Thee to WE: the foundations of Canada’s Green Stimulus – part 1

The following is the beginning of a work I’ve been preparing for my main site. As rumours of the federal government proceeding with the externally-developed policy framework I have been researching, and because of the length the work has grown to, I’ve decided to post the work in parts here as sections are completed.

 

2020 is throwing a lot at us. 

The pandemic is the feature event for most, but there’s no shortage of other issues long discussed on my blog re-emerging. I started writing in 2010, not long after the passage of the Green Energy Act (GEA) in my province of Ontario. The GEA was the cornerstone of a “building back better” recovery plan the last large economic downturn, and should therefore be a warning signal this crisis around. And yet… today many of the same people that lobbied for that failed experiment provincially have regrouped to push for a “resilient recovery” policy portfolio at the federal level. These weren’t good policies in 2010, and they haven’t got any better, but this work will be more interested in how bad policy is built, and who is behind its construction.

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has sucked much of the oxygen away from other topics, particularly since March (when I wrote on it and developed a report which continues to update daily). I’ll note that I hope people try the app, wear a mask indoors in public places, get outdoors, wash your hands when possible, use hand sanitizer when not and try to stay fit physically and mentally, – so you can continue to live your life having tried to protect yourself and others while recognizing all life should not be paused. Aside from that, I mention the pandemic as it’s the crisis featured in today’s “Never Let A Good Crisis Go to Waste” machinations.

As Canada comes out of the COVID-19 crisis, governments and the private sector will turn their attention to building a long-term economic recovery. Let’s make that recovery … Task Force for a Resilient Recovery

2020 hasn’t just thrown the pandemic at us. In Canada, bystanders like me are currently enjoying the WE charity[?] scandal. In a summer where Black Lives Matter movement has re-emerged I’ve, coincidentally, half-joked WE could stand for White Entitled. I’ll leave the non-joke half as a sub-text for what follows about the communications campaign, and related politics, powering the “Task Force for a Resilient Recovery” (TFRR) vehicle. It could be seen as part 3 in my ‘Carbon Con” series (parts 1 and 2),  or as a case study in how to develop experts to create the appearance of consensus among apparent experts  for the purpose or exercising power in setting government policy that is likely to work against the broader welfare of the public.


The TFRR was promoted by a news release from the Smart Prosperity Institute on May 19, 2020. From that same day on the National public broadcaster’s website:

Civil society… is not waiting to push the Liberal government to focus any recovery plan on emissions-reducing and sustainable projects — a push that now includes a group of environmental, financial and political figures who are hoping to draft a set of recommendations over the next two months.

Civil society that is – not civil engineering society. There’s no engineering expertise evident in any of the people associated with the TFRR, except in that they engineer opinion to influence policy for the benefit of “civil society.”

Fourteen members with an additional 8 “expert” advisors – with all the ethnic diversity I’ve come to expect of such groups since preparing Green is the Old White years ago. Maybe they meant elite society. From the TFRR backgrounder:

Funding for the initiative is provided by: The Jarislowsky Foundation, Ivey Foundation, The McConnell Foundation, The Schad Foundation, The Echo Foundation.

May’s news release referenced The Resilient Recovery Framework “submitted” to the TFRR at its inception by the Smart Prosperity Institute (SPI – formerly the Sustainable Prosperity Institute), and promised the, “work of the Task Force will conclude in July with the release of a final report.” It has not completed its work yet, at least not publicly, but the panel has released something preliminary, which we’ll review in due course.

SPI’s funders, listed on their website, also include the Jarislowsky, McConnell, and Echo Foundations. It is headed by Stewart Elgie.

From Elgie’s organization’s report towards a “Green Economic Stimulus Package for Canada.”:

we conclude by discussing four types of stimulus measures that stand out as having the potential, in the short term, to create significant numbers of new “green” jobs across the country while also enhancing our long term economic and environmental prosperity. 

  1. Building Retrofits…

  2. Green Infrastructure:

  3. Clean-up of Toxic Sites…

  4. Investments in Clean Energy…

I hope I haven’t confused anybody by quoting from 2009’s Smart Prosperity Institute Report which too was created with the generous support of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. I wanted to communicate that foundations in 2020 know what they’re buying as they’ve long used their funding to sustain their “experts”. 

