Canadian Unions Join Opposition to Hydro One Sale

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said recently that incoming Premier Ernie Eves should stop the privatization of Hydro One – the Province’s publicly owned utility – because they say the government does not have the legal authority to do so.

TORONTO, Ontario – April 11, 2002 [] To emphasize their demand, the unions have started legal proceedings to stop the sale of shares in Hydro One. “This is an essential service, as important as water and public health care and cannot be left to private interests who will put profits first,” said CUPE National President Judy Darcy. “We’re deeply concerned about the impact of privatizing Hydro One on our families, our environment and our economy. It’s a reckless plan and it must be stopped.” The unions argue that the province does not have the power to relinquish public control of Hydro One by offering its shares for sale to investors. They have also urged the Ontario Securities Commission to refuse its approval of the sale on public interest grounds and because the government has not fully explained its case to investors. They have called upon the Ontario Energy Board to hold hearings to also judge whether the sale of Hydro One will undermine security of supply, environmental protection and consumer interests. “We can’t wait until April 15 for Ernie Eves to take over as Premier – he should announce that the government will stop this deal today,” said Brian Payne, President of CEP. “Otherwise he will be coming into office with a cloud of impropriety hanging over his administration.” The unions noted that in June of 1998, Minister of Energy Jim Wilson stated that the Tory government never intended to privatize Ontario Hydro utility. In an about face, the government is moving swiftly ahead with privatization without any public hearings. “For 95 years every person in Ontario has relied on the Hydro One transmission and distribution grid,” said Cecil Makowski, CEP’s Ontario Region Vice-President. “If Harris and Eves think they can move swiftly ahead with this deal – they can’t – we will fight it with all legal means.” CUPE and CEP represent 650,000 Canadians – 250,000 are Ontario members. Last week, Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty also called on Eves to halt the sale.
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