Opinion: Butts was once keen to take credit for ‘all of the province’s significant environmental initiatives’ — back before those initiatives became politically toxic
In Gerald Butts’ much-discussed resignation letter last week, the former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took responsibility — sort of — for the ever-growing crisis enveloping the federal Liberal government.
While denying he or his staff put any pressure on former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to drop corruption and fraud charges against SNC-Lavalin, Butts nonetheless acknowledged that the story had coalesced around him being central to the imbroglio. “The fact is that this accusation exists … my reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend. It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away.”
Funny thing: While Butts readily accepted responsibility for his role in the SNC-Lavalin affair, and sought to remedy the situation by resigning, he has appeared determined to dodge any personal responsibility for past screw-ups that have left Canadians with far bigger and longer-lasting concerns.
Years before becoming the prime minister’s key strategist, Butts held a similar position in the office of former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. In this role, he launched the province on course for a vast suite of controversial environmental policies, culminating in the notorious Green Energy Act. He has bragged of these accomplishments. When he left the premier’s office to become president and CEO of the environmentalist lobby group, World Wildlife Fund (Canada), for example, his online biography claimed he was “intimately involved in all of the province’s significant environmental initiatives, from the Greenbelt and Boreal Conservation plan to the coal phase-out and toxic reduction strategy.”
These initiatives were indeed significant. The McGuinty government’s obsession with phasing out coal and promoting renewable energy via outrageous subsidies and government diktat was a provably ruinous policy. Between 2008 and 2016, residential electricity costs in Ontario grew by more than 70 per cent — double the average for the rest of the country. In some cities, large industrial users saw prices spike by 50 per cent or more. According to Ontario’s current provincial Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario taxpayers paid $37 billion over market rates for electricity during those eight years.
Source: Peter Shawn Taylor | Financial Post