Rain or shine, about two dozen protestors rallied outside the Ted Rogers School of Management building Tuesday morning, where Hydro One executives were holding their annual shareholders meeting.
The rally, organized by Ontario PC leader Doug Ford’s campaign in an email sent Monday, was an attempt to protest high hydro rates and the salaries of Hydro One executives.
Ford, who was at the rally for only a few minutes, said in the email “we’re going to let them know exactly what we think of their backroom deals,” and that “the days of hydro executives getting rich off the backs of Ontario families are over.”
Ford has been vehemently opposed to Hydro One since being elected the Ontario PC leader, going so far as to refer to CEO Mayo Schmidt as Kathleen Wynne’s “six-million-dollar man” and has vowed to fire Schmidt and the board of directors if elected premier in June.
It was announced this morning Hydro One’s part-time board members gave themselves raises of $25,000, which came as a bit of a surprise given the negative attention Hydro One has received on how much their board members currently earn.
Protestors at the rally — which lasted about 30 minutes as most protestors dispersing the area after Ford left — expressed their outrage of the increased hydro rates by holding signs and chanting, “Mayo has got to go.”
Among rally attendees, David Mitges was the only counter-protestor in sight.
“Mr. Ford, as a candidate has promised to basically fire without cause the entire board of directors, about 15 of them and the CEO, and he’s doing that for political reasons and it’s just going to make Hydro One into a deeper mess,” Mitges said.
Mitges also said the solution to decreasing the high hydro rates is complicated but it will take hard work and intelligence by Hydro One to improve.
“Hydro One is now a private corporation and their business is to sort of succeed and it’s in their interest to lower their rates so people use it more, so I would have more trust in them going forward, I don’t tend to trust politicians around election time,” he said.
Ford, who only attended the protest for about five minutes, said that he will put money back into people’s pockets instead of the government’s.
“This is unacceptable, the government has been gouging the people of Ontario for the last 15 years and they’ve stood by and watch it happen, and the NDP they’ve stood by and watch it happen, the NDP are just as bad as the Liberals,” Ford said.
Ford also said it was too premature to consider buying Hydro One back at this point but he would be looking at the books and there would be accountability for the past 15 years.
“It’s about time people start respecting the taxpayers, respecting the hard-earned money that they’ve been working constantly for and handing it over to the government, and the government all they do, is the six-million-dollar man gives himself a $1.4 million raise and then he gives all his cronies $14 million in bonuses and we have the highest hydro rates in all of North America,” he said.
NDP MPP candidate for Toronto-Danforth Peter Tabuns said he recognizes Ontarians who are struggling to pay their hydro bills are angry when they see how much CEO Mayo Schmidt earns but people shouldn’t be surprised when board members get raises.
“This is a private company, they want to get rich, they’re making themselves rich, and as long as the public doesn’t have any control over it, yeah they’re going to look after themselves,” he said.
Tabuns also said if Andrea Horvath is elected premier the NDP are hoping to buy back Hydro One over the next four to eight years.
“Our plan is to buy back Hydro One and restore public control and then start putting in sorts of salary levels and hydro prices that the people of Ontario expect,” he said
PC MPP candidate for York South-Weston Mark DeMontis told Humber News he was happy with how the Hydro One protest turned out.
“I think it went really well,” he said. “I think the fact that it brought out a lot of the media and a lot of the public and of course a lot of candidates who feel strong about this, I think that’s definitely a success.
“I think what’s most important is that we don’t stop the momentum that we have with the PC party because it’s quite clear people know where they’re casting their vote this June 7, and we need to ensure we keep building the trust with people and keep executing our strategy and plan,” DeMontis said.