U.S. Chamber of Commerce expresses ‘strong concern’ over The Beer Store contract cancellation

Image result for doug ford the beer storePremier Doug Ford is taking steps to scrap a contract with The Beer Store, so that all Ontario grocery stores and convenience stores would be permitted to sell beer. (Turget Yeter/CBC)

Watch the video:PC government announces plans to terminate agreement with the Beer Store

 (May 27) The Ford government plans to terminate an agreement with The Beer Store that would see sale of beer and wine in corner stores. As Erica Vella reports, the move could cause a legal challenge and significant financial penalties.

The United States Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on the cancellation of the Ontario government’s contract with The Beer Store.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Premier Doug Ford, Neil Herrington, the chamber of commerce’s senior vice-president for the Americas, wrote: “Our strong concern is that terminating an existing contract, and doing so without compensation — something we understand is proposed in the case of the ‘Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act’ — risks sending a negative signal to U.S. and other international investors about the business and investment climate in Ontario.”

READ MORE: Ford government to terminate contract with The Beer Store; pave way for corner store sales

The letter comes just days after the Ontario Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Finance Minister Vic Fedeli expressing similar concerns. Fedeli has repeatedly referred to The Beer Store contact as a “sweetheart deal” and a monopoly that does not benefit consumers.

As a legal battle between the owners of The Beer Store — Molson, Labatt and Sleeman — brews, it remains unclear what the price could be to Ontario taxpayers.

Scrapping the 10-year contract could result in serious financial penalties, however when he has been questioned about those penalties, Fedeli has said legislation to cancel the deal will nullify any such costs.

In his letter, Herrington also wrote: “This, in turn, could undermine the constructive work you and your government have done and the case the Ford government has made that the province is open for business.”

READ MORE: Reality check — Will Doug Ford’s beer plan result in lower prices for Ontario consumers?

“We thus strongly urge your government to work with all corporate stakeholders in the ‘Bringing Choice and Fairness to the People Act’ process to ensure that a resolution amenable to all parties is achieved in a manner that upholds your government’s heretofore strong commitment to making the private sector an engine of the province’s growth.” MORE

Finance minister won’t say how much it could cost taxpayers to end Beer Store contract

Doug Ford brushes off Dean French questions, says reporters want to ‘get into the weeds’

Premier took questions Monday about the appointments controversy for the first time since it began

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, sits alongside his chief of staff Dean French at the Ontario PC convention in Toronto on Nov. 17, 2018. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Premier Doug Ford brushed off questions Monday about a controversy around government appointees with personal ties to his former chief of staff, suggesting the public doesn’t care about it.

Dean French abruptly left his job as Ford’s top adviser more than two weeks ago when it first emerged that people given lucrative foreign postings were connected to him.

Ford revoked those appointments, but as news of other government appointments having connections to French continued to emerge, the premier was silent on the issue.

His first comments came Monday during a joint news conference with other premiers in Calgary, but he quickly pivoted to other topics.

‘We’re not here to talk about Dean French’

“I know the media, you want to get into the weeds,” he said. “Do you really think when I walk down the street in Alberta, people worry about Dean French? … You know what they worry about? They worry about a job.”

Ford said he had already addressed the issue.

“[As a] matter of fact, I addressed that immediately when we were in Toronto,” he said. “But my friends, we’re not here to talk about Dean French … We’re here to talk about internal trade.”

Ford revoked the agents-general appointments in London and New York City of Taylor Shields and Tyler Albrecht shortly after Shields was reported to be related to French and it emerged that Albrecht played lacrosse with French’s son.

Four days later, Katherine Pal resigned from the Public Accountants Council after the NDP noted that she is a niece of French’s wife.

At that point, Ford’s staff say he ordered a review of pending appointments, though they won’t say who is conducting the review, how many appointments are pending, what criteria is being used, and if any revoked appointments will be announced.

‘A lack of respect’

The opposition parties want such a review to be conducted externally, and not by the same office that originally signed off on the appointments in question.

New Democrat Taras Natyshak said Ford has been hiding instead of taking responsibility for a patronage scandal.

“Today he finally popped his head up only to pass the buck in Cowtown,” Natyshak said in a statement.  MORE

EXCLUSIVE: Doug Ford didn’t tell you Ontario cancelled 227 clean energy projects

Doug Ford greets people outside Queen’s Park in Toronto on June 29, 2018, following his swearing in ceremony. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Bills insulating Ford government from lawsuits show it’s ‘closed for business,’ experts charge

Immunity clauses undermine ‘our reputation for a predictable, safe business environment,’ expert says

Doug Ford told supporters on the night of his election win that Ontario is now ‘open for business,’ but some experts say recent moves by his government show the opposite. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

It’s not every day that the first two bills a government introduces have clauses that protect it from being sued, but in the past two weeks of the summer session at Queen’s Park, the Progressive Conservative government has done just that.

