Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 18, 2023
Doug Ford’s Green Energy Hypocrisy: Subsidies, Subsidies Everywhere
In the tangled web of political hypocrisy, few examples are as glaring as the dispute over subsidizing foreign Electric Vehicle (EV) battery corporations in Ontario. Premier Doug Ford finds himself entangled in a battle with the federal government, demanding more funding to keep the Stellantis plant in Windsor. However, it’s essential to remember that Ford came to power on the promise of ending the Wynne/McGuinty Green Energy Deal. The irony is palpable.
The current showdown revolves around the Stellantis battery factory project, a significant endeavor that could shape Canada’s green energy economy. Stellantis, parent company of Chrysler, Jeep, and Fiat, halted construction on the $5-billion project, insisting that the federal government match the subsidies offered by the United States, similar to those given to Volkswagen in St. Thomas. Premier Ford argues that Ontario has already paid its fair share and it’s now Ottawa’s turn to sweeten the pot.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, on the other hand, asserts that both Stellantis and the province should shoulder their fair share of the increased business costs caused by the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. She highlights the need for provinces benefiting directly from such investments to contribute their share, emphasizing that the federal government’s resources are not infinite.
What makes this situation particularly galling is the stark contrast between Ford’s stance now and his previous actions regarding green energy initiatives. When Ford assumed office, he wasted no time scrapping green incentive programs, such as the GreenON program, and canceling renewable energy projects, arguing that they were a burden on taxpayers. He touted these decisions as delivering on his campaign promise to dismantle the previous government’s green energy policies.
Yet here we are, witnessing Ford demanding significant subsidies to secure the future of the Stellantis plant, while simultaneously decrying the subsidies provided by the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. It’s a case of selective opposition to government funding, conveniently forgetting his own assault on green energy just a few years ago.
The sheer scale of the subsidies involved is mind-boggling. The Trudeau government is prepared to spend up to $13 billion to subsidize the operation of the Volkswagen plant over the next decade, with an additional $700 million for construction. These numbers dwarf the $7 billion investment Volkswagen is making in the project. The disparity is alarming, raising concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of such massive public spending.
While the push for a green energy economy is commendable, the question remains: Can we rely on public subsidies alone to secure long-term jobs and sustainable operations? Ford’s track record suggests otherwise. His cancellation of renewable energy projects and disdain for wind turbines underscores a lack of consistency and commitment to the green energy sector.
It’s crucial to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and inconsistencies. Ford’s plea for more subsidies, despite his previous rejection of green energy initiatives, highlights a worrisome lack of principles. Ontario deserves a leader who genuinely prioritizes green energy, rather than one who opportunistically seeks subsidies while conveniently forgetting his own past decisions.
If Ford truly wants to be a champion of Ontario’s auto sector and green energy, he must recognize the importance of consistent policies and long-term investments. Hypocrisy and cherry-picking which subsidies to support will only lead to an unstable and uncertain future for Ontario’s green energy ambitions.
In the pursuit of a sustainable future, it’s essential to move beyond political theatrics and work towards comprehensive and transparent policies that foster genuine growth and innovation. Ontario deserves a leader who stands firm on their principles, even when the winds of political expediency blow in a different direction. (AI)