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Speaker’s ruling on gas plants off limits at Ontario legislative committee probing

Former Premier Dalton McGuinty leaves a justice policy committee meeting after answering questions about deleted emails relating to two cancelled gas plants at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ont. Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

A close adviser to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty will testify on Tuesday at a legislative committee probing the costly cancellation of two gas-fired power plants.

But it is not likely that the public will hear much about attempts by the premier's advisers to pressure the Speaker of the Legislature into changing his mind on a power-plant ruling.

Don Guy, the strategist behind the Liberals' three campaign victories and a former chief of staff to Mr. McGuinty, will be the second witness called to the stand regarding a string of e-mails revealing behind-the-scenes efforts to sway the Speaker.

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But the chairman of the committee, Liberal MPP Shafiq Qaadri, said last week that any questions about the process by which the Speaker reached his ruling are off limits.

The Speaker ruled last September that there is evidence that then-energy minister Chris Bentley breached his privileges by refusing to release gas-plant documents to a legislative committee.

Laura Miller, Mr. McGuinty's former deputy chief of staff, said in her opening statement at the hearing last week that the "quickly written" e-mail exchange regarding the Speaker – in which she said a colleague is "putting the member from brant on notice that we need better here" – has been "misinterpreted and torqued."

She said it was simply her intention to inform the Speaker, Dave Levac, the Liberal MPP for the riding of Brant, that she was unhappy with the Progressive Conservatives' attacks on Mr. Bentley.

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About the Author

Karen Howlett is a national reporter based in Toronto. She returned to the newsroom in 2013 after covering Ontario politics at The Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau for seven years. Prior to that, she worked in the paper’s Vancouver bureau and in The Report on Business, where she covered a variety of beats, including financial services and securities regulation. More

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