TORONTO – Ontario’s New Democrats and Greens are comparing Doug Ford‘s plan to scrap the province’s cap-and-trade system to the outgoing Liberals’ decision to cancel the construction of two gas plants several years ago.
The parties say both decisions involve ripping up contracts, and warn that changing course on the gas plants came at a steep price for the province.
In a news conference Thursday, Green Party LeaderMike Schreiner – who won a seat in a legislature in this month’s election – said Ford’s rush to pull out of the cap-and-trade system could stick taxpayers with the tab for billions in legal fees, penalties and other costs.
“Your actions are bearing the hallmark of the gas plant scandal, when decisions were pushed through by ideology and ego rather than logic and evidence,” he said.
Schreiner’s warning comes days after the NDP issued a similar caution, saying the province could be on the hook to reimburse companies who have bought close to $3 billion in emissions credits, as well as any costs involved in tearing up the agreements Ontario has signed on carbon pricing with Quebec and California.
The NDP has also asked the province’s financial accountability officer to assess the costs in scrapping the program before the government makes its final decision.
The Progressive Conservative leader, who officially takes power on Friday, has said dismantling cap-and-trade would be his first move once the legislature resumes.
“Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs received a clear mandate from the people to scrap the cap-and-trade carbon tax and put more money in people’s pockets,” a spokesman for Ford said Thursday.
“After being sworn in on June 29th, the new Ontario PC government will provide clear guidelines for winding down the cap-and-trade scheme in a responsible manner.”
The Tories, who won a majority earlier this month, were fierce critics of the Liberals’ decision to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga right before the 2011 election – a move that cost the province roughly $1 billion.