Hydro One Shareholders Should Thank Ontario’s Taxpayers and Premier Ford for Seemingly Embracing the Circular Economy

Hydro One earlier this month released their 1st Quarter 2021 report and EPS (earnings per share) were up from 0.38 cents per share to 0.45 cents for an 18.4% increase and the highest 1st Quarter earnings since becoming a publicly listed company.  The net profit after financing costs and taxes of $273 million also appears to be a record as far back as Hydro One post their first Quarter financials which appears to be 2015.

Hydro One’s report noted the reasons behind the increase as: “Revenues, net of purchased power, for the first quarter were $74 million higher than last year, mainly due to higher distribution and transmission revenues as a result of OEB-approved rates including the timing of the OEB decision on the 2020 rates received in the second quarter of the prior year, and higher energy demand and consumption driven by favourable weather.  The reference to “favourable weather”, I believe, suggests it was colder and due to the Covid-19 lockdown meant ratepayers (particularly residential) consumed more kWh (kilowatt hours) then the prior year.  The results noted distributed power increased from 7,484 GWh (gigawatt hours) to 8,156 GWh for an increase of 9%. Average transmission “60-minute peak demand” also increased by almost 6%.

The reference to “purchased power” signaled costs dropped dramatically due to the Ford government changing the former Wynne led government’s “Fair Hydro Plan” into the Ford government’s “Ontario Electricity Rebate” increasing the taxpayer subsidization. What that did was, decrease the cost of “purchased power” for Hydro One from $1,007 million in 2020 to $894 million in 2021 (despite the 9% consumption increase) dropping the cost per kWh (kilowatt hour) from 13.5 cents/kWh to 11 cents/kWh.  That represented a taxpayer subsidy of around $203 million for the quarter (Hydro One customers only) more than doubling the Wynne subsidy! 

It also meant Hydro One’s ROR (return on revenue) and ROA (return on assets) look much better then past returns which presumably helped drive up the share price.  As an indication Hydro One’s stock exchange price closed at $30.40/share on May 21, 2021 whereas back when Ford declared the March 12, 2020 lockdown the share price was $24.50. What the foregoing $5.90 per share increase suggests is the (approximately) 40% ownership the province holds in Hydro One is now worth about $1.44 billion more (up 24%) than it was worth just over a year ago and will presumably reflect itself favourably on the province’s financial statements when they are released. To make matters even better Hydro One’s quarterly dividend on their shares increased from the comparable quarter and resulted in an approximate $60 million dollar payment to the province.

Boiling it down   

By using taxpayer debt to subsidize electricity costs the Ontario government has increased the value of the assets held in the monopoly where we taxpayers own 40%.  Couple the additional taxpayer debt incurred (to subsidize the per kwh charge), plus the OEB granting rate increases for transmission and distribution of electricity and Hydro One’s profit should increase further! Logically that should drive up the market (share price) value even more in the future!

Is this really what our Federal and Provincial politicians had in mind when they referenced the “Circular Economy”?

Woke banks all in on ‘reset’, carbon exchange ripoff

Marc Patrone of Sauga 960 AM had me on his show today to follow up on my recent article which was related to how the Canadian banks like TD and RBC have joined in with financial institutions around the world to push the concept of ESG (environmental, social and governance) concept conceived by the WEF (World Economic Forum) and loved by all the various UN bureaucracies.

While Marc and I did talk about that we also covered other related ground such as CO2 emissions, net-zero by 2050, science (he had a great clip of Steve Koonin) and the general failure of the main stream media in putting out all the facts and actually doing some investigative reporting.

You can listen to the May 5, 2021 podcast on SAUGA 960 AM starting at 50.45 here:

https://sauga960am.ca/podcasts/

Or if you are a subscriber to NEWSTALK CANADA you can listen here:

https://newstalkcanada.com/?page_id=2527

Charities are not what they appear to be

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of the word charity* is: “generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering”. Most Canadians have probably wondered since the “WE Charity” scandal broke, how that definition fits into the CRA’s granting of charitable status to applicants and then how they administer them from that point. 

