The Liberals have heard a lot from voters in Scarborough-Rouge River – as the long-term Grit fiefdom fell to the Tories in a by-election earlier this month. In a riding that is largely populated with Chinese demographic, nothing hits hard to voters unless it hits their pocketbook.
While the election was held at a time when residents faced skyward hydro bills during a sticky hot summer that needed non-stop air conditioning, consumers’ hydro costs have increased above the level of inflation for years.
“Hydro costs have become such a big part of my family expenses, to the point that we have to set the air conditioner to a higher number or even turn it off altogether during some hottest summer days,” says Ms. Liu, a Chinese Canadian from Scarborough said.
In fact, Liu was just one of the many Chinese Canadians who want to make conservation efforts to save skyrocketing energy costs. But these efforts are unlikely to be effective, as reduced electricity demand would cause the hydro rate to increase. Under the current hydro system, consumers do not only have to dig deep into the pockets when they consume more electricity, but also when overall demand drops and the rate increases.
The PC winning the by-election may represent Chinese communities’ growing dissatisfaction with Liberals’ position on bottom line issues. As the editor of this paper, I express the community’s dissatisfaction over Liberia’s political agenda in an interview with CBC. “The winning represents the community’s discontent with many issues, particularly the Liberals’ ‘mismanagement of taxpayers’ money and overspending’”, I was quoted as saying.
Earlier this month, Kevin O’Leary, a prominent entrepreneur wrote an open letter to Kathleen Wynne, using hard data to reveal the government overspends taxpayers’ money – including the significant job loss in Ontario and the government’s spending of $8 million on marketing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) -- even though it has never existed. The translated version of the letter by this paper has sparked strong reactions from the Chinese community readers.
“The Liberals’ approve rating continues to drop, especially in Western Ontario… I wonder why these scandals – from gas plant and eHealth never cost the Liberals in the election and why they could always get away with the scandals?” one post on Rollia.Net asked.
“Ontarians believe that only the Liberals can better manage the economy, which seems to be a misconception,” another one answered.
The by-election results and the flagging poll numbers have sounded alarm bell for Wynne’s government, which scrambles for solutions to cool voter anger and to reverse their flagging poll numbers. Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that it will take the 8-per-cent provincial portion of the HST off electricity bills for homes and small businesses starting Jan. 17, as she begins planning a long arc toward her re-election campaign in 20 month’s time.
But without structural change in the electricity system, this Band-Aid solution is unlikely to stop the rate from climbing. The hydro tax break may come in just too little too late to win back voters that the Liberals have lost touch with for years.
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