TORONTO—Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak will testify at public hearings into the Liberal government’s decisions to close gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.
The Tories and NDP believe the government is trying to deflect some of the negative publicity over the $585-million spent to cancel the gas plants by calling Hudak to the testify before a legislative committee.
Hudak says the stink of the gas plants scandal has come a little too close to Premier Kathleen Wynne and former Premier Dalton McGuinty, and he’s worried the Liberals are trying to turn the hearings “into a circus.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she can’t see what light Hudak can shed on the gas plants scandal unless he was a secret adviser to the Liberals in the last election.
The Liberals say Hudak made the same campaign promise as they did to scrap the Mississauga gas plant, so they’ll ask what the Tories thought the cost would be.
McGuinty told the committee earlier this month he had no idea what it would cost when he made the political decisions to cancel the two planned gas plants, but insisted it was the right thing to do in the face of widespread local opposition.
Following his committee appearance, Hudak will hold a news conference to call for a judicial inquiry into the cancelled gas plants, something the New Democrats demanded all along because it would have more powers than a legislative committee.
The Tories also insist they have “proof” the Liberals intentionally tried to hide the cost of their decisions to cancel the gas plants after a freedom of information request for emails from three former McGuinty aides came back with nothing, even though they say rules require the accounts be kept for five years.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner said the email accounts for Chris Morley, McGuinty’s former chief of staff, former principal secretary Jamison Steeve and Sean Mullin, the former deputy director of policy, no longer existed, complained PC energy critic Vic Fedeli.
“These documents were destroyed because they would have references in them to the financial ramifications to the province that they claimed they didn’t know, or they would have to do with the removal of documents,” Fedeli told The Canadian Press.
“There is no other reason in the world to us that these three particular peoples’ files were deleted. There’s a cover up here.”
The committee hearings were originally set up to investigate the Liberals’ initial refusal to release all the documents on the gas plants, leading to a rare contempt of parliament charge and McGuinty’s resignation last fall, but were expanded to also look into the true costs of the cancellations.
The latest estimate is $585-million, more than double the $240-million the Liberals had been claiming.