By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 31, 2015
‘It’s going,’ Kathleen Wynne says of the looming sale of Hydro One despite watchdog warning
It’s “full steam ahead” with the Liberal government’s sell-off of Hydro One despite a damaging report from the budget watchdog warning the sale will hurt the province’s bottom line.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said she is sticking to her plan to unload 60 per cent of the utility in order to bankroll transportation infrastructure.
“It’s going,” Wynne said firmly on Thursday in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
As first disclosed by the Star, Stephen LeClair, the new financial accountability officer, warned the province will be in even “worse” shape after the sale of the Crown utility.
In a report to the legislature, LeClair said there is much “uncertainty” surrounding the sale of the electricity transmitter.
His findings landed the same day the government announced the first tranche of 89 million shares of Hydro One — 15 per cent of the company — will begin being sold next Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange for $20.50 apiece, generating $1.83 billion.
“We are pleased to announce that 40 per cent of shares are being reserved for retail investors, so individual Ontarians can participate in the IPO,” said Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli.
Both the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are imploring the Liberals not to sell such a valuable public asset.
“This government has known all along that the most they could get was limited new money on the fire sale of Hydro One . . . while you lose an asset that brings in $700 million each and every year,” said Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath echoed Brown’s assessment.
“This is a terrible deal and it makes no sense whatsoever. Will the premier and her government stop this insane sell-off of Hydro One?” she said.
LeClair warned the Liberals’ move would increase the provincial debt by reducing revenue.
“In the years following the sale of 60 per cent of Hydro One, the province’s budget balance would be worse than it would have been without the sale,” he wrote in his first-ever report to the legislature. (Source: Toronto Star)