Canadian Manufacturing

Dalton McGuinty testifies cancelling gas plants was his decision

The Progressive Conservatives want McGuinty to shed light on why the Liberals wasted taxpayers' money in such a manner, and why they covered up the costs.

TORONTO—Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty says it was his decision to close gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, which he said were too close to schools and homes.

Testifying under oath at the legislature’s justice committee, McGuinty said the people in the two communities were right to oppose the gas plants and that the Liberal government was wrong.

He said the Liberals had introduced legislation to require industrial wind turbines be located at least 550 metres from homes, but had no such rules governing gas plants.

McGuinty admitted the $585-million cost of cancelling the two projects was more than anyone had expected.

Progressive Conservative energy critic Vic Fedeli opened the questioning by accusing McGuinty of planning a crime, but said the former premier’s henchmen committed the deeds and drove the getaway car.

McGuinty had blamed the heated debate over the gas plant cancellations last fall when he suddenly prorogued legislature and announced his resignation as premier.

Since then, the auditor general reported the cost of cancelling the Mississauga gas plant during the 2011 election campaign was at least $275 million, $85 million more than McGuinty or the Liberals were admitting.

The justice committee also heard that the cost of cancelling the Oakville gas plant in 2010 was at least $310 million, not the $40 million the Liberals were claiming.

The Progressive Conservatives want McGuinty to shed light on why the Liberals used taxpayers’ money to save Liberal seats, and why they chose to cover up the costs.

The New Democrats say they want McGuinty to be open about when the Liberals knew their estimated costs for scrapping the energy projects were out of whack, and why they kept that secret.

Both opposition parties say Premier Kathleen Wynne wasn’t as forthcoming as she could have been when she testified about the gas plants last week.

The Conservatives moved a non-confidence motion in the minority Liberal government over the gas plants scandal, but it is unlikely to ever be called for a vote in the legislature.

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