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Toronto Star, October, 3, 2004

Public power exempt from free trade
Letter to the editor in response to "How free trade changed us"

by Paul Kahnert

David Orchard is absolutely right. We are very quickly losing our country, our sovereignty and our ability to make our own rules. One of our competitive advantages over the U.S. was our public power companies that supplied "power at cost," a saying that came down to us from Sir Adam Beck in 1906. Power at cost made Ontario the economic engine of Canada. Our public power companies are exempt from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as long as they remain in public hands. Why would we give this advantage up? LINK HERE

The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty are continuing the Tory privatization plan by stealth under Bill 100, which will be passed soon. The Liberals claim, "We're not privatizing anything." However, on Aug. 9 Energy Minister Dwight Duncan declared that "all new generation would be private." Which means in less than 20 years as public generating stations close it will be almost all private. At the Bill 100 hearings we asked the government if it had a legal opinion on the FTA regarding electricity and if it did would it be made public. No answer yet.

When private generating stations start selling electricity into the U.S., that will effectively mean that our electricity system will have merged with that of the U.S. and we will be subject to the rules of the FTA. Under the FTA rules we will have to pay U.S. prices, which are much higher, and in times of need we won't be able to cut back our exports to the U.S.

Paul Kahnert, Spokesperson, Ontario Electricity Coalition, Markham, Ontario

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