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Chris Bentley says Liberal campaign ordered Mississauga gas plant killed

Unnamed Liberal campaign officials made the controversial decision that a $180 million gas-fired plant in Mississauga should be closed, admits Energy Minister Chris Bentley.

Testifying Wednesday at the legislature’s estimates committee, Bentley emphasized the announcement came via “a Liberal Party press release” — not from the government.

But the minister said he was not aware who among campaign brass ordered the cancellation to save Liberal MPPs’ seats in Mississauga and Etobicoke.

“I can’t speak to that. I can speak to the fact it was a Liberal Party press release,” Bentley said under grilling from New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto—Danforth).

Bentley noted because both the Tories and New Democrats also pledged to close the plant there would have been a cost to abandoning the Sherway Gardens-area facility.

“However the election had turned out, all three parties were going to be in exactly the same position,” he said.

His comments came one day after he revealed Tuesday the government had reached a $180 million deal to move the plant to the Ontario Power Generation’s Lambton generating site near Sarnia.

Tabuns, noting the NDP opposed the construction of the plant that Bentley’s Liberal predecessors backed, said the government has some explaining to do about “this $180 million seat-saver.”

“We need to know, was it the Liberal campaign director who decided to cancel these plants? Was it the premier who decided to cancel these plants? Who do we hold responsible?” the NDP MPP said.

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Toronto Star
Robert Benzie
July 11, 2012