Tories to file contempt motion when legislature resumes
Opposition wants more info on emails about Speaker
Ontario's governing Liberals are going to face a contempt motion next month, which the Progressive Conservatives say will be filed at the earliest date possible.
The contempt motion the Opposition intends to file stems from emails in which Liberal staff talked about putting Speaker Dave Levac "on notice" after a ruling he made about a prior contempt controversy last year.
In September of last year, Levac found there was a "prima facie" case of contempt when the government did not provide all documents on a pair of cancelled gas plants as a legislative committee requested.
Following that ruling, Liberal staff had discussions about that decision and emails they wrote have since become public.
Opposition House Leader Jim Wilson said that when members of a legislative committee attempted to ask questions at a hearing this week about this "Liberal plot" to intimidate Levac, they were prevented from doing so.
Wilson said that is not acceptable.
"We think the public deserves to know whether unelected Liberal operatives threatened the Speaker of the legislature and attempted to hijack Ontario’s democracy," Wilson said Wednesday.
Wilson said he hopes the Speaker will hear arguments on the contempt motion on Sept. 9, the earliest date that can happen.
The PCs will argue that elected members — especially the Speaker — should not be subject to intimidation attempts, Wilson said.
The contempt process that unfolded last year ground business at the legislature to a halt.
And the ensuing acrimony at Queen's Park was one of the factors former premier Dalton McGuinty cited when announcing he was proroguing the legislature and stepping down as Liberal leader.
On Wednesday, the New Democrats offered a different resolution to the opposition questions about the allegations involving the influence of the speaker.
NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson said that Premier Kathleen Wynne should allow the justice committee to ask questions about whether the Liberals put pressure on the Speaker last year.
By doing so, Bisson said that would pre-empt the process of going through a contempt motion.
"I think that would be a better use of legislative time," he told reporters.
John Milloy, the house leader for the Liberals, would not say Wednesday if the government would allow the committee to probe the intimidation allegations.
"We can sit down and talk about how to move forward," Milloy told reporters.
Milloy suggested that the Tories were trying to divert attention from the internal squabbles the party is currently having about leadership.
With a report from the CBC's Genevieve Tomney and files from The Canadian Press