ANALYSIS: Legal costs to defend Doug Ford government agenda will be worth it, PC house leader says
Every action causes an equal opposing reaction.
Doug Ford and his new geared-for-action government have discovered Isaac Newton’s quote also applies to populist politicians, no matter the weight of their mandate.
From sex-ed to sexy electric vehicles, the new government has found itself on the receiving end of legal action designed to overturn its ideological direction.
Tesla made short work of forcing a government U-turn on scrapping the electric vehicle rebate after a judge castigated the government for running roughshod over the rights of business to do business. The rebate will vanish, but the PCs will now extend it to approximately 600 Tesla buyers who were previously unceremoniously cut off.
With the case of those downtown elite-driven Tesla cars, the PCs are learning the hard way there is more to driving the agenda than having the most seats in the legislature.
The cost of the Tesla tussle is minuscule to the provincial treasury, but other potentially costly legal challenges involving the cancellation of cap and trade are hovering ominously in the wings.
On the season debut of Focus Ontario, Government House Leader Todd Smith admitted some of the moves by the government will come with a price tag.
“While there may be a cost incurred on people, there is going to be a net benefit that will exceed any initial costs,” Smith said.
The new government has taken a somewhat scattered approach to how it decides when the cost versus benefit warrants action.
During the PC leadership campaign, Doug Ford promised to cancel the Bala Falls Hydro Project. Now in power, Ford said it would be too expensive to deep-six the project, quoting the figure of $100 million as the cost for the province just to end up with a hole in the ground.
But what’s not achievable in Bala is already done in Prince Edward County.
The PCs promised during the election campaign to cancel the White Pines Wind Project in Todd Smith’s home riding of Prince Edward County, and then followed through making it a priority at the beginning of this summer’s rare sitting.
The government cannot say how much it will cost to cancel the project, although the company with the contract estimates it will be in the neighbourhood of – here’s that number again – $100 million.
Plus, the PCs are the same party that castigated the Liberals for making a similar promise about the Mississauga gas plant during the 2011 election campaign without having a clue what the tab would be. In the end, canceling the Oakville and Mississauga plants is estimated to have cost Ontario ratepayers more than a billion dollars.
It’s not the same argued Smith.
“What we did is legislate an end to those contracts and then inoculate the province against future losses” Smith said.
Smith said the Liberals didn’t do that, instead deciding to make those companies whole – a reference to a damning phrase that emerged from the realms of gas plant emails.
Unfortunately the doctor isn’t the one who decides if the inoculation will protect the patient. As in the Tesla case, and in the soon to be decided cases concerning sex-ed, basic income, and chopping Toronto council, it will be the courts that will rule.
Promise made, promise kept — that’s the tagline that Ford and his ministers keep repeating as they drive forward with an action packed agenda.
In case you thought that Newton fellow had been hit in the head with too many apples, his theory of an equal and opposing action is clearly on display for anyone to see here in Ontario. Lawsuit threatened, lawsuit launched.
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