Onwards, Ecofiscal Commissions! A fragmented look at the Hydro One Board of Directors

Pan-American Lunar Landing, (more accurately, “A Trip to the Moon” by Georges Méliès, 1902).

A republication of To Justify Land #4, originally published with Berfrois, now with some editing by the Media Co-op. The text was originally written a couple years ago, and underwent numerous evolutions to take its present form. Tracklist for this text includes such bangers as: “Of Pensions and Genocide”, “Reasons”, “There Isn’t Much We Can’t Do”, “Happiness Isn’t Measured In Square Feet”, “Might As Well Be Selling Groceries”, “Fiat Is A Terrorist Organization”, and “The Shit Cartel”.

Read the full article here: http://mediacoop.ca/story/justify-land-onwards-ecofiscal-commissions/36742

And the excerpted introduction here:


To Justify Land /4: Onwards, Ecofiscal Commissions! is a project of assemblage and republication without altering the splinters of original text, creating an emergent narrative. The act of re-composing information, or found text, changes the legible context and the experience of reading, assimilating and forgetting information. Journalistic materials and press releases are interpreted outside of their chronological documentation or perceived span of relevance – when the spectacle is discarded and forgotten, and becomes history. This mimics both the parasitic character of most mainstream news sources, as well as spam sites that copy and re-post excerpts or articles in their entirety elsewhere (a venture through the looking glass).

By collaging the found fragments, the project also reflects the prominence of particular sources which are most accessible (or simply reflect certain algorithmic affinities and the speed of their discovery), or which reflect the sources that hold the most interest in reporting these events (and thus tend to influence public perception and policy, or limit the public awareness of corporate developments). As with the earlier, related project A Draft for Asinabka, this section of To Justify Land looks at the rhetoric that is used to represent to the public the interests of multinational corporate ‘entities’, the competency of corporate leadership, and the rhizomatic accumulation that leads towards prosperity.


The framework for this project is the Hydro One Board of Directors, which was announced in 2015 in the same moment as the Zibi development was finally receiving local media traction in the Ottawa-Gatineau region for its purchase of land from Domtar Corporation for condominium development, and the simultaneous launch of Hydro Ottawa-Hydro-Quebec’s $150 million dam upgrade. The articles and news releases clipped in this text mostly reflect 2016 and 2017, at which time this text was written. In the republication of this work, this text has not been updated with headlines from 2018, and does not intend to be a complete, chronological document.

The incestuous entanglements of the Ontario Hydro One Board of Directors reflects the absurdity of the corporatized regime under which the earth continues to be exploited under the motivations of ‘economic prosperity’. The interconnections demonstrate how seemingly disparate crises – such as the privatization of water in Delhi, mining in Brazil, Saudi Arabian ‘special economic zones’, the mergers and contracts of seemingly ‘apolitical’ construction companies, and the construction of a condominium development in Ottawa – are closely related, but often neglected in the context of the innocuous entries and exits of the figureheads who determine these maneuvers.

The absurdity of the relationships (which sometimes appear disconnected or irrelevant) is contextualised with recent news, excerpts, or tangentially relevant bits of trivia that inform their actions. Formally, it’s an experiment with the usefulness of the footnote / annotation as an irritant where footnotes concentrate on ‘derivative facts’, and with the hyperlink for mapping nets of influence. These ‘nets’ are intended to reflect the connections  between the protagonists behind the governance, auditing & oversight, and policy influence of the corporate acquisitions of ‘public assets’. These connections are available to the public – however, due to their displacement and the limited means of their discussion and representation, they remain ‘hidden in plain sight’. In the complex and non-linear operations of an economic climate that is created through collaborative business and relationship building, the relevance is found in repetition. Readers are encouraged to jump between sections to discover for themselves, as if by accident, the many repeating names throughout, or forgo the text entirely and refer to the index included at the end. Here, information leads to more information!

As stated in earlier  ‘To Justify Land’ posts, Ontario’s Hydro One has sold 60% of shares to private investment (though it sees provincial majority as a single shareholder as a redeeming quality). Hydro Ottawa, meanwhile, is seeing through an expansion project on the dam that crosses the Ottawa River, which is part of a condominium development site on Asinabka – a sacred site for Algonquin people. In August 2016, Ontario Hydro acquired a regional power distributor, Orillia Hydro, and Great Lakes Power Electricity Transmission Business from Brookfield Infrastructure. The Natural Capitalist condo developers Windmill and their real estate partners Dream Unlimited are striking a construction deal with a single Algonquin-owned company which remains at odds with the Algonquin contestation against the construction of the condominiums, and damming of the Kichissippi (otherwise known as the Ottawa River).


