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Coalition ramps up pressure with new ads, thousands of petitions to keep Toronto Hydro public

The Our Hydro coalition, of which The Society is a member, issued the following media release on November 22, 2016:

TORONTO – The Our Hydro Coalition brought proof of public outcry over the potential back room deal to privatize Toronto Hydro to City Hall, and promised to ramp up pressure on City Councillors just days before a report on the issue is due to be released.

“There is mounting evidence of a backroom scheme to sell some or all of Toronto Hydro, and it’s happening before City Council has an opportunity to review and decide on the best course for the utility” said Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “We are here to show them the public wants Toronto Hydro to remain in public hands.”

Despite rumors of a deal being in the works for months, this Thursday will mark the release of the first public report on the issue, a consultant’s review of how Toronto Hydro and other City ‘assets’ might be sold.

“If Council is deciding the future of our public utility, Toronto residents have a right to expect a clear and transparent process, not some deal being cooked up in secret,” said Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, Chair of East York ACORN. “We have been talking to Toronto residents across the City, focusing on wards of executive committee members, and it is clear they want the utility they depend upon for electricity remain in public control.”

The coalition is encouraging residents to contact their City Councillors, and urge them to vote against any privatization scheme. To date, more than 2500 petitions and letters to Councillors have been have been collected from constituents, and more than 500 constituents have called their Councillors directly, urging them to keep Toronto Hydro public.

Past research shows more than 70 percent of Toronto residents want their utility to remain in public hands – they believe privatization will lead to increased costs, lower reliability, and in the long term will worsen the City’s fiscal situation.

The Society of United Professionals, the union representing engineers at the utility and a member of the coalition, also released a series of billboard and online ads, highlighted by a new video which uses the popular show Stranger Things as the theme for its message.

“We are gravely concerned as it looks like Toronto Hydro has been working on a back room privatization scheme using some of the mayor’s closest political advisors,” said Society President Scott Travers. “The ads focus on the coming vote, and urge Toronto residents to let their elected representatives know they are opposed to losing public control of their utility, and remind us all privatization is the monster in the closet here.”