Public Values

Privatizing Toronto Hydro would be short-sighted

Mayor forgets he once voted in favour of the public interest — and a public Toronto Hydro.

Rob Ford last year told CUPE Local One President John Camilleri that Toronto Hydro is a CUPE Local One, Toronto Hydro Workers

TORONTO, ON, October 26, 2011: Rob Ford now thinks selling part of Toronto Hydro is a good idea. This year Toronto Hydro is 100 years old. The wise politicians who did not sell Toronto Hydro during the Great Depression and two world wars had a vision for the future. Publicly owned power benefited everyone, including business.

Toronto Hydro returns a very healthy rate to the city every year and will do so forever to help pay for all other city services. Taking a one-time cash payment is very short-sighted and is the same as burning your furniture to heat your home. And selling 10 percent is only the first step. Once that first 10 percent is privatized, it will be much easier to privatize the rest. The public has never had an appetite for private power.

Mr. Ford is showing his ignorance by saying he'd like to sell shares to the public. The Toronto public already owns Toronto Hydro and has done so for 100 years. Why would anyone buy shares in a company they already own?

  "Scandals, massive rate hikes and blackouts have dogged electricity privatization everywhere."

The Mayor seems to forget that taxpayers are also ratepayers. There would be enormous pressure to increase rates on already high hydro bills to increase profits. A private owner's fiduciary duty is to the shareholder. Maintenance, rebuilding the system, service, environmental concerns and public safety would go right out the window in order to maximize profits for the shareholder. Shareholder rights would supersede the rights of the ratepayer.

Mr. Ford can union-bash all he wants but the record of electricity privatization all over the world is very dismal. Scandals, massive rate hikes and blackouts have dogged electricity privatization everywhere. Remember Enron? How about the privatized Highway 407, with its double-digit rate hikes every year?

Mr. Ford previously recognized the value of Toronto Hydro by voting in favour of the July 6th 2010 motion, "it is not in the public interest to sell all or any part of it".

John Camilleri, President of CUPE Local One, says, "I spoke to Mr. Ford on June 26, 2010, a week before the motion was going to council and he said to me that he would 'not support any motion to sell any part of Toronto Hydro. It's a money maker.'"

Even Mayor Ford previously thought selling any part of Toronto Hydro was a bad idea.

Council would be wise to keep it public for the next 100 years.

Links and sources
  Privatizing any part of Toronto Hydro not in the public interest

Posted: November 02, 2011

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