2013-09-15 at 11:04
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the North won't be ignored if she's elected premier.
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Andrea Horwath says the Thunder Bay Power Generating Station is a political football the Liberal government may start tossing toward the election end zone.
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The NDP leader, in the city as the keynote speaker at the party’s northern council, on Sunday said it’s unfortunate the ruling Liberals tend to forget promises made after taking the reins of power, the generating station’s halted conversion to natural gas a perfect example.
“It’s been really clear for some time that the issue is not just access to electricity from time to time. It’s reliable ongoing access to electricity. At least that’s what the mayors of a number of the towns of the Northwest are telling me,” Horwath said, promising the North would not be ignored if she was premier.
“They want to see access to electricity. That’s what this plant will do.”
Horwath, whose party has yet to name a candidate in Thunder Bay-Atikokan, promised to continue to push the province to make it happen, calling the lack of commitment to the project shameful, with up to nine new mines slated to start up in the region in the next decade or so.
“I think the government has been playing a bit of a game with the people of Northern Ontario. Because they talk the talk when it comes to the Ring of Fire, when it comes to mining opportunities, when it comes to bringing jobs back to the North. But when push comes to shove, the very underpinnings of what’s necessary to realize that economic opportunity is being ignored by the Liberals,” Horwath said.
An overhaul to the province’s electricity system is what’s required she went on to say, pointing to lower rates in neighbouring provinces.
According to Howarth, electricity costs 3.6 cents a kilowatt hour in Manitoba and 4.5 cents a kilowatt hour in Quebec, where 700 processing jobs were recently gained at the expense of workers in Timmins, Ont.
In Ontario, rates are closer to nine cents a kilowatt hour.
“It’s a failed experiment that have driven our rates too high and made us uncompetitive. We believe there is a lot that can be done with the amalgamation of existing agencies that are involved in the electrical system,” she said.
Horwath would like to see duplication eliminated and private-sector involvement limited.
“I’m not one who believes we should be tearing up contracts, because we all see where that leads in terms of cost,” she said, referencing the costly southern Ontario gas plant cancellations prior to the most recent provincial election that opposition parties say were a Liberal attempt to buy votes in a pair of too-close-to-call ridings.
“Having said that, we also know that the public power system ... that provides such reliable electricity in provinces like Manitoba and Quebec , our neighbouring provinces, is something that’s worked for them. It was working for us and we never should have turned to the other way of doing things.”
Asked why she didn’t tell Premier Kathleen Wynne to go ahead and call an election when she threatened to last week if both opposition parties refused to co-operate in the legislature, Horwath said an election will come when the time is right.
For now she’s focused on getting legislation passed that would create an arm’s length financial accountability office to oversee government spending, a move that would be delayed if a vote was called.
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