Motive to McGuinty’s secrecy is becoming clear

September 26, 2012

On August 27, fellow PC MPP Rob Leone asked the Speaker to rule on a point of order, sighting that his parliamentary privilege had been breached by the Minister of Energy for refusing to follow a May 2012 order issued by the Estimates Committee compelling the Minister to table all documents related to the cancellation of the Mississauga and Oakville power plants. On September 13, the Speaker returned his decision that the Minister must release all documents by 6:00 pm, Monday, September 24, 2012 or risk being in contempt of the Legislature.

On Monday, tens of thousands of documents were delivered, with literally hundreds upon hundreds, possibly thousands of pages missing; redacted; whited-out; or referenced attachments omitted; or worse, entire documents and chains of referenced materials / correspondence are simply not included as part of the package. In spite of the volume of documents delivered, there were none from the Minister of Energy, who was in office when the decision was made. Clearly this is against parliamentary procedure and the Speaker’s ruling.

As we start our review of the documents, we see alarming levels of political interference, disregard for Ontario Power Authority (OPA) arguments of how these decisions were not in the best interests of Ontario and revealed the depths to which the McGuinty Liberal government will sink to buy an election. The Oakville power plant cancellation costs have gone from the $40 million acknowledged by the Minister, to over $450 million and rising. When one adds in the $190 million that they have acknowledged as the cost of the Mississauga power plant cancellation, the people of Ontario have paid over $640 million to save a number of Liberal seats.

Over the eleven months that I have had the privilege of representing our great riding at Queen’s Park, the McGuinty government has blocked all attempts to conduct proper investigations into numerous organizations that have since come under scrutiny by the press. First there was the Auditor General’s scathing report on the huge costs of the Green Energy Act and his statement that this government must let the people of Ontario know the true costs of this plan. This Liberal plan costs consumers over a billion dollars a year and has made our cost of power the highest in North America. Our hydro bills have doubled over the past eight years and he predicts that it will rise another 46% over the next 5 years.

Then in December of last year, the Toronto Star broke the news on the ORNGE Air Ambulance scandal and the hundreds of millions wasted because of a total lack of accountability management. The Auditor General was blocked from fully investigating the web of companies set up at ORNGE with public money, stating that he was able to identify more than twelve affiliates, but not authorized to review them. To deflate the issue over the Christmas break, the Minister said she would set up a Select Committee to fully review the ORNGE file if it was the will of the House. The Legislature voted last March to strike such a committee, but she has refused to follow through on the motion, sending it instead to a much more limited Standing Committee, where the governing Liberals have done everything they can to delay and impede the work of the committee. Key members of the government, including the Premier, his executive assistant and the CAO of ORNGE have refused to appear before the committee.

And now we see the refusal to fully disclose information on the cancellation of these two gas power plants. They have refused to listen to the economic arguments and the demands of local residents against the massive wind and solar farms that this government has pushed on rural Ontario, despite the surplus of power that we are paying neighbours to take off our hands at a huge cost, over $1.8 billion between 2005 and 2011. As the costs of these decisions continue to escalate, it becomes clear why this government has fought so hard to keep the information from the people of Ontario. Combine the power plant cancellations with other failed Liberal blunders, such as E-Health, LHIN’s, ORNGE and the Green Energy Act and you can see that they have cost this province billions of dollars. This is your hard earned tax dollars that could have gone to hospitals, roads, bridges, arenas and other much needed services. With so many scandals in the air at once, not even the McGuinty government can continue at the deception that it has mastered for so many years. It’s time to come clean and let the people of Ontario know the truth.

These scandals, drowning the McGuinty Government, force me to look back at some of my political role models. Politicians of the highest moral stature from our region such as Sen. Bob Runciman, John Cleary, Noble Villeneuve and Jim Brownell come to mind almost immediately. Politics and Government call upon us to act responsibly and humbly in the interest of the long-term benefit of our great Province, despite our disagreements. Where the current Liberal Party sees its own political expedience, I see the problems of debt and attitude to public money that need to be rectified if we are to prosper again.

My frustration at the present Government stems from the deeply held belief that we, in Ontario, have been blessed with bountiful resources, enviable workforce skills and an entrepreneurial drive second to no other Province. McGuinty’s current focus is to look good on the evening news – I say we need a Government that unleashes Ontario’s potential and gives Ontarians the honest, trustworthy and responsible Government they truly deserve.