The Ontario Liberals’ sale of Hydro One left Bay Street partying and average Ontarians with the hangover.
It was smiles all round on Bay Street when the provincials Liberals sold off the first chunk of Ontario’s electricity transmission and distribution utility in 2015. The major banks earned $29.3 million underwriting the sale of the utility, which is called Hydro One. Corporate lawyers collected generous fees. Well-connected consultants got $6.8 million in contracts.
What did the Liberals get in return for making the richest Ontarians even richer?
Certainly not a better electricity utility. Based on other electricity utility privatizations -- we’re looking at you, Nova Scotia Power -- this sale is just going to lead to higher rates and job cuts that will lead to more and longer outages.
Worse, the Liberals are giving up hundreds of millions in Hydro One profits that could have been reinvested in hospitals, schools, and transit. As the province’s Financial Accountability Officer reported, the drop in the revenue the province receives each year from Hydro One will be far greater than the one-time cash it will get from privatization.
So what did the Liberals get for this privatization? The gratitude of Bay Street’s wealthiest. In a behind-closed-doors thank-you party last December, Bay Street executives lined up to thank the Ontario Minister of Finance and Minister Energy and to offer up tokens of appreciation. Tokens like $7,500 cheques to the Liberal Party of Ontario. At least $165,000 worth of them.
Average Ontarians might be struggling this coming winter, but they can warm their hearts thinking about the joy and pleasure they’ve given the wealthy and powerful.