By John Bell, Toronto Climate Campaign
On July 6, Toronto City Council voted overwhelmingly (30 to 6) to oppose the privatization of Toronto Hydro.
The motion was brought forward by Councillor Joe Pantalone in reaction to a recommendation from the city’s finance staff to make it easier to privatize the profitable public utility. Specifically, the city’s finance staff put forward a motion that would absolve the city from paying taxes on the sale of Toronto Hydro.
A large audience witnessed the vote, including members of CUPE Local 1, who lobbied hard for the successful outcome, as well as representatives of CUPE local 416, the CUPE national office, Toronto Environmental Alliance, and the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.
Why is this such a big deal? If Toronto is to move toward a future of renewable energy, equitable hiring and local procurement – a direction that will create jobs that are good for our families as well as good for the planet – it is essential to keep assets like Toronto Hydro in public hands. When we pay for electricity we’re paying ourselves, and not some possibly foreign corporation. And a publicly-owned Toronto Hydro is accountable to us, not a private operator’s profit margin.
These ideals form the backbone of a new initiative called the Green Jobs for All at Hydro campaign, which is being pushed by the Green Economy for All coalition. We are a fusion of environmentalists, trade unionists and community-based anti-poverty groups.
Our Green Jobs For All at Hydro campaign began with “what if” questions. What if we could turn all the publicly owned buildings and spaces in Toronto from power consumers to power creators? What if we set a goal of using materials and equipment processed and built locally? And what if we insisted that training and hiring for the new, green jobs should target young people in communities that are too often marginalized and left behind by economic development?
We can rebuild our City so that smog and greenhouse gases become things of the past, and the benefits of a new green economy are equally shared. But to get there, we need everyone to help build our campaign: tell your friends, get your school council, church group or union local to sign on to support the Green Jobs for All at Hydro campaign at goodjobsforall.ca.
Together we can power up a new green economy for all.