Wynne government appoints elite figure to review wisdom of public assets

Struggling to move out from under the scandalous actions of the gas plant scandal, and specifically the wiping of Premier’s office computers allegedly directed by former Premier McGuinty’s Chief of Staff – former TD Bank executive David Livingstone – the Wynne government is acting decisively in appointing a much more prominent TD executive to study something or other.

Government Appoints Council to Review Hydro One, OPG and the LCBO

April 11, 2014 12:35 p.m.
Ministry of Finance
The Ontario government has appointed a council to recommend ways to improve the efficiency and optimize the full value of Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation (OPG), and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). The Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets will examine how to get the most out of key government assets to generate better returns and revenues for Ontarians.
Ed Clark, Group President and CEO of TD Bank Group, will chair the council. As part of its review, the council will consider various options to generate better returns and revenues to maximize the value of these government business enterprises to the province, including such measures as efficient governance, growth strategies, corporate reorganization, mergers, acquisitions, and public-private partnerships. The council will give preference to owning rather than selling core assets.

The government is committed…

Maybe it oughta be committed…

In news of the week preceding the government’s announcement:

Bruce Power Chief Executive Duncan Hawthorne made an appeal in the Toronto Sun to run all of Ontario’s nuclear generation on Wednesday, and the suggestion was reported as rejected by the Energy Minister on Thursday.

Friday came the press release – and the province’s most read newspaper report, Hydro asset sales could generate $10 billion:

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa avoided using the word “sell” when he announced Friday that the province is looking at options for Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One.
Sousa said the province wants to “improve efficiency and optimize financial performance” of the companies, and to “maximize value for Ontarians.”

Uh huh

Reminded me of an article sharing some insight from former Premier Ernie Eves when the subject of selling the booze business came up back in 2009:

Former Conservative premier Ernie Eves says the cash-strapped Ontario government could have a hard time getting a decent price for the Liquor Control Board, an agency that generates billions in profits that the Liberals haven’t ruled out selling.

“I chuckled the other day when I read a figure of $10 billion because I think that’s low for an asset that virtually, arguably, in perpetuity will bring at least $1.5 billion a year to the owner.

“I think that’s way too low.”

Way too low.

Maybe the committee will look at revoking the Beer Store monopoly and putting that foreign controlled enterprise under public control.

Somehow I doubt it.

This all looks like Premier Wynne’s steady hands moving shells rapidly about in the hopes we lose track of the ball that is the outlaw nature of the McGuinty/Wynne era.

Unlikely.

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