Bill 2, the Urgent Priorities Act, enacted back to work legislation for striking York University workers, introduced more transparency for compensation of Hydro One executives and the CEO, and cancelled the controversial White Pines wind turbine project in Prince Edward County. The bill passed on Wednesday it contained a clause that protects the government from civil liability.

Similarly, Bill 4 — tabled on Wednesday — cancelled cap and trade in Ontario and included a clause that says the government can’t be sued.

Despite Doug Ford’s election night pledge that Ontario is now open for business, some experts say the government’s move to protect itself from civil lawsuits by outside companies is a sign of exactly the opposite.

Open or closed?

“It’s unusual,” Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, said of the use of the immunity clause.

University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman says two pieces of legislation meant to immunize the government from civil lawsuits send a message to companies that the province is closed for business.(Facebook) “It happens, but it’s not something that you want you want to do, certainly regularly. You’d only want to do it in extraordinary circumstance.

Wiseman said inserting an immunity clause into two major bills casts doubt on Ford’s assertion that the province is now putting out the welcome mat.

“It’s actually saying quite the opposite: Ontario is closed for business. If we don’t like your business we’ll do whatever we want to it and immunize ourselves from legal recourse by yourself.”

The White Pines wind turbine project — that was killed under Bill 2 — had been under development for nearly a decade.

Earlier this month, the president of WPD Canada, a subsidiary of the German company behind the project, said cancelling the project could cost more than $100 million. The compensation to the company will be limited to the direct cost it has incurred to this point. And the new bill prevents the company from suing.

“Spending 10 years and  $100 million to build this wind farm, only to have an election take place, a new government come in and be told they have to dismantle the project and leave the country: that sends a bad message” said Ross Laver, the senior vice president of policy and communications with the Business Council of Canada.

Cancelling the controversial White Pines Wind Project was one of Doug Ford’s key campaign promises. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

….”New governments are completely free to determine their own course. But this kind of sudden change in direction as a result of an election does have an unfortunate by-product,” said Ross.

“It undermines our reputation for a predictable, safe business environment.”

Whether the immunity clauses stand up in court, especially if they’re tested by international companies, remains to be seen. MORE

Wind project cancellation deals a blow to Ontario’s business reputation


The White Pines Wind Project in Prince Edward County was scheduled to go into operation this fall.White Pines wind turbines, Prince Edward County. Photo: The Star

The mixed bag that is Bill 2, currently making its way through the legislature, aims to make Hydro One accountable (again), get York University students back to school (again) and drive a stake through the White Pines Wind Project in Prince Edward County.

It is the latter schedule, the White Pines Wind Project Termination Act, that drew Germany’s ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser, into media interviews Monday, offering a big picture take on the implications of the project’s cancellation.

“I’ve been involved in numerous activities where we say, ‘Come to Canada, this is a very good place to do business,’” Sparwasser said in an interview with the Star.

You know where this is going. That sentence is like one of those narrative cliffhangers where the action pivots and you anticipate that, bam, events are not going to unfold as originally predicted.

“We’re trying to enhance direct investment, and in that context it is not good news if you have a case where a project by a German company that has been here for the last 10 years and a project that’s close to completion and that has respected all the regulation and has produced all the licences required, is suddenly or is in the process of being suddenly unilaterally cancelled and basically dismantled.”

The ordered demise of White Pines is an obvious win for the legion of protesters who have spent years fighting the down-scaled project — the original plan was for 27 turbines — which was scheduled to go into operation this fall. Prince Edward County keeps the company of close to 100 municipalities and counties that declared themselves unwilling hosts for industrial turbines, a reminder of the deeply unpopular rural stance to the pro-wind power initiatives of the deceased Liberal government. Anti-turbine forces are jubilant, or would be were it not for the ongoing construction of the project, pending passage of the legislation. Four of the turbines are up. The supporting infrastructure is largely in place. Construction continues.

…So it has fallen to Ambassador Sparwasser to advance the broader trade argument. “We’re living in a very uncertain world in terms of world trade policy,” she says. “Germany and Canada and the EU and Canada are very like-minded partners. We have concluded the most progressive, comprehensive economic and trade agreement. We do want to do more business. We do want to do more in trade co-operation.”

And direct investment? “We’re all trying to enhance the good relationship and more co-operation and more direct investment, and in that context a story where investors actually who have invested in good faith and have fulfilled all the obligations but find themselves in a really, really difficult position and their project is basically cancelled on the spot.

“That,” Sparwasser concludes, “is not a good story to tell.”

 Eight years ago, White Pines obtained a FIT (feed-in tariff) contract, the program that was supposed to position Ontario as a North American leader in clean energy. The company now estimates its potential loss as something in the area of $100 million.
Bay of Quinte MPP and Government House Leader Todd Smith, who promised during the provincial election to see the project through to cancellation, offered White Pines this tip in the Picton Gazette last week: “The best advice for the company is to honour the will of the government standing up for the will of the people.”
Go quietly, in other words. White Pines has chosen a different path, highlighting how poorly this reflects upon Ontario’s open-for-business mantra. In this the company is right.  SOURCE