Those dissatisfied with the privatisation of Hydro One expressed their opinion directly to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Sault MPP David Orazietti on Monday.
Wynne and Orazietti held a barbecue and community meet and greet at Bellevue Park Monday evening.
It was the last event in the Sault Ste. Marie portion of their week-long Northern Ontario tour.
Although all exchanges seemed amiable, representatives of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union held a large banner that read ‘We Own it! Don’t privatize what belongs to us all’ and a number of private individuals held stickers that read ‘Hydro belongs to all of us. Don’t sell out.’
Wynne announced last year the government's plan to privatise Hydro One.
The stickers were passed out by Colleen Ewing and her boyfriend Ted Hallin-Williamson.
The couple said they repurposed roughly 15-year-old stickers that they had saved from when former Premier Mike Harris was considering making similar changes to Ontario Hydro services.
They just cut off the part at the end that said ‘Mike!’
The pair said they handed out around 40 of them to the coming and going crowd of perhaps 100 or more people.
Even Wynne took one and posed for a photo, though without any noticeable enthusiasm.
Though the two could not come to agreement, Hallin-Williamson described his meeting with Wynne as “friendly”.
Some people arrived at least an hour early to express their dissatisfaction with the premier.
“She’s selling off the power grid that our parents and grandparents paid for. When your power bill is more than your mortgage there’s something wrong,” said Dave Hart, who described himself as a concerned private individual.
Tara Maszczakiewics, President of OPSEU Local 684, and Margaret Rafter, union steward for OPSEU Local 620, said their presence was to raise public awareness about the privatization of public services including Hydro One, healthcare, and Public-Private Partnerships.
Not everyone was there to protest or disagree, people wanted face time with the Orazietti and Wynne for all sorts of reasons.
Around 10 representatives of Essar Steel Global from the UK, New York, and India attended the event including Ruia family member Rewant Ruia.
Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters’ Association President Marty Kenopic showed up with about six other Local 259 supporters.
Kenopic said his group wanted to make sure Wynne and Orazietti were aware of their concerns about recent and possible future cutbacks to local firefighter services.
“It was a good quick chat. Premier Wynne was interested in what we had to say and we’re setting up a meeting with Orazietti,” said Kenopic afterwards.
People also came with personal issues.
Melinda Sullivan was able to meet with Orazietti and Wynne to discuss her struggle battling aggressive Fibromatosis, a cancer-like disease she has already lost her left leg to.
Sullivan desperately pleaded to Orazietti and Wynne for help in getting access to a personal physician and with her personal issues surrounding access to medicine.
She said the pair were very receptive and she was told to reach out to Orazietti’s office in the coming days for more help.
Besides the many people who wanted to meet the Premier and MPP, some just wanted to sit back and enjoy free food, and for many the occasion was simply a nice summer day in Bellevue Park eating free sausages, hamburgers, and hot dogs from Pino’s Get Fresh.