The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which the Ford government announced Thursday it would officially cancel, was one of the most monumental government follies of our time. It was a hydra-headed monster of regulations and fiat that bludgeoned Ontario’s rural communities, stripped Ontario’s municipalities of every right to the slightest participation in their own planning, placed a darkling pall over the manufacturing industry, and imposed the highest electricity costs in all North America on some of Ontario’s lowest-income citizens.
It is a challenge to give a comprehensive account of its many follies. A saga that started in 2009 under then Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, received a full and smothering embrace by his successor, Kathleen Wynne, that subsidized at dizzying multiples the electricity provided by the most inefficient sources, put the small towns and outlying cities of the province under a green iron fist, stimulated both the construction of gas plants and their subsequent abrupt election-inspired cancellation, produced power it had to give away or pay other jurisdictions to take, castrated small businesses, burdened the most impoverished of the province with a choice between power and bread, and then precipitated the greatest slaughter of the Liberal Party of Ontario in modern-day history, cannot be encompassed in a column.
All in all, it was the most staggering story involving hallucinations about windmills since the great Cervantes inscribed — to give the full, elegant title — “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha,” which an obliging Google amanuensis translates as “The ingenious knight Don Quixote of La Mancha.”
It’s quite queasy being a green. The story of the McGuinty/Wynne crusade to impose, at any cost, full green moralism on Ontarians should serve as a drastic caution to politicians everywhere that “going green” isn’t the innocent, costless Boy-Scoutism it is always portrayed as. That it is never quite enough to keep telling your citizens in the condescending tones of the Sunday morning TV evangelists to “take your medicine, it’s for your own good.”
It is an amazing thing how often politicians elected to serve a particular jurisdiction — could be municipal or provincial — set themselves these grand glorious and green global agendas. “Sorry. Can’t fix the potholes, clear the drains before a storm, unlock the traffic snarling every street and expressway or get the streetcars here on time — but, hey, we’re banning plastic straws and grocery bags and we’re going solar on the billboards.” If you can’t run the city, leave the planet saving for another day. If you’ve got to send out government money to private citizens to allow them to pay their power bills because your policies are the very ones that drove power bills to a level they cannot pay, then reconsider the delusion that global warming is what you were elected to fix.