horse farmer

Local horse farmer meets with Ontario premier over hydro rates


By Jonathan Martin

A local horse farmer’s meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne has spurred discussions about Ontario’s hydro rates.

After posting an open letter to Wynne on her Facebook page, Libby Keenan’s criticisms of Ontarians’ rising electricity costs were shared (at the time of writing) almost 22,000 times. The post earned her an invitation to Queen’s Park, where she got a chance to voice her concerns in-person.

“It was a frank and productive conversation,” Wynne posted on her own Facebook page, along with a photo of the meeting. “An essential part of my job is listening to the people of Ontario and taking action to make changes based on your experiences.”

Keenan said she feels she has set a precedent and started the conversation, but it’s up to Ontarians to keep it going.

She said she believes that once the cogs and gears of governmental processes have started rolling along, they’re very hard to stop. Each concession, she thinks, is likely to be hard-won.

Amherstburg resident Libby Keenan (right) chats with Premier Kathleen Wynne last Wednesday in Queen’s Park. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Premier)

Amherstburg resident Libby Keenan (right) chats with Premier Kathleen Wynne last Wednesday in Queen’s Park. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Premier)

“One of the things I noticed when I went to Queen’s Park was the ponderously slow pace of the place,” she said. “They, too, are simply working 9-5 office jobs, caught in the inertia of the whole, monolithic thing. I don’t think we can demonize Premier Kathleen Wynne.”

Following the meeting, Wynne promised that Ontarians would see additional relief before the Spring budget. As of Jan. 1, the government brought in an eight per cent rebate on hydro bills to make up for the provincial portion of HST.

“As I said to Libby, we are going to take concrete action in the coming months to lower the cost of hydro in Ontario,” Wynne wrote. “And to address and keep her apprised of other issues she raised as well.”

In addition to Ontario’s hydro prices, Keenan criticized the privatization of Hydro One and the P3 (Public-Private Partnership) model of infrastructure development adopted by the Canadian government.

Wynne plans to sell 60 per cent of Hydro One to help fund infrastructure expansion and pay down debt. To date, 30 per cent has been sold off.

The P3 model sees the public sector partnered with the private sector in order to develop infrastructure. In theory, it results in fewer missed deadlines and fewer surprise costs, though critics argue that it may be less effective than advertised and result in higher costs overall.

“The bottom line here,” Keenan said. “Is that we need to reclaim our ownership of Ontario rather than sell it off to private corporations. Ontario changed right under our noses and we weren’t paying close enough attention to see it.”

Keenan said she doesn’t see herself as a political activist. She invites people to continue on with their discussions in the comments section of her Facebook page, but it’s up to them to take action if they come across a government initiative with which they are unhappy.

She said she would much rather simply return to her horses.