Politics
No inquiry into $230M gas plant relocations: Wynne

Incoming Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks with media before her first caucus meeting at Queens Park.

Credits: Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

JONATHAN JENKINS | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO- Spending millions on a public inquiry into the $230-million gas plant relocations isn't something Ontario's premier-designate Kathleen Wynne wants to do, she said Thursday.

"I have said that I really believe that all the information needs to be public and that we need to do everything we can to make that information public," Wynne said, moments after being invited to form a new government by Lt.-Gov. David Onley.

"But to spend millions of dollars on a public inquiry, that's not something that I would like to do."

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath has asked for the public inquiry to sort out details of the relocations, which remain unclear despite the release last year of 56,000 pages of documents.

The decision to kill the two plants - which had been slated to be built in Oakville and Mississauga - will cost taxpayers at least $230 million and is causing the fledgling Wynne government as much pain as it did the previous administration of Dalton McGuinty.

Both plants were fiercely opposed by locals and the two opposition parties. But by relocating the plants out of Liberal-held areas to less sensitive ridings just before the 2011 provincial election, the Liberals left themselves open to charges of saving those seats at public expense.

Wynne said she hopes that by reaching out and meeting with both Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and the NDP's Horwath, the new session starting Feb. 19 will be less confrontational.

But PC MPP Rod Jackson said his party is determined to restart the contempt motions it slapped the government with last year, accusing it of covering up the scandal.

"Contempt is contempt," Jackson said. "We have to clear the deck here and deal with the absolute waste of this government."

The New Democrats, though, say a public inquiry would take the divisive issue out of the legislature and allow MPPs to deal with the pressing economic issues facing the province, including an $11.9-billion deficit.

If Wynne doesn't like the inquiry, she'll have to live with the contempt charges, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns said.

"We've made an offer to the premier-designate, which we think works for the whole legislature," Tabuns said.

"One way or the other, we are going to ask that this matter be considered and witnesses be called and that we get to the bottom of things."

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