Legislature’s gas-plants committee a gong show

(April 26, 2014) Digging up important facts becomes secondary to doing, or dodging, political damage. Former Energy Probe executive director, Tom Adams, implored the Queen’s Park committee probing the cancellation of a pair of power plants in Oakville and Mississauga, to cut the bull: “I urge you to pass the baton of sorting out the issues of document destruction to the OPP, the courts and the Information and Privacy Commissioner,” he told them. “My pitch is, do not allow the gas scandal investigation to get waylaid again.”


By David Reevely for the Ottawa Citizen

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne responds during question period in the Ontario Legislature n Toronto on Tuesday April 8, 2014. Photograph by: Frank Gunn , The Canadian Press.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne responds during question period in the Ontario Legislature n Toronto on Tuesday April 8, 2014.
Photograph by: Frank Gunn , The Canadian Press.

OTTAWA — The Queen’s Park committee investigating the government’s billion-dollar decision to cancel a pair of generating stations has turned into a circus, its witness list filled up with anybody the opposition can think of and its spare time consumed by Liberal attempts to avert future meetings.

Because the Liberals have failed at that, the committee’s to sit almost non-stop next week, aiming to hear from three times as many witnesses as it usually does. There’s so much time they’re having trouble scheduling people on short notice.

Every now and then something profoundly important and serious happens and we find out something we didn’t know before. The committee is trying to summon key figures in the scandal like Dalton McGuinty’s chief of staff, his deputy and her boyfriend, who’s alleged to have deleted, or tried to delete, crucial documents. But much of the time, the MPPs are screwing around.

Each day the committee sits is a bad day for the governing Liberals. Maybe only a little bad, but bad. Their own account of what they did has them putting two power plants in the wrong places, scrapping them much too late, paying a ton of taxpayer money to do it, being wrong about how much it was all going to cost, and deleting documents describing the whole thing because they were too thick to know those documents needed to be kept.

There is no sentence anyone can say that includes the phrase “gas plants” that does Liberals any good, so the opposition wants to say it a lot. To keep the committee talking, the Tories have put dozens of people on lists to testify, including 17 people involved in the logistics of Kathleen Wynne’s taking over the premier’s office from McGuinty.

The rest of this commentary is available at the publisher’s website here.

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