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Former Ontario Attorney-General and current Energy Minister Chris Bentley speaks during a press conference in this photo from Oct. 1, 2008.

NATHAN DENETTE

Taxpayers in Ontario will be forced to pay $40-million in costs associated with the governing Liberals' decision to pull the plug on a power plant west of Toronto.

Energy Minister Chris Bentley announced on Monday that the government has reached an agreement with Calgary-based energy giant TransCanada Corp., which had the contract for the proposed 900-megawatt natural gas plant, to relocate it from Oakville to a site near Bath in Eastern Ontario.

The total costs that cannot be applied to the new site are about $40-million, Mr. Bentley said. This cost is in addition to the $190-million tab associated with the Liberals' mid-campaign decision to cancel another power plant slated for Mississauga.

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"We don't even get one megawatt of power for that amount of energy," Progressive Conservative energy critic Vic Fedeli said in Question Period.

All documents in connection with cancelling the Oakville project will be released, Liberal House Leader John Milloy vowed in Question Period.

The government reached the agreement with TransCanada at the 11th hour. Speaker Dave Levac ruled on Sept. 13 that there is evidence Mr. Bentley breached his privileges by refusing to release the documents to a legislative committee. Mr. Bentley was facing a rare contempt of Parliament censure if he did not reveal all costs related to the decision to halt construction last September of the gas-fired plant in Mississauga and the cancellation of the Oakville plant a year earlier.

The government released some documents last July, revealing that cancelling the Mississauga project, which was hotly opposed by residents, cost taxpayers $190-million. But the government had refused to disclose costs associated with cancelling the equally unpopular plant slated for Oakville until settlement talks with TransCanada were complete.

"We said we would release the documents, and sought only to ensure they were not released prematurely, at a time when their release could jeopardize these negotiations at a cost to taxpayers," Mr. Bentley said in a statement.

Opposition members have accused the Liberals of cancelling the project in Mississauga as part of their "seat saver program."

"The Energy Minister has become the fall guy for the Premier's chosen few," Tory MPP Rob Leone said in Question Period.

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