By: Laura Steiner
Follow me into the future. The date: June 8, 2018. Ontarians wake up to a Liberal minority mandate in elections held the previous day. Premier Kathleen Wynne needs the help of at least one other party to form government. Nobody wants to work with her. All the scandals, the mishandling of the Hydro, and Green Energy files have caught up with her. The opposition within her own party became more open throughout the campaign. She is unable to meet the legislature and is forced to resign.
Patrick Brown and his Progressive Conservatives (PC’s) get the second most seats, but still not a majority. The fact it’s a minority government saves his job; the PC’s have nobody else to take his spot as leader. It’s his turn to try to form a government. He approaches the Liberals, and given their inner turmoil they decline. He approaches the NDP, and given they agree with one condition. Andrea Horwath must be named Premier. He agrees on condition his party fill at least 50% of the cabinet, and that he be named deputy Premier. He keeps the party leadership because this brings the PC’s a step closer to the Premier’s office.
Brown’s weakness is the handling of the hydro file. Thursday, he admitted his team were putting the finishing touches on their plan. They would release it “in the coming weeks.” This issue has been building to this point for at least the last year. Even the Premier has admitted it’s a problem. It’s what has forced the Liberals to offer their initial 8% reduction in the first place. We’ve almost reached the point where if the PC’s don’t have a knockout, awe-inspiring common sense plan, they will lose the election.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has one. On the surface it sounds a little like something the PC’s might do. Her party proposes to cut rates by 30%. How? They want do away with “peak pricing”, buy back the shares of Ontario Hydro, and renegotiate long-term power contracts. Trying to buy it back would cost almost $4 billion, which, according to the NDP could be financed over 8 years using the profits. It’s an imperfect plan that still leaves questions on the table. What if profits are lower some years than others? What if that revenue is needed elsewhere? Despite weaknesses it’s a plan. That alone could have us saying Premier Andrea Horwath.