PLANT

Former Ontario finance minister says public has lost interest in gas plant hearings

Dwight Duncan defends the Liberals' decisions to cancel the plants, which could cost taxpayers $1.1 billion.


TORONTO — Former Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan says a legislative committee is simply going over old ground in its probe of the cost of killing two gas plants, estimated as high as $1.1 billion.

A very feisty Duncan clashed almost non-stop with NDP and Progressive Conservative members of the justice committee, defending the Liberals’ decisions to cancel the gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

Duncan complains the committee hearings that have been going on since February aren’t finding anything new, and says the public has lost interest.

He told the committee it’s not even on television anymore, having been bumped from the main meeting room at the Ontario legislature where proceedings are broadcast live.

Duncan says the opposition is “mischaracterizing” Premier Kathleen Wynne’s role in the gas plant cancellations, and says the Liberals didn’t mislead anyone with lowball cost figures because they truly didn’t know the price of their decisions.

The former finance minister says the government turned to private developers for the gas plants because of a history of bad management at government-owned Ontario Power Generation.

The opposition parties say the Liberals cancelled the gas plants to save seats in the 2011 election, but the government says it made a mistake trying to build the energy projects too close to homes and schools.

The auditor general released a report earlier this month saying the cost of cancelling the gas plants is between $950 million and $1.1 billion.

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© 2013 The Canadian Press