Tories move non confidence motion over cancelled gas plants

Premier Kathleen Wynne will testify under oath next week into gas plant justice committee hearings.

April 30, 2013   by The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberals “bought the last election,” the Progressive Conservatives charged Monday as they introduced a non-confidence motion in the minority government over cancelled gas plants, knowing it has little chance of coming to a vote.

It’s clear the Liberals knew they were in trouble before the 2011 election and decided that cancelling planned gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga would help them stay in power, said PC house leader Jim Wilson.

“Since when is spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars to save the Liberal party of Ontario seats not a corrupt measure? Where I come from that’s called buying elections,” said Wilson. “They bought the last election. They knew they were losing by a few seats so they bought a handful of seats. My constituents call that corruption.”

The Tory non-confidence motion was, in part, aimed at embarrassing the New Democrats, who have been equally as critical as the Conservatives of the gas plant cancellations, but until now have voted to support almost all Liberal initiatives.

“The NDP has been very clear that they’re willing to prop up the government, to look the other way if enough spending promises are made in their direction,” said PC Leader Tim Hudak. “The question is: do you believe this scandal goes so far, does it go across the line into corruption, that we should have a vote in the house? Let’s have the vote.”

The New Democrats have maintained the non-confidence motion is just an attempt by the Conservatives to grab headlines because under Ontario rules, the government would have to agree to call it for a vote, and that’s not likely to happen.

“It’s just another kind of political game being played here,” complained NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “It’s all about the ‘gotcha’ between the political parties and it’s not about getting the answers for the people.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne told the Tories to wait for the vote on this week’s budget, which is automatically a confidence issue, rather than push their non-confidence motion on the gas plants.

“There’s a big confidence opportunity with the budget, so I know the opposition parties will have a chance to express their confidence, or not, in the government come the budget,” Wynne told reporters.

However, the Tories feel the gas plants issue is too big not to face a vote in the legislature.

“It’ll give Ontarians a voice through all three parties, including the NDP, a chance to express if people still have confidence in the Liberal government after this fiasco where they put the Liberal party interests ahead of the interests of average families,” said Hudak. “Incompetence is one thing, but a blatant disregard for taxpayers’ money is something else.”

Last week, Liberals on the legislature’s justice committee tried to demand all correspondence between Hudak’s wife, Deb Hutton, and TransCanada Enterprises, developer of the Oakville gas plant.

“I think it was cowardly and a cheap stunt,” said Hudak. “I’d like to think the Liberals did this on their own without the premier’s go ahead, and I’d like to hear from her that she thinks going after spouses goes way across the line.”

Wynne will be called next week to testify under oath at the justice committee hearings into the cancelled gas plants.

The auditor general reported the cost of halting the Mississauga gas plant in mid-construction, just days before the 2011 election, was $275 million – $85 million more than the Liberals had been claiming.

The Liberals say cancelling the Oakville plant cost $40 million, but the auditor’s report into that energy project isn’t due until late summer.

©The Canadian Press

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