The Green Energy Act, 2009 was passed last week. It provides Energy Minister Smitherman with vast powers to dictate energy policy in Ontario.

Despite earlier indications that Smitherman had backed down on some of the more controversial elements of the bill, John Laforet notes the resulting amendments are largely cosmetic and without substance:

The Green Energy Act passed. I don’t think anyone was surprised by that part. It passed with some amendments however. The most laughable was the inclusion of a weak clause about ‘community involvement’ being one of the lenses this bill is seen through. If we cut through the Orwellian doublespeak we’ll see that this bill still lives up to Dalton McGuinty’s promise to strip environmental protections and the democratic rights of citizens away from the planning process. He proved with the passage of this legislation that he is not a true democrat in his views on governance. His ‘father knows best’ approach will be punished at the polls, that I am certain of. 

Laforet also speculates on the political implications for Liberal ridings in Toronto’s east end:

What was interesting to see however was who didn’t vote for this odious piece of legislation. Premier McGuinty wasn’t present to vote for his anti democratic, anti environment bill. MPPs Best (Scarborough Guildwood), Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest), or Arthurs (Pickering Scarborough East) all had a case of the ‘legislative flu’ that saw them unable to attend. I have said very clearly before that the passage of this bill would almost certainly cost Margarett Best her seat in Scarborough Guildwood and could well cost Berardinetti and Athurs their Scarborough waterfront seats as well. If they think ducking is the same as standing up for their communities, they are sadly mistaken and I’m sure the opposition parties and voters will not let them off that easy for siding with their Party Leader and Deputy Leader’s attacks on our community. 

I think the political fall out will spread well beyond Scarborough. Many rural Ontarians are already up in arms about wind farms being built in their communities. The GEA will limit their input on these projects in the future.

But ultimately, it will be pocket book issues that raise the ire of Ontario voters toward this government. As it is a sure bet that under the GEA, Ontario ratepayers will see energy rates rise well beyond the 1% annual increase the Energy Minister is predicting, McGuinty can only hope the next election comes before the full brunt of these increases kicks in.