Gas plant scandal back in play as Ontario election issue with new court order

Dalton McGuinty congratulates Kathleen Wynne on Jan. 26, 2013 (Canadian Press)

On Tuesday night, at the beginning of the Ontario leaders' debate, Kathleen Wynne emphatically apologized for the gas plant scandal.

Then she apologized again. And again and again.

If she was hoping that would be the end of it, she was sorely mistaken.

[ Related: Ontario PCs, NDP buy newspaper covers claiming a win in leaders’ debate ]

Late Thursday, the Ottawa Citizen reported that OPP detectives served a court order at Queen's Park asking staff to hand over key records regarding the alleged cover-up of the Liberal government's $1.1 billion decision to cancel the construction of two power plants during the 2011 election campaign.

"The judge-issued order requires staff to hand over various records, including visitor logs for the times police believe an off-the-books computer tech accessed hard drives in the premier’s office, four days before Kathleen Wynne was sworn in.

"Detectives are trying to see who, if anyone, ordered the destruction of emails in an alleged coverup to hide the true costs of cancelling gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga."

The police also indicated that, as part of their due dilligence to obtain the court order, they had interviewed former premier Dalton McGuinty, in April.

Now it's important to note that the police reiterated that McGuinty is not under investigation, nor are Wynne or any other MPPS.

But this story does put the gas plant scandal back on the front pages of the newspapers, on top of people's minds and on the radar for the PC and NDP campaign 'war rooms.'

Both the opposition Tim Hudak Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath NDP have started petitions asking the Liberals to release all gas plant documents prior to election day.

"The Liberal's billion dollar gas plant investigation is intensifying," notes the PC petition.

"The police want specific documents as part of their investigation of the scandal. Sign your name below to demand that Kathleen Wynne release those documents to the public before election day. Voters have the right to know."

From Tim Hudak's Facebook Page

The NDP sent out this email blast to supporters:

"On Thursday we learned that the Liberals were served with a court order to hand over evidence related to a criminal investigation that could lead to arrests in the gas plant scandal.

"They have 10 days – just 10 short days – to produce the evidence.

"That means they can withhold the evidence until 3 days after the election – evidence that could be used to get arrest warrants for senior Liberal leadership.

"Kathleen Wynne must release these documents before voters make their choice on June 12."

[ Related: Did you miss the debate? Here are all the key video highlights ]

With just one week before the election, the court order couldn't have come at a worse time for the Liberals.

Since the debate, the polls — which had been all over the place — seem to converging with the single message that the PCs have the momentum.

Ekos Research's latest poll calls it a "dramatic shift."

"This very significant surge in support for Tim Hudak’s PC party disrupts what had been a very stable pattern of a modest but significant lead for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal Party," notes their report released on Friday.

"While she still has a slight lead with likely voters, she must be very concerned about such an abrupt shift at this late stage of the campaign."

Headlines of court orders with regard to an alleged gas plant scandal cover-up isn't going to help stop the Tim Hudak-momentum.

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