Gas Busters Part 67: What I Tried to Say at Justice Policy Committee

What follows are the remarks I tried to present to the Justice Policy Committee today along with a description, as best as I can recall, of the fight to make these remarks on the record.

Between objections to my remarks during my opening statement and problems with the webcast, it would have been exceptionally difficult for the public to follow the proceedings. The appearance will be rebroadcast on Friday morning at 10 am.

The objections focused on my summary of what transpired during the gas plant cancellation and relocation. The objections were lead by Bob Delaney, Liberal MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville. He had two main complaints — that my comments used “unparliamentary language” and that I was making “unsubstantiated allegation”. From memory, specific instances that he objected to included the use of the terms or phrases “cover-up”, “planned, coordinated avoidance of documentation” and “web of false statements”. Examples of points that he considered “unsubstantiated allegations” included my claim that politics intervened in the siting of replacement power for Lakeview and that relocating the Oakville and Mississauga power plants created a hole in western GTA’s power supply.

After my fractured opening statement, while I was being cross-examined, Mr. Delaney also warned that I was defaming some Liberals.

As the questioning unfolded, I regretted that I had no opportunity to provide substantiation for my observations.

In preparing my comments, I had focused totally on being clear, concise, and accurate. I had not considered the limitations of parliamentary language. On the fly, I rephrased the term “cover-up” as “information management”.

My summary attempts a point-by-point response to the specific questions put to the Committee by the legislature in the following resolution:

Committee Mandate: Review of the matter of the Speaker’s finding of a prima facie case of privilege, with respect to the production of documents by the Minister of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority to the Standing Committee on Estimates and to consider and report its observations and recommendations concerning the tendering, planning, commissioning, cancellation, and relocation of the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants.

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Thank you Mr. Chairman and members.

I am an electricity consultant and researcher. I have been investigating and reporting on the gas scandal, including the work of this committee, for 2 and a half years. My findings and all your early exhibits are posted in searchable form on the Gas Busters section of www.tomadamsenergy.com.

The evidence before you represents an unprecedented record of the inner workings of a systemic failure. So that we might avoid such weakness in future, citizens must have access to your record. I urge you to ensure that your vast library of exhibits be placed on-line in a properly archived structure with all content searchable. I have done my best, but Gas Busters is only current up to the May 2013 releases. Making all original gas scandal documents accessible should be a taxpayer expense, not a private one.

The legislature ordered you “report”. I ask you to heed that wise direction.

While the gas plant cancellation and relocation costs are small in the context of Ontario’s soaring electricity bill, there is a scandal here that must be laid bare. Consumers deserve answers to the questions in your mandate.

I submit that answers to the questions the Legislature passed to you can be summarized as follows:

1. An engineered cover-up centred around offices of Premier McGuinty and Minister Bentley.
2. The cover-up included planned, coordinated avoidance of documentation, public business communicated only on private networks, illegal email destruction, and possibly cyber crime.
3. Experts advised that replacement generation for Lakeview’s coal power be sited at Lakeview but politics intervened.
4. The Energy Ministry’s 2005 decision to take a lowball price from Eastern Power backfired.
5. Cancelling the original contracts was all about electoral advantage but created a hole in western GTA’s supply.
6. The OPA Board did nothing to protect ratepayers.
7. During the 2011 election, all parties made promises to cancel Greenfield South.
8. Cancelling without relocating the plants might have cut losses but the AG didn’t quantify those.
9. Responsibility for the renegotiated contracts rests solely with the Liberals.
10. Kicking off the renegotiation with TransCanada, McGuinty’s representatives Steeve and Mullin gave TransCanada assurances that unjustifiably escalated costs, although only TransCanada knows by how much.
11. Relocation turned into a windfall for EIG when Robert Prichard, doing Minister Bentley’s bidding, stung ratepayers for hush money.
12. As the recontracting, cover-up, and web of false statements drew complaint, the Premier and all the key ministers resigned en masse while trusted agents destroyed records and frustrated FOIs.

Given this late hour, I urge you pass the baton for sorting out the document destruction issues to the OPP, the courts, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Don’t allow the gas scandal investigation to get waylaid again. You must report, even if only with an interim report, no later than the earliest date the Legislature could be prorogued. (At this point, my 5 minutes opportunity was exhausted due to the objections, and I did not get a chance to say my last two prepared sentences.)
Running the clock out without publishing any conclusions would constitute even more careless waste.

