Thursday, December 20, 2012

Feds to carry Ontario appeal to WTO

The federal government has agreed to an Ontario request to pursue an appeal of the World Trade Organization ruling that Ontario’s green-energy program breaks Canada’s commitment to abide by world trade rules.

The issue is an Ontario requirement that any green-energy project that involves contracting electricity sales to the province needs to be built from components with at least 25 per cent made-in-Ontario content.

Japan and the European Union filed the appeal and the WTO released its 160-page decision this week, but announced earlier that the Ontario program has been deemed illegal.

Ontario officials won on one point: the WTO ruled that the Ontario program is not a subsidy to domestic manufacturers.

When the Canadian government files an appeal, it’s possible that Japan and the European Union will also file an appeal insisting that the Ontario program does indeed amount to a subsidy.

This is the first time the federal government has faced an adverse WTO ruling that is entirely a provincial matter.

I say the Liberal Party of Ontario ought to be billed for the legal and consulting bills involved in this appeal. Premier Dalton McGuinty was warned repeatedly that his policy would lead to WTO appeals that he would lose, but he refused to listen.