Brown highlights Quebec's affordable hydro rates
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard discussing new agreements between the provinces at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday May 11, 2015. (Michael Peake/Toronto Sun)
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A historic appearance by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Monday served to highlight the political separation within Ontario’s legislature.
Patrick Brown, in his first official speech as the new leader of the provincial Tories, congratulated Couillard for committing to zero deficits and affordable hydro rates — a perceived sore spot with the Ontario Liberals.
“If the Liberals feel that a compliment towards a balanced budget and low energy rates is an attack on their record, well maybe that’s something they need to think about,” Brown said.
The Quebec government tabled a budget in March that plans for balanced books, compared to a projected $8.5-billion deficit in Ontario in 2015-16.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the rare visit by Couillard — it’s only the third time that a Quebec premier has addressed the Ontario legislature — should have been viewed as an opportunity to set aside political interests.
The speech presented an opportunity for non-partisan excitement about the provinces and the country, she said.
“I think that politicians generally, whenever we have an opportunity to celebrate a non-partisan moment, we should do that because it is all too easy to get trapped in the cut and thrust of particular issues, a particular partisan position,” Wynne said. “The more challenging and more unusual opportunity is to be non-partisan and really think about the well-being of the province and the provinces and the country. And I think this morning was a moment to do that.”
Ontario and Quebec jointly announced a new procurement agreement that covers almost all public entities.
In his speech, Couillard promoted a proposal he and Wynne have put forward for a Quebec-Ontario-California cap-and-trade agreement — an idea the Ontario Tories have previously denounced.
Brown said Quebec is in a far better position to benefit from cap-and-trade than Ontario because of its lower hydro rates.
The PC leader also said he’s worried that industry will continue to flow over the border to Quebec to avoid Ontario hydro rates only made higher by cap-and-trade.