Gas Busters Part 26: Liberals Now Pinning $230 million Cancelation Cost on OPA

After months of swearing up and down that the cost of cancelling the gas plants once contracted for Mississauga and Oakville was $230 million, the Liberal government is now backing away from that claim, blaming the Ontario Power Authority.

In light of smoking gun evidence produced by PC MPP Rob Leone that the Ontario government ordered the Ontario Power Authority to engage in a cover-up of evidence around the gas plant cancelation, the credibility of the government’s latest silly little head fake is zero. However, the tactic can only be yet another blow to morale within the Ontario public service.

Here is an exchange as reported by Hansard of Question Period in the Legislature Monday 25 February 2013 between the NDP energy critic and the government:

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Premier. Experts have consistently estimated the cost of cancelling the gas plants at over a billion dollars, and yet you have used numbers far less.

On Friday, the Premier refused to back up the government numbers that have been used for months. Will the Premier clarify whether she has any faith in the numbers that were used by the former Minister of Energy and former Minister of Finance in this matter?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: To the Minister of Energy, please.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: All parties in this Legislature supported the relocation of the gas plants. We were fortunate enough to be re-elected, and we relocated the gas plants.

The OPA has conducted an objective, independent assessment as to the cost. The OPA has provided the $230-million number to this government, and we made that number and the documents public with respect to the costs.

Contrast that against previous statements. Here is what McGuinty said to Randy Richmond of the London Free Press on November 2, 2012.

Q: The prorogation means this gas-plant investigation is over. What do you say to Ontarians who still want answers? The Conservatives say the cost of moving plants is up to $1 billion.

I am waiting for the day when somebody says, “˜Actually it’s $400 trillion,’ because, as I say, “˜If Elvis says it, I’ve got to print it.’ What was the latest number? $1.3 billion? Do I hear 1.7? When are we going to get to 2.8? It’s kind of an interesting game . . . In total we are talking a $230-­million cost.

McGuinty started blaming Elvis the day after Terence Corcoran published this column and I published this column estimating the cost of the cancelation at $1.3 billion.

Here is what the Ontario Power Authority CEO, Colin Andersen, said at his press conference last week (transcribed here) in response to a question on what the true cost of the cancelation is. Notice Mr. Andersen vigorously skating away from the $230 million claim.

Q: Crawley: One of the reasons that everybody wants the documents is to figure out what the true cost of the cancellations were. Can you reassure us that the true cost that we’ve been told is the true cost?

Andersen: That is a good question. It is actually one that we have been working on for a long period of time. The auditor general and his staff have been in our offices for a few months now. So he is going to be releasing a report on that question shortly. That is on the Greenfield or the Mississauga plant. And so you know we are working with them on that right now. So I think it’s probably best to say let’s see what that report has to say. The Premier did ask that the Oakville plant be asked, added to the work of the auditor general’s office. So we are going to continue to work cooperatively with the auditor’s office as we always have on these and answer whatever questions they have. So you know, I think the fact that those are going through that process, that is the appropriate place for those questions to be answered.

Q: Bliss: Is the cost different than what the government is telling us?

Andersen: We are working our way through that. So I think let’s see what that audit report, what conclusions the auditor comes to. We have provided information in the backup and all the rest of it. Let’s see what conclusions they come to.

Q: Bliss: It might be more.

Andersen: Well we have provided information and the backup so let’s what conclusions they come up with.