Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will co-operate with the opposition in forming a committee to investigate the cancellation of two Toronto-area gas plants, and even agreed to testify before it.
The move is the clearest sign yet that Ms. Wynne is willing to deal head on with one of the most difficult political files facing her government.
“Premier Wynne has said that it’s important that the information on the relocation of the gas plants be released,” said a statement released by her office Tuesday. “Premier Wynne will work with the opposition to review the gas plants at the committee level so that we can have a productive session in the Legislature.”
The Liberal government pulled the plug on two planned gas plants, in Oakville and Mississauga, before the 2011 election at a cost of at least $230-million. The opposition derided the move as a needlessly expensive decision designed purely to save the Grits from losing votes in the area.
During the last legislative session, the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats repeatedly pressed the government on the file during Question Period. The Tories even moved a motion of contempt against the energy minister, which only died when then-premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued the legislature.
Last week, Ms. Wynne said she would have the province’s auditor-general broaden his investigation into the cancellations to look at both plants. But the opposition parties said this was not enough, since the the auditor’s focus is largely on the monetary value and not the political decision-making.
On Tuesday, PC MPP Rob Leone said the party would push for committee hearings and have both Ms. Wynne and Mr. McGuinty brought before it.
“We want to ask questions, specifically, of her role in the cancellation … so we have serious questions, we want the committee struck as soon as possible to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Besides the total cost of the plant cancellations, the opposition parties want to uncover how exactly the government decided to mothball the projects, and have accused cabinet of trying to hide that information.