Ontario PCs promise gas plant inquiry

Kathleen Wynne is congratulated by outgoing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (R) after winning the leadership bid to become the new Premier of Ontario

Credits: REUTERS


TORONTO -- Ontario Tories are promising a judicial inquiry to peel Project Banana.

PC MPP Vic Fedeli said his party, if elected to govern, will establish an independent judicial inquiry that delves into the Ontario Liberals' decision to stop two natural gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

The controversy took a new twist last week when the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) released 600 new pages of records months after the government had assured opposition parties they had provided them with all documents relevant to the cancellations.

OPA said it undertook a new search using "government code words," such as Project Banana.

"On Thursday we received our third document dump since the Speaker ordered the release of all gas plant-related documents almost half a year ago," Fedeli told Premier Kathleen Wynne Monday in the Ontario legislature. "We learned some of your other secret code words to go along with the ominous sounding Project Vapour; we found the secret Project Apple, Project Banana and Project Fruit Salad files.

"They sound healthy until you realize they cost the taxpayer $1.3 billion for not one megawatt of power."

Currently, a government standing committee has been charged with determining if the government and its agencies ran afoul of an order to produce documents.

Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter is preparing to release his report into the cost of cancelling the Mississauga gas plant -- a decision made mid-campaign during the last provincial election.

Wynne has asked McCarter to also look at the cost of the Oakville plant cancellation.

The Ontario government has stated that the price tag for relocating both plants is $230 million, but opposition MPPs believe that the real figure is much higher.

Ontario New Democrats have called for a public inquiry into the issue.

Now the Tories want a judicial inquiry that they argue would be even more independent of government.

Both the NDP and Tories still want a separate select committee to look into the gas plants, which they say was promised by Wynne.

Wynne said the opposition parties are clearly having trouble figuring out what they want.

"There are a lot of processes that have been asked for," the premier said Monday. "I've been very clear, I want to get all the information out. I want the information to be available to the committee. I want the information to be available to the public and to the opposition.

"Every day there seems to be a different request."

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