Finance Minister Seems Unable to Answer to Long-Standing Chamber Position on Cap & Trade

BY mmarchand

The following is an excerpt from the Hansard transcript of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, dated April 24, 2017 on the Ontario Budget:

Mr. Rick Nicholls: My question is to the Minister of Finance. I have written to the minister as well.

Massive cap-and-trade costs are causing havoc in the greenhouse industry that is so vital to my riding of Chatham–Kent–Essex.

Gerry Mastronardi, owner of TG and G Mastronardi greenhouses, has said that his family business will be lucky to survive, after their natural gas bills were doubled by the Wynne government.

Matt Marchand, president of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that the result of this scheme is that we’re going to export jobs into other jurisdictions, like Ohio, and import their pollution.

Minister, your government’s cap-and-trade scheme is ludicrous. To prove this, Carl Mastronardi of Sunrite Greenhouses said that he would have paid less in government fees, had he not installed $2-million worth of energy-saving curtains in his greenhouses. His company could have qualified for savings that are available to larger natural gas users. He said there’s no incentive to save energy.

The only green this government is concerned about is money, not the environment. Will the Liberals stop the cash grab and make cap-and-trade revenue-neutral?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Despite the challenges that we’ve had in our economy as we have got out of and recovered from the recession, we have invested.

The agri-food industry and agri-food processing—we are proud in this country for the tremendous amount of GDP that agriculture brings to Ontario. We invested $19 million just in the greenhouse industry.

We know we lead in foreign direct investment in this province, among all other jurisdictions. Again, it’s not by accident; it’s because of our encouragement for that economic activity. We’ll continue to support, and we’ll continue to invest.

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The member opposite makes reference to the fact that jobs are important. They’re critically important. That’s why we have to embrace the new economy. He’s turning his back on that new economy. He doesn’t want to go to clean tech. He wants to actually turn around and put his head in the sand.

As the rest of the world leads, Ontario will always lead, Mr. Speaker.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Order.

New question.