Bill 197. A Call for Affordable Hydro by Tom Black

Tom Black

On Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, MPP Jack MacLaren rose in the House in Toronto to present a private member’s bill, called The Affordable Electricity Act, # 197. It was a Bill to address the high electricity costs that have plagued the province since the McGuinty government decided to use the wallets of the people of Ontario, to fund his social engineering program called ‘The Green Energy Act’.

Most private member’s bills don’t get much attention and if they are presented by opposition MPP’s they usually don’t stand much chance of passing or even getting to committee for discussion and consideration. This Bill however, was written with purpose and well-thought out solutions that could be a blueprint for fair electricity rates, if enough politicians care to use some of the solutions that are laid out in it.

MacLaren left the PC Party last spring and joined the Ontario Trillium Party and until the next election in June, 2018, he sits as an independent in the House as the member for Carleton Mississippi Mills. (A Party needs to have eight sitting members to achieve Official Party Status in Ontario.)

Now on late Thursday afternoon, most MPP’s have gone home. Usually there are only the few who are presenting private member’s bills and the MPP’s who drew the short straws for each of the partys that have to stay and critique the ‘said’ bills.

Jack delivered a thoughtful speech to the House, encouraging the elected members of the legislation to get back to work and do the job that they were elected for. He asked them to put partisan politics aside and work together on the bill that he introduced, to set a course for reliable electricity at a fair price for people and businesses of the province.

Todd Smith of the PC party stood and stated that MacLaren had copied many of the ideas from them. John van Hough of the NDP said that he liked many of the ideas in the bill, but felt that sometimes the cheapest is not always the best and therefore, would tweak it a little. The Liberal critic was very aggressive against the bill and concluded that the Wynne government had already fixed everything that was mentioned in the bill.

The Trillium Party had about a dozen new candidates attending and there were about another dozen Ontario Landowners and interested friends, also in the House.   From the bleachers it was hard to predict what would happen when the vote came. The Speaker then called for Mr. MacLaren to do a 2 minute summary. About a minute and a half into that speech, Mr. MacLaren concluded that the Liberal government had failed to obey a law that they themselves has written in 2004, requiring the government to put in place, a plan to produce power to the lowest possible cost and make it available to the customers of Ontario. Mr. MacLaren stated that “this government broke the law” when they failed to comply with their own legislation. One of the liberals objected and the speaker stopped Jack and said that he had to withdraw the statement. MacLaren seemed confused as to what he had said that was wrong and she again asked him to withdraw the statement. Jack calmly stated, “I can’t withdraw the truth” at which Point she had security remove him from the House.

There was a roar of disbelief from the opposition benches. Then the speaker called for a vote on the bill and to our surprise, there was a resounding ‘Yea’ from the House, and the bill passed to third reading where it will go to Committee. The speaker’s lack of common sense may well have helped to get this bill passed or maybe the other MPP’s just thought that the bill was as good as we thought it was.