Wynne to face first test as premier

The legislature at Queen's Park sits idle after Premier McGuinty suspends the legislature



TORONTO -- Ontario's legislature resumes Tuesday much as it ended -- under a cloud of controversy.

Newly-anointed Premier Kathleen Wynne will have to deal with an opposition keen to pounce on the Liberal government's decision to scrap planned gas plant projects and the Ornge scandal.

They were the same issues which dominated Ontario's political landscape before former premier Dalton McGuinty abruptly announced his resignation and prorogued the legislature last October.

McGuinty was widely criticized for his election-time decision to cancel two controversial gas plants -- one in Oakville, the other in Mississauga -- at a cost of at least $230 million.

Wynne recently said she is willing to speak before a legislative committee on the matter.

"It's important that the information on the relocation of the gas plants be released," read a Feb. 11 statement from the premier's office.

Earlier, she had asked the provincial auditor general to look into the gas plant cancellations.

Tory MPP Frank Klees, meanwhile, demanded last week that Wynne submit to a lie-detector test about the Ornge scandal -- which saw the air ambulance company's executives questioned over finances and an elaborate network of private for-profit outfits.

Wynne declined, adding she will be "at the beck and call" of the committee probing the scandal.

"If the committee wants to call me to come and answer questions I will be doing that," she said. "As I always do, I will tell them exactly what I know and what I don't know."

Wynne also made it clear her premiership will not be about distancing her policies from those of her predecessor.

"My term as premier is not about demonstrating how different I am from (former) premier McGuinty," she said.

Wynne became Ontario's 25th premier after beating Sandra Pupatello and other challengers in last month's Liberal Party leadership convention.

The day Wynne won, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak issued a statement saying he hoped the new premier would take "urgent action on jobs and our economy."

"While I'm hoping for the best, I'm looking for proof that after nearly four months of campaigning for the job, the new premier understands what must be done on jobs and spending and has a clear plan to do it," Hudak said.

A day after Wynne's victory, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she would keep the peace at Queen's Park as long as the premier called for a public inquiry into the gas plants issue.

Wynne has called the idea too expensive. On Feb. 14, she agreed to a committee to review the two gas plants.

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