Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2012
McGuinty Government refuses to release cost of cancelled
Oakville power plant
(Queen’s Park) – The cancellation of the Oakville and Mississauga gas-fired power plants remains an issue of
intense debate at Queen’s Park, as opposition parties continue to press the Government to make the true
cost of the cancellations public.
On May 16, the Standing Committee on Estimates passed a motion asking the Minister of Energy to turn over
all correspondence relating to the 2010 and the 2011 decisions to cancel the Oakville and Mississauga power
While the Energy Minister Chris Bentley revealed in July that it would cost Ontario taxpayers $190 million to
cancel the Mississauga power plant, he has steadfastly refused to turn over documents relating to the
Oakville power plant, which was cancelled in the fall of 2010.
As a result, last week Dave Levac, the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, ruled that a prima facie breach of
Parliamentary Privilege had occurred.
“The Standing Committee on Estimates was unquestionably entitled to request the documents sought from
the Minister of Energy, and in the end the Minister had an obligation to comply with the committee’s call for
those documents,” Mr. Levac told the Legislature.
He gave the House Leaders until September 24 to negotiate a satisfactory solution, but if the Government
fails to comply, an extraordinary Parliamentary debate could ensue relating to the breach of privilege.
In July, Mr. Bentley admitted that decision to cancel the Mississauga power plant was made just days before
last fall’s election by the Liberal campaign team in order to save Liberal seats.
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott rose in Question Period on September 19 to ask Premier Dalton
McGuinty to come clean with the cost of cancelling the power plants.
“In cancelling the two power plants, the Liberal government put its own selfish political interests ahead of
Ontarians. It is now proceeding to obstruct the work of this House to hide the true cost of its actions,” Mr.
Arnott told the Legislature. “I ask the Premier, when can we expect him to accept responsibility to this House
and own up to the full cost of the Liberal seat-saver program?”
Mr. Arnott argues that turning over the documents is a public necessity.
“Ontario taxpayers have a right to know how much this is going to cost them,” Mr. Arnott said afterwards.
“They cancelled the Oakville power plant almost 2 years ago. Surely, Ontarians have a right to this
information within a reasonable timeframe. Further delays are completely unacceptable.”
(Attached: Text of Mr. Arnott’s questions to the Premier in the Ontario Legislature, September 19,
– 30 –
Ontario Hansard – 19-September 2012
Mr. Ted Arnott: My question is for the Premier, and I respectfully request that he answer it. The
Minister of Energy has been found in breach of the rights and privileges bestowed upon all of us as
members of this Legislature. This is made worse by the government’s refusal to accept responsibility for
saddling Ontarians with hundreds of millions of dollars in new debt. In cancelling the two power plants,
the Liberal government put its own selfish political interests ahead of Ontarians’. It is now proceeding to
obstruct the work of this House to hide the true cost of its actions.
I ask the Premier, when can we expect him to accept responsibility to this House and own up to the full
cost of the Liberal seat-saver program?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I’m a little disappointed by that question. I have a great
deal of respect for the honourable member. The honourable member knows that you made a ruling in this
House several days ago in which you acknowledged the complexity of the situation and asked the three
House leaders to sit down and find a way forward. That is what’s happening right now, Mr. Speaker. We
are not defying any ruling by the Speaker. In fact, we’re following the rules coming forward.
As to the latter part of the question about the reasons why we were hesitant at the estimates committee in
making these documents move forward, I refer him again to what the Auditor General, an officer of this
House, said when he talked about the Oakville project: Releasing these documents, “in my opinion …
could be damaging to the province’s negotiating position,” which reinforces the fact that this is a complex
situation which requires all three House leaders to sit down in a spirit of co-operation.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Ted Arnott: Back to the Premier because, on this one, the buck stops with him. I’m compelled to
remind the Premier that on October 11, 1995, in this House, he offered the following advice: “Your
accountability, like that for all of us here, is to all Ontarians, including those who happen to be taxpayers.”
After nine years in government, it appears as though the Premier has disavowed the principle he espoused
17 years ago. He now leads a government that flouts the standing orders, breaks the Legislative Assembly
Act, ignores the authority of the Speaker and has shown contempt for this House.
So I ask the Premier, how does he rationalize what he said in 1995 with what he’s doing today? When will
he own up to what he did and table the documents?
Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, if anyone is defying a ruling by you in terms of the release of these
documents, it’s the opposition member in the question that he has asked today. The fact of the matter is,
Mr. Speaker, you have made a ruling that was clear. Your ruling has given the House leaders until next
Monday at 6 o’clock to come up with a way to release these documents, and at the same time also respect
the fact that there are some sensitive commercial interests that have been recognized by the Auditor
General of Ontario. That was your ruling. We want to comply with that ruling, and we look forward to
working with the opposition parties to find a way forward.
I know that the honourable member would never want to leave the impression that-your ruling was
nothing short of a call on all parties to sit down and find a way to move forward, based on the complexity
of the situation.