Chris Selley: Faced with soaring energy bills, Ontario businesses demand ‘love’ from Queen’s Park
TORONTO — The Ontario Liberals’ electricity price nightmare has plenty of human faces: middle-class parents, gainfully employed, struggling to pay for an essential utility. The opposition attack ads in 2018 will practically write themselves: Ontarians have endured a more-than-70-per-cent rate hike over a decade, driven mostly by production costs that were the direct result of Liberal decisions. Through 2014, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk found last year, the system extracted $37 billion extra from Ontarians’ pockets.
The nightmare might soon have a more recognizable corporate face. A group of small-to-medium-sized businesses calling itself the Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers of Ontario invited reporters on a tour of Leland Industries’ fasteners plant in Scarborough on Tuesday. There were the good-paying blue-collar jobs. And here was a group of employers saying Ontario’s electric bills, and its forthcoming cap-and-trade system, were pushing them toward the brink.
“Many of the manufacturers in this room have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars … on energy-efficient equipment so we can lower our greenhouse gas (emissions),” said Jocelyn Bamford, vice-president of sales and marketing at Automatic Coating. “We have done … our part to make sure we’re participants in the global cause.”