Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Argues Hydro One Suit Is Political Complaint Dressed Up as a Legal One

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Argues Hydro One Suit Is Political Complaint Dressed Up as a Legal One

Article excerpt

Ontario tries to get Hydro One lawsuit tossed

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TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government argues a lawsuit over the controversial partial sale of Hydro One is a political complaint "dressed up" as a legal one.

Lawyers for the government recently filed a motion to try to get a lawsuit from the Canadian Union of Public Employees thrown out.

The union lawsuit -- filed last December -- was aimed at stopping the sale of any more shares in Hydro One, but the government announced the sale of the final tranche Monday, which will leave the province owning less than half of the giant electricity transmission utility.

CUPE's lawsuit alleges the Liberals inappropriately mixed government and party business by holding fundraisers with cabinet ministers, including one $7,500-a-ticket event that was attended by bankers who profited from the privatization of Hydro One.

"Premier (Kathleen) Wynne has made it clear she will not listen to the experts who warn that the sale is bad for the province, or listen to the people of Ontario who have been unequivocal in their rejection of the plan," CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn said in a statement.

"Now she seems determined to push ahead with the sell-off so that she won't have to listen to the court either. It's disgraceful and we will continue to try and stop her."

The government argues in its motion to strike the lawsuit that there is no basis for challenging government policy and no conduct was unlawful.

"This claim appears to be a political complaint dressed up as a legal claim," the government writes.

"The plaintiffs' claim is an attack on legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and in turn a core policy decision made by cabinet to broaden the ownership of Hydro One. These decisions are not reviewable by the court."

More than a year before the Liberal government announced in 2015 that it would partially privatize Hydro One, polling showed strong opposition to the idea.

Polling firm Pollara conducted research at the government's behest in January and February of 2014 asking people for their thoughts on selling Hydro One, and just 25 per cent of respondents supported the idea.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said Tuesday he understands some of the opposition. …

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