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2014 Ontario Provincial Election

Skeezix

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The old Family Coalition Party existed to attract the same type of voter with much the same agenda, and it was never anything more than a fringe party. It actually was deregistered earlier this year (it had been calling itself the New Reform Party of Ontario towards the end).

My guess is that this new STNSEA (it just rolls off the tongue) will largely play that same role. They will likely get more than 500 votes across the province (assuming they get their act together to actually field candidates, which should not be assumed), but the will be nothing more than a fringe party and won't pose any particular threat to the Tories.

Having said that, we live in times where the electorate is volatile. Queenie Yu might have gotten 582 votes during the last byelection, but I'm not sure to what extent so-cons incensed by the sex-ed curriculum knew that they had been hung out to dry by Patrick Brown by the time they voted (and it was a byelection, so only 28% voted). Although he disavowed the infamous letter and made a statement in favour of the curriculum, the real degree to which he has distanced himself from the anti-sex-ed folks didn't really become apparent until after the byelection. To the extent that there are some communities where feelings about the curriculum still run high (I think Brown has correctly guessed that it's a non-issue for the general population), STNSEA could present some problems in terms of vote-splitting in some ridings (if it gets its act together - big if). I still think STNSEA will be nothing more than a fringe party, an annoyance at best to Brown, but these days I hate to predict how these things will pan out.

Personally, I hope McVety and his crew go all in with STNSEA and get trounced.
 

adma

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Wonder if any Ford/Flagg-type council candidates will also run under that banner...
 

adma

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Wonder if any Ford/Flagg-type council candidates will also run under that banner...
Speaking of which, Arthur Smitherman's running in NWG as leader of this new entity registered as the Canadian Constituents' Party (yes, that's what it's called, even though it's provincial).
 

BurlOak

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I'm worried that Andre Morin might win for the PC's in Liberal Ottawa.

If that happens, Wynne may actually step down and another Liberal leader would have the opportunity to fool the electorate, as they did in 2014.
 

jje1000

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A short explainer to the #1 issue in Ontario. No easy fixes for high hydro bills, unfortunately.

Why hydro bills are so high in Ontario
Kathleen Wynne admits high electricity prices are 'her mistake,' but fixing things won't be easy
By Mike Crawley, CBC News Posted: Nov 22, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 22, 2016 10:22 AM ET

[...]

Yet "fixing" high hydro prices is no easy task.

"It's not a simple system, it is a complex system," Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said Monday, when pressed by reporters for specifics about the premier's weekend promise "to find more ways to lower rates and reduce the burden on consumers."

Thibeault is ruling out another taxpayer-funded subsidy beyond the promised rebate of the provincial portion of the HST (eight per cent), starting in January.

So that means chipping away at the factors that actually drive costs in the hydro system.

Here are the key reasons why your hydro bills are so high and why it'll be a challenge for the Wynne government to lower them enough that you notice.

1. Oversupply of power
Ontario's electricity producers are generating more power than we consume in the province. But the government is locked into contracts to purchase that power regardless. It sells off the excess to the U.S., at rates below the cost of production. And even though you aren't consuming that power, you still have to pay for your share of it every month (through a line on your power bill called the "global adjustment").

"This dynamic is made worse because demand keeps falling," said Greenpeace energy campaigner Shawn-Patrick Stensil. "Covering the cost of this excess surplus supply is spread over fewer kilowatt hours." He argues the government could solve the excess power problem in one stroke by taking the entire Pickering nuclear station offline.

Cancelling power contracts seems an easy solution — but not a cheap one: remember it cost $1 billion to cancel those infamous gas-fired power plants in Mississauga and Oakville.

2. Pricey green energy
Wind, solar and bio-energy account for 6.3 per cent of total electricity generated in the province, but 16.3 per cent of the total generation cost, according to the auditor general's recent investigation into hydro prices. Auditor Bonnie Lysyk criticized the government for offering overly generous contracts when it launched its big green energy push in 2009. Despite shifting gears to a competitive bidding process, the auditor found that in 2014, Ontario was still paying "double the market price for wind and 3½ times the market price for solar energy."

3. Weakened energy watchdog
The Ontario Energy Board is the independent body that regulates electricity pricing in the province, but not all electricity pricing. It has little ability to control the price paid to electricity generators, other than Ontario Power Generation's nuclear plants at Pickering and Darlington and most of OPG's hydroelectric dams. Anytime OPG wants to increase these prices, it has to seek approval from the board.

But the OEB does not have that power over private producers.
They negotiate prices directly with the government and have negotiated some rather profitable contracts, since that is their motive. They now account for about half of all the electricity generated in Ontario, therefore a significant chunk of your hydro bill is out of the reach of the regulator that's supposed to protect the interests of consumers.

4. Time of use pricing
Ontario brought in smart meters to allow for variable pricing of electricity during the day, with the aim of driving down consumption during times of high use by raising the prices substantially during those peak periods. The move has had little effect on peak demand, according to an analysis commissioned by the government's Independent Electricity System Operator. It means that we're still consuming plenty of electricity during those peak periods, and paying a lot more for it than before smart meters arrived.

5. Well-paid hydro workers
The latest edition of the Sunshine List includes 7,632 employees of Ontario Power Generation. Their earnings total $1.07 billion. The last time Hydro One workers were on the Sunshine List (in 2014), there were 4,279 employees, with salaries totalling $550 million. The auditor general flagged in 2013 that generous salaries, pensions and benefits at OPG — especially among top executives — were partly to blame for rising hydro prices.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-hydro-bills-1.3860314
 

jje1000

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Ontario auditor general exposes litany of government snafus in annual report
Examples include cracking highways, overspending on eHealth records, shoddy Metrolinx oversight of contractors, and a climate change plan that will do more in California than Ontario.

