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Politics and its Discontents: On Corporate Plundering


H/t makaycartoons.net

Having written previously on the breath-taking legalized theft of our groundwater made possible by an Ontario Liberal government that has yet to meet a corporate entity it doesn’t love, I avidly follow public reaction to this outrage. Today’s Star offers an excellent series of letters on the topic, two of which I reproduce below:

Re: Let’s stop being suckered by water-bottling giants, Aug. 27

The long-standing practice of allowing our fresh water supplies to be drawn by huge private commercial multinational companies like Nestlé and bottled for profit is egregious. In the ultimate perverse and twisted irony of capitalism a free, publicly owned resource is privatized and then sold back to those who previously owned it.

For decades the Ontario government has allowed Nestlé and other private companies to draw Ontario’s fresh water from our aquifers at literally no charge so that it could be bottled and sold back to us at a massive profit in the form of bottled water, beer and soda pop. After an outcry at this practice by environmentalists many years ago, they then placed an insultingly low token fee on the water of $3.71 per 1 million litres and quietly allowed Nestle to continue taking an average of 3 million litres a day of our publicly owned finite resource for bottled water.

Recently, without fanfare the Ontario government renewed the agreement. This should have been a large front-page headline in the Star but was not even noted.

As Ontarians we should all be outraged that a large multinational private enterprise is given our water without charge and under secrecy by our own government in what amounts to nothing more than legalized corporate theft with the willing collusion of the province.

Ontarians gain absolutely nothing from these arrangements while losing our finite supply of fresh water; Nestlé gets everything.

What possible motivations or explanation could the government have for agreeing to such terms while they are struggling with a large cumulative debt and an ongoing deficit and cutting government funding for a variety of critical services? What obligation does the government feel to a faceless mega-corporation that is happily stealing our water for its own enrichment with the blessing of the government? This is corruption at the highest level. Would Nestle agree to the deal if the terms were reversed?

The Ontario government is willingly forgoing billions in water revenues that are desperately needed. Why would the government at the very least not bottle our own water and sell it on the open market to recoup full value for Ontarians for this precious resource while eliminating the middle-man? Water bottling is not a sophisticated, expensive or complex process.

This is yet another example of the corruption of free enterprise and the willing collusion of our own public officials in its practice much like the recent revelations about offshore tax havens. The Minister of the Environment should resign. These agreements should all be cancelled.

We are regularly treated to egregious examples of governments selling off public assets to the private sector in perpetuity at fire-sale prices. It happened with Highway 407, it is happening with Hydro and it has been going on for decades with our water. The private sector is licking its chops over the LCBO. Where will it end and when will we have and demand a government that is truly a steward of the shared resources we all own.

The sale of any public asset should be placed under the lens of critical public scrutiny. These public resources are not theirs to sell to the lowest bidder! There should be a public inquiry into the privatization of public assets. If this keeps up soon we will have water, water everywhere but not a drop that we own.

Robert Bahlieda, Newmarket

Martin Regg Cohn’s evaluation of Nestlé’s right to bottle large quantities of Ontario water at a cheap price, then to sell it back to us, reveals an insidious corporate profit-making ploy that has gone on for several years. It happens in the U.S., too.

I suppose that Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne believes that $3.75 per million liters of water is better than nothing, but she fails to note the effect on rural aquifers. Farmers depend totally on water they draw from their expensive wells, and resent bottling companies drawing down their valuable resource so city folk can sip from costly plastic bottles.

I hope that this report will persuade some Torontonians to revert to tap water, thereby reducing Nestlé’s profits and water draw. Meanwhile I suggest Mr. Cohn investigate the many government-instigated restrictions that cause farmers to wonder why we should keep working as farmers.

Charles Hooker, East Garafraxa

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: On Corporate Plundering

Politics and its Discontents: Pathetic Political Posturing

Yesterday, I posted about the outrageous pillaging of our groundwater made possible by a government that seems oblivious to anything but its corporate clientele. It is a sad situation which I and many others have known about for a long time; it is the … . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Pathetic Political Posturing

Politics and its Discontents: Pathetic Political Posturing

Yesterday, I posted about the outrageous pillaging of our groundwater made possible by a government that seems oblivious to anything but its corporate clientele. It is a sad situation which I and many others have known about for a long time; it is the … . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Pathetic Political Posturing

Politics and its Discontents: Pillaging The Public Purse: On Hydro One’s Privatization

I have written in the past on my strong opposition to Kathleen Wynne’s selloff of 60% of Hydro One. She has no mandate for this pillaging of the public purse, and no good reason for it except her politically and ideologically-driven obsession with balancing the budget before Ontario’s next provincial election. She will not be getting my vote.

Recently, Linda McQuaig wrote a column that came out strongly against this sale, offering an historical perspective showing the public good that accrues from public ownership of such a utility.

In today’s Star, readers offer their own insights on this issue, one that is likely a big contributing factor in the Liberals’ current poor showing in the polls:

Re: The case against privatizing Hydro One, Opinion Aug. 4

What’s most disturbing about reading Linda McQuaig’s strong case against privatizing Hydro One is that it reveals clearly that Premier Wynne seems to be selling it for no worthwhile reason.

