TORONTO—A formal apology from Premier Kathleen Wynne for the $585-million spent to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga was called “too little, too late” by Ontario’s opposition parties.
After repeatedly rebuffing calls for an apology for the Liberals’ decisions to cancel the gas plants to save seats in the 2011 election, Wynne finally went further than saying she regrets the government didn’t pick the right spots for the energy projects.
“I’m sorry about the decisions that were made,” Wynne told reporters at Queen’s Park.
“I’m sorry about the mistakes that the government made in locating the gas plants in the places that we did in the first place, and I’m sorry that it cost so much money, so many public dollars, to relocate them.”
However, the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats were not impressed with Wynne’s mea culpa, which they said should have come much sooner.
“You’re sorry you got caught,” PC energy critic Vic Fedeli said to Wynne in the legislature.
“Premier, Ontarians want more than a hollow apology. They want a refund. Will you order the Liberal party to pay the money back?”
NDP leader Andrea Horwath was also critical of the premier’s apology.
“It is a day late and a buck short,” Horwath told Wynne.
“The money has already been wasted and the scandal has already happened, and now we need to make sure that it never happens again.”
It’s surprising that Wynne didn’t offer the apology in the legislature, added Horwath.
“I think it would have gone a lot further had she actually done that here in the chamber with the MPPs, (apologized) to the people of Ontario in their house,” she said.
Wynne couldn’t say what finally triggered her decision to apologize, but said she realized people wanted to hear her take responsibility for the gas plant decisions.
“I was hearing that there still needed to be my voice taking that extra piece of responsibility to apologize for the mistakes that we made, because we had said that there were mistakes that had been made,” she said.
“I was hearing that call for an apology.”
The opposition parties accuse the Liberals of intentionally misleading the public about the true cost of cancelling the gas plants.
Unlike most jurisdictions, the government can block opposition non-confidence motions in Ontario, so the Tories moved another motion asking the legislature to call their “want of confidence” motion for a debate.
The NDP have been just as critical of the Liberals for cancelling the gas plants, and should support the Tory motion, said PC house leader Jim Wilson.
“I hope that the NDP will vote in favour of our motion to schedule a vote of confidence in the Ontario legislature,” said Wilson.
“(The) vote will signal whether the NDP intends to prop up this scandal-ridden government once again.”
Wynne told the legislature the upcoming vote on the budget will be the best opportunity to express confidence, or a lack of it, in her government.
“Clearly the members opposite want to have the opportunity to vote on a confidence motion,” she said.
“The budget is the confidence motion that I believe is extremely relevant to the lives of people in Ontario.”