Ottawa

Liberal insider gets wind-power contract

Ontario's opposition parties are crying foul after the government awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to a company whose partners include a Liberal party insider.

Ontario's opposition parties are crying foul after the government awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to a company whose partners include a Liberal party insider.

Mike Crawley, president of the Ontario wing of the Liberal Party of Canada, is a partner in Erie Shores Wind Farm.

On Wednesday, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan announced that Erie Shores was one of a number of companies hired by the province to sell it electricity from generating systems powered by wind, sun, water and methane gas.

The Erie Shores contract is worth $475 million.

NDP leader Howard Hampton said awarding the contract to Crawley, who also served as an aide to former Liberal leader Lyn McLeod, smacks of cronyism.

"Someone who has no expertise in this area, has never run a hydro contract, now gets a $475-million contract guaranteed for five years. This is gross. This is disgusting," Hampton said.

Duncan said decisions on which companies would get the contracts were made by independent consultants, and that the government exercised no political influence on the choices.

"I wasn't aware of any of the successful proponents until about three days ago," he said.

Duncan also pointed out that the company's partners also include Steve Probyn, a former Progressive Conservative party candidate.

Conservative MPP Bob Runciman scoffed at Duncan's response.

"Well, this is an old ploy," he said. "Hire a token Tory and put him on the masthead."

Runciman called on the government to suspend the contract until questions about its appropriateness can be settled.