Says refurbishing work should stay in Ontario
TORONTO: Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak pledged to suspend an out-of-province contract and reiterated a promise to scrap another Sunday while touting his plans for job creation in Ontario.
The Tory leader’s commitments drew Liberal warnings that breaking sealed deals would be reckless and expensive for the province.
He said, however, it was all part of his party’s plan to secure employment and savings for Ontarians.
Hudak has already pledged to scrap a $7-billion green energy deal with Samsung, but hasn’t revealed how much it will cost. On Sunday, he added another contract promise to his campaign.
If elected Ontario’s premier Oct. 6, Hudak said he would suspend a $120-million deal to refurbish GO trains that was awarded to a Quebec company.
“I’ll suspend the contract and I’ll look at the details to see what’s in the best interest of families,” he said of the five-year deal that went to CAD Railway Industries near Montreal.
“Dalton McGuinty failed at his job as premier when he let that contract be signed without looking at the local economic impact or the big picture.”
Hudak’s pledge came a day after NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promised to kill the same deal saying the contract should have gone to Ontario Northland, which has a plant in North Bay.
“I’m glad that Mr. Hudak is kind of joining us in realizing that to keep good jobs in Ontario we need to have a Buy Ontario policy,” Horwath said in an interview. “Unfortunately he’s talking about just this one situation. For us, it’s an entire policy, it’s not just a one-off.”
Horwath said she believed the contract hadn’t been finalized yet, meaning it wouldn’t be expensive to get out of, as the Liberals were suggesting.
“What’s reckless and irresponsible is allowing our tax dollars to create jobs somewhere else,” she said. “People can be sure that Ontario Northland will have those jobs.”
The deal to refurbish 127 GO Transit rail cars migrated to Quebec when CAD submitted a bid which was $2 million higher than one from Ontario Northland.
Hudak didn’t go as far as the NDP promise to award the contract to Ontario Northland but did say the PCs would invest in the company as “an economic artery” to help create jobs in Northern Ontario.
Hudak said McGuinty “messed up” on the deal.
“He allowed dollars to leave our province that could have helped create jobs in North Bay and Ontario Northland,” he said.
McGuinty countered by calling Hudak and Horwath¹s contract scrapping plans “a reckless approach.”
“Those are signed, sealed. They will be expensive to disengage from,” McGuinty said while visiting a hospital in Toronto on Sunday. “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to say to the taxpayers regardless of the costs, we’re just going to get this done.”
McGuinty added that his government’s $10-million investment to have Ontario Northland refurbish trains for the Polar Bear Express and their plans to expand GO commuter trains to all-day service demonstrated the Liberal commitment to job creation in Ontario.
Hudak’s pledge to suspend the rail-car deal followed his promise to scrap Ontario’s contract with South Korea-based Samsung to manufacture components for green energy projects.
The Liberals renegotiated that contract in August, giving Samsung a one-year extension in getting its project online and lowering an incentive they were giving the company over 20 years to a maximum of $110 million.
The Tories have continually decried the deal, saying it’s driving up hydro rates, not creating the jobs the Liberals promised and that the feed-in tariff program which offers stable prices under long-term contracts for renewable energy should also be scrapped.
Speaking to reporters Sunday, Hudak wouldn’t say how much it would cost the province to get out of what he called McGuinty’s “sweetheart deal” with Samsung.
“Dalton McGuinty could have got us out of that deal without paying a penny,” said Hudak. “But instead of doing so, Dalton McGuinty has now extended the deal. I think that’s wrong.
“Let’s get out while we can. Let’s not raise the hydro rates to pay for a secret deal that is no good for taxpayers.”
Hudak hasn’t said if the jobs that would have been created under the Korean company’s projects in Ontario would be guaranteed elsewhere.
“We just cannot afford to drive up hydro rates even further for a company that’s doing very well already and for a contract or a frame work agreement that said no to Canadian businesses and no to Ontario businesses,” he said. “It’s a rip-off, it’s a scam.”