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Sep 14, 2016

Ontario Liberals sued by CUPE in attempt to block sale of more Hydro One shares

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TORONTO - The Canadian Union of Public Employees is suing the Ontario government over the sale of Hydro One, the province's electricity transmission monopoly.

CUPE president Fred Hahn says the union's lawyers served the Ministry of the Attorney General on Tuesday with notice of intent to sue, but the government said today it still was "not aware of any action from CUPE."

CUPE claims the Liberals inappropriately mixed government and party business by holding fundraisers with cabinet ministers for up $10,000 a plate, including one attended by bankers who profited from the sale of Hydro One shares.

The Liberals plan to sell up to 60 per cent of the huge utility, which also serves as a local electricity distribution company for 1.3 million homes, mainly in remote and rural parts of Ontario.

The sale of additional Hydro One shares "means the majority of shares will be held by folks other than the public today," Hahn said in an interview with BNN. "You and I, our friends and neighbours, own 70 per cent of our hydro system and our goal is to stop them there and make sure we have clear, majority control."

The province raised $3.2 billion from selling 30 per cent of Hydro One so far, but CUPE hopes its lawsuit will stop the sale of any more shares.

The Liberals say the money raised from the privatization of Hydro One is needed to fund public transit and infrastructure projects and to pay down debt.

However, Hahn said the sale of Hydro One shares has not been in the interest of Ontarians. 

"When the financial accountability officer of the legislature says it’s a bad idea; when you get all kinds of expert advice saying it’s a bad idea; when there’s clear public opinion it’s a bad idea, and there are small businesses saying it’s a bad idea -- aand you still proceed, it kind of makes us wonder: Why, why would you do that?" Hahn said. 

With files from BNN