Wynne Liberals poised to overpay for Quebec hydro; Tory bill aims to regulate pill presses

S-D-SG MPP Jim McDonell. Nation Valley News file photo

This week at Queen’s Park (Sept. 23)

by Jim McDonell

Queen’s Park was quieter this week as MPPs from all parties attended the International Plowing Match in Walton on Monday and Tuesday.

The IPM is a reminder to all of us of the importance of agriculture to Ontarians’ prosperity and quality of life. Ontario farmers work hard to maintain our agricultural heritage while providing us with a nutritious, affordable and reliable food supply. By celebrating their work and achievements, we build the inspiration that will drive younger Ontarians to take up agriculture-related studies and training,  motivate them to take over the family business and keep Ontario’s agri-food industry as a world leader in innovation and excellence.

When we returned on Wednesday, Official Opposition Leader Patrick Brown demanded that the government submit any electricity supply deal with Quebec to a vote in the Legislature instead of concealing its details. The reason for this demand is clear and pressing: the Ontario Government is negotiating a deal with the Province of Quebec to buy massive amounts of power from them. In their last attempt to do so, the government had promised Quebec a purchase price far exceeding market rates and a guaranteed income clause that would mean we paid Quebec whether we received power from them or not. Insiders in Quebec call it a “golden opportunity,” but we look at it as the same old story of this government over-paying for power we don’t need. This is something that we have seen this government do too many times to count.

It is time for the current government to face the facts: Ontarians care about the affordability of their electricity. The drive over the past decade to impose large, subsidized renewable projects on rural Ontario was against this government’s own experts’ advice and has failed to give us a reliable power supply at reasonable rates. Instead, it has created a massive surplus of overpaid power that can’t be stored. As a result, water spills unused from our dams, steam vents uselessly at our nuclear plants, foreign wind turbine syndicates get paid for generating nothing, and Ontarians are billed through the nose while facing the prospect of poverty. There is a way to stop this insanity, but it means putting Ontarians first by using accepted economic principles and sound technology in the provisioning of power and putting the divisive politics of the Green Energy Act last.

On Thursday, the Legislature discussed my colleague MPP Michael Harris’ Bill 126. The lax regulations around pill presses enable ill-intentioned individuals to set up a manufacturing operation for illegal drugs, including opioids. The substances involved, such as fentanyl, are dangerous even in microscopic quantities. These back-room pill-making operations put addicts and communities at risk by facilitating access to opioids and operating with a complete disregard for safety. If Bill 126 becomes law, pill presses will be limited to designated businesses such as pharmacies, and operating them will require either a license or supervision by a licensed professional.  It is a small but meaningful step in our fight against opioid abuse.

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