Well, presumably to put our minds at ease, the CRA recently released a “Report on the Charities Program 2018 to 2020” and they applaud themselves.  As an example, the Director General, Tony Manconi in his overview noted the Charities Directorate: “aims to promote compliance with the charity-related income tax legislation and regulations in order to support charitable giving and development of the sector, while protecting charities and the public from abuse.”

The foregoing is to suggest we taxpayers should relax as those within the CRA are managing the charities really well, but are they? 

From all appearances the MSM totally ignored the CRA report as a search for responses to it suggests the only parties who even looked at it were a couple of law firms and a few charities.  

Should one scan the following chart which provides the sources of revenue flowing to charities over the “annual average” of the years 2016 to 2018 it is rather shocking to note 86.6% ($183.9 billion) was labelled as “Revenue from Government”. A cursory look at some of the CRA charities labeled “universities” or “hospitals” suggest this is where the bulk of that “Government Revenue” flowed. The CRA’s report notes as of the end of 2019 there were still 4975 “Public Foundations” down from 5027 in 2018.

Curiosity piqued; an examination of The Governing Council of the University of Toronto’s CRA filings followed which led to the discovery over the five years of their filed reports they had received $5.157 billion collectively from Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments.  They have 61 people on the “Governing Council” and 10 of them (probably many more) have incomes exceeding $350K per annum.  A look at the Ontario “Sunshine list” for “universities” show 10 of the top 20 names on the list were U. of T. employees with the lowest earning almost $458K in 2019.

U. of T. employees reputedly number about 15,600 operating on three campuses and the April 30, 2020 CRA filing indicates total compensation of $2.3 billion which suggests average income of $147K per employee and represented about 65% of U. of T’s gross revenue of $3.54 billion.

Some of the $1,043 million U. of T. received in their year-ended April 30, 2020 from the various governments (paid by taxpayers) flows to University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation (UTAM) established in April 2000. UTAM have responsibility to manage three U. of T. pools of funds which are; the Long Term Capital Appreciation Pool (assets from endowments) of $3.2 billion, the Expendable Funds Investment Pool (short-term working capital) of $2.5 billion and the University of Toronto Master Trust (Pension Fund) of $5.6 billion. So UTAM were managing (as of December 31, 2019) assets of $11.4 billion much of which us kindly taxpayers contributed over the years. 

Further, and as a matter of interest, UTAM have gone full blown ESG (environmental, social and governance) signing up to the UN PRI (principles for responsible investment) back in December 2016. They have obviously bought into the new economic theories pushed by the WEF and many others including our former Bank of Canada governor, Mark Carney!  They even have a picture of industrial wind turbines on the website to augment their belief in ESG. No doubt, if UTAM come up short and unable to generate sufficient revenue in their management of the pension fund the university will go hat in hand to the various government bodies and seek more of our private sector tax dollars!

Now, returning to the CRA report another interesting disclosure was the fact charities as of December 31, 2020 had filed over 91,000 applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and almost all of them were approved.  That resulted in another $2.4 billion of tax dollars flowing to charities (with employees such as U. of T.) and one should imagine many of those dollars flowed to the lower paid employees within the various universities, colleges, and other public sector charities as well as to many environmental groups such as WWF, Pembina Foundation, Environmental Defence, etc. etc.

Canada is in need of new legislation in respect to charities in order to meet the true definition of what a charity really is. 

The public is being abused despite the rhetoric from the Director General!

*To be clear I am a member of a charity but it is a “not for profit” so doesn’t issue tax receipts and has no paid employees but we do our best to help the needy and contribute to the community!

Laurentian Elites and the Circular Economy

A very recent article in the Financial Post caught my jaundiced eye not so much for what it said but who it was about.  The article noted: “Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP launched a $13.5-billion hostile takeover bid for Calgary-based midstream company Inter Pipeline Ltd. to take the company private.” The striking point of this opening sentence seemed odd in that Brookfield with over $500 billion in assets under management had announced back in August of last year that none other than Mark Carney former Governor of the Bank of England had been appointed, “Vice-Chair and Head of Environment, Social and Governance, known as “ESG,” as well as impact fund investing.”

