed off each one with a version of this: “People are looking for what we’re doing on those issues that are important to people. How’s our education system? What are we doing to strengthen health care? What are we doing on climate change?”

Assisted Suicide

Ontario Advanced Education and Skills Development Minister and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews told reporters Tuesday that Ontarians are more interested in issues such as jobs, health care and climate change than scandals. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The Liberals would certainly far rather talk about health care, education and the environment — or heck, even the economy or hydro bills — than about the fact that one of Wynne’s closest advisers is due in court in three weeks.

It’s a delicate spin job that Matthews is trying to perform, hoping that yet another backroom political scandal ranks pretty low on the list of what really matters to voters.

Yet there’s an awful risk of underestimating how much people care about charges that reach right into the premier’s office.

“The Liberals cannot pretend that this is nothing but fluff,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath. “This is serious. These are allegations of bribery.”

PC leader Patrick Brown says it comes down to a matter of trust.

Pat Sorbara

Pat Sorbara, who has resigned as CEO of the Ontario Liberals and the party’s campaign director, has been charged with two counts of bribery. (Mike Crawley/CBC News)

“People do not trust Premier Wynne, they do not trust her staff, they do not trust her operatives and the fact they continue to be before clouds of OPP investigations.”

It’s guaranteed that the opposition parties will continue to raise this issue until and unless Sorbara is cleared of the charges. Their objective: link the alleged bribery directly to Wynne.

On Tuesday, Brown asked Wynne repeatedly (in the protected-from-libel venue of Question Period) whether she ordered Sorbara and her co-accused, Sudbury-based Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed Jr., to offer the alleged bribe.

“The fact that she won’t say that she didn’t order them to do this raises serious questions, and I think leaves everybody under the assumption that she’s complicit,” Brown told reporters at the Legislature.

Sorbara is vowing to neutralize the issue by beating the charges in court.

“I have served my entire career with integrity and a deep respect for the law,” Sorbara said in her resignation letter Tuesday to the Ontario Liberal Party.

“I continue to believe, with my whole heart, as I have from the beginning, that any charge against me will not succeed. I am shocked by any suggestion that I have done anything wrong.”

Gerry Lougheed

Gerry Lougheed, a Liberal Party fundraiser based in Sudbury, is also accused of bribery under the Elections Act. (Radio-Canada)

Wynne too insisted Sorbara did nothing wrong, from the moment the allegations first surfaced nearly two years ago.

I asked the premier on Tuesday if she still feels that way. “I’m on record, as you said, and I stand by the comments that I have made throughout.”

Wynne is obviously deeply loyal to Sorbara, described by colleagues and rivals as a talented political organizer.

“During the time that I am dealing with these matters, I do not want in any way for our Party to be tarnished,” Sorbara added in her letter.

Ultimately, whether this all tarnishes the Liberals, will be up to the voters.

Grim outlook for Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Liberals in 2018 election: poll

WATCH ABOVE: Kathleen Wynne responded to reports that Patricia Sorbara, head of Wynne’s 2018 re-election campaign will be ‎charged by Ontario Provincial Police related to the Sudbury byelection scandal in 2015.

Only a quarter of decided voters would vote for the Ontario Liberals if a provincial election were held today, according to a new poll released on Monday.

The survey, conducted by Mainstreet/Postmedia, shows only 25 per cent of decided voters would vote for Kathleen Wynne‘s Liberals while 43 per cent would choose the Patrick Brown-led Progressive Conservatives and 27 per cent would opt for the Ontario NDP.

Wynne’s approval rating is the lowest among all the provincial leaders at just 15 per cent, far behind NDP Leader Andrea Horwath at 59 per cent and Brown with 51 per cent.

“There is very little good news for the current government and it may get worse as the effects of the recent charges against Ontario Liberal Party staff and operatives continue to dominate headlines,” president of Mainstreet Research Quito Maggi said.

READ MORE: Ontario premier’s top aide made alleged offer to energy minister

The poll reveals 59 per cent of Ontario voters are following the recent charges against former Wynne senior staffer Pat Sorbara and operative Gerry Lougheed, including 42 per cent either very or somewhat closely.

Sorbara, Wynne’s former deputy chief of staff, was charged last week with two bribery counts under the provincial Election Act, while Lougheed faces one count.

The charges stem from allegations that both individuals offered a federal MP – who is now Ontario’s energy minister – an incentive to run for the provincial Liberals in the Sudbury byelection.

When asked if they believe the premier was involved in the case, 53 per cent of those polled said Wynne may have been involved, although just two per cent believe she was “very involved” and 11 per cent said “somewhat involved.”

