The Ontario government under Kathleen Wynne suddenly cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of programs meant to fight climate change on Tuesday, without anybody apparently being responsible for it.
Rebate programs for home energy-efficiency improvements such as new windows, smart thermostats and better insulation were the red flag, as the clearinghouse website for them was taken down and replaced by a notice saying they were closed. A subsidy program for new solar panels won’t launch. A $300-million fund for business-led experiments in reducing energy use went splat.
The abruptness of the cancellation is sending renovations higgledy-piggledy. The window-replacement rebate, worth as much as $5,000 if you’re doing a major upgrade, has been particularly popular. Since many windows are custom-made and take a lot of lead time to plan, manufacture and install, some property owners who’ve already started projects will very likely miss the new end-of-summer deadline for getting their final paperwork submitted.
A minister would ordinarily have to answer for the consequences of this decision because a minister would ordinarily have to order such a change.
Ontario doesn’t have a minister with the authority to do something like this just now. Given all of Wednesday, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change couldn’t say on whose authority the decision was made
Ford isn’t the premier yet. Until next week, in fact, Kathleen Wynne is still premier and her ministers are still Ontario’s executive authorities. They’re not really supposed to do anything but sign paperwork and respond to flat-out emergencies, but they’re the holders of ministerial authority, not Ford and cabinet ministers he hasn’t even named.