To be sure, the $7 billion the Ontario government wants to spend in its latest plan to tackle climate change is a mere drop in the bucket.
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk last year tabulated the cost of the Ontario Liberals’ energy policies. She calculated that between 2006 and 2014, Ontarians paid $37 billion more for electricity than they should have. And, if left unchecked, we were likely to spend an additional $133 billion for electricity by 2032.
Lysyk didn’t know that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals were just warming up. In the aboutto- be-unleashed plan cooked up by Wynne, her Environment Minister, Glen Murray, and the folks they listen to, 12 per cent of us will be driving electric cars by 2025 (0.16 per cent of us are driving them now), and new homes will be heated by electricity. It will be the law.
Nevermind that the electricity powering these cars and fossil-fuel free homes will continue to be generated by natural gas. After all, we continue to build massive gas-fired electricity generating facilities in Napanee and Sarnia. It is the press release that matters—not the facts.
Automakers and large homebuilders already have their hands out. They know how this works. They have already signalled that accomplishing these goals will be a monumental challenge for them, and they are willing give it a shot, if, of course, it’s Wynne and Ontario taxpayers footing the bill.
Pop-up businesses are emerging out of thin air to get in the way of the money—to snag contracts doing any number of silly and useless things. Few, if any, will achieve anything that measurably affects the Earth’s climate. But that misses the point altogether.
To be clear, none of this is about sympathy for the planet. If it was, we wouldn’t use the legal might of the Ontario government to exterminate endangered turtles and bats that get in the way. We wouldn’t actively work to minimize the importance of their loss. We wouldn’t sanction the swatting of 300,000 of birds out of the sky each year. We wouldn’t industrialize raw and rugged land for useless, intermittent and expensive energy generation. And we wouldn’t work to bankrupt conservancy and nature groups and their donors seeking only to do what governments have failed to do.
If it was about the planet we would care about such things. We would care about nature.
Instead Ontario’s climate change policies are exclusively about appealing to the faithful. They are about exploiting the vulnerable. Those who have been psychologically badgered and beaten over the past decades with the catechism that they are the cause of the end of days—and only through repentance and rejection of self-indulgent lifestyles can they fix the Earth’s weather. Only through sacrifice can they achieve salvation. It is a seductive, effective and proven message.
There is a generation coming of age that knows only this religion. It is all that is taught in Ontario schools. Countering views are held only by deniers, oil companies and other bad people. Blasphemers.
The righteous are now able to look forward with optimism and satisfaction. Their day is nearly here.
“There may be some disruption, for sure, but you can’t really address climate change and not do things differently,” said Keith Brooks of Environmental Defence, rejoicing in the Ontario government’s climate change plan to The Globe and Mail this week. “There may be losers, but there are going to be a lot of winners too.”
That is how these folks see the world. Winners and losers. Faithful and deniers. There is no middle ground. No room for discussion or debate. You are in, or you are out. And the truly evil bit is that Environmental Defence, Kathleen Wynne and Glen Murray will decide who will win and who will lose
Leave aside the fact that humans have a persistent track record of doing the most odious things in defence of righteous conviction, let us look more narrowly at the road ahead.
When the state decides it will choose who wins and who loses in its economy—it is always the individual who is most vulnerable. Big business and investors are far too agile. They will transform instantly into whatever shape makes them the most money. Besides, they’ve invested heavily into 90 Liberal fundraising events over the past two years to ensure the cash continues to flow their way.
Small businesses and consumers don’t have that same flexibility.
The Hydro One bill for one Wellington business in February was $8,440—$625 of that bill was for electricity. The biggest item, about $4,000, was the global adjustment. This line captures the subsidies that business pays energy producers to generate intermittent power we don’t need, it contains the subsidies Ontario pays neighbouring jurisdictions to take the excess electricity we don’t need, and it includes the subsidies we give manufacturers because their electricity is too expensive for them to be competitive.
The choice for this Wellington business is to continue to pay more and more—or cease existing. In or out. That is what winning and losing means in this context. For homeowners, it likely means thousands of dollars more each year to stay warm and keep the lights on. In or out.
Faith is a powerful force. It isn’t affected or diminished by logic, arithmetic or the pain of those it sacrifices. It is propelled by its own highly crafted mythology and intolerance of reasoned debate. A new dark age is gripping Ontario. How will we respond?