Wynne says Ford’s pledge to fire Hydro One CEO shows he has no plan

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OAKVILLE, Ont. — Doug Ford’s promise to fire the CEO of Hydro One if elected this spring shows he has no plan to lead Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday, calling the Tory leader’s pledge little more than “bluster.”

Wynne, whose Liberals face an uphill battle to stay in power, made her comments a day after Ford said his first act as premier would be to fire CEO Mayo Schmidt and the board of directors at Ontario’s largest electricity transmission and distribution provider.

“If this is his policy approach then I think we should all be worried,” Wynne said. “I think that everyone in Ontario should be worried if this kind of sloganeering and bluster, quite frankly, is what is being put forward as policy and as coherent decision-making.”

The newly minted Progressive Conservative leader said he would dump Schmidt because the CEO of the partially privatized utility presided over the dramatic increase of hydro rates in the province and earned a $6.2 million salary last year.

“You can take this to the bank, the CEO’s gone and this board is gone,” Ford told a news conference in Toronto on Thursday. “When we’re in government, we’re going to put an end to the hydro executives getting rich off the taxpayers of this great province.”

On Friday, Wynne noted that Schmidt’s salary was in range with comparable positions, and said Ford’s promise won’t save a single ratepayer in the province “one cent.”

“We have a complex electricity system and saying that you’re just going to remove people from office when there is really no coherent plan for how the electricity system should work, I think is irresponsible,” she said.

Wynne, whose Liberals have promised billions in new spending to enhance health care and child care in recent weeks, said voters don’t know any of Ford’s priorities yet because he has not released a platform.

“We have no idea about any of his priorities apart from maybe firing one CEO,” she said. “That’s not policy, that’s not a plan. That’s a slogan masquerading as policy.”

Ford’s spokeswoman criticized Wynne’s comments on Schmidt’s compensation.

“It’s unfortunate that the premier is defending the salaries of Hydro One millionaires while the people in Ontario suffer at the hands of their mismanagement on this file,” Melissa Lantsman said in a statement Friday.

While Ford would indirectly have the power to turf the Hydro One CEO, he’d have to do it by removing the entire company’s board and having the new directors fire Schmidt. That move wouldn’t come cheap, triggering at least $10.7 million in severance for the executive, according to the company’s annual shareholders report released on March 29.

The severance amount is an estimate based on the assumption Schmidt’s departure occurred on Dec. 31, 2017, which means if the CEO left after that date, the figure would likely be higher.

Hydro One was partially privatized in November 2015, with the province saying it planned to use the sale of shares to fund transit and infrastructure projects. By December 2017, the province had sold off 53 per cent of its stake in the company.

The province’s fiscal watchdog has said that taxpayers would have saved $1.8 billion if the government had taken on traditional debt to fund infrastructure projects instead of partially privatizing Hydro One, which has over $25 billion in assets and annual revenues of nearly $6 billion.

The company has noted that Hydro One customers pay only two cents on their monthly bill for the CEO’s compensation while nearly 80 per cent of the total executive compensation package is paid for by shareholders.

Ontario’s election is set for June 7.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press


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40 COMMENTS

  1. wynne is done like dinner !!!! I think ??? I’m just wondering who is going to be the sacrificial lamb, locally, that will be coerced enough or paid off enough to run for this liberal destructive party. Maybe Andrew Olivier from Sudbury, who was dumped for the torturous, intolerable and notorious glenn tibeault will be encouraged to run locally.
    Good luck to all of us who have to pay the piper for all these destructive policies of this wynne liberal party. But, folks, there are some, maybe quite a few who think tax money grows on trees and with a society of hand outs & freebees, it could be a close race on June 7 . Hang on to your wallet, folks, she’s not done………yet.

    • IF FORD cannot produce a platform to run on soon…do not count her out. Criticising the Liberals is not enough. We all know how bad this province is under the Liberals. We all want change. Mr. Ford has to stop whining about Wynne and tell us how he is going to set this province on the street to prosperity. It is not going to be an easy task but you have to start somewhere. Mr Romano is very quiet about Mr. Ford and is also not telling us why Ford is the answer. What say you Ross?

  2. I would suggest to SOUTHERN ONTARIO to fine a INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE in there RIDING for there MPP and perhaps they may get good advice from the NORTHERN ONTARIO PARTY. In NORTHERN ONTARIO we have a choice , myself and a lot of other NORTHERN ONTARIANS are voting for the NORTHERN ONTARIO PARTY.
    Thank you for reading.

  3. Your plan is to SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND.
    I’m afraid that isn’t going to fly. You are SO history, Wynnie.
    Your political career is definitely done, thank God for small favors.

  4. Ford is a buffoon like his brother. By making him leader…the Cons have allowed Wynne in for another term. It is sad to think Ford is the best the party could come up with.

    • And Wynne is the ‘best’ the Liberals came up with. You are part of the problem. This government is corrupt, incompetent and only makes decisions to benefit its friends (solar, wind developments run by former high ranking Liberal Party employees and donors and massive payouts/raises to attempt to buy unionized workers votes). And you still think the PC leader is the problem because of his brother. Wow!
      Also, when you use the typical liberal-socialist moniker of ‘Cons’ for the Conservatives you show that you are lost in your ideology and ignorance of thinking outside of the construct you have embraced. If you can’t write the entire name of the party instead of making it seem connected to criminals it shows you’re lazy and have absolutely no respect for anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Basically your attitude is against democracy.

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