The Ontario government is considering selling off some of its most lucrative Crown corporations in a bid to reduce its yawning $24.7 billion budget deficit. Provincial officials have admitted liquor stores, casinos and the electricity system could be wholly or partly privatized once the two investment banks hired by the government to evaluate the returns they could generate complete their assessments. “We’ve got a responsibility to look at all our assets to make sure we’re getting the best bang for the buck,” said Premier Dalton McGuinty, “and especially now in the context of a global recession and a significant deficit.” Like his sudden support for a harmonized sales tax, a move towards the privatization of public assets would mark a significant departure from past positions for McGuinty. In 2003, the Liberal leader criticized the then-Conservative government for selling Highway 407 and pledged not to privatize Hydro One when the Conservatives considered doing as much in 2002. McGuinty has defended his latest potential change of heart as the “right thing to do.”
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