Ontario’s NDP would push to protect the province’s environment if caught in a battle like the Trans Mountain pipeline issue pitting one NDP provincial government against another in the west of the country, leader Andrea Horwath said after a campaign event on Wednesday.
Asked by National Observer where an NDP government in Ontario would stand in the increasingly bitter dispute between British Columbia and Alberta, Horwath said “we would want to make sure that our interests, our environmental interests from the perspective of a provincial government, are looked after.” B.C. is currently fighting the proposed pipeline expansion in court, while Alberta is backing the project in order to get its oil to tidewater.
Pressed to confirm that meant siding with the B.C. government in this internecine NDP fight, Horwath demurred, blaming the former Harper federal government for watering down Ottawa’s environmental assessments of resource projects. She said “the specifics of the project that is being discussed between the B.C. government, the Alberta government, and the federal government is something that probably could have been addressed with a better national environmental assessment process.”
Solutions for high electricity prices
Kinder Morgan, the company trying to develop the $7.4 billion project, has said it will decide by May 31 whether to go ahead. The federal government has said it would compensate the company for any delays in construction caused by political opposition.
Horwath, whose NDP party has recently jumped into a neck-and-neck battle with Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives ahead of Ontario’s June 7 election, was speaking to reporters after a town hall event focused on issues relevant to young people.
She also expanded on recent comments that an NDP government would move to quickly de-commission the Pickering nuclear power plant by saying a broadly oversupplied market meant that power contracts coming up for renewal would not automatically be renewed by a future NDP government.
“What we are doing right now is, we are paying top dollar to private interests to generate electricity that we then dump on the spot market to jurisdictions that are competitive with us,” she said. “We actually in some cases are selling that power for much, much, much less than the cost of generating it. That's causing us to be paying higher prices than what we need to be paying here in Ontario. We’re paying to light up the Manhattan skyline, that's ridiculous.”
With the high cost of electricity being a sore spot for Ontario voters, the NDP has promised to reverse the partial privatization of Hydro One if elected, and Horwath said the party would also look to restrict the profit private companies could make from suppling the province with its electricity.
“We're going to not only look at the supply, we're going to look at the private profits that are in our electricity system and cap those profits,” she said. “We know that there are private contracts on the supply side that are coming due following this election. Those contracts that are coming due, we are going to look at them and if they are not necessary, if we don't need that power, we're not just going to extend those contracts.”