Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER/QMI AGENCY
"We've built 17 gas plants. Two of them we did not get right. There are costs associated with their relocations. We take responsibility for that," McGuinty said. "We think it's right for us to listen to communities when they express their concerns."
Exactly how much the two blunders cost taxpayers is still up for debate in the Ontario legislature, where the opposition Tories and NDP have been arguing a contempt motion which accuses Energy Minister Chris Bentley of failing to fully disclose all documents related to the plant cancellations.
The McGuinty government says the decision to relocate a planned 900-megawatt gas plant in Oakville to the Napanee area, in the eastern part of the province, will cost taxpayers $40 million they wouldn't otherwise have spent on the project.
The mid-campaign cancellation of the Mississauga gas plant - which was under construction but will now be relocated to Sarnia - came with moving costs of $190 million, the government says.
"I think it is a lot of money," McGuinty said. "And we will learn from this experience and we will continue to do everything we can to reach out to communities and listen to them and understand their concerns at an earlier point in time, especially when it comes to locating gas plants."
Documents released by the government related the to the gas plant decisions show bureaucrats scrambling to figure out the best way to carry out their orders while fearing lawsuits upwards of $1 billion.
Opposition MPPs say hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant documents have not been turned over - material which they believe would expose the Liberals' intent to save seats in Mississauga and Oakville and the real cost of that political opportunism.
"We want to uncover the truth - that's our goal, that's our mission," Tory MPP Rob Leone said Tuesday, noting there has been nothing like this contempt debate in 104 years of the legislature. "We are in the midst of making history."
NDP MPP Peter Tabuns said it's not clear from the released documents how ministers even communicated with each other.
"We can't do our job and the public cannot do its job if documents are obscured and withheld," Tabuns said.
Liberal House Leader John Milloy accused the opposition of attacking Bentley with no proof that documents are missing.
"It's nothing short of disgusting," Milloy said, calling the opposition tactics a "kangaroo court," before withdrawing the comment.