'Financially stupid' to sell Crown assets, says OPSEU | National Union of Public and General Employees

'Financially stupid' to sell Crown assets, says OPSEU

OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says Liberal government is seeking advice from an American firm with a vested interest in recommending privatization.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE)Toronto (18 March 2010) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) says it would be "financially stupid" for the province to sell off Crown corporations such as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG), Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation.

"Together, these four companies bring in $4.3 billion in profits, all of which go straight into provincial coffers," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU president. "In the long term, selling even a fraction of these jewels will cost us hundreds of millions a year – forever."

Thomas says the only "smart" thing about such a sale would be the self-serving political interest of Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty in acquiring an injection of cash just in time for the 2011 Ontario election.

"Late last year, McGuinty hired CIBC World Markets and Goldman Sachs, a New York investment bank, to 'review' Ontario’s assets and make recommendations about how to squeeze more money out of them," Thomas notes.

"Ontarians need to know more about Goldman Sachs," he says, adding that Goldman Sachs was described this way by a journalist last year:

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

Goldman Sachs is staffed by clever people, Thomas says.

"Governments hire them to give advice on clever ways to privatize. Then, when the privatization happens, Goldman Sachs buys a piece of the action. They make money on their advice and on their investment," he says.

"Normally we would call this a conflict of interest. There is zero chance that Goldman Sachs will not tell the premier to privatize our Crown jewels. They will come up with a scheme that is very clever."

Thomas says the scheme will appeal to people who want "a piece of the action" and to those who think the sky is falling because Ontario has a projected $24.7 billion deficit.

 "Whatever the scheme, it will still be bad for Ontario," Thomas adds. "It’s the premier’s job to look after the interests of the province, not just his own party. But if he won’t do it, citizens will have to. In the months ahead, we’ll have a fight on our hands. Let’s start by prying the vampire squid off our face."

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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