Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario NDP vows to fight against public asset sell-off

The Ontario NDP leader says profits generated by provincially-owned agencies help the province invest in services

TORONTO—Ontario’s New Democrats are going to fight against privatization of electricity agencies and the “fire sale” of public assets in the province, leader Andrea Horwath vowed Wednesday.

Horwath said the party will take its campaign directly to Ontarians, telling them that the profits generated by Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario help the province invest in services.

“You don’t burn the furniture just to heat the house,” Horwath said at a news conference.

Earlier this year the Liberal government set up an advisory council, chaired by TD Bank Group CEO Ed Clark, to find ways to “optimize” the value of Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Putting Clark in charge of that task is “like asking a fox to guard the hen house,” Horwath said.

The Liberal plan could involve inviting large pension funds to invest in the provincial energy and liquor agencies while retaining public ownership, but Premier Kathleen Wynne has not said what could be the subject of a total or partial sale.

Horwath said selling off bits and pieces is a “slippery slope.”

Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid called Horwath “irresponsible” by suggesting the government shouldn’t review assets to look at “maximizing” them.

“We’ve made the responsible choice by asking an expert team led by Ed Clark to look at Ontario’s assets and make sure they are working to the best advantage for the people of Ontario, while reinvesting revenues in infrastructure and jobs,” he said in a statement.

A hydro sale would mean more expensive bills for families and businesses, and selling the LCBO would deprive the province of $1.7 billion in revenue each year, she said.

The Liberal government has said it wants to retain majority ownership in the LCBO and the electricity agencies, even if it decides to invite pension funds to invest in the provincial agencies.

The province announced last week it was following through on a pledge to sell a parcel of land on the Toronto waterfront owned by the LBCO.

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