I really thought that my Member of Provincial Parliament Yasir Naqvi was having a two-way conversation with me. He did, after all, respond to messages sent via Twitter almost instantly - something unheard of in the world of politically measured responses. The fact that the responses were nothing but party line was not unexpected, but when Mr. Naqvi asked for an e-mail address so that he could "write back [...] in detail", I seized the opportunity and asked a number of questions followed by a few comments regarding his political future and that of his party.
A month went by and I didn't get the detailed response. I decided to fire off another Twitter message and I was e-mailed soon after stating that a response had been written but was being "reviewed" prior to being sent... and that it would be sent by the end of the week. At 5:10pm on Friday I received the response in a tidy three page letter packaged as a PDF file, letterhead and all.
The initial reason why I started asking questions of my MPP was after the Ontario Energy Board ruled that utilities could "recover from ratepayers the $17.7 million cost of settling a class-action lawsuit over excessive late fees previously charged." A complaint had been filed in 1998 in reference to fees charged by utilities in the 1980's and made its way through the Ontario court system. Mr. Naqvi is quick to point out that the decision was made by the judicial system and the Ontario Energy Board which of course doesn't reflect any decision made by the Ministry of Energy or the provincial government. Oh, and Mr. Naqvi also points out that the utilities had to charge the excessive fees and would have been "out of compliance" had they not. Who made it such that it was necessary? The provincial government of the 1980's. Who was in power then? The Liberals. Conveniently he seems to forget that governments not only enact laws, but they can CHANGE them as well.
Of course this decision that negatively affects Ontarians doesn't reflect any decision made by the provincial government... had the decision somehow resulted in Ontarians benefiting, the Minister of Energy and the Premier would have bought air time on all networks to hold a press conference to show how great they are at standing up for consumer rights in the province of Ontario.
Yeah - and as Lowell Green says, my name is Napoleon.
So how does this decision work out? It should have forced utilities to somehow eat the $17.7 million fine and explicitly prohibit it from passing it onto consumers, the very consumers who were unjustly charged excessive fees in the first place. The end result? The utilities who "screwed" their customers (forgive the term, but let's call a spade a spade) were told they were allowed do it again and make the same customers they screwed the first time pay the fine that was imposed on them. So you screw the customer, you get punished, but you can pass the punishment on to the customer. Nice.
Of course Mr. Naqvi wants to distance himself and his government from this. There are no ways to positively spin this... or are there? Oh yes - the Ontario Energy Board mandated that two thirds of the settlement costs ($12 million) be used to "fund low-income energy assistance programs to help protect Ontario's most vulnerable consumers".
That does nothing for me. I, however, have to nonetheless pay my share of the fine. He claims that the Minister of Energy directed Hydro One (owned by the province) to recover the costs internally rather than to charge the "rate base". That's us! And, leading by example (incidentally, there's only one tax payer and regardless of where the money comes from, since it's a province-owned company, it will come from US THE TAXPAYERS), he goes on to tell me that Hydro Ottawa is owned by the City of Ottawa and it is the City's decision whether to charge ratepayers or not. He kindly gave me my City Councillor's name and e-mail address.
Then I get 2+ pages telling me that he is proud of the direction the Liberal government has taken and outlines all the good things they have done: "significant personal income tax cuts" - haven't see them on my pay stub this year, oh yeah - and 83% of consumer spending did not see a change in tax as a result of the HST. That is true when it comes to potato chips and video games. The problem, my blind to reality MPP, is that the 17% is what is KILLING US! Gasoline went from around 98 cents a litre on June 30, 2010 to about 107 cents a litre on July 1st. HST did that. And as people stated before, as GST was a tax on tax, the higher the price of gasoline skyrockets, the higher the GST (and now HST) goes. So the provincial government is laughing all the way to the bank! Heating oil instantly went up 8%. Electricity instantly went up 8%. We cannot live in Canada without gasoline, heating oil and electricity. SO HOW IS THE HST GOOD FOR ME? Oh yeah - don't forget the massive hikes in electricity rates since these people got elected - the HST appllies on the whole thing... but no worry, they're giving us a 10% reduction. Aren't we paying almost double now what we were before the Liberals came into power? Thanks for the 10% bucko.
I even tried in my e-mail to impress upon him that Ontarians appear to have had it with this government. Right out of the blocks they brought in the health tax (not mentioned in the election) and then out of the blue "eco-fees" and the HST came along (again not mentioned in the election) and lots happened between those two incidents and since then as well. Poll after poll is showing that this government is going down in flames and careers are going to be ended in a matter of months.
He doesn't care.
He is "proud to be part of a team that has the vision to lead" - yeah - right off the edge of the cliff. Well as my ex-boss once said, "include me out" - I live in Ottawa Centre and am likely to do something unheard of in October - I'm going to vote NDP so that Mr. Naqvi is booted out of his office as quickly as he was voted in. The Tories are likely to sweep them to a historically low number of seats across the province (oh how I wish they could be obliterated like the PC party was by the Chretien Liberals in 1993 - when two poor PC members were re-elected and the rest were left licking their wounds) and I know that Ottawa Centre will not elect a Conservative unless he/she is the only candidate running and even then...
Why Bob Chiarelli came back in a by-election into a hornets nest of political quick sand I'll never get. He's about to get booted too. Yet these three Ottawa area Liberals (don't forget Premier McGuinty!) all spout the same nonsense about how great they are and how wonderful everything is. They don't see the forest for the trees and I have to wonder why.
Take off the blinders, boys, and come see things as the great unwashed see them. Only then will you suddenly realize how you look in the eyes of those who care and actually know a thing or two about how things are run over there... and more importantly, have the ability to THINK INDEPENDENTLY.
Happy retirement (early retirement to some) - don't let the door hit you on the way out. In a number of months Ontarians will have a chance to wag these self-congratulating form letters at you all and yell "WE TOLD YOU SO".
They can't say they haven't been warned.