Politicians try to stop sale of remainder of Hydro One

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Sarnia Councillor Brian White and Petrolia Councillor Grant Purdy want the people of Lambton to just say no. The pair are leading the local initiative aimed at stopping the privatization of Hydro One.

White held a public meeting in October to gather volunteers and build momentum against Premier Wynne’s plan to sell 60 per cent of the public utility to private investors.

Saturday, the councillors began their petitioning campaign at Heidi’s Independent Grocer in Petrolia to gather signatures supporting the Hydro One Not for Sale initiative.

Fifteen per cent of Hydro One shares have already been sold. “If it reaches 51 per cent, then any public oversight is lost,” says Purdy. “Electricity is an essential service for everyone. We feel it should stay in public hands.”

White says that in provinces like Nova Scotia, where the electric utility has been privatized, accountability is not the only thing lost. Reliability goes down rates go up, he says.

The Wynne government is promoting the financial benefits of the sale, with plans to use the funds for transportation infrastructure. Purdy says this plan will result in “short term gain and long term loss,” citing a loss of $750 million annually in revenue for the province once the utility has been privatized.

The politicians also want people to write letters directly to the Premier. The note can be as simple as “We’re not happy with the sale of Hydro One. This will cost you your vote,” says White. By marking the envelope with “private and confidential,” White says the letter will make it directly to the Premier’s desk.

“A lot of people feel like it’s hopeless at this point,” says White. However, White and Purdy feel like there’s still a fighting chance. “We’re very optimistic that we can make a difference,” says White.

Amy and Chad Harwood from Kincardine were visiting relatives in Petrolia over the weekend and took a few minutes to add their names to the petition and speak with Purdy and White. “The money from that kind of industry should be going to the province,” says Amy Harwood. “They’re losing their ability to regulate properly,” she says.

The pair collected 120 signatures in two hours Saturday and plan a door-to-door push as well.

“Until 51 per cent of the shares are sold, we still have a fighting chance,” says Purdy.