If you can draw insight from the evidence before you, this committee can impart to the people of Ontario a lasting benefit. You have a golden opportunity.

12 Comments

  1. Interesting that the Liberal doing the interrupting was one of those who may well owe his re-election to the Mississauga gas plant cancellation announcement of Sept 28, 2011 just over a week before voting day! Delaney’s popularity was falling based on the votes he received. In 2003 he got 27,903 and in 2007 it had dropped to 20,316 and in 2011 it was down to 18,591. It would be fun to look at the ridings internal polling before that cancellation date to see how close he was to losing his seat. If the polling looked bad he would have been all over several ministers as well as the Premier to cancel it. Who knows the other Liberals in the neighbourhood may also have been suffering from the same kickback!

    I wonder if the committee could call on Delaney to testify as he doesn’t appear to care about the costs to the Ontario taxpayers and ratepayers and is more interested in that “parliamentary language and might have to cough up some interesting information under oath.

  2. Thanks for the insightful summary. Indeed 5 minutes is not much time, and if required to “play nice” it is hard to get beyond the polite hello’s. Not sure if you “took the bull by the horns” in your 5 minutes or if you were indeed the bull itself charging out the gate, so that the matador had to wave his red flag wildly to prevent being gored. (Interesting additional insight from Parker there!) Sad that those you implicated most clearly were not there to have to squirm, or that they will ever likely be held accountable by those they had pledged to serve … and serve they did – as they served each up a big bill, that we will be paying for some time.

  3. Methinks Delaney protests too much………………….I guess a person trying to hang on to his place in line to the tax payer’s trough of money will do almost anything to continue the free ride on our dime!
    When these Liberal parasites get thrown into the dust bin of history all we can hope for is people like this never ever get a chance again to fleece honest hard working tax payers, but politics has a way of rewarding failure!
    Keep up the great work Tom, sometimes it just takes one honest person to bring down a complete house full of rotten tenants!

    • Absolutely ! Now we just need Tom, or someone as intelligent and hard hitting to take up the cause to have the Liberal Party pay for all of this and not the taxpayer.
      As well an introduction of legislation to somehow get a reasonable amount of money back from those private companies that made out like bandits. We can’t just sit back and watch them all ‘live large’ now. At very least a television account and documentary of how they live now with all that money. Then they might feel a little heat (as it should be) as well.

  4. Pingback: Inside Look into the Liberal Defence! « BUM FOOD

  5. I attempted to watch the Justice Committee Meeting yesterday and was stymied in my attempt as the link broke down and from all accounts could not be repaired. I found the fact that the broadcast was interrupted a little convenient for the Wynne Liberal Government as you have been one of the most knowledgeable and critical witnesses at the Hearings. Fortunately, it was rebroadcast at 6:00 yesterday evening. I have written to Mr. Delaney and the Chair to advise them that they have no right whatsoever to dictate to the Citizenry what language they must use when describing the Government. I have suggested that The Charter of Rights and Freedoms notwithstanding, they may wish to give Magna Carta a read. This coupled with the threat of a legal suit is beyond the pale. The People of Ontario owe you a huge debt of gratitude. I am doing everything in my power to get Question Period and The Committee meetings broadcast on TVO at a time other than 3:30 in the morning. They insist that they are apolitical but the Liberals clearly have their fingers in every pie and The People are being kept in the dark and fed manure by the cable news stations. Despite the fact that TVO is paid for by US I frankly believe it is just another plank to our Democracy being maneuvered by this corrupt Liberal Government.

  6. Good job Tom and thanks once again for all of your hard work. There has been a lot of good testimony at this committee, amongst all the “insider” witness back side covering. My fear is that it will all be filed away never to be seen again. From what I have seen so far, politics reigns supreme and no one in power is really interested in learning from all of this, and improving things in the future.

  7. The Apr.23,2014 transcript of the Standing Committee on Justice Policy is available online.
    Tom Adams didn’t have much time to convey information with all of the distracting questions and interruptions.
    But at least this did get recorded.

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