Gas plant controversy gets reheated in Ontario as new documents surface

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

They have a new premier and a new cabinet, but it doesn't look like the Ontario Liberals are going to escape an old Dalton McGuinty controversy.

On Thursday, energy minister Bob Chiarelli admitted that officials have suddenly discovered 500 pages of additional documents related to the government's decision to scrap two gas power plants prior to the 2011 election.

[Related: Attack ads target Wynne's role in gas plant decision ]

The decision, alleged to have been politically motivated, cost taxpayers upwards of $230 million.

The revelation of the new documents is the latest chapter in a controversy that the Liberals just can't seem to shake.

Last September, the gas plant closures were the subject of a contempt motion in the legislature with the opposition parties alleging that the Liberals were withholding documents and trying to "cover up" the true cost of the plant closures.

It's also believed that the contempt motion was a key factor in Dalton McGuinty's decision to prougue the legislature and step down as premier.

On Wednesday, according to CBC News, the Tories re-introduced the motion at Queens Park.

And then one day later, there's another 500 pages of documents ?

The timing couldn't be worse for the Liberals who need one of the other parties to vote in favour of their budget expected to be tabled next month.

[ Related: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne reaches out to opposition parties in inaugural throne speech ]

PC leader Tim Hudak has already told reporters that his party will vote against it — even though he hasn't seen it yet.

And, while most analysts expect NDP leader Andrea Horwath to prop up the Grits, her strong language on Thursday might have some second guessing themselves.

According to the Toronto Star, Horwath called for a public inquiry into the gas plant cancellations.

“This has been an ongoing process of obfuscation of the facts by this government,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath charged in a comment she was asked to withdraw by Speaker Dave Levac.

Horwath demanded an explanation “how this kind of thing can happen in a democratic society like Ontario.”

She noted that officials had “insisted repeatedly” there were no more documents beyond the 36,000 released Sept. 24 and another 20,000 on Oct. 12.

The new documents are expected to released on Thursday afternoon.

(Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)

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