Group reminds province ‘we own it’
PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES The We Own It campaign held an information "celebration" at The Brownstone Thursday night in Orillia. Mobilizer Andrea Gordon, left, is seen with Alexandria Taylor, of Washago, who provided the entertainment for the evening.
About 100 people signed their names to a petition demanding the province stop privatizing public properties.
Organizers from the We Own It campaign set up shop Thursday night at The Brownstone in Orillia for an evening of music and information about the dangers of the province selling off its assets, such as Hydro One, or allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol.
Andrea Gordon, one of the 26 mobilizers working full-time on the campaign, called the evening a celebration, but the subject matter was far from joyous.
“It’s a campaign to stop privatization of our public services and to stop the sell-off of our assets in Ontario,” she said.
She pointed to the 407 toll highway as an example, saying the 407, “which could have brought in a lot of revenue for our province, instead is now owned by a company in Spain.”
A similar scenario looks to be occurring with the LCBO, Gordon said, adding allowing beer and wine to be sold in grocery stores may be popular, but it’s only because people don’t understand the ramifications. Instead of having all of the money go back to the government, she said, now private businesses will reap the benefits from thirsty Ontarians.
“When you buy your alcohol at Walmart or the grocery store, the revenue is going to make the corporations rich instead of the revenue going back to the province to pay for public services, such as health care, education (or) infrastructure,” she said.
We Own It originated in the United Kingdom, where a grassroots campaign regarding the privatization of train service grew significantly. It took off as a movement, Gordon said, reaching around the world, from Australia to Ontario, where the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has taken it on.
The initiative has supporters among all political parties, with Gordon pointing to many Liberal supporters against the government’s privatization policies, and Simcoe North MPP and Opposition Leader Patrick Brown officially opposing the sell-off of Hydro One. The group is constantly lobbying politicians, including MPPs and municipal councils, to officially support We Own It.
“Our campaign is geared toward educating the public as to what is going on in the province and stopping the further sell-off of our assets,” Gordon said. “We have a petition with almost 40,000 supporters who have signed onto the campaign, and it’s growing. It’s turning into a movement.”