PCs mock Wynne call for open government; say Liberals covered up gas plant costs - Macleans.ca

PCs mock Wynne call for open government; say Liberals covered up gas plant costs


TORONTO – Ontario’s opposition parties accused the governing Liberals of hypocrisy Monday after Premier Kathleen Wynne released an open letter promising more openness and transparency.

The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats said the Liberals’ efforts to cover up the gas plants scandal — which cost taxpayers up to $1.1 billion — speak a lot louder than their words.

“How dare they talk about open access to government information when they spent years covering up the gas plant scandal,” PC Leader Tim Hudak told reporters. “It made me think Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals are a bunch of hypocrites.”

In her open letter to the “people of Ontario,” Wynne said she wants to make government information easier to find, understand and use so the province can design services that deliver better results.

“Part of this process will be the use of innovative models of public engagement, giving you a greater say on a range of items, including transit, regional economic development and fiscal responsibility,” she wrote.

The NDP questioned Wynne’s appeal for a new era of openness in government at the same time the premier refuses to agree to appear a second time at committee hearings into the cancelled gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

“We had to drag them kicking and screaming to give Ontarians the answers, and even to this day the premier is refusing to come back to the committee to deal with the gas plant issues that came up in the auditor’s report,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“I think what people expect is their government to be open and transparent, but apparently Kathleen Wynne needs a panel to show her how to do it.”

Hudak said the Liberals cancelled the gas plants to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election, but Ontario taxpayers will be stuck with the billion-dollar tab.

“We’ve seen a pattern of deliberate decision making by the Liberals to put their own political party interests ahead of the interests of taxpayers,” added Hudak.

“We’ve had not one but two major gas plant scandals, eHealth, Ornge, Ontario Lottery and Gaming and now the Pan Am Games. How much more evidence do you need that all Liberals care about is themselves?”

Wynne said the government would engage the public in finding the best ways to make the government more open and transparent.

“We will also create a central space online where people can find information about government consultations, get engaged in that process, and express their ideas on government policy,” she wrote.

The scandal-plagued Liberals have no credibility whatsoever to call for openness and transparency in government, said Hudak.

“I think that ship sailed long ago,” he said.

Hudak pointed out the Tories and New Democrats had to continually fight the Liberal government before it turned over 160,000 documents on the cancelled gas plants.

The government’s initial refusal to release the documents led to a rare contempt of parliament charge, which prompted Dalton McGuinty’s decision to prorogue the legislature in October 2012 and announce his resignation.

Hudak mocked the Liberals’ plan to set up an expert panel to study ways of achieving a more open government, saying they should worry more about the economy and creating jobs.

“Kathleen Wynne’s been premier for nine months and we’ve had all kinds of consultations, hand-holding, all kinds of studies, but my question is where’s the plan for jobs,” said Hudak. “Enough conversations. It’s time for action.”

Wynne’s open letter promised new initiatives to improve government transparency and accountability.

“I believe that government data belongs to the people of Ontario and so we will make government data open by default, limiting access only to safeguard privacy, security and confidentiality,” she wrote.

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PCs mock Wynne call for open government; say Liberals covered up gas plant costs

  1. Hudak is apparently suffering from selective amnesia – he, too, promised to cancel those same plants. Does he think he could have done it for less?

    • Yes, he could have. Had the Libs waited, the contracts would have been cancellable for a lot less. I don’t know the exact details but the Libs rush to cancel those contracts before the election is why it cost over a billion dollars.

      This continual deflection at the PC’s and the NDP, saying that they would have cancelled those plants also, is really getting tiresome, especially since it’s a completely different scenario. The PCs and the Dippers were against the location of those plants from the very beginning. It was the Libs baby from start to finish. The Libs chose the location. The Libs signed the contracts and the Libs cancelled those contracts. Time to put that Liberal deflection nugget to bed, because it’s a ridiculous argument to begin with.

      • Who signed the contracts is, as far as the cost of cancellation goes, a moot point; they were already in place by the election and the battle then was over whether the contracts were to proceed or be cancelled. Cancelling means money wasted on plants that would never provide power. Yes, it was stupid of the Liberals to start the process and then do an about-face, but the fact remains the PCs would also have cancelled the plants and thus we would be in exactly the same place, costwise.

        I’d love to know how you figure waiting would have cost less; construction would have been further along. Please feel free to enlighten me. With evidence please.

        • From the National Post:

          The auditor found the premier’s office promised to compensate the developer, TransCanada Energy, for the full financial value of the contract, even though she believes the province could have gotten out of the deal at a much lower or even no cost if it simply waited.

          “Given Oakville’s strong opposition to the plant, it may well have been possible for the (Ontario Power Authority) to wait it out, with no penalty and at no cost,” said Lysyk.

          The premier’s office also failed to rely on protections in the contract that could have minimized any damages as a result of cancelling the plant, added Lysyk.

