Posted by: energyblogwalter | March 24, 2009

If I was the Minister of Transportation

Dear Drivers of Ontario,

As your new MTO Minister I would like to take a moment to announce an experiment. In these times with hundreds of thousands of layoffs most noteably in the auto sector, I see an opportunity that I’d like to discuss with you.

It may surprise you, but there is a Canadian car company that makes electric cars. The experiment I propose is to invite this car company, ZENN, to re-open a plant in Oshawa suitable for a limited run of electric car production while using some laid off staff in the area. The objective would be to kick-start a new market of clean transportation in Ontario. At the same time we shall not be outright subsidizing nor bailing out either success or failure in the industry. This is just an experiment, but I believe it will be successful and is worth the risk.

If we can sell successfully an initial small number (TBD) of these vehicles aimed at local distance usage in cities, then this experiment would be a success and no money would have been wasted. If we fail, then we do so trying to succeed by trying new ideas. The advantages are obvious; some local re-creation of jobs, as well as low cost zero-emission vehicles to the public. People can use off-peak hours of electricity to recharge, thus saving a considerable amount of gas and waste in Ontario.

I believe that a limited run of vehicles sets the right tone of limited engagement and not total bailout of the auto sector. We need to allow innovation and support it when we can. But if something is failing we cannot keep paying for it.

Why do this at all if so limited? Once started, and if demand exceeds supply, I believe that the ZENN example will help them, or any other company who wishes to engage in Ontario, start to engage in a fledgling growth market without further subsidy.

Many of you have noted to the previous Minister of the incredible lack of department communication and action on this issue in not allowing electric cars on our roads in Ontario. With a new direction Ontario is ready and open for business for electric cars.

ZENN for example has had its tests and federal safety certificate since November 2007. All it now takes is for the province to agree and Ontarians can drive Canadian made electric cars. I would immediately grant this as ZENN is no threat to anyone on the road.

Granted, the cars currently only go about 40km/h, however on a 50km/h road this is fine enough for the benefit of clean air as well as energy security in case of the return of oil shock prices. In future and with development these cars will only get better.

Now is the time to act. On the horizon it is certainly possible for a return of $150 barrel oil, and while the time is short and our costs low we can retool Ontario now to be less vulnerable to any future energy shocks. If the preparedness principle must hold true in government, acting timely to opportunity will reap the benefits of a clean future.

Thank You
blah blah blah



  1. Rick Mercer Report Nov 2007:

    Please feel free to email your member of provincial parliament here: for an update on electric cars. Let’s see if we can beat the two year anniversary

  2. I couldn’t help but notice the factless gibberish you wrote on The Star website today commending Everbrite industries on their solar plant. You forget to mention that as a result of the Green Act residents of Ontario will be paying much higher prices for electricity as expensive electricity will be subsidized by cheaper electricity. You also neglected to mention that there are existing suppliers of the exact same technology who can supply it at 50% of the cost of what Everbrite will sell it for. Yes it creates 1,200 jobs but at the cost of Free Trade which harms the rest of us.
    You claim to be some type of energy guru but are completely ignorant to the facts….[]

  3. 1) the desire for solar panels made locally is not factless. People actually do want solar panels.

    2) If you’re making electricity at point of use, you do not lose some of it in transmission. This is called Line Loss. Reducing line loss saves money.
    Solar doesn’t create as much debt as other solutions as all costs are upfront.

    3) existing suppliers do not exist in Canada. Germany wooed another Ontario company to open up there, so we’re years behind other countries capabilities. Relying on others is not a future. Having one of Ontario’s top universities and companies working together means that we have a local supply. Trade is fine and competition keeps all players honest. With the decline of the USA it is important to not have foreign players be the limiting factor in our own success.

    4) You do not have to buy them then if you think you’re going to get 50% off somewhere else. An extensive price list is not listed in the article and I don’t believe they would invest $500 million to fail. Check for examples. Also as supply increases costs decrease. Thus my advocating more plants would reduce prices. Who is now being factless?

    5) I’m sorry that you feel that way. I also feel sorry that you will miss every single energy opportunity that this technology represents.

    6) Unfortunately no one else is talking about energy issues with any sense of consideration. In this case jobs are being created, not lost, in the midst of widespread layoffs. Also those jobs are technical and not day-labour based. I think you’d agree that’s a good thing?

    7) My interests and education are noted on this site. I am technically trained but not in energy. For that my blog is a tool to help me learn about energy. Since I actually READ things I am going to be more aware of what’s going on out there. I like to share opportunities because it’s a positive thing to do.

    8 ) My comment has had more agreement than disagreement and is quite tame fact wise. We could do a lot more. I’ve updated the blog to include my Star post as a seperate entry here:

    9) If you’re not already aware, Kingston is also developing Wolfe Island for offshore wind generation. ( With local university and college support plus large business investments in Solar and Wind, Kingston is looking like the place to be right now for further green investment. Most definitely jobs with a future.

    I am eager to learn and improve my understanding, but I don’t have any as a result of your comment.

    Take Care

  4. I put my reaction from The Star in another post here :

    which is based on The Star article here:

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