Local woman’s online message leads to a meeting with Premier

 

By Ron Giofu

 

When Libby Keenan received her hydro bill earlier this month, the number shocked her.

When she read a Financial Post article about the salaries of top executives at Hydro One, it shocked her even more.

That is when she took her views to Facebook and the response snowballed from there.

Keenan, who has seen her energy bills rise from $180 to $581 in a span of two years, vented on the social media website in a sharply-worded post directed at Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Keenan’s letter told Wynne that “the dream is dying” and that she is in financial peril due to her hydro bills and the taxation she has to pay.

“I work hard, seven days a week actually, I live exceptionally frugally, I have spent 30 years paying off a mortgage on a beautiful farm I can barely afford to keep. My heating and hydro costs are much higher cost per month than my mortgage was. The very minute I feel I may be ever so slightly gaining ground you slap on another tax, fee, toll, charge, requirement or expense! I drive a 17-year-old truck and now I spend more every year to get my new sticker, plus emissions test. I have found more ways to squeeze a loonie than you’ll ever need to!” the letter, in part, states.

“The letter was mainly what I had to say,” said Keenan.

Keenan, who trains horseback riders on her Concession 5 North farm, told the River Town Times last Thursday morning that she was angered by the Financial Post article on salaries, as 60,000 Ontarians have been disconnected from services. She emphasized she is not in it for the money, but she wants to keep doing what she does out of a passion for it.

“Money is not the issue, I love what I do,” she said.

Many of her horses were donated and have been turned into dressage champions and “I’m very happy with it all.” However, what used to be manageable bills have not been as manageable in recent times and she is hoping for relief. Keenan notes that there is no heavy machinery at her farm and whatever lights her barn uses are LED lights.

“There’s not some big power drain here,” she said.

Keenan, who went to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal as a groomer and exercise trainer, moved to this area in 1989 from Brampton. Her goal was to make riding available for children and said she has done that willingly, as it is a love for her.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was four,” said Keenan, who is now 64-years-old.

Her farm is her best asset as she said it was valued at $361,000 and calls it her RRSP, but if she loses it to property taxes she will be forced to turn elsewhere.

Keenan said she grew up as a proud Ontarian and would often feel bad for people who grew up in other parts of the world but told Wynne in her post that “enough is enough” and feels she has been “grossly misled.”

“You have broken my Ontario and I mourn for her,” Keenan said in her Facebook post.

Libby Keenan’s hydro costs and other expenses led her to writing a Facebook post about Kathleen Wynne that has since gone viral.

Libby Keenan’s hydro costs and other expenses led her to writing a Facebook post about Kathleen Wynne that has since gone viral.

The local horse farmer believes people are “picking my pockets every five minutes” and questions her financial future.

“Now, I’m going to be joining the ranks of the nearly impoverished,” said Keenan. “I feel my country has let me down. I feel my province has let me down. I feel I am going to fall through the cracks.”

But before she went through those cracks, Keenan vowed to take others with her. Her post generated over 21,000 shares and 11,000 likes and drew comments from not just Ontarians, but people from Alberta, British Columbia, California, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Some messages are from people who have had to turn off their heat, including a 69-year-old woman from Ontario.

“I know it’s a global issue,” she said.

Believing politicians “seem very out of touch,” Keenan said she has no money for any major improvements to her home (which she describes as “a pile of sticks”) nor is she worried about getting rich. She just wants to keep doing what she does and keep working with riders and horses.

Keenan said the support she has received locally has been tremendous.

Keenan posted Friday evening she has received a call from Wynne and was working to set up a face-to-face meeting with the premier.

She wrote: “My goal of the meeting is to convey the very grave conditions faced by thousands of Ontarians on several issues and expect concrete answers on the record as to what will be done about these issues. I will be accompanied by a few trusted companions and Ms. Wynne will be accompanied by a few of the ministers who will be able to help her implement any agreements reached in the meeting. Thank you all for your continued support. I will do my very best to get us some relief on our most pressing problems.”

Efforts were made electronically to try and gain comment from Wynne or a representative from either the Premier’s Office or her constituency office Friday but nothing has been returned as of press time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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