News Provincial

Hydro ads put Liberals in contempt of legislature: PCs

Shawn Jeffords, Political Bureau Chief

By Shawn Jeffords, Political Bureau Chief

TORONTO - 

A new ad campaign touting a plan to slash hydro rates puts the Liberal government in contempt of the legislature, Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives allege.

In a letter to Speaker Dave Levac on Monday, PC House Leader Jim Wilson asks him to find the government in contempt because the ads set out both a timeline for action and assume a decision — this before the legislation to cut hydro rates has been introduced.

“What we’ve got here is a clear case of electioneering from the Wynne Liberals using taxpayer dollars,” Wilson said in a press release.

“Neither MPPs nor the public even know what the new hydro scheme looks like, what it will cost, and who will get left behind. Clearly, these advertisements serve no purpose other than to promote Kathleen Wynne’s re-election.”

The ads, running on radio stations across the province, tell listeners that the Liberals made important investments in clean and green energy that come at a cost. The rate cut is about addressing the impact on hydro bills, the ads say.

“We’ve heard you,” a narrator says in one of the spots. “Hydro needs to be fair for everyone across the province and we’ve made fundamental changes to ensure this in the long-term.”

Levac said he takes the matter seriously and would rule on the matter. He did not give a timeframe for his response.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault defended the ads and said the government has spent under a million on the radio and social media campaign to date. There are more spots coming, likely for television and in print, he said.

“It’s important for us to make sure that we let everyone know about the 25% reduction that’s coming,” he said.

“In terms of the ad campaign, it’s going to be in line with all of the other ad campaigns that we’ve had in the past,” he added..

NDP leader Andrea Horwath said the ad buys are particular galling because they have been introduced before the government has introduced its legislation on the rate cut. The ads are clearly partisan and paid for with public money, she said.

“What I think is that we have a government that is in contempt of the people,” she said. “Here they are putting ads out without even putting a plan forward. That’s not acceptable.”

sjeffords@postmedia.com