The attempt at a hostile takeover of Inter Pipeline Ltd by Brookfield seemed incongruous with Carney now ensconced in his new position. Did he bless this “fossil fuel” related hostile acquisition bid under his new ESG “accounting” rules?  Wasn’t he recently all preachy on BBC about us all having to exit fossil fuels or we will all die of “climate change”?

 Anybody who has had a serious look at Brookfield and its numerous entities dating back to it’s founding 120 years ago, will be impressed at the international reach it commands and gain a rough understanding of how it has created numerous multi-millionaires and billionaires along the way. An article from February 2020 in the FT partially highlights its organizational complexities!  

One of Brookfield’s offshoots; Brookfield Renewable Partners has investments in hydro. wind, solar and storage in Canada and elsewhere. Back in 2016 they sold one of their subsidiaries; Great Lakes Power transmission lines to Hydro One for $373 million.  That inspired Hydro One to apply to the OEB for a revenue increase which they were granted.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners already has investments in significant oil and gas storage and processing infrastructure in Alberta and Inter Pipeline Ltd. operates oilsands pipelines connecting northeastern Alberta with the Edmonton and Hardisty oil storage   So, one should wonder why would Brookfield add Carney to their roster when he is reputedly anti fossil fuels?  Will he execute an ESG report on their behalf thereby blessing these investments?  Stay tuned!

Coincidently Brookfield Renewable Partners just held its fourth quarter conference call and the CEO Connor Teskey was excited! “The company generated a market-mashing 91% total return in 2020 and has now produced annualized total returns of 20% since its formation two decades ago.”  Teskey went on to say; “We look forward to a multidecade opportunity to advance decarbonization and assist with the transition of global electricity grids to a more sustainable future,” he said. “Advancing the transition to a lower-carbon future will require substantial capital, in excess of $100 trillion over the next three decades.”  Teskey suggests wind and solar generation as a means to achieve the transition!

One should suspect this will spawn the creation of more “Laurentian Elites” while increasing energy poverty?  

Pure speculation on my part but, with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline in process and utilizing billions of taxpayer dollars one should ask, has our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, struck some kind of deal with Brookfield to sell them the pipeline once its finally completed and at what price?

Don’t be surprised if and when that happens, Trudeau will simply wave an ESG report Mark Carney will happily provide to assert the claim; it is contributing to Canada reaching “net-zero” emissions by 2050 and supports the Circular Economy. 

Do Rhodes Scholars have to take a hypocritic oath to generate a report such as: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy?

Should one spend a little time examining the captioned report from Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), Jonathon Wilkinson, one notes, he tries hard to obscure the fact the “carbon tax” will increase from its current $30/tonne to $170/tonne by 2030 and you will wind up bewildered.

Connecting the various claims, discloses a sense that whomever authored the report is a hypocrite!  The report stated our Federal Government will spend “$15 billion in investments in addition to the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s $6 billion for clean infrastructure announced this fall as part of its growth plan”! Apparently extracting billions of tax dollars from our paychecks is a now a “growth plan”!  The minister appears to view all Canadians as gullible sheep so spins hypocrisy in the reports 79 pages.

Examples of hypocrisy:   

The report states: “Canada is the steward of some of the world’s most critical natural environments: 28% of the world’s boreal forest (“lungs” of the planet)” and in another section about boreal forests says:

Canada is home to one quarter of the earth’s boreal forests and wetlands. As a member of both the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the Global Ocean AllianceCanada will push for targets to conserve 30% of the world’s lands.” Both of the two organizations have been endorsed by the UN.

In another section of the report the following is an example of how Wilkinson claims they are fighting “climate change”:

The Canadian forest sector is working to advance Canada’s bioeconomy and create jobs while fighting climate change. For example, Granule 777 Inc., in Quebec, is building the first fully integrated industrial wood pellet and sawmill complex in Canada. The Government of Canada has invested $20 million in the project to enable the company to build the complex and acquire strategic and innovative production equipment. The new complex will generate wood pellets and biomass which can replace fossil fuels and lower emissions, while creating new jobs and diversifying the mill’s product base.”

