As election day is approaching, I have been struggling, personally, with the big “who gets my vote” decision that so many of us in Ontario are. In the interest of “full disclosure”, I am, traditionally, a conservative/right leaning sort of guy. Not, however, to the point of being closed/single minded and, certainly, not a “card carrying Conservative”. I did come into this campaign considering my vote fully “up for grabs” between the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party.
Over the last few days, however, it has become increasingly clear to me that I will be voting Progressive Conservative and it is, to a very large extent, through the handling of the Greenfield South power plant.
When announcing that, if re-elected, construction of the plant would be halted (not sure why it could not be halted now rather than allow 2 more weeks – or more – of construction to take place) it was noted that the plant would be relocated rather than built in the industrial area that it is currently slated for, and under construction in. Today’s Toronto Star confirms this by quoting Mr. McGuinty after he was questioned about the potential $1B price tag for cancelling the two politically sensitive gas plants (this one and one in Oakville earlier which, also, was in an industrial area beside the Ford plant). Mr. McGuinty, apparently, questions the price tag by, again, noting that the plant will not be cancelled outright but, rather, re-located to another location.
The point of writing this, I guess, is to tell you how I as a voter in Brampton are interpreting this sequence of events. I have no doubt that both of these cancellations/re-location(s) were politically (ie. vote) motivated and that winning these ridings is very important to Mr. McGuinty. I also do not doubt the $1B figure as the cost if both were cancelled. I also don’t doubt that, at least, one of these plants will be built somewhere else if the Liberal Party is successful in the upcoming election (thereby reducing….not eliminating…..the $1B price tag). What I don’t know, is which riding/area/city/town will now get the re-located plant(s). In the absence of knowing (or being told) I have to assume that all ridings (excepting these 2 “important” ridings) are candidate locations for the plant. Further, since one of the points of the smaller, gas fired, plants is to reduce, both, emissions and transmission costs and since both cancelled/postponed/to-be-relocated plants were situate in western GTA ridings….areas/ridings in the western GTA have higher odds of “winning” the lottery for any plant re-locations.
So, in the absence of any further information, I am left to conclude one of two things:
1. Mr. McGuinty and the Liberal Party are willing to spend a lot of money (possibly as high as a Billion dollars) of Ontario taxpayer money to satisfy the voters of Mississauga South (and neighbouring ridings) and Oakville; and/or
2. Mr. McGuinty and the Liberal Party are willing to locate undesirable land uses and electricity generation to other ridings (potentially mine) to satisfy complaints/voters in other ridings.
Whichever of these are true, it does not provide me with much incentive/encouragement to mark my ballot next to your name. If it is number 1, I have to wonder what that same $1B could do in the City of Brampton to ease our long term issues with totally inadequate health care and transportation infrastructure (neither of which seem to be much of a real hard issue in this election). If it is number 2, I have to wonder why this sort of land use is ok for the folks living in the area that “wins” the relocated plant (again, potentially Brampton) but not ok for the folks in South Mississauga/Etobicoke or the folks in Oakville.
I have never been a politician so I don’t know how much post-election vote analysis occurs (I suspect the amount is totally relative to the outcome) but, in the event there is discussion after October 6 about “where the votes went” you could add mine to the cost of re-locating that/those power plant(s).