Skip to main content

Former Premier Dalton McGuinty leaves a justice policy committee meeting after answering questions about deleted e-mails relating to two cancelled gas plants at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ont. Tuesday, June 25, 2013.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The Opposition is crying cover-up after their questions about Liberals pressuring the Speaker of the Ontario legislature to change a preliminary finding of contempt were ruled out of order.

Laura Miller, a top aide in former premier Dalton McGuinty's office, told the justice committee the Liberals didn't try to pressure the Speaker to change his contempt ruling related to the release of documents on two cancelled gas plants.

Miller testified McGuinty's office wanted the Speaker to know that the Conservatives were unfairly targeting then energy-minister Chris Bentley, who could have lost his licence to practise law if found guilty of contempt.

But after Miller's opening statement today, the Tories and NDP were told by the Liberal chair that they couldn't ask about any attempts to influence the Speaker.

New Democrat Peter Tabuns says it looks like someone in Premier Kathleen Wynne's office blocked the questioning.

PC energy critic Vic Fedeli says it seems someone ordered Liberal committee chair Shafiq Qaadri to shut down their investigation regarding the Speaker.

Fedeli also accused Miller of lying when she said she had no correspondence on the cancelled gas plants, even though she was named or copied on over one thousand emails as Liberals discussed the issue.

The hearings are looking into the contempt motion, which followed the Liberals' decision to scrap gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga at a cost of at least $585-million.

After the Speaker refused to change his ruling, McGuinty prorogued the legislature and resigned as premier, preempting the hearings into the cancellation of the gas plants prior to the 2011 election.

Last Friday, Ontario's integrity watchdog said she had no jurisdiction to investigate Opposition complaints that "Liberal operatives" tried to pressure the Speaker into changing his ruling, which they said was "akin to trying to influence a judge."

"The Commissioner's jurisdiction under the Act deals only with the conduct of elected officials," wrote Integrity Commissioner Lynn Morrison.

In his only comment on the issue, Levac put out a statement last week that did not deny Liberals had attempted to persuade him to change his ruling, but said he never felt undue pressure when meeting with officials from any party.

"I have never felt unable to make an informed, objective and procedurally sound decision, free of political interference," Levac said in the statement.

"The fact that the ruling did stand should also speak for itself."