Yesterday, the Broadbent Institute, created by former national leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent, announced that Rick Smith, had joined the organization as Executive Director. Smith is the former Executive Director of Environmental Defence. In the press release announcing Smith’s position, the Broadbent Institute highlighted Smith’s contribution to Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act. Smith’s move highlights the question of whether the left in Canada is going to endorse much higher electricity rates.
Smith’s connection with the Green Energy Act is demonstrated by the frequency with which he was quoted by the McGuinty Liberals in energy announcements since 2009.
The decision of the Broadbent Institute to align itself with Smith’s anti-rural, anti-prosperity “green economy” agenda illustrates a dilemma within Canadian socialism. What is the future of resource industries in the NDP’s vision today? What will the NDP offer consumers who can’t pay their power bills? Does the NDP think government-owned wind turbines would have different impacts on neighbours than privately-owned turbines?
These are questions in Ontario where every day brings more news of the provincial Liberal party loosing traction and the NDP rising. These questions are also relevant in Newfoundland & Labrador where the NDP under Lorraine Michaels are strong in the polls and one of the only effective political forces pressing the incumbent PCs intent to go ahead at all cost with a costly hydro-electric megaproject in Labrador.
Post Script (November 22 6 am): Another indicator of the battle on the left over the future electricity direction for Ontario is this commentary by the United Steelworkers (USW) union. The commentary by Ken Neumann, national leader of the USW, cleaves to the traditional left position of supporting protectionism, decrying the WTO ruling against Ontario’s Green Energy Act. What makes the column interesting is scope of Neumann’s endorsement of the Green Energy Act. The USW represents workers in forestry, mining and steel mills along with other sectors. Here is a leader of a union representing resources and manufacturing workers who is claiming that green energy is cost effective, that green energy creates jobs, and that Feed-In Tariffs are the “right path”.
Here is a news story from the Toronto Star from November 20th in reaction to the WTO ruling that includes quotes from the CAW and CEP unions endorsing generally the Green Energy Act.
Post Script (November 22 12:30 pm): Here is Toronto Star’s Tom Walkom — often a good guide to left-wing thinking — arguing that the only errors in the Green Energy Act do not relate to extinguished rights, undermined regulation, or harmed consumers, but to the fact that McGuinty’s green energy industrialization project has not directly undertaken by government agencies. Walkom’s critique frames a position we might see the Ontario NDP focus more on — creating a new bureaucracy or beefing up existing ones to directly take on the job of building massive wind and solar capacity.