Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Credits: MICHAEL PEAKE/TORONTO SUN/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO — A gas plant that was never built is threatening to blow a hole in Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government.
Talks between the three house leaders broke down on Friday when the opposition refused to accept any further government delay in releasing documents related to the cancelled Oakville electricity plant that was scrapped in October 2010.
That leaves the government facing the Speaker's 6 p.m. Monday deadline for production of the papers.
"We've been saying for two years to make those public," NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson said. "Make them public."
But John Milloy, the government's house leader, said he was disappointed the opposition parties wouldn't compromise, saying putting the papers out before a settlement is reached with TransCanada, the company that won a contract to build the Oakville plant, could drive the cost up.
"We obviously hope they don't, but we believe there is a potential there, so the opposition will have to be accountable for that," Milloy said, adding all the documents would be out before the deadline.
Taxpayers have already shelled out $190 million after the government decided to relocate another unpopular gas plant in Mississauga, just days before the 2011 general election.
That Monday deadline will be hanging over the Liberals as their party gathers in Ottawa this weekend for its annual general meeting.
The Grits will be trying to put some glide back in their stride after a bumpy fall in the legislature, which besides the gas plant controversy, included the ongoing economic malaise and a nasty split with public sector workers over legislation forcing wage restraint on them.
"The party, the caucus, the premier -- we are all fired up," Yasir Naqvi, party president and MPP for Ottawa Centre, said, adding he expects McGuinty to easily survive an automatic leadership review.
"He is very engaged in the challenges the province is facing and I cannot think of any better leader."
One Liberal insider dismissed any suggestion McGuinty, with three consecutive election victories behind him, may be considering pulling the plug on his career.
"I see every sign of him, to be honest, to be at the top of his game right now," the Liberal said, adding the premier will likely start contrasting his plan more clearly with the oppositions'.
"In that dynamic, when there is actually a choice, there's still an environment where Dalton and the Liberal Party can make a strong pitch for being the sensible, steady hand."