05.12.2017 07:45 AM

When 25 per cent isn’t

It’s difficult to understate the political importance of the Ontario government’s 25 per cent hydro rate cut: all of the chips are riding on it, pretty much.  Youth pharmacare and free tuition are terrific, but they’re aimed at a demographic who don’t vote.  The hydro rate cut, ipso facto, is the sine qua non.  If it doesn’t fly, the Ontario Libs are in big trouble.

So, check out this Toronto Star Queen’s Park bureau scoop, which apparently emanated from the Ontario PC war room:

The short-term gain of a 25-per-cent hydro rate cut this summer could lead to long-term pain as a leaked cabinet document forecasts prices jumping again in five years.

In the briefing materials first revealed by the Star and obtained by the Progressive Conservatives, rates will start rising 6.5 per cent a year in 2022 and top out at 10.5 per cent in 2028, when average monthly bills hit $215.

That would be up from $123 this year once the rate cut — the subject of long-awaited legislation unveiled Thursday by Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault — takes full effect. 

The leaked papers overshadowed Thibeault’s efforts to tout the price break, which will be followed with four years of hydro rate increases at 2 per cent, roughly the rate of inflation.

This is revelation is disastrous, pretty much. It discredits just about every claim that has been made about hydro for the past several months.  And it landed, literally, while I was having expresso with a long-time Ontario Liberal stalwart, a Kathleen Wynne loyalist, who had told me they were going to “sit out the next election.”

If this secret cabinet document is true – and it likely is – all that is left is a hoped-for bump from the budget.  So, where is the polling to show that there was one?  Given how much the wizards are being paid for research, you’d think the Liberal caucus would have been shown it by now.

Over espresso, yesterday, my old friend said we are going to come third in the upcoming Sault by-election.  After yesterday, I don’t doubt it.



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    Matt says:

    Everyone paying attention knew this wasn’t a 25% CUT in hydro rates but rater a deferral, so I fully expected this.

    But what is more worrisome for the Liberals:

    The content, or the fact secret internal cabinet documents are getting leaked to the official opposition? That usually signals the beginning of the end doesn’t it?

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    Robert Viera says:

    I wouldn’t underestimate the public’s willingness to accept higher hydro bills several years down the road in exchange for lower hydro bills now.

    If any party’s plan for hydro can be called “disastrous”, it’s the plan that Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs promised, then failed to deliver.

    Being unable to produce any kind of plan for hydro months after the other parties produced their plans makes the Brown-led Ontario PCs look incompetent.

    In the last election, the Ontario PCs got 12% of the vote in Sault Ste Marie.

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      Matt says:

      You’ve contradicted yourself.

      First you say Brown and the PC’s hydro plan is disastrous, a plan they promised and failed to deliver.

      Then in the next line you say they have been unable to produce a plan.

      How can a plan they haven’t delivered be disastrous?

      And why would they release their plan right now? It’s still a year out from the election. If it’s an actual, workable plan to reduce rates, why give the Liberals a chance to steal it and take credit for it?

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Remember the guy who used a purple dino to paint that other guy’s canvas? Worked like a charm because it directly fed into the narrative of doubt about him. Liberals need to brand Brown before he can successfully do it himself. People say they will vote PC but Brown is for most people, nothing more than a big ?

    Wynne better get at it before Horwath does. The party that puts Brown’s personal numbers in the basement is the one that wins on election night.

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      Gord says:

      Well said. Let’s also not forget “Not A Leader” Dion and “Just Visiting” Ignatieff. (And if you want to go older, Dukakis versus Bush.) If you let your opponents define you in the public mind, you lose. Always. Now is the time for the other parties to start defining Brown. Personally, I’d start with his apparent conversion on the road to Damascus to the cause of social liberalism. I think most voters are pretty good at sussing out who’s authentic and who will say anything to get elected.

      I think the difficulty the Liberals may have is in carving out a political space for themselves. Horwath and the NDP are going to run much harder to the left this time, having been burned by running a cautious, centrist campaign last time. The Tories have given every indication that they are going to try to make a play for the centre – again, having been burned by Hudak’s “Fire 100,000 Civil Servants” platform. Toss in the combination of fatigue / “time for a change”, and I’m having a hard time seeing a compelling narrative for the Liberals. I fully expect the Wizards (great name) to trot out the old shopworn “Vote for us to keep out the Scary, Scary Tories” card, but unless people are convinced that Brown is *actually* scary, I think you can only cry wolf so many times before people tune out.

      I think the party that can craft a winning message that appeals to people’s concerns about rising cost of living and affordability issues will be successful.

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      Matt says:

      The Liberals have tried to define Brown, at least at the local riding level in the last 3 or 4 by-elections.

      They went hard after him as a ultra right wing nut in the Barrie (his election), Whitby and Scarborough Rouge River by-elections.

      The PC’s won all three.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:


        That’s a very good point. However, I wonder who really goes out and votes – – you know, all that talk about sending the government a message, etc. Warren argues that Daisy ads almost inevitably work – – on a national scale.

        But you can, rarely, be born-again successfully. Barry Goldwater is an example who went from rabid right-winger to centrist Republican. Think also to a lesser extent Earl Warren and David Souter. So it can happen and be seen as both legitimate and respectable but that takes time. In Ontario, time is rapidly running out.

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    Miles Lunn says:

    Is Sault Ste. Marie expected to go PC or NDP? NDP have historically been strong here so wouldn’t be surprised if they pick it up. PCs have done quite poorly provincially here so wouldn’t think they would win, however federally they’ve been much stronger and did win this in 2011, so perhaps some potential. The polls do some to show if an Ontario election was held today the results would fairly closely mirror the 2011 federal results in Ontario.

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    billg says:

    Its going to cost less for Hydro now, but, more later, because, we need to win an election.
    I defy one single progressive liberal to explain to me how this bullshit being peddled by the Ontario Liberals isn’t on par with any of President Trumps bullshit he peddles on most subjects.
    Its the same crap, the same lies, the same obfuscation, the same disregard for voters.
    On this subject the OLP, as with Trump, rely on partisan voters to look the other way.
    How many will.

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      doconnor says:

      The difference is Wynne read the report and knows it’s bullshit.

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    Eastern Rebellion says:

    “Expresso”? Something new at Starbucks?

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      Warren says:

      Fucking autocorrect

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