Not sure how burning wood pellets for energy creation fights climate change? An article out of Columbia University notes “Today’s biomass-burning power plants actually produce more global warming CO2 than fossil fuel plants: 65 percent more CO2 per megawatt hour than modern coal plants and 285 percent more CO2 than natural gas combined cycle plants”.

Perhaps another observation from the report aims to neutralize the $20 million investment in the wood pellet and sawmill and at the same time satisfy Trudeau’s promise to Greta Thunberg, the “how dare you” young lady as it states:

Invest up to $3.16 billion over 10 years, to partner with provinces, territories, non-government organizations, Indigenous communities, municipalities, private landowners, and others to plant two billion trees.”

As an aside, a Washington Post article from 2015 contained global tree counts by country and stated;  Canada had 318.3 billion trees second only to Russia!  It went on to note, “There are a whopping 8,953 trees per person in Canada.”  We are # 1 in the world but Trudeau wants to up the count by another 600/700 trees per person.  The “how dare you” teenager from Sweden should get busy planting as Sweden has only 3,200 trees per person.  Should Canada plant the 2 billion trees for the $3.16 billion it would represent about $4,000 in additional taxes spent for a family of four with no benefit to the family.

The above reminded me of an article I posted in Energy Probe in March 2014 about the Drax coal plant in the UK being converted from coal to biomass titled “Biomass is carbon neutral and the world is flat”!  DRAX imported their wood pellets from North and South America and presumably still does. In an article from 2013 the following claim was made: ”Drax calculates that this will reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared to coal – a saving of some 10 million tonnes of CO2 a year compared to levels today. When all three units are done, Drax will use seven to eight million tonnes of wood pellets annually.”  So, follow this logic: cutting down trees to manufacture wood pellets will reduce CO2 but live trees absorb CO2 so let’s plant more!  Is this the new “circular economy”?

More hypocrisy

Yet another example of hypocrisy is evident is the following from the report: “The good news is that cleaner electricity is increasingly the least-cost source of power generation. According to the International Energy Agency, solar power is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.”

The foregoing “least-cost” reference is related to the “capital costs” per megawatt (MW) of solar but not the cost of generating a MW hour. A simple fact-check by Minister Wilkinson would have disclosed a federal department; the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) noted the following about solar power: “Capacity factors tend to be 18% or below in Canada.” In simple terms that means one would need anywhere from three to five times the solar capacity to match the output of nuclear, hydro, coal, natural gas or even biomass! As an example, to replace the 10,277MW of natural gas plants in Ontario would require a land area of about 300 square miles for solar panels, which is more land than Greater Toronto occupies. 

The report rambles on suggesting: “The growing electricity sector will provide a wide range of jobs, from wind turbine and rooftop solar installers to software engineers developing new ways to improve Canada’s grids.”  Had Wilkinson and his crew researched Ontario’s claims when they brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, they would have discovered electricity costs rose well over 100% which caused job losses despite the initial claims it would create 50,000 jobs. The money spent connecting wind and solar generation to the grid was one of the reasons the cost of electricity shot up and caused a huge rise in energy poverty in the province!

Even more Hypocrisy

The following dissertation from the report also makes many incorrect claims: In 2014, clean electricity made up the largest share of total clean energy exports at $7.7 billion. By 2019, the clean electricity and power equipment total grew to almost $9 billion, which is an annual rate of nearly 5.1%. Of the clean electricity total, 38% was for electricity exports, with the rest made up of equipment exports to help with renewable production as well as distribution and power-handling equipment.” 6

