Ontario Energy Minister Bentley in breach of Parliament

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Ontario Energy Minister Bentley

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The Ontario government’s Minister of Energy Christopher Bentley has been found in breach of parliamentary privilege for his refusal to release documents detailing the cancellation of two power plants. Cancelling one of the plants left taxpayers on the hook for $190 million. Costs for the other have yet to be determined.

Ministry officials had previously approved sites for two plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

The Speaker of the Legislature ruled Thursday that the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP have until September 24 to come to an agreement on the release of the papers.

Opposition parties are furious with the delay, insisting that the paper be released immediately. They claim the cancellations were made with political motives.

In May at Estimates Committee, Conservative MPP Rob Leone (Cambridge) had formally demanded the documents be tabled in the legislature and therefore open to scrutiny.

The Liberals had explained their actions on grounds that releasing full documentation last fall, so soon after the cancellations occurred, would have violated solicitor-client privilege and made public information deemed commercially sensitive.

The timing of the cancellations was poor for government, who at the time faced what became a tight provincial election that reduced their majority to a minority.

Today, opposition parties challenged the Speaker’s ruling, and expressed little confidence in the likelihood of an agreement among parties considering neither side has budged since the May motion.

The Oakville plant was to be built in a riding held by Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn. The government is currently discussing cancellation fees with the construction firm originally awarded the contract.

The Mississauga plant would have been located at the intersection of four Liberal-held ridings. Plans now have it moving to Sarnia.

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