Hudak pledges judicial inquiry into gas plant cancellations

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak promises to launch a judicial inquiry into the Ontario...

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak promises to launch a judicial inquiry into the Ontario Liberal government's cancellation of two gas plants Sunday, May 18, 2014, while standing in front of what remains of one of the gas plants in Mississauga. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 3:13 PM ET

Tim Hudak is promising a full judicial inquiry into the Ontario Liberal government’s cancellation of two gas plants at a loss that the provincial auditor says could hit $1.1 billion.

The Progressive Conservative leader made his renewed pledge Sunday while standing in front of what remains of the Greenfield South Power Plant in Mississauga, a natural gas-fired electricity generation facility that was axed while under construction in the middle of the 2011 provincial election campaign.

The Liberals had already torn up the contract on a larger plant planned for Oakville, bringing the total loss for Ontarians to up to $1.1 billion in combined taxes and hydro fees.

Opposition parties argue the Liberals were desperate to save MPP seats in ridings near the unpopular plants.

“A billion dollars went into this hole,” Hudak said Sunday. “You didn’t get a new hospital, you didn’t get an improved highway, you didn’t get a new university. All you got was one more Liberal MPP.”

Hudak said he believes both former premier Dalton McGuinty and his successor Kathleen Wynne would be brought in to testify before a judge if an inquiry was launched.

There is already a government committee investigating the cancellations, and the OPP are probing whether there was a deliberate attempt among senior Liberal staff to wipe computer hard drives and delete public records that may have shed light on why the Liberals cancelled the gas plants.

Wynne said that since entering the premier’s office last year, she has ensured that records are kept and disclosed to government committee.

“The important thing is that having recognized that there were mistakes made, that there were decisions that should have been made, I’ve made changes,” the Liberal leader said Sunday.

“I’ve changed the way we work with communities to site those large pieces of energy infrastructure, I’ve changed the rules around documents being retained or not, I’ve changed the rules around political staff working with private sector.”

The Ontario Liberals say the plants should never have been located in busy residential areas in the first place, and note that both the NDP and Tories agreed with that position.

When asked about the cost of an inquiry to taxpayers, Hudak said it’s important to get to the bottom of the gas plants scandal to discourage politicians from making the same costly decisions again.

A judge would be able to compel people to testify and get answers for the public, he said.


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