Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories Reject Liberal Request to Drop Contempt Motion against Bentley

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories Reject Liberal Request to Drop Contempt Motion against Bentley

Article excerpt

Tories reject request to drop contempt motion

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TORONTO - An attempt by Ontario's minority Liberal government to end debate on the contempt motion against Energy Minister Chris Bentley was quickly shot down Thursday by the opposition parties.

The Progressive Conservatives introduced the contempt motion Tuesday, blocking all other legislative business, including the daily question period, until the debate, which has no time limit, finally ends.

The Tories and New Democrats are taking the government to task with the motion because the Liberals fought a committee's request to release documents on the government's decision to cancel two power plants planned for Oakville and Mississauga, which cost taxpayers of at least $230 million.

The Liberals said Thursday they would agree to send the issue of the cancelled gas plants to committee, but only if the opposition parties drop the contempt motion against Bentley.

"The committee's recommendations shall not include any proposal to punish or discipline the minister of energy, including a finding of contempt of the legislature," reads a Liberal amendment to the motion.

Progressive Conservative House Leader Jim Wilson accused the Liberals of trying to limit the committee's work, and said the government seemed to assume Bentley would be found in contempt.

"They're throwing Bentley even further under the bus," Wilson said in an interview.

"They're talking about the penalty phase, acting as if minister Bentley has already been found in contempt."

The NDP said the Liberals were "once again trying to slow the process down" with their amendment.

"It's time we moved the motion into committee so we can get to the bottom of the real costs and motivations behind the gas plant relocations," said NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson.

The NDP haven't put up anyone to speak to the contempt motion since Tuesday, leaving Conservatives and Liberals to take turns making 20-minute speeches attacking or defending Bentley.

"As long as the PCs continue to put forward irresponsible claims, there will continue to be interest among government members to speak to this motion and defend minister Bentley, who is a man of integrity," Government House Leader John Milloy said in a release. …

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