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Ontario’s Liberal government will not be held in contempt of parliament

The partially built structure of a gas-fired power plant that was to be constructed in Mississauga, Ont., photographed Feb. 21 2013.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's speaker has ruled the Liberal government did not deliberately mislead the legislature over the release of documents on two costly and controversial gas-fired power plants.

The government put the brakes on the plants, in Mississauga and Oakville, in what was widely seen as a move to win seats in the area during the 2011 election. Last year, the opposition compelled the government to release energy ministry documents related to the cancellations. After an initial tranche of papers were released in September, Liberal ministers said all documents had been made public. But a month later, some 20,000 more pages of papers were released.

The government said the additional documents had been accidentally missed during the first search; the opposition, however, accused the Liberals of a cover-up.

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Progressive Conservative MPP Todd Smith accused the Grits of misleading the House and moved to have the government found in contempt of parliament.

On Tuesday, Speaker Dave Levac said there was no evidence the government had done anything nefarious. When cabinet ministers, including government house leader John Milloy and former energy minister Chris Bentley, had wrongly insisted that all the documents had been released, Mr. Levac said they had simply been mistaken.

"I accept that [the false statements] were believed to be true at the time, not made with the intention of misleading the House and corrected at the earliest opportunity," he said.

A legislative committee is probing the gas plant matter. Procedural wrangling between the government the opposition delayed the start of committee hearings last week, but it is expected to meet again Tuesday afternoon.

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