Canadian Manufacturing

Concealing canceled power plants’ costs put McGuinty in hot water

Ontario taxpayers are on the hook for $190 million for halting construction of the Mississauga, Ont. generating station just days before last fall's election



TORONTO—The fight is escalating about the costs incurred when Ontario’s Liberal government cancelled the construction of two power plants.

The latest developments come as the McGuinty government goes to battle with several public sector unions claiming the need to reduce its budgetary spending.

However, the Liberals have admitted taxpayers are on the hook for $190 million for halting construction of the Mississauga, Ont. generating station just days before last fall’s election, but so far have refused to say what the potential costs could be for canceling another power plant in nearby Oakville, Ont.

Speaker Dave Levac ruled that Energy Minister Chris Bentley violated members’ privileges by refusing to turn over all the documents on the cancelled electricity projects to a legislative committee.

The Speaker gave the three parties until Sept. 24 to work out a way to settle the dispute, but the Progressive Conservatives say there is only one resolution: release all the documents immediately.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said he does not want documents on the projects released until negotiations with the developers are concluded and warned that a premature release could end up costing taxpayers even more money.

He said the government will eventually release all documents on the cancelled gas-fired generating stations in Mississauga and Oakville.

The opposition parties say it’s highly unlikely the house leaders will come up with any kind of compromise on the gas plant documents, especially as they haven’t even been able to agree on re-establishing committees for the current session of the legislature.

If the documents aren’t made public by the end of day Sept. 24, the Tories will table a motion declaring Bentley in contempt of Parliament, which would cancel all other business at the legislature, including question period, until the matter is dealt with.

The Tories and NDP combined have one more vote than the minority Liberal government, which could result in a very rare finding of contempt by the Ontario legislature.

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