Almost a year ago, the Ontario government presented and passed legislation related to campaign finance reform. The Globe and Mail noted in an article on December 1, 2016: “The Election Finances Act – prompted by a Globe and Mail investigation into pay-to-play fundraising – passed its final vote in the legislature Thursday morning with all three parties in support.”
As most people know, the reform associated with political campaign financing was demanded when it was widely publicized the Premier “and members of her cabinet were offering intimate face-time to corporate leaders and lobbyists seeking government contracts and favourable policy decisions in exchange for donations of up to $10,000 to the Ontario Liberal Party.” Funds raised by political parties are used to promote their promises to voters and to outline their plans if elected. The party most affected by this reform was Ontario’s Liberal Party, meaning, less funds to promote themselves.
The foregoing event occurred only months after the OLP had gutted the ability of Ontario’s Auditor General to say “yes” or “no” to public money being used for campaign-style ads under the Government Advertising Act, an act brought to the Legislature by former Premier Dalton McGuinty. Since amendment of that act, Ontario’s voters have seen many ads that the Auditor General indicated she would have quashed.
Recently, we have seen such messages in our hydro bills. Back in January 2017, the bill we received told us how the Ontario government is reducing electricity costs by rebating the provincial portion of the HST; shortly after, the government announced the Fair Hydro Plan and our bills said “Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan saved you $XX.XX on your bill”. (I don’t recall a message when they put the 8% Provincial Portion of the HST on our bills)!
Now, the recent messages will apparently be expanded as the Ministry of Energy has decreed via an upcoming regulatory amendment to “O. Reg. 275/04 (Information on Invoices to Certain Classes of Consumers of Electricity) made under the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (OEBA)”. These latest changes will be “dynamic” according to the posting on Ontario’s Regulatory Registry as per the following:
ENERGY is proposing to amend O. Reg 196/17 by amending the current information to be included on invoices and including a requirement that LDCs provide a customer-specific dynamic calculation of savings associated with the Fair Hydro Plan for each billing period invoiced.”
Perhaps the governing party no longer needs those $10,000 “face-time” donations as long as they can reach voters in other ways to get their messages out.
Whether we believe those messages as we head to an election is up to each of us.
November 8, 2017