Cracking highways, $8 billion spent on still-incomplete eHealth electronic medical records, a comedy of errors surrounding shoddy Metrolinx oversight of transit contractors, and a climate change plan that will do more in California than Ontario.

Those are some of a litany of government snafus exposed by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk in her annual two-volume, 1,063-page report to the Legislature on Wednesday.

The independent watchdog said there was a common theme that ran through her 13 value-for-money audits this year.

“It is important for everyone doing business with the government to keep in mind the concept of shared responsibility for the use of taxpayer money to deliver services, protect the environment, or design and build infrastructure,” said Lysyk.

Her audit of eHealth Ontario found the controversial agency’s work remained unfinished some 14 years after the computerized health records program was formally launched.

“The initiative has certainly advanced since our last audit in 2009,” said Lysyk.


“However it is still not possible to say if it is on budget because the government never set an overall budget,” she said.

“In effect, we cannot say if $8 billion is a reasonable figure.”

[...]



The auditor also expressed concern that Ontario’s highways are cracking up — long before they should — in some cases just a year or two after being repaved.

That’s because contractors are using poor quality asphalt
, costing the government millions in repairs and adding to drivers’ frustrations.

The poor pavement problem was identified some 16 years ago — the diluted asphalt can’t withstand the cold winter weather — yet oversight of testing is lax, leading to tampering.

Queen’s Park has also failed to deal with questionable road contractors and, in fact, continues to pay some bonuses and allows them to bid on future jobs.

The auditor general cited one case where a portion of Highway 7 was in disrepair a year after being paved.

On Highway 403, paving in 2006 was redone in 2008 and again in 2011, and is estimated repairs will be needed yet again, costing millions. The company in question received $686,000 bonus payout.

Roads are supposed to last 15 years before needing upgrades.

While the Ministry of Transportation may say road quality has gone up 8 per cent over the last decade, the auditor general countered that could include roads that have been repaved as cracks repairs are not tracked.



The GTA’s regional transit agency Metrolinx has gone off the rails when it comes to properly completing projects on time and on budget, Lysyk said, citing a litany of problems including lax oversight of work that cost taxpayers “significant amounts.”

She highlighted a pedestrian bridge over 14 lanes of Highway 401 to the GO station at Pickering, in which an unnamed contractor made mistakes such as installing a bridge truss upside down, but was hired back for Phase 2 of the project and was eventually fired after continued “poor performance” that included careless welding that will take $1 million to fix.

And yet the company, which was paid fully for the first contract and 99 per cent of the value of the second contract, was hired for another $39 million project.

“Metrolinx does not have a process in place to identify poorly performing contractors when it is making the decision to award contracts,” Lysyk said, noting the Pickering bridge contractor had “no experience” installing trusses.

“Thus, contractors can take advantage of this and continue to perform poorly without repercussions.”

Metrolinx, which operates GO Transit, also “rarely takes action” against contractors for missing deadlines, resulting in budget overruns, the audit concluded.

Lysyk cited an example where errors by design consultants in a random sample of six projects cost taxpayers an extra $22.5 million, and another case where projects such as the Pickering GO parking garage and Burlington GO station building completed up to 25 months behind schedule cost $2 million for consultants to shepherd them to completion.

The audit also found Metrolinx “does not know that it is getting what it pays for” in rail contracts with CN and CP, with CN’s construction charges up to 130 per cent higher than a competitor’s and no questions asked by the transit agency.

On one project, Metrolinx paid for new parts in railway construction and got used ones instead.

“It does not check to ensure that parts are new,” said Lysyk.



While public transit does help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the auditor raised questions about the government’s much-ballyhooed climate-change scheme.

She warned the cap-and-trade program won’t come close to meeting its 2020 target for reducing emissions, echoing concerns recently raised by the province’s environmental commissioner.

Just 3.8 megatonnes of the projected 18.7 in reduced emissions are likely to be in Ontario — with the province planning to “take the credit” for its own as well as the 14.9 megatonnes that are actually cut in Quebec and California.

“The (environment) ministry has not publicly said that it intends to achieve Ontario’s target by counting reductions achieved in its partner jurisdictions,” says the report.

Because the province is planning to link its system — something the auditor general notes has not been formally signed off on — it allows polluters to purchase allowances from outside the province if available.

That could even allow businesses to buy extra emission allowances, hampering conservation efforts.

She said that through the allowances, Quebec and California could receive $466 million by 2020 and some $2.2 billion “will leave the Ontario economy” by 2030.



The auditor general also took the government to task for a 66-per-cent hike in spending on advertising after Wynne “weakened” a law banning partisan ads at taxpayer expense.

The $49.9 million included a spate of ads on the now-defunct Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and “self-congratulatory” spots, including one about improving the environment that depicted animals clapping.

“Ontarians have, in the past year, paid millions of dollars for advertising designed primarily to present the government in a positive light rather than to inform,” Lysyk wrote in her report.

She also slammed an ad that claimed “more Ontario students are reaching their potential than ever before” and boasting of a “world-class” school system that her office would have rejected before the Government Advertising Act was watered down.

“These vague scripts would not have passed under the previous act because they appeared aimed at fostering a positive impression of the government and did not provide the public with any useful information.”
https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/11/30/ontario-auditor-general-exposes-litany-of-government-snafus-in-annual-report.html
 
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