Vic Fedeli, Nipissing MPP and Progressive Conservative energy critic.
Credits: TREVOR TERFLOTH/SUN MEDIA
TORONTO — The provincial Tories have a case of the vapours over what they say are more missing documents on the deal to relocate the Oakville, Ont., gas plant.
"This is damning," Progressive Conservative energy critic Vic Fedeli said, after taking reporters through a sheaf of government e-mails concerning 'Project Vapour' -- the name the government gave to the talks with TransCanada Corporation on relocating the company's planned but scrapped plant, ongoing through 2011.
Fedeli and his caucus colleague Rob Leone said the code name Vapour was used to hide details of the negotiations -- and their ultimate cost -- from prying eyes. E-mails referring to Vapour were not part of the initial document release on the gas plant relocation, but were part of the belated, second set of papers the government released last Friday.
Ultimately, the government and TransCanada agreed to relocate the plant to the Bath area, at a cost the government said was $40 million.
Fedeli said he believes the existence of Vapour shows the government was trying to hide the evidence of the deal and may well be withholding more documents on the cost, which the Tories say is far more likely to be closer to $700 million.
"With code names and curiously missing e-mails, this package of documents makes clear that (Premier) Dalton McGuinty and his government are still not complying with an order of the house, and are still not telling Ontarians the truth," Fedeli said.
"With 'Project Vapour' coming to light, no wonder Dalton McGuinty resigned."
It's also the reason behind proroguing the legislature -- where Energy Minister Chris Bentley faced two contempt motions over the botched document release, Fedeli said.
The government said there's nothing underhanded in the 'Project Vapour' name.
"It's routine practice that commercial negotiations, particularly those with publicly-traded companies, are assigned project names that are used by both officials and political staff," energy ministry spokesman Jennifer Kett said in an e-mail.
"After two thorough searches, 55,000 responsive documents have been released, including those with reference to 'Project Vapour.' It's worth noting that all of these documents are subject to FOI (Freedom of Information Act) regardless of what project name is assigned."