GUELPH, ONT.—An unrepentant Premier Dalton McGuinty says it was his call to hit taxpayers with the $190 million cost of scrapping a Mississauga power plant, saving four Liberal seats late in last fall’s election.
McGuinty maintained he made the controversial move less than two weeks before the whisker-close vote last Oct. 6 because area residents were firmly opposed to the natural gas-fired electricity plant just northwest of Sherway Gardens.
Noting the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats also promised to shut the Greenfield South plant that was under construction at the time, McGuinty rejected suggestions that the Ontario Liberal Party pay the cancellation costs.
Opposition parties have charged the decision to scrap the plant, which is now slated for Sarnia, was part of a Liberal “seat saver” program in a tight election that reduced McGuinty to a minority after a series of scandals during two full terms in government.
“Obviously, I can’t accept that. I mean, this is how our democracy works,” McGuinty said of the Liberal party picking up the tab.
Last week at a legislative committee hearing, Bentley testified the move to scrap the plant was made by Liberal campaign officials — but has been contradicted on that by both McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, among others.
Bentley also revealed the cost of relocating the plant to Sarnia would be $180 million, but has since fallen under criticism after it was revealed the Ontario Power Authority, a government agency, paid $10 million after last fall’s election to ensure construction would stop while negotiations on a settlement continued.
Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie
July 17, 2012