          “The OPA could have invoked a clause in the contract that made it liable for reimbursing TCE for lost profits only in the event of a discriminatory action, and argued that the cancellation of the plant would not have met the contract’s definition of such an action.”

          Lysyk also found a key decision that drove up the cost of cancelling the Oakville plant was the promise from the premier’s office to “keep TransCanada ’whole’.”

          “We believe that the settlement with TCE will not only keep TCE whole, but may make it better than whole,” the auditor said. The report lists “the estimated benefits to TCE of approximately $225 million from the settlement negotiated for the Napanee plant.”

        • Valewood is correct. The Auditor General found a clause in the contracts that had the Liberals just waited and they could have gotten out of the contracts at a fraction of what they did. McGuinty was in such a rush to save those seats for the election, they decided that it was worth however much money it took.

          Keep in mind also, that the PC’s and the NDP were going to cancel the plants as well, BUT — and this is a big BUT — they were going on the figures provided by the lying Dalton Gang that the cost to cancel was “only” going to be 40 million. Still an outrageous sum to waste, but no where near the 1 billion that it actually was. Don’t think for a second that the scumbag Libs weren’t fully aware that it was going to cost a hell of a lot more than what they told us.

          This entire thing can only be placed at the feet of the Liberals, no matter how much they try to deflect blame away from themselves.

          Anyone who would still consider voting Lib after ALL of the billions and billions wasted on almost every single portfolio they touched, should do the rest of Ontario a huge favour and remove themselves from the voter list. We just can’t afford anymore of this corruption and lying and waste. We can’t.

      • There are almost no contracts which become cheaper the longer they are in force. Without a pretty clear demonstration of what’s at play here, that sounds like a big load of horsecrap.

        • Go read the auditors report. It’s laid out in there. All McGuinty would have had to do was wait and the terms of the contract would have expired. Something like that. I don’t understand the legalities of it. It’s in the report and the National Post article that I posted below also touches on that fact.

          Sorry if you don’t believe it. That’s your perogative.

  2. Liberals, transparency and honesty do not belong in the same sentence together. Never in the history of this country has there been a more corrupt, thieving provincial government than the one Ontario has had since 2003.

    • It hasn’t been pretty. But still no worse than Harris. Of the three parties that have run this province since I moved here, I have come to conclude, in retrospect, that the Rae government wasn’t so bad after all.

      • Harris has been blamed for a lot of things that simply never happened. The Liberals keep throwing out these lies and the sheeple keep gobbling it up.

        Good example: “Harris closed 28 – 32 hospitals across Ontario”

        I have seen that comment over and over and OVER again by Liberal supporters for years. So I finally started asking them for a list of the hospitals that Harris closed. No one could ever give me a list for the longest time, but someone finally found one on a pro-Lib site.

        I decided to take an hour and check into that list and what I found was that of the 32 hospitals supposedly closed, there were only 4 that had actually been shut down. Two of them were very old and in great need of upgrading and repair that would have cost far too much, so they were amalgamated with a local newer and more modern hospital.

        2 others were closed and I couldn’t find a reason for that anywhere.

        One of the list — Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hillcrest site (Toronto) — was changed from a general hospital and became the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute — the largest rehabilitation hospital in Canada and yet it’s on the list as having been closed.

        So every time I hear the usual Lib propaganda being thrown around about Harris, I now challenge it.

  3. I’ve voted for all three parties at one time or another in my life, although thank God McGuinty wasn’t one of them. My conscience is clear on that. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that ever comes out of a Liberals mouth is a lie, Period,

    Lying and spinning the truth is so second nature to them they have become physically unable to tell the truth. Ever.

  4. I think it’s possible that McGuinty lowballed the plant closure costs. But I KNOW Hudak has been misrepresenting the original figures by a factor of almost 5 – $40 million vs. $230 million. (Time and time again they have taken only the price of the cheaper gas plant when stating the original cost, then inflating the price of both plants when talking about actual costs).

    Shows the CPC will say anything, and that in the midst of all the allegations, the proven liars are true PC blue.

    • You have got to be kidding me! The only people who would turn a blind eye to the levels of corruption of the LPO are those who have their snouts in the taxpayer trough. Every other person in Ontario has now had their eyes opened.

      So what exactly is your fee for selling your soul? A union job? A welfare position? How about a close Lib buddy who gets given plum contracts?? It’s got to be something along those lines.

  5. Do not worry – Ontario will elect another Liberal government and all will be well.

    You reap what you sow.

    When such a high percentage of people in Ontario rely on social assistance and unions to make a dollar, you can be sure nothing will change until someone closes the bank account.

    Ontario is in a downward spiral and it will continue – time to go straight cash if you can – try to keep some of those tax dollars in your jeans – because taxes in Ontario will go up – only they will climb at a higher and faster rate.

    All in order to allow the Liberals the chance to give it to those who fight for a position at the trough.

    Liberal government – good for more than 45% of Ontario voters – and that is all it takes to get elected.