I have not been impressed by Stewart Elgie. His support for the Ontario’s Green Energy Act, back in 2009 was shallow and unintelligent:

“I am struck by the irony that some short-sighted groups are criticizing the [GEA] for adding new costs in an economic downturn…”

I recently demonstrated the cost of the GEA spending is about $4 billion a year, and will be for 20 years. This year the cost of subsidizing electricity will be over $5 billions a year to the provincial government. Lasting harm is not generally considered a goal of stimulus spending. Steve Paikin noted Elgie’s bona fides as a fundraiser with foundations on The Agenda the day following the announcement of the TFRR: his father was somebody, and so was his grandfather.


J.W. McConnell was a man. 

He was wealthy man

One of his financial interests was Brazilian Tractor, which later became simply Brascan. His foundation was established 83 years ago, in 1937, 26 years before he died over a half-century ago.

Brascan was an early buyer of Ontario hydroelectric generating stations as the province dismantled it’s public “power at cost” utility, Ontario Hydro. If J.W. McConnell’s heirs, or his foundation, retained an interest in Brascan’s successor, Brookfield, they were richly rewarded for their early $725,000 donation to GEA defender Elgie’s SPI. From Brookfield’s 2009 Annual Report:

The most significant milestone during 2009 was the restructuring of our power sales in Ontario with the signing of a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority. We expect that in the first year of this contract, the combination of the contracted energy price and peaking premiums, together with ancillary revenues that we will continue to earn in the market, will provide us with pricing of approximately C$80 per megawatt hour. The contract covers the significant portion of the power generated by us in Ontario, that was previously uncontracted, and contains inflation provisions that will increase the price annually over the contract life. As a result, cash flows from this contract, based on long-term average generation, should be in the range of $180 million in 2010 and grow steadily over time

Since 2009 the average market value has been C$23.5 per megawatt hour: those contracts gifted during the last economic crisis have hugely benefited the owners of existing infrastructure built by public hands. I cannot say if the Foundation, or its board members, directly benefited from the GEA actions blessed by those they fund, but I can say they continue to invest in renewable power with entities including MaRS, Cycle Capital, and BlackRock.


The following is the beginning of a work I’ve been preparing for my main site. As rumours of the federal government proceeding with the externally-developed policy framework I have been researching, and because of the length the work has grown to, I’ve decided to post the work in parts here as sections are completed.

 

2020 is throwing a lot at us. 

The pandemic is the feature event for most, but there’s no shortage of other issues long discussed on my blog re-emerging. I started writing in 2010, not long after the passage of the Green Energy Act (GEA) in my province of Ontario. The GEA was the cornerstone of a “building back better” recovery plan the last large economic downturn, and should therefore be a warning signal this crisis around. And yet… today many of the same people that lobbied for that failed experiment provincially have regrouped to push for a “resilient recovery” policy portfolio at the federal level. These weren’t good policies in 2010, and they haven’t got any better, but this work will be more interested in how bad policy is built, and who is behind its construction.

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has sucked much of the oxygen away from other topics, particularly since March (when I wrote on it and developed a report which continues to update daily). I’ll note that I hope people try the app, wear a mask indoors in public places, get outdoors, wash your hands when possible, use hand sanitizer when not and try to stay fit physically and mentally, – so you can continue to live your life having tried to protect yourself and others while recognizing all life should not be paused. Aside from that, I mention the pandemic as it’s the crisis featured in today’s “Never Let A Good Crisis Go to Waste” machinations.

As Canada comes out of the COVID-19 crisis, governments and the private sector will turn their attention to building a long-term economic recovery. Let’s make that recovery … Task Force for a Resilient Recovery

2020 hasn’t just thrown the pandemic at us. In Canada, bystanders like me are currently enjoying the WE charity[?] scandal. In a summer where Black Lives Matter movement has re-emerged I’ve, coincidentally, half-joked WE could stand for White Entitled. I’ll leave the non-joke half as a sub-text for what follows about the communications campaign, and related politics, powering the “Task Force for a Resilient Recovery” (TFRR) vehicle. It could be seen as part 3 in my ‘Carbon Con” series (parts 1 and 2),  or as a case study in how to develop experts to create the appearance of consensus among apparent experts  for the purpose or exercising power in setting government policy that is likely to work against the broader welfare of the public.