READ MORE: Liberal fundraiser, trusted Wynne adviser charged with bribery in Sudbury byelection scandal

“Almost six in 10 people (58%) said the premier should resign compared to less than two in 10 (17%) who said she should not. A quarter of Ontarians were not sure whether the premier should resign or not,” Maggi said.

The only good news for Wynne is that her party continues to lead in the coveted 416 region with 35 per cent support compared to the PC’s 31 per cent and NDP’s 27 per cent among decided and leaning voters.

“The rest of the numbers point to a possible wipe out in the 905, south central and southwest with divided fortunes in eastern and northern Ontario,” Maggi said.

The Mainstreet poll surveyed a random sample of 2,524 Ontario residents on Nov. 2, 2016 with a margin of error of +/- 1.95 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The broken promise of Kathleen Wynne

ADAM RADWANSKI

She spoke in an unscripted, down-to-earth sort of way that allowed her to present herself as a different sort of politician.

She projected a distaste for the way her scandal-plagued party had conducted its affairs to that point. She was a champion for that party’s relative outsiders, who wanted it to embrace something more idealistic than the crass pursuit or protection of power. She had herself been one of those outsiders once, a community activist who first tried to get nominated as a local candidate by taking on a star recruited by the party brass.

So, for those of us who watched closely as Kathleen Wynne ascended to the Ontario Liberals’ helm in early 2013, it was possible to believe that she was just what Queen’s Park needed – someone who would look at the embarrassingly outdated way that business was done at the legislature, and drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

A little more than three years later, as the spotlight shines on the grotesque way in which Ms. Wynne’s cabinet ministers dole out access in return for large donations to Liberal coffers, that optimism has proved terribly unfounded. Far from being the solution, she is a big part of the problem – at least as much as Dalton McGuinty, her much-maligned predecessor.

It would not have been difficult for Ms. Wynne, when she took office, to quickly identify what needed fixing when it comes to money and ethics in Ontario politics. Following the lead of the federal government, and many provincial ones, she could have banned or heavily restricted corporate and union political donations, and lowered caps on individual ones. She could have stopped the practice of assigning fundraising targets to ministers, and put an end to those ministers headlining exclusive events at which they schmooze with a small number of people who pay thousands of dollars for the privilege.

At a bare minimum, she could have decreed that there would be no more mixing of government and party business – that never again would someone seeking policy change from ministers or their staff be encouraged to cough up, with implications that deaf ears would be turned if they did not. Instead, she appears, if anything, to have upped the ante.

Under her watch, ministers are by some accounts spending even more time than previously trying to meet those targets. As The Globe and Mail has reported, there have been roughly a dozen exclusive fundraisers in the past few months alone at which a small number of attendees have paid as much as $7,500 for face time with ministers. And veteran lobbyists say the money requests from staff have become more overt. For a former grassroots activist to have started trading access in a way she once would have railed against, there are no excuses.

Ms. Wynne cannot reasonably claim that she was co-opted by pre-existing Queen’s Park culture, or that her party’s operatives have run a bit wild while she has been busy running the province. She did not enter the premier’s office as a Pollyanna – not after serving in senior cabinet roles beforehand. And she is by all accounts more hands-on with party management and campaign preparations – including, presumably, the building of a war chest – than was Mr. McGuinty.

There’s an argument that her approach is more honourable, since it doesn’t involve a phony Boy Scout act that requires others to do her dirty work, but there is little doubt that she has thought through anything significant that happens under her watch.

Nor can she blame it on other parties having done similar stuff when they were in office, and continuing to hold their own expensive and exclusive fundraisers now. The Liberals are the only Ontario party to have won a provincial election this century; at this point, everyone else is playing by their rules.

Ms. Wynne may nevertheless have justified it to herself on the basis of what she is up against, and the danger of opponents rolling back her policies in favour of those with which she vehemently disagrees. That’s a common rationalization for any incumbent. One known to be unusually competitive for someone at her level – a Premier who cannot let meaningless and sometimes unwinnable by-elections pass without campaigning in them as though her political life depends on it – may be especially susceptible to it.

From her perspective, and that of her colleagues, perhaps the end will justify the means. If they win another mandate in 2018, and are able to cement a legacy in infrastructure and climate-change policy and other things that get them out of bed in the morning, and Ms. Wynne gets to leave on her own terms – well, maybe the fact that she had to give a bit of access and favour to people willing and able to pay up will seem worth it.

She might even be able to add new campaign-finance rules, being promised for later this year, to that legacy. But as welcome as those would be, they would come only after the heat became too much to bear, and after her party had waited long enough that it had a chance to build up a big financial advantage heading into the next election campaign.

Trying to take much credit, if and when she belatedly comes around, could make her all but a caricature of the sort of politician she once promised not to be.

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