September 25, 2012 Ontario Legislative Assembly Hansard
You’d have to be not of sound mind to not know that when we ask for all of the documents—and who made the decision was the Liberal Party of Ontario—we need to see the communications between the Liberal Party of Ontario and the government of Ontario.
The media has been reporting that the cancellation of the Oakville plant is $40 million. That’s laughable, and the government should be ashamed that they hung that figure out there and it stayed out there about 24 hours. Now they’re all catching on that you’re going to pay TransCanada pipelines $210 million for their turbines, and you have this absolutely bizarre story that anyone in their right mind wouldn’t believe that because power from the plant that’s now going to be moved to eastern Ontario will be slightly less in cost than it was from Oakville, by $2,000 a month—it’s $17,000 per megawatt hour versus $15,000 and change, but you’re paying TransCanada $210 million, which you forgot to tell the public yesterday, for their turbines, and you say, “Well, we’ll get that back because the cost is lower.” If I take $2,000 a month and I divide that into $210 million, I come up to well over 800 years as the payback period for that kind of money, so your argument is ridiculous. The minister went out yesterday—“Payback will be in 10 years.” It’s over 800 years.
So we’ve got $40 million, $210 million, and lo and behold, you know what? We still have the problem we had, and that is, how do we get power to the southwest part of the GTA? Well, apparently we’re going to spend $200 million in new transmission lines from eastern Ontario—and that’s just the minimum, I know; we’re still digging in these documents—to bring that power all the way back to the southwest corner of the GTA.
If you people don’t get thrown out of office over this, then there’s something terribly wrong. We’re going to do our best, along with the NDP, to hold you accountable, to get this into committee, to have these Liberal Party officials brought forward, to have the experts brought forward—to have these lawyers at the OPA, who are ashamed to be writing these memos back and forth to each other because they know that you threw them out of the bus. And they mentioned on so many occasions that it was the Premier’s office, after direction from the campaign, that made them make decisions and implement this power deal, the seat-saver program, against their will. I look forward to committee.
Mr. Rick Nicholls:
I find it somewhat unfortunate that there really aren’t more members from the government present to actually engage in this very serious motion of contempt. There’s under 20% here, and to me, that’s inexcusable.
I rise today with feelings of sadness, sadness because I rise during a time when a minister of this government has been charged with contempt of Parliament. This is perhaps the very first time ever that a minister of an Ontario government has been found to be in contempt of Parliament. This is a sad day indeed for all of Ontario. It’s a sad day when a minister and a Premier so utterly violate the trust that the people of this great province have so graciously given them.
Speaker, you’ve heard me say many times in this Legislature that when you mess up, you fess up. The Minister of Energy was given ample opportunity to in fact fess up, but he, sadly, has refused to act in accordance with the initial requests of the estimates committee, of which I am a committee member, and then with your wishes as well.
Speaker, the minister has been charged with contempt of this Parliament. You ruled that the minister violated the privilege of another member. This isn’t about the privilege of a member; it’s about the right, one of those most fundamental rights in a democracy, of the public to know whether their government is misusing their hard-earned money, whether or not their government is telling them the truth and whether or not their government is conducting backroom deals in the shadows.
All this side of the House asked for was an answer to those simple questions, and all this government gave us was a litany of excuses on why they were unwilling to provide us with the truth. After months of foot-dragging, the documents have been released, but six months of covering up the truth from the people is simply unacceptable.
Were they simply buying more time for more secretive deals? Only those who have something to hide are afraid of public scrutiny. Those fearful of what the truth will bring to light hide behind empty technicalities. Why did this Premier not release all documents related to the cancelled power plants immediately upon request? Whether it’s Ornge or eHealth or cancelled power plants or MPAC, it seems that there is an unending stream of mismanagement and deceit coming from this Liberal government. Scandal—