Former Wynne government minister on Ontario’s debt: dangerous

Former Finance and Energy Minister Dwight Duncan offers his opinion on Ontario’s debt and how it got to be so significant. He should know: a lot of it is his fault, including long-term contracts for wind power.

Dwight Duncan, former Finance Minister: Ontario debt "dangerous". He oughta know.
Dwight Duncan, former Finance Minister: Ontario debt “dangerous”. He oughta know.

Dwight Duncan, Ontario’s former Minister of Energy and Minister of Finance has found a new calling as a columnist with QP Briefing, the reputed eyes and ears at Queens Park.  QP Briefing catchwords on their website are “exclusive coverage, trusted analysis.” One might wonder how, after reading the first two columns Duncan wrote for them, truthful that claim might be.
Duncan on debt: Mr. Duncan’s first column was very critical of Ontario’s increasing debt : “A province that is dangerously ill equipped to face the next, and inevitable, economic downturn.”
Isn’t it ironic that a former Minister of Finance, who presided over several budgets that continued to increase Ontario’s debt, should now be criticizing the results of his own work, which collectively increased Ontario’s debt by well over $60 billion? He notes the fastest growing expense line coming out of the budget for 2015/16 is “interest.”   He also now claims the increasing interest expenses are “an enormous wealth transfer.”
Nowhere in the article does he accept any blame for the mess he played in creating it. Near the end of the column he compliments the Wynne government for “speaking out about an optimum net debt to GDP ration” and about linking spending to public transit spending.  He also expresses happiness for the election of the Trudeau government, but has concerns that “federal transfers” may be reduced.  Guess he didn’t see that one coming; if he had, maybe he would have stopped spending?
Duncan on the AG and the energy file: Duncan’s second column is simply a beat-up on the Ontario Auditor General for her damning report on Ontario’s management of the electricity sector.   He claims the report was out of context.  He even goes as far as to refer to Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli as one of the “most solid ministers.”
Duncan goes on to make audacious claims about diesel generators in some cities, OPG being near bankrupt, no new “significant” generation capacity added in 20 years, no renewables, no “significant” transmission investments, no conservation programs, etc. etc. when the Ontario Liberals gained power.   But he fails to remind the reader that, as Minister of Energy, he launched many of the programs that have been roundly criticized by the current Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk and her predecessor, and that have caused electricity rates to skyrocket in Ontario.
We should be reminded of Energy Minister Duncan’s achievements: he brought us “smart meters”; he brought us long-term contracts for industrial wind turbines and solar panels at high prices (before the launch of the FIT program); he brought us conservation spending ($400 million per year for three years); he created the Ontario Power Authority; he brought us new gas plants (big and small) to back up wind and solar; and how he pushed us to reduce consumption in a time of power surplus. All these actions by Dwight Duncan, Minister of Energy, drove up electricity prices.
We should remember too that Dwight Duncan was and presumably still is a fan of “cap and trade” and he pushed for increased pension funding from the federal government. We haven’t seen the last of his effects on our electricity bills or our cost of living.
One of Duncan’s famous quotes while in office was: “We’re not going to spend $1.6 billion on technology that doesn’t help climate change. That’s just dumb.” That was about installing anti-pollution scrubbers on the province’s coal plants in 2007.  The fact is, the cost of “smart meters” alone exceeded the scrubber costs. The logic behind that kind of thinking presumably led him, as the Minister of Finance, to rack up huge deficits, increasing the province’s debt levels by over $60 billion during his time in that portfolio.
In my humble opinion QP Briefing should not have engaged Mr. Duncan as a columnist as he has, so far, demonstrated a bias. He believes what he left behind was commendable and now seeks to justify it all, despite the burden placed on Ontario’s taxpayers and ratepayers.
© Parker Gallant
February 14, 2016
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy. 
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Duncan’s gig as a QP Briefing columnist is strictly a sideline; his day job is being a “Strategic Advisor” at law firm McMillan LLP
Mr. Duncan’s comment about the coal plant scrubbers is interesting: the province has gone on to spend many more billions on wind power, which doesn’t help climate change either.

What's your reaction?


  • ScepticalGord
    Posted February 15, 2016 11:32 am 0Likes

    Dwight Duncan:
    Fat Bastard calling Porky Pig fat.

  • Ed Engel
    Posted February 15, 2016 12:52 pm 0Likes

    Good job Parker keeping this information floating where it can be seen.
    Is there anyone in the McWyinty government that has high school logic, mathematics and moral ethics?

  • Andre Lauzon
    Posted February 15, 2016 3:37 pm 0Likes

    Remind me to never use the law firm McMillan LLP.
    It is unbelievable that he would have the guts to write such nonsense if he was of sane mind.

  • Tom
    Posted February 15, 2016 11:00 pm 0Likes

    Wasn’t “Dunkin’ ” the energy minister when the door was first opened to wind turbines in Ontario.

  • Glen
    Posted February 16, 2016 12:23 am 0Likes

    Duncan should be forced to live under a windmill for a year or two!

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