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Ontario minister who cancelled gas plant to testify at contempt hearing

Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid, right, speaks to reporters following meetings with Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, left, on Feb. 28, 2012.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A senior Liberal cabinet minister has agreed to testify before the legislature's finance committee about the government's decision to cancel power plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid was energy minister when the Liberals cancelled a planned gas plant in Oakville in 2010 and when they halted construction on a Mississauga gas plant two weeks before last year's election.

Premier Dalton McGuinty balked at the idea of appearing before the finance committee to face questions about cancelling the energy projects, which cost taxpayers at least $230-million.

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But Mr. Duguid says he's looking forward to testifying and insists he was fully engaged in the decision to cancel the Oakville project.

The decision to cancel the Mississauga gas plant was made by the Liberal campaign team.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath hinted today her party may not vote for a contempt motion against Energy Minister Chris Bentley if the Liberals let senior players testify at committee and are more transparent about the cancelled gas plants.

The Progressive Conservatives, who moved the contempt motion, say it's up to the finance committee to make a recommendation on the contempt issue.

Mr. Duguid echoed Mr. McGuinty's words when he said the Tories were pursuing a "vendetta" against Mr. Bentley.

"Their approach is beneath the dignity of the legislature," he said.

"I hope when this issue does come to committee it is deal with in a fair and responsible manner, and gets away from the character assassination we've seen from the Opposition in the last couple of weeks."

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The Conservatives sent the Liberals a letter Thursday listing 16 senior government officials and advisers they want to see appear at committee, including Mr. McGuinty and his former chief of staff, Don Guy.

The committee will make its recommendation next month, but only a vote of the full legislature could find Mr. Bentley in contempt, something that's never happened to an Ontario MPP.

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