The ”6” highlighted suggests the authors of the report obtained their information elsewhere and it led to the IRPP (INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH ON PUBLIC POLICY).  A brief review of their March 31, 2020 annual report noted the Chair of the Board’s remarks stated: “The IRPP received a $10 million grant from the federal government to establish the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation. We renovated and expanded our offices in Montreal to accommodate the Centre.” Noting where those tax dollars went, a look at the website of the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation took me to an online magazine; “Policy Options” and one of their articles. The article posted November 17, 2020 was titled “Canada’s clean-energy gazelles are outperforming fossil fuels”!  The author was Dave Sayer whose short bio claims he is “principal economist at the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices” (CICC) where he is one of the 17 staff benefiting from the $20 million of our tax dollars funding its creation.  It should be noted I wrote four articles on CICC debunking many of their claims in reports they issued including one called “Charting our Course”!  Reverting to the claim in the Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy report and the $9 billion in exports of clean electricity and power equipment generated in 2019 it is obvious the authors used information from the Saylor’s article to draw their conclusions which is hypocritical based on readily available facts such as the following.

The cost to Ontario’s ratepayers for the 19.8 TWh exported in 2019 was about $2.5 billion. Those 19.8 TWh sold to our neighbours generated only $350 million in revenue from their sale. The claim in the report suggests all of Canada’s exports reputedly earned $3.4 billion (38% X $9 billion) but fails to mention the $2.150 billion of subsidies principally caused by wind and solar generation out of sync with demand. The power equipment sold was presumably small hydro turbines manufactured by Canadian companies and nothing to do with the “climate change” push. Canada has been a leader in hydroelectric power for well over a century including the manufacturing of them dating back to 1870.

The few selected claims above from the “Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy “report highlight how eco-warriors twist facts and how our ruling politicians, be they Rhodes Scholars or drama teachers, use those twisted facts to demonstrate how hypocrisy has become the mantra of governing Canada!  A truly sad state of affairs.

The Great Reset, Climate Blueprint, ESG, Building Back Better, Green New Deal, Net-zero Emissions or the Circular Economy—Pick One!

As the Covid-19 pandemic closes in on its zenith with the forthcoming vaccine(s) to immunize us, most are hoping it will allow a return to a normal life but don’t count on it!  It seems when we read an MSM article about the pandemic they frequently mention the next major upcoming global pandemic is the “climate change crisis”.  If we don’t reduce our emissions the planet will die and mankind will be doomed!  The hope, we are told by many, is to choose one of the plans proposed by those ENGO surviving with the tax dollars they receive or the philanthropy of billionaires like the Bloomberg’s, Bezos’s or George Soros’s of the world.

It is becoming evident the influences of the billionaires and the cash they hand out to ENGO pushing their agenda is gaining much traction with not only politicians but financial institutions such as Canada’s largest bank; the RBC. The RBC recently launched their “Climate Blueprint” (3 pages) and on October 7, 2020 put out a YouTube video to tell the world they will “Increase our sourcing of electricity from renewable and non-emitting sources to 100% by 2025”.  One wonders; will they put solar panels on their 1209 branches and install batteries to back them up?  Supplying ATMs with renewable energy will also be tricky and expensive and those additional costs will result in an increase in bank fees.  Will Brinks be required to use EV trucks to deliver cash to their branches and ATMS?

RBC’s three page “Climate Blueprint” includes a message from their CEO, David McKay promising: “$100 billion in sustainable financing by 2025.” The “$100 billion” would represent approximately 16% of their total loan portfolio as of October 31, 2019 and 51% of their wholesale loan portfolio. The “Blueprint” highlights nine (9) organizations RBC “partner with” which are: UNEP Finance Initiative, the PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment), The Green Bond Principles, TCFD (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures) CDP (a not-for-profit charity), CPLC (Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition), Smart Prosperity, the Business Renewable Centre and the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI).

It appears the CPLC was created at the COP 21 Paris Accord in 2015 and a picture on their website indicates a strong Canadian presence with at least four Premiers, the Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Glen Murray, then Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in the picture. 

The Climate Bond Initiative’s (CBI) purpose is summed up as “a hugely ambitious agenda to mobilize bond markets for climate change solutions.” The CBI was a UK creation and has a large Advisory Panel from many countries but only one is from Canada. That individual is Cynthia Williams the Osler Chair in Business Law, Osgoode Hall Law School for the Canada Climate Law Initiative. The latter is out of the University of British Columbia and York University.  Williams authored and in September 2020 released a report titled: “Troubling Incrementalism’: Is the Canadian Pension Plan Fund Doing Enough to Advance the Transition to a Low-carbon Economy?“. 

