by Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 15, 2015
Patrick Brown is headed for his biggest face-off away from the rink.
When MPPs return from their summer break Monday, the hockey-playing politico takes a seat in the legislature across from Premier Kathleen Wynne for the first time since being elected Progressive Conservative leader May 9.
Brown’s performance will be carefully scrutinized and the more experienced Wynne will get a flurry of questions on the $9 billion sell-off of Hydro One, her Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and the economy.
With the issues spilling over to the Oct. 19 federal campaign trail, rival party leaders are as eager to score points as Wynne is to stand her ground, with polls suggesting the Hydro One sale is not as popular as she would like.
“We will very clearly point out how we should take a different approach,” Brown said, dubbing the hydro deal a “fire sale” and the pension premiums that employees and employers would have to pay a “job killer.”
He also pledged to set a different tone by not being “blindly partisan.”
New Democrats said Hydro One, in which Wynne plans to sell a 60 per cent stake to raise money for transit and debt reduction, is their “big push” because they fear it will lead to higher electricity prices.
In an interview Friday in Quebec City, where she was attending a joint cabinet meeting with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Wynne said she is will not “back down” on Hydro One.
She defended eventual proceeds from the sale as crucial to improving public transit and reducing gridlock that is costing the economy billions in lost productivity.
“The building of infrastructure is a high priority for us…and so I am going to be talking to the people of Ontario through the legislature about the work that we’re doing on that front,” said Wynne.
While the government plans to sell off 60 per cent of Hydro One – recently the subject of scathing attacks from ombudsman André Marin over billing snafus — Wynne said the province will retain control because no single shareholder will be able to own more than 10 per cent.
“I was interested in that,” the premier said, adding she will continue to highlight Brown’s social conservative voting record as an MP under Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, where he opposed same-sex marriage and abortion — stances he has since changed. (Source: Toronto Star)