Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Say They Will Release Documents on Gas Plants to Committee

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Say They Will Release Documents on Gas Plants to Committee

Article excerpt

Liberals say they will release gas plant docs

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TORONTO - Energy Minister Chris Bentley said Thursday he would comply with a Speaker's ruling to release all documents on two cancelled electricity generating stations to a legislative committee to avoid a vote that could find him in contempt of Parliament.

Bentley had told the committee he was worried the public release of all the documents on the cancelled Mississauga and Oakville power plants could hurt the government's position as it tries to negotiate with the developers of the projects.

Speaker Dave Levac found Bentley had breached privilege by not turning over the documents.

"The standing committee on estimates was unquestionably entitled to request the documents sought from the minister of energy, and the minister had an obligation to comply," Levac said in his ruling.

"I am therefore satisfied that a prima facie case of privilege has been established."

Despite the Speaker's ruling, Bentley refused to admit he had done anything wrong.

"The Speaker has spoken to the issue," Bentley told reporters.

"We will be complying with the ruling in all of its terms."

However, Levac also said he wanted the debate over the documents to go to the three party house leaders to resolve among themselves by Sept. 24.

The Speaker refused to discuss his ruling with the media, but said in the legislature he felt the three parties could work this out if they tried and avoid a vote on contempt of Parliament, something that's never happened in Ontario.

"The House and the government have essentially an unbroken record of some 140 years of collaboration and accommodation in cases of this kind," said Levac.

"It seems to me it would be a signal failure for us to see that record shattered."

Any disregard of, or attack on the rights of MPPs is a "breach of privilege" punishable by the legislature, but contempt is much more serious and applies to any action that obstructs or impedes the legislature or any members in the performance of their duties. …

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