Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario legislature to ponder financial accountability bill

Ironically, a new watchdog created by this bill wouldn't have been involved in $585-million cancelled gas-plant boondoggle that spawned the bill in the first place



TORONTO—The first bill introduced in the fall session of the Ontario legislature will create a new independent financial watchdog for legislative spending.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa says he will introduce legislation today to create a financial accountability officer, a key demand of the New Democrats in exchange for supporting the minority government’s budget.

Most questions about the new watchdog centred around the Liberals’ decisions to cancel two gas plants at a cost of at least $585 million, but Sousa says the new watchdog wouldn’t have been involved in that situation.

He says the financial accountability officer could review all bills that have a financial impact and outline the consequences before they become law.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wants to work with the opposition parties in the new session, but Progressive Conservative house leader Jim Wilson predicts the Liberals will trigger an election this fall.

Wilson says he expects Wynne will argue she wants to seek her own mandate from voters, and will claim the opposition is delaying the passage of most bills and paralyzing the legislature.

The Tories plan to put forth a second contempt motion today related to the cancelled gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party will make sure the Liberals keep their promises such as cutting auto insurance rates by 15 per cent and banning young people using tanning beds.

There will also be a push to change the rules for the accommodation allowance for members of the legislature who live more than 50 kilometres away from Queen’s Park.

It was revealed last week that Toronto-area Tory Peter Shurman billed the maximum $20,719 last year after moving to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Opposition Leader Tim Hudak issued a statement Sunday saying that he had removed Shurman as the party’s finance critic.

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