Tories vow to call judicial inquiry
TORONTO—The Progressive Conservatives would call a judicial inquiry into the cancellation of two gas plants if they form the next government, a senior PC campaign source said yesterday.
A judge or panel of judges is needed to get to the bottom of the gas plants fiasco and find out whether there was any criminal wrongdoing, the source told The Canadian Press.
It also would ensure parameters are set up so that no government can use political pressure to do it again.
“And if there’s criminal wrongdoing, we’ll be prosecuting it to the fullest extent of the law,” the source vowed.
But the NDP said accountability can’t wait until after the next election.
“We’ve been clear for some time that the public who paid for this decision deserves all of the details,” said NDP House leader Gilles Bisson.
“A public inquiry, now, not possibly after the next election, is the best way to do this,” he argued.
The Liberals admitted last week that they found a third batch of documents on the gas plants, after insisting all the relevant data was made public months ago.
It set off another wave of outrage among the opposition parties, who have been hammering the government for months over the cancelled plants.
They’ve accused the Liberals of relocating the Oakville gas plant in 2010 and the Mississauga plant in the dying days of the 2011 election campaign to save Liberal seats in the face of local opposition to the projects.
Something like the Gomery inquiry into the federal Liberal sponsorship scandal would be appropriate, the PC source said.
Premier Kathleen Wynne won’t strike a legislative committee devoted solely to examining the gas plant cancellations as promised and has released yet another batch of documents, the source said.
The Ontario Power Authority has taken the blame for the botched searches for the files. It said it “messed up some search terms” and 600 new pages were overlooked in the first two searches.
But the OPA also said it told the Ministry of Energy last November that it was conducting a third search and there “likely” would be more documents.
Yet the Liberals insisted as recently as last week that all the files already had been released.
The opposition claim the third batch of documents is proof of an “immense amount of political interference” by the Liberals and there are more documents to be found, since there are still no files from the premier’s office or the minister of energy.
They also believe the cancellation of the gas plants cost taxpayers a lot more than the $230 million the Liberals claim.
Ontario’s auditor general is investigating the costs.