Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Electric Cars and Other Green Tech - Government of Ontario, Canada Sees the Light

Apparently, a public talking-to by Al Gore, plus an impending election, have sharpened the mind of Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. He is now promising to lift the ridiculous ban on Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) such as the ones being made by Ontario-based ZENN Motor Co. McGuinty also promises big money to attract electric car manufacturers and other green technology makers to Ontario, Canada, starting with ZENN (now being assembled in Quebec), and on to GM's proposed Chevy Volt (currently rumoured to go to GM's Cobalt assembly plant in Ohio, USA).

The carrot, according to the Toronto Star:
"Grants from the five-year, $650 million fund will be available to both carmakers and other types of manufacturers, sources say.
"These include generators of clean energy, such as solar and wind power, and makers of cleaner fuels, among other products.
"The fund is a cornerstone of McGuinty's platform for the Oct. 10 provincial election.
"'I'll be saying to Detroit and I'll be saying to Japan ... let's partner and let's make them cleaner than they've ever been made before,' McGuinty said yesterday at a meeting of the Toronto Star editorial board. 'We know there are global markets to be exploited here.'"
Better late than never, I suppose. In
McGuinty's case, though, "late" has had a tendency to turn to "later and later". The delays in his promised closing of Ontario's coal power plants, from 2007 to 2009 and then 2014, are notorious by now (see "The Trouble with Coal" sidebar story in the Toronto Star -- scroll down on the right side of this page).

Even this late in the game, though, McGuinty could have chosen to run on a better record instead of on promises. The quote from the NDP at the end of this article suggests that McGuinty may have been able to pass many of his "green" measures -- had he chosen to send them to the Legislature instead of to the Press:

"New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) said McGuinty's plan is electioneering that 'falls short on credibility' because it's based on his twice-broken promise to close coal plants.

"'There's an election coming. I think that's why you're seeing it today. If he's serious, if this is just not an election promise, recall the Legislature, put the measures before the Legislature and let's vote on them,' said Tabuns" [emphasis added].

Realistically, what happens after the election is what will count. Perhaps one day we would actually catch up to the innovative spirit in places like Ontario, California.

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