Frank Klees

Frankly Speaking

What Are They Hiding ?

There will be no forensic audit of the Debt Retirement Charge as long as Dalton McGuinty is Premier. 

Where is the $7.8 Billion ?

In a recent column, I discussed the mysterious ‘Debt Retirement Charge' that continues to appear on our electricity bills. I pointed out that the original purpose of this charge was to pay off something called the residual stranded debt of the old Ontario Hydro and that as of May 2002, that debt was determined to be $7.8 billion.

Based on your feedback, many of you were shocked to find out that according to the 2010 Annual Report of the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation, the total amount paid through this Debt Retirement Charge as of December 2010, amounted to.... $7.8 billion !  And the same report states that the McGuinty government intends to keep collecting this charge for up to another 6 years, until 2018. 

So Where Did The Money Go ?

At the very least, we deserve to know where the $7.8 billion went that was collected from us through our electricity bills since 2002. For that reason, I and my colleagues in the Official Opposition called for an independent forensic audit so that we can get the facts on the table. In the days following my first column on this issue, I received an overwhelming number of calls and emails expressing outrage at this revelation and supporting the need for a forensic audit to get to the bottom of where the money went and how much is still owing on this debt.

Resolution in the Ontario Legislature

The recurring question from constituents was what our next steps would be. I can now report that the Official Opposition introduced the following Resolution for debate in the legislature on March 2nd:

 

“Although in 2002 the residual stranded debt was $7.8 billion, and since then Ontario families have paid $7.8 billion in debt retirement charges, and yet the McGuinty government will continue to charge the debt retirement charge on hydro bills; Therefore, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario calls on the McGuinty government to instruct an external firm to conduct a forensic audit into the residual stranded debt and the debt retirement charge, and make the findings of the audit public."

This motion was debated at length by MPPs from all three political Parties. My colleagues in the PC Caucus focused their remarks on the need for transparency and accountability. At the very least, Ontarians deserve an explanation of where their money went. Tim Hudak concluded his remarks during the debate on this Resolution by saying,

"Show the proper respect to Ontario's hard-working families, to seniors, to small businesses, and conduct a forensic audit and tell us how much is left owing on the residual stranded debt, and tell Ontario families who pay the bills exactly where the money went."

Liberal MPPs Voted 'NO'

Too much to ask ? Apparently.  Each and every Liberal MPP voted against the Resolution. They were apparently convinced that their constituents would have no interest in knowing what happens to their hard-earned dollars once in the clutches of the government. I think they're wrong, and I also believe that they will be held accountable for abandoning their constituents on this issue and voting instead, to protect the government from embarrassment.

The Resolution was defeated by the majority Liberal Members of the Legislature. There will not be a forensic audit of the Debt Retirement Charge as long as Dalton McGuinty is the Premier.

I leave it with you to decide why the present government would refuse to open the books and allow an independent audit. If, as the government claims, this is all the fault of the previous government, why not allow an independent audit to confirm that ? To deny it, is to deny the transparency and accountability that you deserve.

As always, I invite your comments, questions or advice on this, or on any other issue related to the provincial government. Please contact me through my website at www.frankklees.com or by calling me at 905 750 0019.