When 73 per cent of Ontarians disagree with the sale and she insists on it, then she is not serving the public will. Further, to trade off the long-term benefits of Hydro One for a short-lived infusion of cash for infrastructure is economically incomprehensible.

With this kind of foolish, arbitrary decision, which is symptomatic of the disconnect between the public will and its leadership, Wynne will certainly join the infamous ranks of other failed premiers of Ontario, such as Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty, who also carried out their personal agenda while forsaking the common good of the electorate.

Pity the serious voters.

Tony D’Andrea, Toronto

Timing is everything. Currently, along with a several other Ontarians, I am particularly interested in the timing of the Ontario Liberals’ Climate Change Action Plan.

Last Nov. 15, the Ontario Liberals privatized Hydro One when they sold off 15 per cent of the former Crown Corporation. Sad but true.

In April, they sold off another 15 per cent. The following month, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change let the world know that Ontario is moving away from natural-gas home heating. Some back-peddling followed. Shortly after that, the Liberals released their official Climate Change Action Plan.

It indicated their intention to move to a more electricity-based society. Once complete, Ontario is to have far more electric vehicles, electric charging hubs, electric home initiatives, etc.

In summary, the Liberals are moving Ontario to a more electricity-based society after privatizing our province’s transmission grid and largest local distribution company! That means Hydro One will now go on to make record profits and a huge amount of potential income is being stripped away from Ontarians.

But why? To balance the current Liberal budget and dangle some shiny gifts ahead of the 2018 election. All this at the expense of Ontarians.

The whole thing reeks of corruption. Just waiting for the smoking gun to be revealed. Timing is everything.

Joel Usher, Newcastle

Thanks to Linda McQuaig for detailing the long history of support in Ontario for a public monopoly on electricity — right up to today. The public instinct is right: it is best to keep this rare and valuable asset so that profits go back to our treasury, and to avoid the risk of the monopoly control falling into the hands of those who would maximize their returns at the expense of consumers and the environment.

Ms. McQuaig could have added that selling off Hydro One is a bad deal, as concluded by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer. After all, investors are not stupid.

They will not pay full price for the value of the future Hydro One profits they would get as minority shareholders, due to the risk, because key decisions affecting profits are taken by government. The monopoly is worth more to the government as the decision-maker.

If you must sell an asset, this is a particularly bad one to sell.

Kim Jarvi, Toronto

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Pillaging The Public Purse: On Hydro One’s Privatization

Politics and its Discontents: Pillaging The Public Purse: On Hydro One’s Privatization

I have written in the past on my strong opposition to Kathleen Wynne’s selloff of 60% of Hydro One. She has no mandate for this pillaging of the public purse, and no good reason for it except her politically and ideologically-driven obsession with bala… . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Pillaging The Public Purse: On Hydro One’s Privatization

Politics and its Discontents: Connecting The Dots?

Here in Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s decision to sell off 60% of Hydro One, the very profitable public utility that generated a pre-tax income of $803 million in 2013, is causing quite a storm of outrage. Despite her promise to put all profits from the sale toward transportation structure, the fact that the sale will . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Connecting The Dots?

Politics and its Discontents: Say It Isn’t So!

It seems that the refusal of a petulant prime minister to meet with the premier of Canada’s largest province is having unanticipated consequences:

H/t The Toronto Star Recommend this Post

The Canadian Progressive: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne Blasts Harper New Anti-prostitution Law

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says Harper’s new anti-prostitution law, Bill C-36, will protect neither exploited sex workers nor communities.

The post Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne Blasts Harper New Anti-prostitution Law appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Politics and its Discontents: More On The Minimum Wage

There has been very much a predictable reaction from business to the Wynne government’s decision to raise the Ontario minimum wage to $11 per hour as of June 1. Even though this modest increase will do little to lift the working poor out of poverty, the commercial sector is running about shouting that the sky . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: More On The Minimum Wage

Politics and its Discontents: Putting A Face On Minimum-Wage Poverty

Last evening I watched a fascinating documentary on PBS’ Nature* about the black crested macaque, a monkey that is endemic to rainforests in Indonesia, which includes the island of Sulawesi. The monkeys are a badly endangered species whose numbers have dropped 90% over the last 25 years thanks to hunters who sell them as . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Putting A Face On Minimum-Wage Poverty

Politics and its Discontents: Crumbs From The Table

Poverty in perpetuity. That is what Ontario’s ‘socially-progressive’ Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has condemned the working poor to.

After waiting more than six months for what turned out to be a very timid report from a provincial minimum wage advisory panel that ended up recommending increases tied to inflation, the premier has announced the . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Crumbs From The Table

Politics and its Discontents: More Thoughts On The Minimum Wage

Although I have written several previous posts on the need to substantially increase the minimum wage so that it becomes a living wage, I have been planning an update. However, I doubt that today will be the day for that update since, once again over my morning coffee, I have come across two thoughtful . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: More Thoughts On The Minimum Wage

The Canadian Progressive: Premier Wynne can push for national referendum on future of the Senate

By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive, Feb. 18, 2013: In, 2004, Stephen Harper described Canada’s Senate as a “dumping ground for the favoured cronies of the Prime Minister.” He also said: “I will not name appointed people to the Senate. Anyone who sits in the Parliament of Canada must be elected by the people . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Premier Wynne can push for national referendum on future of the Senate