Ontario was once known as the engine of Canada’s economy. Today that engine is sputtering after a decade and a half of anemic growth. The province faces a deteriorating credit rating and its runaway $325-billion debt, the highest of any subnational jurisdiction in the Western world, will balloon to $400 billion in six years.
Ontario’s power plants were once called the province’s crown jewels, lauded as the single biggest symbols of the province’s success.
Today, the power sector is the single biggest reason for the province’s fall, the victim of a politically correct Green Energy Act that scrapped high-performing plants in favour of renewable-energy losers that forced Ontarians to pay some of the continent’s highest electricity rates, leading to an exodus of some 300,000 manufacturing jobs and to suffering in much of the provincial economy outside the Greater Toronto Area.
A restoration of Ontario’s economy — the reason Doug Ford was elected premier — must start with a dramatic reduction of the provincial debt and a regeneration of its power system. The challenge is less daunting than might be imagined if Ford takes his mandate for sweeping reform seriously. The electricity blueprint is in place, as are the precedents.
The blueprint comes from former Ontario premier Mike Harris’s 1994 Common Sense Revolution, begun but not completed, which called for the breakup and privatization of Ontario Hydro along the lines of Margaret Thatcher’s wildly successful U.K. privatization, which dramatically slashed power rates for large and small customers alike while restoring the public purse.