Ontario Votes: Tim Hudak vows gas plants judicial inquiry
$1.1B lost after plants in Oakville, Mississauga annulled
Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak says he will launch a judicial inquiry into the billion-dollar gas plant scandal if he’s elected premier, and expects Kathleen Wynne and former premier Dalton McGuinty to testify.
“It is time we had a government that puts your interests first — and not the jobs of the Liberal Party" said Hudak on Sunday, standing in front of the concrete remains of the plant in Mississauga.
"Look behind me. A billion dollars went into this hole...So you didn't get a new hospital, you didn't get an approved highway, you didn't get a new university."
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Hudak vowed he would find out why billions were spent on two gas power plants in Mississauga and Oakville that were never built.
“I fully expect both Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne will have to stand before a judge and testify about their actions under oath to tell us exactly what happened, and why they made those decisions."
A judicial inquiry would involve a judge, who has prosecutorial and investigative experience.
"Who gave the orders? Can we get any of that money back?" Hudak asked on Sunday.
Hudak has been calling for an inquiry since last fall, in light of a report from the province’s auditor general Bonnie Lysyk. A previous auditor general had already examined the Mississauga plant situation and said its cancellation would cost taxpayers $275 million.
Lysysk contends the Oakville plant should have been been left to die on its own. The province could have paid far less in penalties if it had let the Ontario Power Authority negotiate with the developer, TransCanada Energy, without interference from the premier's office, which promised to fully compensate the company,
The final tally for the plant cancellation has been tabbed at $675 million, but possibly as much as $850 million — far above the $40-million price tag the Liberals had been touting.
"Hydro customers will be paying higher rates for electricity in the future as a result of not only the cancellation of the Oakville contract,” said Lysyk’s report.
The Liberals scrapped the unpopular plants before the 2011 election.
"Construction on the Mississauga plant continued for weeks after the last election, but the decision to cancel it helped save five Liberal seats in the area. McGuinty announced his resignation just hours before committee hearings were set to start on the decision to kill the two gas plants.
The legislative committee had been probing the cancellations until the current election campaign began, and there is also an ongoing police investigation into the deletion of emails and documents about the unpopular plants.
Wynne has apologized for the way the gas plants issue was handled and has said McGuinty made "mistakes."
Hudak scoffed at that defence.
"A mistake is like when you get a parking ticket. This was not a mistake, this was a deliberate abuse of your tax dollars to save Liberal seats," he said
Hudak pointed out that the total money lost on both plants — about $1.1 billion — could have been used to hire 18,000 nurses or provided 247,727 seniors with home care
“This money could have gone to a hospital or a subway. Instead Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne spent this money solely to protect the jobs of Liberal politicians,” said Hudak.
"I'll make sure that never happens again."
With files from The Canadian Press