‘Project Vapour’ codename for cancelled Ontario power plants might also refer to the Liberals’ chances at re-election

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

There's some irony with the internal code name that the Ontario Liberals used for the cancellation of a multi-billion dollar power plant.

They called it "Project Vapour" and ironically it might just vapourize their government.

The Ontario PCs say that they've uncovered internal emails, amid 20,000 documents released last Friday, that show that premier Dalton McGuinty's key advisers used that code name as a means to hide the true cost of nixing plans to build a generating station in Oakville.

According to the Toronto Star, there was even one email from the Ministry of Energy asking government officials to stop emailing about the Mississauga plant closure last Fall.

"There is to be no email traffic on this issue," said the email.

"This is a campaign announcement not a government announcement."

The cancellation of the two plants is expected to cost taxpayers upwards of $230 million and has been the subject of a contempt motion in the legislature with the opposition parties contending that the closures were politically motivated.

[ Related: Cabinet ministers call government's own decision to close Oakville power plant 'shameful' ]

According to the Canadian Press, PC energy critic Vic Fedeli says the emails prove that the Liberals misled the legislature and withheld documents. Fedeli also thinks that's why McGuinty resigned and prorogued the legislature on Monday.

"With code names and curiously missing emails, this package of documents makes clear that Dalton McGuinty and his government are still not complying with an order of the House [to release all documents with regards to the plant closures]," Fedeli said.

"With Project Vapour coming to light, no wonder Dalton McGuinty resigned."

At this point, it's hard to argue with Fedeli's assessment.

The Globe and Mail notes that McGuinty phoned five of his "closest advisers" on Saturday to inform them that he had decided to resign — just one day after the most recent batch of documents were released.

Did McGuinty resign and progue the legislature because of the power plant scandal?

[ Related: Where is the prorogation outcry? ]

It certainly looks as if that was a key factor.

Despite Dalton McGuinty's resignation and even with the prorogation of the legislature, the Liberals' power plant scandal isn't going away any time soon.

And, quite frankly, that's a good thing.

The controversy, however, might mean the party will have to look outside caucus for leadership candidates not associated with this and other "Liberal-bads."

The Toronto Star's Bob Hepburn suggests that they should take a serious look at former provincial cabinet minister and former federal MP Gerard Kennedy:

"Kennedy...would be a serious contender for McGuinty's job.

He's scandal-free, having been away from Queen's Park since 2006. He's charismatic, earned a good reputation as McGuinty's first education minister, is identified as being on the progressive wing of the party, speaks French, is media savvy and has experience on Parliament Hill as an MP.

Within hours of McGuinty announcing his resignation, Kennedy loyalists were working the phones, testing the support for their man.

In coming days, Kennedy will decide if he's finished with elected politics or whether to make a last grab for party leadership."

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