I am writing with respect to your government’s recent introduction of Bill 2, Urgent Priorities Act, 2018, and in particular the White Pines Wind Project Termination Act.
Although the latter focuses on one specific renewable energy project, we are concerned about the broader impact of this legislation on Ontario’s business climate. Bill 2 would revoke permits several years after the proponent obtained them from the appropriate regulatory bodies, cancel contracts with the Independent Electricity System Operator that were negotiated in good faith, and unilaterally set the terms upon which the proponent may be eligible for compensation. We believe this legislation, if enacted, will undermine investor confidence and set an unfortunate precedent for how the government intends to deal with the private sector.
The principles at stake in this matter are similar to those arising from the recent political fight over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The Business Council of Canada, along with other business groups, criticized British Columbia’s government for attempting to block a project that had already received all necessary federal and provincial permits. We and others told Premier Horgan that his efforts to thwart the project would damage Canada’s reputation as a safe and secure destination for investment, and call into question our country’s ability to get major infrastructure built in a timely and efficient manner.
It is of course the prerogative of any new government to change policy direction. We certainly do not question your government’s right to adjust Ontario’s future electricity supply mix. In your dealings with renewable power developers, however, we urge you to consider carefully the potential lasting negative effects that arbitrary actions can have on investor confidence. Among Ontario’s strengths are its reputation for fair dealing and respect for the rule of law. Many of the business leaders I represent are concerned that this hard-earned reputation is at risk.
Premier, in the recent Speech from the Throne your government said it intends to “send a message to the world that Ontario is open for business”. We applaud that sentiment, but the unfortunate reality is that the White Pines Wind Project Termination Act sends a different and much less welcoming message. I urge you to reconsider.