Opinion Editorial

NDP's record on Hydro nothing to brag about

Greg Vandermeulen

Is it too much to ask politicians to play fair? Is it too much to ask them to speak the truth, at least during election campaigns?

The writ hadn't even been officially dropped before the NDP showed their true colours this election campaign.

In a three page election document, the NDP talked about their plans for Manitoba Hydro. They bragged about "equalizing rural hydro rates" and said they "reject Conservative plans to implement much higher market rates for Hydro".

That would be fine, if of course, the Conservatives had plans to implement higher rates.

Now what the NDP could have said was "we think Conservative policy will lead to higher rates at Manitoba Hydro". That would be a fair statement.

But they didn't. They publicly stated that the Conservatives have plans to raise rates. That accusation is as ludicrous as it is groundless.

Only the Public Utilities Board can raise rates. Sure the government can affect Manitoba Hydro's ability to make money. The NDP proved that by taking hundreds of millions of dollars from Manitoba Hydro as "revenue". They're doing it now by forcing a choice of route for BiPole III on Hydro instead of letting them make their own decision.

It's difficult to figure out exactly what the NDP expect to gain by putting Manitoba Hydro into the pre-election conversation. Since 2004, rates have climbed at Manitoba Hydro by 20 per cent. This is at a time when cost of living increases are at historic lows.

According to the PUB, rates could rise as much as 140 per cent by 2031. And we're supposed to be worried about the Conservatives?

The NDP also trotted out this tired old slogan. "Today's NDP's vision for the next four years sets them apart from the failed policies of cuts and privatization embraced by Hugh McFadyen's PCs."

True the PCs have committed to looking for ways to reduce waste. But they have promised no front line cuts and say they won't privatize anything.

Again the NDP could have pointed to Gary Filmon and his privatizing of MTS, which was a colossal mistake and is one McFadyen has never admitted. They could have asked, how can you trust the Conservatives now?

But they didn't. Instead they choose to make "factual" statements that just don't stand up to scrutiny.

Is that a party you can trust to lead the province for the next four years?