Williams report is sprinkled with words we continue to hear from other lawyers such as Stewart Elgie of Smart Prosperity including; “Building Back Better, ESG, zero emissions by 2050, circular economy as well as wind and solar energy”!  Needless to say, MS. Williams is critical of CPP stating; “CPP Investment’s actions could have the effect of contributing to Canada’s failure to meet its international and domestic commitments to transition to a low-carbon economy.” After itemizing some of CPPI’s investment of approximately $10/12 billion (about 3% of total assets) made in the oil and gas sector Williams states the following in a Summary: “There is much of concern in this pattern of investments from a climate change perspective. These are all investments in expanding fossil fuel technologies and producing more oil and gas at a time when every scientifically credible analysis shows the world needs to be transitioning away from oil and gas.”

It seems in the minds of someone with a law degree and operating in the public sector, they are also blessed with talents in both science and economics but fail to examine opposing scientific analysis. As a lawyer one would assume Williams is mindful, in a court of law there are both the plaintiff and the defendant!  Her opinion is judgmental suggesting we defendants have no “scientifically credible analysis”!

Williams was paid $171,501 by York University in 2019. She presumably has an indexed government pension plan that will reward her nicely when she retires.  To top that off her pension is taxpayer guaranteed in the event her plan is unable to meet its commitments! Despite her presumably knowing that, she thinks CPP investments, whose maximum payout to millions of Canadians is $14,110 annually should only be invested in zero emission companies in a “circular economy”! The hypocrisy of those pushing the net-zero emissions economy is mind blowing and indicates they truly believe they are the “elites” of our society!

Exposing the Carbon Tax Scam

Marc Patrone, host of his show on SAUGA 960 AM, had me on to chat about the carbon tax. We covered a lot of ground including how anything Canadians do to reduce emissions and get to “net-zero” by 2050 will be meaningless on global emissions but very damaging to our economy and life style.

You can hear our conversation on the podcast of December 7th, 2020 starting at 48.27 and ending at 01.01 here:

You can also find it posted on NEWSTALK CANADA if you are a subscriber. The page and conversation can be found here:

https://newstalkcanada.com/

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities want more tax dollars to mitigate Climate Change

The FCM recently released a report titled “Building Back Better together“ which closely mimics messages included in The Speech from the Throne. “Building Back Better”, which was the heading on page 16 of the Throne Speech, is just one example.

The FCM’s report states: “Municipalities are on the front lines of new climate extremes, making the most of tools available to protect homes, businesses and communities. The federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) has been key, but the $2B available for 2018–2028 is already almost fully committed.”  The municipalities have blown through the $2B handed to them by us taxpayers and now want more—a lot more! The report goes on to note: “Municipalities are increasingly setting ambitious climate targets and leading on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With cities and communities influencing half of all emissions, scaling up local action is key to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.” The latter clearly indicates municipal politicians are fully on-board with the “Green Recovery” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minions are planning!

The FCM’s report lists their climate change programs (several)  including the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) and the $950 million they received from the 2019 Federal budget for that program.

The FCM’s Wish List for “climate change”

Based on the “Building Back Better together” report, the FCM seeks more tax dollars including: $2.7 billion in federal grant funding will support replacing half the 14,000 diesel buses currently on the road with fully electric or other ZEV models by 2030”, “$350 million over three years—for eligible capital costs for inter-city and regional mobility services across the country”, “$2.5 to $5 billion of economic recovery funding directly to the municipal sector to help communities finance and scale proven climate change mitigation and resilience solutions” and “by doubling the proposed new federal investment in DMAF to $2 billion”! 

To top off their demand they also want the GTF (Gas Tax Fund) doubled so they annually receive $4.4 billion.

