Gas Busters Part 37: Hearings Scheduling Update & Highlights of April 23

Coming up Thursday April 26 at 8:30 am, representing TransCanada Energy (TCE), Chris Breen.

For those wishing to follow the webcasts of the hearings, go to the Ontario Legislature main page, use the “Queen’s Park Webcast” button and then use the “Committee Webcast” button.

A couple of notes on yesterday’s proceedings:

In general, Peter Tabuns has put on a very impressive performance throughout the hearings with informed and penetrating questioning presented fairly and respectfully. One exception arose yesterday in cross-examining former Deputy Director of Policy and energy advisor to Premier McGuinty, Sean Mullin. At one point in his cross-examination, Mr. Tabuns was relying on documents not presented to the witness. There were lots of problems with Mullin’s testimony, particularly his denial of multiple reports that he gave TCE financial assurances behind the backs of the OPA and the Energy Minister at the time, his selective memory and lack of records, and his acknowledgement that he discussed with TCE the Long Term Energy Plan which he was then involved in drafting and which had material business implications for TCE. Irrespective of these issues, Mullin should have been afforded the courtesy of disclosure. Being asked to read and respond to questions on fresh documents while on the stand is not fair to witnesses. The hearings process should have rules to ensure that all witnesses are given notice of documents that may be referred to in cross-examination.

If Mr. Mullin is remotely qualified to have been Deputy Director of Policy for the Premier of Ontario, those qualifications were not in evidence yesterday.

Former Energy Minister Bentley appeared. Bentley is still sticking with the mind game about how the $180 million, then $190 million, figure for the cost of moving the Mississauga power plant is the right figure but that the Auditor General uses a different approach for adding up the costs. Bentley’s smoke screen tactic to cover his tracks illustrates a fundamental vulnerability for Ontario’s power system arising from the vast financial access politicians now directly control. Inherent to power system economics are long financial time horizons. When revenues and costs are shifted around in time, there are abundant opportunities for financial mischief.

Former Energy Minister Duguid also appeared. The main thrust of his testimony was to deny the mountain of evidence showing that he was out of the loop on the heavy decisions about the gas plants moves and negotiations. He spoke at some length about the burdens of office and responsibility for discharging the public interest but gave no hint that he was qualified to have been the principle authority guiding the power plan that governs Ontario’s power system today.


  1. Mullin’s testimony reminded me of that provided by MacLennan before him. Was left wondering how either of them even come up with the data they’d need to compile their own income tax returns.

    As for Bentley’s testimony – not hard to tell he’s a lawyer. And a politician. If black can’t be successfully argued white – just keep talking about its rosy colour until everyone trying to see in vain is rendered permanently colour-blind.

    Poor Brad [Duguid]. I almost felt I should be embarrassed for him. ALMOST. Then I decided I’d let him keep that embarrassment all for himself, since he earned it.

    So far, my vote of confidence goes to Joanne Butler.

  2. (Two comments were added to this discussion and are recovered here from a manual transfer at a site outage problem.)
    April 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm (Edit)
    I figured their “different approaches to numbers” was likely because the Auditor General hadn’t yet been trained on “Sustainable Accounting” (for details, see ). Either that, or maybe he is simply “mature” enough to have made his way through the Public Education system before the global adoption of Common Core standards for creating the “systems thinking” of its Lifelong Learning Community of Global Citizens? (see to learn more)

    On the other hand, Bentley seems to have mastered the skills required for moving the “distributed Capitalism” of a centrally-managed and “sustainable” global economy “forward”. Which may secondarily explain why he was chosen to be Ontario’s Minister of Energy and anyone preferring traditional accounting methods like the Auditor General may never have been?

    April 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm (Edit)
    I’m with you Brook. Butler’s testimony was a crocus blooming in the snow. Until Butler, the government tried hard to float the talking point that the cost figures they had relied upon were only what they had been told by the OPA. One wonders who dreamed up that ugliness. When Bruce Sharp and I started shouting as loudly as we could about the hidden costs, McGuinty dismissed the dissenters as “Elvis”. After Butler, the “blame-the-OPA” lie became too obvious, so they had to come up with new talking points. One example is Bentley’s new knee slapper about how he and the Auditor General have different approaches to numbers.

    In weighing Butler’s performance, an issue to consider (that has regrettably received no air time yet at the hearings) is that the government had no directive power under the Electricity Act to cancel a procurement. The minister had no authority. Instead, it appears that he just called up the folks he appointed to the “independent” board of the OPA and they did his bidding for him. Where in the world was the OPA board in all this mess? They’re paid by ratepayers to safeguard our interests, not to kowtow to the minister. Why didn’t even one say out loud that this was wrong and vote “no” or resign? When Butler came to the hearing, obviously trying to clear away the smoke screen set up around the whole mess, she must have had a nagging concern about how bad the real story would make the OPA board look.

    One element of the PC strategy that bugs me with was their slagging of the OPA’s use of outside counsel to prepare for appearances before the Committee. Butler deserves an award for public service, not a slap for doing her homework.

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