Wynne defends role in gas plant scandal, snubs Rob Ford
Ontario premier appears again before inquiry into $1.1B plant cancellations
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s schedule touched on two scandals today — first by her choice between Toronto’s two mayors, and later by again defending her role in the province’s billion-dollar cancellation of two power plants.
Wynne on Tuesday sat down for the first time with Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly to discuss transit and housing issues.
The meeting at the provincial legislature did not include embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — who was stripped of most of his powers last month by city council — nor did she mention Ford by name in her remarks to reporters.
Wynne referred to Kelly as the "representative of Toronto city council."
"He's been given the authority and that's why I met with him," she said.
Kelly said he wanted Wynne to know that Toronto now has “a stable, calm government and reasonable government that is looking forward to working with the Government of Ontario."
Ford, who remains mayor in little more than title, earlier said it was inappropriate for Wynne to meet with Kelly.
The meeting also drew criticism from Ontario NDP MPP Gilles Bisson, who accused Wynne’s Liberals of using the drama that still surrounds Toronto City Hall to divert attention from the gas plant inquiry.
"This is about trying to divert the attention off the testimony she's going to give,” said Bisson.
Wynne defends role
Wynne is disputing opposition charges that she was at least partly to blame for driving up the cost of cancelling gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga to $1.1 billion.
The NDP says Wynne's signature on a cabinet document promising to make TransCanada Enterprises "whole" severely weakened the province's negotiating position with the developer of the cancelled Oakville plant.
Wynne says she was advised that a lawsuit could have been an even more expensive option than negotiating a new deal with TransCanada, so the government wanted to avoid going to court.
Wynne told the justice committee she wasn't directly involved in the Liberals' decisions to scrap the gas plants prior to the 2011 elections, even though she was the party's campaign co-chair.
The Tories also went on the attack against Wynne for signing the document that they say gave the developer a stronger hand to wring compensation from the government.
“Kathleen Wynne signed a cabinet [document] that ended up costing us $1.1 billion so she has to wear that, she has to be accountable for that,” said PC energy critic Lisa MacLeod.
Wynne also denied originally low-balling the cost estimates of the gas plant cancellations, saying there were lots of figures being bandied about so she asked the auditor general to determine the real figures.
It was Wynne’s second appearance before the committee. She again apologized for the expensive decisions to cancel the gas plants, and said she had made changes to make sure it won't happen again.
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC's Genevieve Tomney