They apparently don’t understand the hypocrisy of the foregoing in view of their stand to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and the conversion of their fleet of buses to EV!  Where will the money come from if we are all driving EV in 2050?  In total, and only related to the issue of “climate change”, the FCMs are collectively asking the Trudeau led government for over $10 billion in additional funding and billions more for other objectives.  Apparently, they believe that even though last week’s fiscal update suggested Canada will have an annual deficit of $400 billion, there is still lots of room for more funding.  Should their ask fall on deaf ears, home owners and businesses can expect huge realty tax increases and/or services to be slashed?  If Vancouver is an example; realty taxes may climb 12% as they are reputedly “staring down the barrel of a pandemic-driven deficit” and forced to use $57 million of reserve funds to keep tax increases at 5%. Presumably other municipalities across the country are “staring down” that same barrel! One should realize those pleading on behalf of the FCM are principally “elected” municipal politicians who apparently believe, they deserve more tax dollars.  They want handouts while supporting the crippling of the oil and gas sector who have supplied a huge portion of past handouts!

How ironic!   

Municipal Chief Administrative Officer’s (CAO) view of climate change is a smaller issue

Examining the CAO’s (also titled as; County Administrator, City Manager and Town Manager) views versus municipal politicians’ views is an interesting exercise. The CAO is charged with delivering what his political master instructs him/her to do though bylaws, orders in council, etc. etc. 

Strategy Corporation (SC) conduct annual surveys of CAOs and the most recent one for 2019 highlights significant differences from elected councillors, mayors, etc. and what they consider important.

The survey (NB) ranks the CAOs concerns and they differ considerably from those touted in the FCM report and one should note; this was before the Covid-19 pandemic arrived! After conducting the survey SC analyses them and presents their “Perspective” such as the following on “Climate Change Plans”.

SC’s Perspective: “In terms of the details of the Climate Change Plans, CAOs highlighted that a practical approach must be taken because of the operational and funding parameters and limitations. A focus on improving existing infrastructure is one of the highest priorities.

SC also obtain CAO comments and those on “climate change” vary widely as the following two denote:

We hired a climate change coordinator two years ago. Plan is being coordinated with key stakeholder groups” and a conflicting one stating;

We don’t have any plan, and it has not been a discussion point or a priority.”

In terms of ranking the concerns of CAOs, SC asked the question: “What are the top three things keeping you up at night?”.  The response from 100% was “Fiscal Sustainability”. Less than a quarter of the CAO participants ticked the box for “Environment/Climate Change”.  What that suggests is the municipal bureaucrats are not sold on the panic outcries of their superiors; those elected municipal leaders!

The question is; who should taxpayers support and the answer should be obvious!

NB: Please note the survey was only conducted in Ontario and focused on CAOs from “upper” tier and “lower” tier (Northern Ontario) municipalities so relates to those selected municipalities and one province, however, this writer is reasonably certain surveying CAOs from other provinces, etc. would produce similar outcomes.

Is the Ford led Ontario Government trying to create the Circular Economy?

There are many definitions of a “circular economy” but most are similar.  Here is one: “A circular economy is an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and products lose their value as little as possible, renewable energy sources are used and systems thinking is at the core.” Former Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, Mark Carney is a big fan of the circular economy and will bring his beliefs to the UN where he will be a Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance.

If one pays attention to the activities at Queen’s Park it seems as if each day Premier Ford’s government puts out a press release that seeks to win the support of voters whose ballot choices in the last election were for the opposition parties.  The other day it was about changes to the “Blue Box” program and today it’s about how they are “Taking Action to Reduce Electronic Waste”.      

Needless to say, the objectives of both programs appear to be an attempt to virtue signal those who believe the world will end from human waste and all the things we are reputedly doing to consume, either the necessities of life such as food (safely protected by plastic) or energy (it must be renewable).   

The latest objective is those nasty “electronic” things like, smart phones, televisions, computers, tablets etc.  In the interim due to the pandemic we are told to self-isolate; use “Zoom” to connect with friends, family and work and our children use computers or tablets to gain their education remotely. 