So it is that the envelope of compromise continues to be pushed to lunatic margins. How far indeed things have gone where we can’t keep track of who owns whom, and who is doing what with whose money! This is the price of our ‘liquidities’, the briberies extended to the poorest people by war-mongers and corporatists, and the perversion of sustainability and environmentalism by capitalist infrastructures – where agendas of exploitation are ‘justified’ through charitable donations, or superficial appearances of concern with ecological sustainability or sourcing renewable energy. The problem returns to the tenets of “Natural Capitalism”, to the very logic that underlies these systems, which fuels private acquisitions and interests – where ‘prosperity’ is seen through an inextricable mesh of corporate mergers and acquisitions, banks, real estate development, and investment in military industries. Where there are donations, there is never the question of rejecting them – where there is financial profit, there is no question about the meaning of ‘progress’. Where an oil company, or a hydro-electric company, can invest some dollars in the right conservation society, or loudly offer construction contracts to Indigenous communities without recourse for the exploitative nature of the very work they do in the first place and how they arrived at their money. Where progress is measured by participation in this system – that reconciliation with people means bankrolling their participation in capitalist infrastructures, and reconciliation with the planet means the most economically viable form of expansion, passed by approval of corporate-sponsored advisory boards. Where exploitation – by donations, by extraction, by economic blackmail – is to always take, and never to leave alone, never to reject the next profitable opportunity. Where bigger is always better, and progress means collaborating at any cost, with anyone, because economic failure is more unbearable than moral bankruptcy.


Capitalism is constructed on a language of nouns – objects, materialities, people and names. Written in 1940, Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’ story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius imagines a language that is constructed entirely out of verbs. Such a language dematerializes reality – or, perhaps more accurately, interprets a reality that is based on experience, not on ‘object-hood’. Language in Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is nounless, transient.

“To the inhabitants of Tlön, the world is not an assemblage of objects in space but a diverse series of separate acts. The world is sequential, rooted in time rather than space. In Tlön’s putative Ursprache, from which its ‘modern’ languages and dialects stem, there are no nouns but only impersonal verbs, modified by monosyllabic suffixes or prefixes that function as adverbs. For example, there is nothing equivalent to our word ‘moon’, but there is a verb that for us would be ‘to moonrise’ or ‘to moon’. ‘The moon rose over the river’ would be ‘Hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö’ or, literally, ‘Upward behind the lasting-flow it moonrose’. (Xul Solar translates this more succinctly as ‘Upward, behind the onstreaming, it mooned.’)”

Where Tlön’s moon is “mooning”, the river everywhere is “rivering” – existing as such as an ever-becoming entity that is its entanglements, and is irreducible. The uncertainty of this entity means that it cannot ever be fully condensed into a solid state that is quantifiable and derives value. The “mooning” and “rivering” are not just oppositional to capitalism – they totally do not permit the very idea of it, because there is no concrete “moon” to speak of, and it is not possible for there to be “a river” in the sense of a commodity-object.

The text that follows, with its numerous names of people, corporations and figures, is in total opposition to such a concept that considers material reality as ‘relational’ – an uncertain and fluctuating reality that is interpreted from actions and behaviours, and is never static. The text shows instead a sliver of the material-based reality that determines the logics of capitalism. It is an experiment in the anesthetized reflection of journalistic remnants, maybe even humorous reading of journalistic artefacts that have been temporally displaced. This small project within a project is a sort of ‘media archaeology’, a ‘digital forensics’ – simply a reconfiguration or collage of that-which-is-already-there. It is by facing again (and again and again) the materiality of this network – the people and corporations, their ‘products’, acquisitions and values (or, nouns) – towards the doing, the occurrence, the Borgesian verbing of the reality, in which we are offered a new reading of our dim reality, perhaps even something of an incantation, a litany in the form of Network-Oriented Ontology (NOO)! Forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe”, “project”, “expect”, “will likely result”, “strategy”, “plan”, “may”, “should”, “will”, “would”, “will be”, “will continue”, “will likely result” and similar expressions, and the negatives thereof. Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions, are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, the outcomes of which cannot be predicted.

“There will be no greening of the economy, no redistribution of wealth, no enforcement or extension of rights without human dispositions, moods, and cultural ensembles hospitable to these effects.”

-Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter.