Ontario Tories vow to scrap Samsung deal

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is promising to scrap two major components of the Liberal government's plan for green energy if he's elected next fall.
Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak says he'll cancel a green energy deal with Samsung if he's elected premier. Mike Crawley reports. 2:29

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is promising to scrap two major components of the Liberal government's plan for green energy if he's elected next fall.

He says a Tory government would kill Ontario's "odious" $7-billion deal with Samsung to manufacture components for green energy projects and end the province's feed-in tariff program.

The agreement, first announced more than a year ago, would pay Samsung a premium to generate electricity with wind and solar projects. But all the provisions regarding payments and premiums for Samsung were deleted before its release.

Speaking on Tuesday in question period at Queen's Park, Hudak attacked the agreement with Samsung as a secretive "sweetheart deal."

"Any kid who runs a lemonade stand knows you can’t pay 80 cents for the lemons and try to sell lemonade for a nickel," said Hudak. "But that’s exactly what you’re doing with your feed-in tariff program."

Hudak said a PC government would opt for a more open approach to ensure taxpayers get the best price "and pass on the savings to Ontario families who can’t afford your skyrocketing hydro bills."

The opposition parties have been fuming over the Samsung deal, saying the details have been kept secret from taxpayers who will end up footing the bill.

But the government said most of the details have been made public, except for "commercially sensitive" sections that will be released after Samsung builds new plants in Ontario.

Some details were made public in January by the New Democrats, who obtained a copy through an access-to-information request.

The deal calls on Samsung to build four new manufacturing plants in Ontario for solar and wind farms as well as green energy projects, with specific targets of 400 megawatts of new wind power and 100 new megawatts of solar power for each of the five phases of the deal.

Samsung is expected to create about 16,000 new jobs in Ontario and help the province create a hub of green energy companies and expertise that can export its products around the world.

In return, Ontario guarantees the Korean company space on the province's limited transmission grid, plus premium rates for the electricity it generates.

Deal will bring needed jobs: McGuinty

On Tuesday in question period, Premier Dalton McGuinty said axing the deal will cost thousands of jobs.

"Samsung is opening up three manufacturing plants with 700 jobs in Windsor, 900 jobs in Tillsonburg, 200 jobs in Don Mills and one more manufacturing plant to come," McGuinty said during question period. 

"I would have thought it would have given my colleague some pause before eliminating all those jobs that are so important to those communities."

Reporters pressed Energy Minister Brad Duguid for details about how much it would cost the province to exit the Samsung deal, but he had few specifics. "It's wrong to walk away from the creation of thousands of clean-energy jobs."

"We've never contemplated scrapping the deal," said Duguid.

Windsor mayor nonplussed

Windsor, Ont., Mayor Eddie Francis knows what's at stake in the Samsung deal.  There was a great amount of fanfare in Canada's auto capital when Samsung and the province announced 700 jobs would be coming to town.

Windsor has been struggling with some of the highest unemployment in the country since the recession.

"It's hard to believe that anybody would come forward and suggest that they're going to take a step backwards as it relates to jobs and the economy," said Francis.

"The municipal, provincial, and federal elections have something in common, and that is that people want us to deliver jobs and people want us to diversify this economy, so this is one of those projects that does that."

Francis didn't appear overly concerned that the deal would be canned. In Windsor, the Samsung factory is under construction people have already been hired, he said. 

"At the end of the day I presume that there's a contract in place. That contract is a contract that is relied on by many parties," Francis said.

With files from Canadian Press