One of the common themes in the press releases is that the “producers” will pay up as if to suggest we consumers (us lowly voters) won’t have to pick up the costs.  If one believes that, your ignorant of the obvious—producers and/or importers of the products we consume will simply raise their prices making everything we buy more expensive.  Presently those producers pay municipalities a portion of the costs (approximately $125 million annually) associated with the Blue Box program but that will more than double and supplement the municipal tax base. We shouldn’t expect to see our realty taxes decline however as those municipalities will surely find other ways to spend that money.

The previous McGuinty/Wynne led Liberal governments did the same thing except they pushed the “GW” (global warming), theory signing wind and solar contracts because they would save us from GW.  They told us (George Smitherman when Minister of Energy) our electricity rates would only increase 1%.  We all know how that turned out as electricity rates more than doubled and Ontario lost numerous jobs as businesses moved to other locations due to rate increases.

Those wind and solar contracts the Liberals signed up will be here for as much as another 10 years. At the time the contracts expire or they no longer can produce any electricity they will have to be classified as “waste”! Those wind turbines and their fiberglass blades (each blade weighing as much as 30 tonnes) will need disposal as they are not currently recyclable!  The other question is what happens to the 30/50,000 tonnes of cement supporting each of those turbines throughout the province?  The 2,600 MW of solar panels positioned on rooftops or in farmer’s fields will also require disposal so, is that cost as well as the cost of recycling those end-of-life wind turbines going to result in another future press release telling us our politicians are “taking action”? 

While wind turbines may have some recyclable parts, it doesn’t include those blades nor does it include that cement.  In the case of solar panels an article out of Australia carried the following message about them: “The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, such as lead and tin, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis.”

So, Ontarians should expect lots more waste and further costs from those wind turbines and solar panels even though Ontario’s Auditor General in late 2015 reported  “Ontarians have paid $37-billion more than market price for electricity over eight years and will pay another $133-billion extra by 2032 as a result of haphazard planning and political meddling, a report from the Auditor-General says.”

The question becomes will the “producer” of those wind turbines and solar panels simply walk away from those contracts and will Ontario’s taxpayers be obligated to pick up the costs of recycling them when they become waste?  While some of the wind contracts originally handed out required the contract parties to guarantee to remove them it’s unclear the guarantee covers recycling costs.  The other issue surrounding many of them is that the original parties sold them to many public sector pension funds so will the onus to recycle them or pay fees fall on them? If yes on the latter point, the public sector employees will look to taxpayers to supplement any shortages in their pensions. 

It seems apparent Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford is smitten by the gobbledegook of both our Prime Minister who believes, budgets will balance themselves and those like Mark Carney.  In Carney’s case he believes all things can be recycled to avoid creating waste and is hellbent on converting us from prior economic theory that has created wealth in many parts of the world, reduced poverty levels and improved life and lifespans for billions of humans. 

These are scary times and not due to Covid-19 but to those political experiments that are taking place here in Ontario and around the world.

That circular economy in the eyes of our politicians, may make them believe they are draining the swamp but instead they are creating one that will drown us in debt!

NB:  Well today’s Press Release confirms Premier Ford is sold on the “Circular Economy” concept!  He handed Pollution Probe $375,000 of Ontario taxpayer dollars so they can scoop plastic from the Great Lakes. Pollution Probe are a charity and their 2019 financial filings with the CRA indicate they received $4,190 from “Provincial Governments” so they must be delighted they were able to lobby this government for so much more.  According to the Ontario Lobbyist Registry they are not even registered.

Pollution Probe are big fans of the Circular Economy concept as their website clearly states: 

Pollution Probe works across sectors to engage stakeholders and develop practical pathways towards a circular economy in order to cut down on waste and maximize both environmental and economic benefits

Now it appears Ford and his Minister of the Environment Jeff Yurek don’t understand that the Great Lakes are not all Ontario’s responsibility.  Eight (8) U.S. States border the Great Lakes along with Ontario but one presumes the taxpayers located in those U.S. States are not being asked to contribute to this cleanup. The Ford led provincial government are throwing money around much like our Federal Government and it is evident they believe in the same Circular Economy that our Prime Minister does.