The TFRR was promoted by a news release from the Smart Prosperity Institute on May 19, 2020. From that same day on the National public broadcaster’s website:

Civil society… is not waiting to push the Liberal government to focus any recovery plan on emissions-reducing and sustainable projects — a push that now includes a group of environmental, financial and political figures who are hoping to draft a set of recommendations over the next two months.

Civil society that is – not civil engineering society. There’s no engineering expertise evident in any of the people associated with the TFRR, except in that they engineer opinion to influence policy for the benefit of “civil society.”

Fourteen members with an additional 8 “expert” advisors – with all the ethnic diversity I’ve come to expect of such groups since preparing Green is the Old White years ago. Maybe they meant elite society. From the TFRR backgrounder:

Funding for the initiative is provided by: The Jarislowsky Foundation, Ivey Foundation, The McConnell Foundation, The Schad Foundation, The Echo Foundation.

May’s news release referenced The Resilient Recovery Framework “submitted” to the TFRR at its inception by the Smart Prosperity Institute (SPI – formerly the Sustainable Prosperity Institute), and promised the, “work of the Task Force will conclude in July with the release of a final report.” It has not completed its work yet, at least not publicly, but the panel has released something preliminary, which we’ll review in due course.

SPI’s funders, listed on their website, also include the Jarislowsky, McConnell, and Echo Foundations. It is headed by Stewart Elgie.

From Elgie’s organization’s report towards a “Green Economic Stimulus Package for Canada.”:

we conclude by discussing four types of stimulus measures that stand out as having the potential, in the short term, to create significant numbers of new “green” jobs across the country while also enhancing our long term economic and environmental prosperity. 

  1. Building Retrofits…

  2. Green Infrastructure:

  3. Clean-up of Toxic Sites…

  4. Investments in Clean Energy…

I hope I haven’t confused anybody by quoting from 2009’s Smart Prosperity Institute Report which too was created with the generous support of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. I wanted to communicate that foundations in 2020 know what they’re buying as they’ve long used their funding to sustain their “experts”. 

I have not been impressed by Stewart Elgie. His support for the Ontario’s Green Energy Act, back in 2009 was shallow and unintelligent:

“I am struck by the irony that some short-sighted groups are criticizing the [GEA] for adding new costs in an economic downturn…”

I recently demonstrated the cost of the GEA spending is about $4 billion a year, and will be for 20 years. This year the cost of subsidizing electricity will be over $5 billions a year to the provincial government. Lasting harm is not generally considered a goal of stimulus spending. Steve Paikin noted Elgie’s bona fides as a fundraiser with foundations on The Agenda the day following the announcement of the TFRR: his father was somebody, and so was his grandfather.


J.W. McConnell was a man. 

He was wealthy man

One of his financial interests was Brazilian Tractor, which later became simply Brascan. His foundation was established 83 years ago, in 1937, 26 years before he died over a half-century ago.

Brascan was an early buyer of Ontario hydroelectric generating stations as the province dismantled it’s public “power at cost” utility, Ontario Hydro. If J.W. McConnell’s heirs, or his foundation, retained an interest in Brascan’s successor, Brookfield, they were richly rewarded for their early $725,000 donation to GEA defender Elgie’s SPI. From Brookfield’s 2009 Annual Report:

The most significant milestone during 2009 was the restructuring of our power sales in Ontario with the signing of a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority. We expect that in the first year of this contract, the combination of the contracted energy price and peaking premiums, together with ancillary revenues that we will continue to earn in the market, will provide us with pricing of approximately C$80 per megawatt hour. The contract covers the significant portion of the power generated by us in Ontario, that was previously uncontracted, and contains inflation provisions that will increase the price annually over the contract life. As a result, cash flows from this contract, based on long-term average generation, should be in the range of $180 million in 2010 and grow steadily over time

Since 2009 the average market value has been C$23.5 per megawatt hour: those contracts gifted during the last economic crisis have hugely benefited the owners of existing infrastructure built by public hands. I cannot say if the Foundation, or its board members, directly benefited from the GEA actions blessed by those they fund, but I can say they continue to invest in renewable power with entities including MaRS, Cycle Capital, and BlackRock.


continue to part 2…


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