HudakÂ’s Samsung promise could be costly

TORONTO, ONTARIO - That steady beat of helicopter blades youÂ’re hearing isnÂ’t the chopper scene from Apocalypse Now.

No, PC Leader Tim Hudak released part of his election platform — and the choppers you can hear in the background are the ghosts of the ones former prime minister Jean Chretien cancelled as part of his 1993 election platform that swept him to power.

His foolish promise cost hundreds of millions of dollars and endangered search and rescue personnel by not replacing the aging Sea King helicopters.

Hudak promised to cancel the controversial $7-billion Samsung deal, calling it “odious” and “shady,” and pledging to scrap it and the costly “feed-in-tariff” program that pays green energy producers huge amounts of money for electricity that can be produced elsewhere at a fraction of their costs.

Naturally, comparisons between the helicopter deal and Hudak’s plan to dump the Samsung “memorandum of understanding” are flying.

IÂ’m not sure you can compare the two.

After all, we really needed the helicopters. The benefits of the Samsung deal are murky at best. We have the cleanest, greenest energy in the world at Niagara. On windy days, Ontario Power Generation has been spilling water there because the province is obliged to take much more costly wind energy onto the grid first.

More disturbing, Energy Minister Brad Duguid couldnÂ’t tell reporters how much it would cost to can the deal.

“We have no intention of walking away from that agreement,” he told reporters.

IÂ’m sure the government doesnÂ’t. IÂ’m equally sure that, as with most deals, thereÂ’s a penalty clause if one side reneges. So what is it?

Samsung released a statement saying it had entered into the deal in good faith.

“That agreement was a signal to the world that Ontario was open for business and was serious about creating a long-term climate for investment and job-creation,” the statement said.

It added Samsung expects “any potential future Government of Ontario to honour the commercial agreement signed in January, 2010.”

That’s code for “It will cost you megabucks to get out of this deal.”

Hudak said a PC government would honour the FIT contracts.

“Those are signed with farmers and Ontario companies, but I am putting a big red circle around this Samsung deal.

“These are the two biggest drivers of hydro bills,” he said.

Much as Duguid was a disappointment in not telling us the cost of breaking the deal, Hudak also failed to shine.

He walked away from reporters as they pressed him about the message this would send to international investors.

Would other offshore companies want to invest?

Hudak had better get his answers down pat when he releases his platform.

ItÂ’s not just soaring hydro bills thatÂ’s making the deal unpopular.

Small rural communities across the province have had wind turbines foisted on them against their will like some high-tech invasive species.

TheyÂ’re ugly and many rural residents believe theyÂ’re destroying their communities and deterring tourism.

Was it a bad deal? WeÂ’ll likely never know. If the government canÂ’t even tell us what it will cost to scrap it, how can we tell?

The government may not be able to tell us the details of the Samsung deal, but youÂ’ll see the real cost every time you choke over your massive hydro bill.

Forget the choppers. Electricity is our apocalypse — right now.


in Year