Monday, February 23, 2009

Fancy That, A "Vision"

In many ways an economic downturn provides an opportunity, if government uses expenditure and legislation to retool and modernize. Probably the most disappointing aspect of the federal government's stimulus plan and overall framework to blunt the current economic fallout, is it provides no sense of a "vision", there's no real road map or coherence, merely temporary band aids. When the Canadian economy does rebound, it's hard to point to any initiative which really revolutionizes our economy, so that it's better placed to sustain itself in the 21st century world. More about political survival, than actual forward thinking, the Conservatives read like a old school, two dimensional template, for governing during an recession.

People can quibble about the details, but it's fair to say that the McGuinty government is presenting a "vision" with it's Green Energy Act, a comprehensive approach to move all facets in tandem towards a over arching goal. It really is a plan that has a transformational component, so that if successful, the Ontario economy will emerge stronger and more diversified, more competitive and greener, in such a way to be a benefit, not a drag.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Ontario Liberals, they tend to move in a timid fashion, small steps here and there, but nothing that evokes the word bold. What we see now, is a recognition that it's sink or swim time, Ontario can't plod along, relying on past powerhouses to fuel the economy, it must modernize:
Ontario's Green Energy Act will create 50,000 new jobs in construction, trucking and engineering while laying the groundwork for developing projects more quickly, Energy Minister George Smitherman said today.

"If passed, the act would ensure that new green power doesn't get tripped up in all kinds of red tape, but instead that new renewable generation would be built and flowing into the system faster," Smitherman told the legislature after introducing the bill.

The Green Energy Act will also set what Smitherman called ``reasonable" domestic content requirements for renewable projects to ensure more money is spent in the province.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said while he understood a switch from making cars to making wind turbines may not be easy for workers in Ontario, green technology is key to boosting the province's economy.

The province isn't turning away from its traditional auto jobs, but has a responsibility to create new work as well as a sustainable energy base, said McGuinty.

"It's not an easy shift, I understand that, but we need to begin to plan for the future with a sustainable energy base," he said.

"We have to see ourselves as vital players. We can't just tinker with a few things."

Progressive Conservative critic John Yakabuski called the legislation vague, noting it "leaves

Encouraging words from the NDP:
New Democrat Peter Tabuns said the change was "way past due."

"The fact that this government is finally saying it will link jobs with climate change is welcome, it opens the debate," Tabuns said in the legislature.

"My goal is to see that we actually deliver; that we don't get trapped in the timidity that I see in the bill before us."

The legislation will amend 15 statutes and the government says it will create 50,000 new jobs.

Is this plan perfect? I've heard encouraging reviews from many sources, others are critical, but given that unanimity is a fallacy, overall I think you can argue, with credibility, that this plan has the comprehensive component, a coherent thread throughout, that it encompasses everything a bold plan should entail. You can't just play along the margins, and maybe the McGuinty government was guilty of this in the past. This economic collapse allows the Liberals to be aggressive, because there is a real, sober understanding, that the status quo is a future anchor.

Governments are given political capital during tough times, we see it in other jurisdictions as well. A crisis is really an opportunity, because the urgency it brings allows for initiatives which cut through the normal pace of change, as long as your articulate the light at the end of the tunnel, you're given room to "try it" so to speak. Whereas, the Conservative government offers vanilla, old ideas, the only goal to "ride out", the provincial Liberals are demonstrating a capacity for BIG ideas, with an eye for the future.


JimmE said...

We need to see some meat on these bones. The 5th estate did a profile of a dairy farmer in Eastern Ontario who spent a small fortune on co-generation only to be stonewalled by HYDRO (or whatever those rats call themselves today). HYDRO's bureaucracy has a culture to PRODUCE power from BIG sources alone. HYDRO folks have escaped changes attempted by Davis, Peterson, Rae, & even the person prior to McGuinty, & to this point McGuinty. As well meaning as this may look, until McGuinty takes on the intrenched vested interests of the HYDRO Mafia, this too; sadly, will come to naught.

Steve V said...


Time will tell, but there is a clear thrust to get small green energy producers on line, community co-ops and local ownership. I also like the "right to connect" to the grid clause.

I'd also add, the reviews from small energy producers have been quite positive..

JimmE said...

Don't get me wrong, I like what I see, & from speaking to several MPPs on this file over the past couple of years, I think they GET IT. But they have all been somewhat YES MINISTERed on this file.
As an example, I had a very lively conversation about the future of Nukes & coal with a MPP (who's nomination & 1999 campaign I ran) who at the time was the PA to the minister of energy.
What gives me some real hope that these changes will get going is Smitherman is the Minister.

JimmE said...

... oh, & BTW, Global Warming has been solved:

Steve V said...

Good to know :)

Oemissions said...

For me, any plan that can get people out of their automobiles is a plan I will endorse.
I didnot want to be part of Asphalt Nation so i got an electric bike a year and a half ago and got through snow,rain and hail with it. The only problem was and the traffic and ofcourse the mindless drivers. The noise and the exhaust has become unbearable to me.
There has got to be a better way to move around 150 lbs or so of human.
I firmly believe that if enough people quit driving for one year, everything would change and have to adjust so that we will be steering a more direct path to addressing Climate Changes and a better world.