Opinion Column

Furey

The Kathy Katula story is just the start

By Anthony Furey, Postmedia Network

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs an emotional Kathy Katula, from Buckhorn at a packed banquet hall at the Evinrude Centre in Peterborough, Ont., on Friday Jan. 13, 2017. (Clifford Skarstedt/Postmedia Network)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs an emotional Kathy Katula, from Buckhorn at a packed banquet hall at the Evinrude Centre in Peterborough, Ont., on Friday Jan. 13, 2017. (Clifford Skarstedt/Postmedia Network)

The emotional story of Kathy Katula’s appeal to Justin Trudeau is just the beginning of regular Canadians speaking out. Expect more to come, as the real harm of carbon prices hits people where it hurts.

On Friday, Katula attended the prime minister’s Peterborough, Ont., listening tour stop. Observers were concerned the tour would be little more than a Liberal pep rally. Katula proved everyone wrong.

"How do you justify to a mother of four children, three grandchildren, physical disabilities and working up to 15 hours a day; how is it justified for you to ask me to pay a carbon tax when I only have a $65 left of my paycheque every two weeks to feed my family?" the personal supporter worker asked Trudeau.

She’s upset that her hydro bills now total higher than her mortgage payment. She can hardly make ends meet.

Sadly, Katula is now facing online threats. Hundreds of them. People are calling her a liar, she told the Sun. They’re threatening to show up at her house to look at her meter. They think she’s not telling the truth about her bills.

I haven’t looked at Katula’s documents so can’t vouch for them. But I have seen hundreds of sky-high bills readers across the province have sent in and can tell you they’re unbelievable. And all real.

A key point to understanding how some of these bills can be so bad is that it’s different based on whether you’re in rural or urban areas and whether you’re on electric heating or natural gas. Katula is likely in the worst case situation, through no fault of her own.

The Ontario Liberals have horribly bungled the energy file. Part of this is due to high-priced green energy contracts they signed over the years. A year ago, the provincial auditor general released a scathing report, revealing that between 2006 and 2014 ratepayers were dinged $37 billion more than they needed to thanks to government decisions. They’ll spend an added $133 billion by 2032 for the same reasons.

Government mismanagement is directly responsible for Katula’s hardships. Political choices in Ontario have made people worse off. It’s a scandal. People are living like its Soviet times.

In one family, the children wear snowsuits indoors in the winter because of outrageous heating costs. Other low income people who couldn’t afford A/C spent the hottest days idly sitting around malls. I heard about a cancer patient on dialysis who put up a tarp to box in a small part of her house immediately near the heater, which was where she spent all of her time. Another woman called me tearfully admitting she was dumpster diving because she’d cut back on groceries.

And this is just one aspect of how the green agenda is taking money out of regular people’s pockets. Now everyone in Alberta and Ontario is feeling the hurt. Gas is going up. Consumer products will increase. Just wait until Trudeau proceeds with making sure every province puts a price on carbon.

The politicians need to realize this isn’t a scandal they can turn the page on. People in Ontario were once reminded of it every time they opened their monthly bills. Now they and Albertans are reminded of it almost daily – every time they fill up at the pumps. Rates are set to go up in the future too.

They also need to get it through their heads that this is a non-partisan subject. When I wrote those Ontario stories, I heard from everyone ranging from the politically apathetic to a senior Liberal strategist who was angry at her own party.

Trudeau’s listening tour is a start. But it won’t be enough. Soon he’s going to have to act.