What’s the real, nonpartisan story about the supposed $1.1 billion gas plant relocations? The first thing you have to consider is the fact that over $400 million of the “waste” has been calculated from the cost that will have to be reimbursed to the builders in the future because the plants were relocated farther away from their market. This will require building additional power transmission wires and will need longer pipelines in order to transport the fuel, natural gas, to the plant. I’m not sure it is reasonable to include these costs in the “waste”.
That $400 million was one of the principal reasons for the decision which located the plants in their original spots (-or at least I presume it was, as I haven’t been able to find mention of this-). Shaving that additional cost off the price of servicing the plants was a fiscally prudent move. However, it was an unpopular location because of its proximity to urban areas. Perhaps that was the first real mistake here, -that it was located in a place that was financially efficient but that ultimately would be unacceptable to the NIMBY crowd. But the important thing to consider here is that, had the plants originally been placed in the more distant location, the $400+ million would have simply been bundled into the plant costs and would have been regarded as “the cost of doing business”.
However, the plants became unpopular for what may very well have been somewhat valid reasons (at least from the point of view of its future neighbours) and there was pressure on the government to move the plants, supported by all three parties. At the time, there was very little discussion by any party about the fiscal consequences of making that move, totally aside from the wasteful costs of closing a construction site. Nobody wanted to acknowledge the fact this was NIMBY was trumping economic efficiency, whether justly or unjustly. These costs should, therefore, not be regarded as “waste”.
There is the totally valid matter of the other $500+ million and many questions surrounding some of the decisions. It is clear that the timing of the decision was for political gain, hoping to tip two swing seats. It seems that such timing resulted in unnecessary penalty costs which could have been avoided. Make no mistake, that is totally wrong and just plain incompetent. (I’m not sure if stupidity qualifies as corruption, though.) Also if e-mails were illegally deleted in order to facilitate a cover-up, then those responsible should be held fully accountable, even it reaches to higher ranking government officials (or past officials).
Even so, the exaggeration of the $1.1 billion and the lack of proper analysis of this situation are unbecoming of both the media and the campaigns. It was a similar situation with the recent MaRS scandal, which definitely had mistakes attached to it, but nothing like what the opposition parties were dancing around about. Proper analysis of that situation would show that the mistake was a much smaller one than was being suggested, and was likely both unavoidable and in the end fiscally expedient. Notice that there hasn’t been much more information about it beyond the original cry of “foul!” I find it interesting to note that the term “fact checking” has become popular in the media. It speaks to the fact that lying or distortion of the truth (which is essentially the same thing) has become so commonplace in political rhetoric that it is necessary to “fact check” routinely.
It is interesting that I’m not totally confident that I have my story correct with what I’ve written above. Oh, I’ve researched it and done my best analysis to try to be objective. (Certainly, if any part of my analysis or information is mistaken, I’d love to hear about it. That’s one of the reasons that I post here; I hope to stimulate some kind of debate.) However, in doing that research, I’ve noticed that there is a notable lack of information and analysis by the media. When I can look into an important matter and still have some significant, unanswered questions afterwards, it is a poor reflection of our media’s ability to do investigative journalism.