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Ontarians say premier lied about gas plants, nearly half think gov't 'corrupt': Poll

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa in the legislature at Queen's Park for the budget announcement, Thursday, May 2, 2013. (STAN BEHAL/Toronto Sun)

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa in the legislature at Queen's Park for the budget announcement, Thursday, May 2, 2013. (STAN BEHAL/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO -- The majority of Ontarians think the provincial Liberal government flat out lied to them about the cost of relocating the cancelled Oakville power plant, a new poll obtained by QMI Agency shows.

And almost half of Ontarians polled think their provincial government is "corrupt," the survey by Forum Research Inc. found.

As the tab climbed to $310 million for the Oakville gas plant relocation -- not the $40 million previously stated by the Liberals -- 43% of respondents called for a public inquiry into the government's actions.

"The gas plants continue to be a toxic file for the government and may be the one thorn they can't pull out of their paw," Dr. Lorne Bozinoff, president of the polling company, said. "It may require the antiseptic of a public inquiry and a number of firings to clear the air."

The Ontario Liberals cancelled planned gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga because they were unpopular with local residents, and despite signed contracts with private builders.

The government told Ontarians they would have to eat about $230 million to relocate both plants to other areas, but the price tag has since jumped to $585 million and counting.

In a stunning result for new premier Kathleen Wynne, 61% of Ontarians polled believe her government fibbed about the true expense of the plant cancellation, compared to just 24% who think the government was misled on cost.

The premier said she "regrets" the process that led to the late cancellation of the plants, but hasn't directly apologized for the cost which will be paid through a combination of taxes and hydro bills.

Wynne and others in her party have insisted that they were depending on Ontario Power Authority (OPA) bureaucrats to provide cost figures.

But a majority of respondents in all parts of the province are convinced the Grits lied to them -- 61% of eastern Ontario residents, 62% of Greater Toronto area residents, 65% of southwestern Ontario residents and 55% of northern Ontario residents, the poll found.

The vast majority of Progressive Conservative supporters (81%) and New Democrat supporters (74%) believe the Ontario Liberals were telling a whopper.

Just three in 10 Liberals -- 30% -- share that view.

And in an ominous sign as Wynne faces confidence motions on her budget, 46% of Ontarians polled believe her government is corrupt, compared to 39% who do not.

The minority Liberal government is depending on the support of NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and her caucus to survive a budget vote, but 52% of New Democrat supporters polled see the government as corrupt.

Horwath is currently "consulting" with Ontarians to see if they want her to vote in favour of the budget and keep the Liberal government in power.

Three in every four PC voters label the Liberals corrupt, which may explain why Tory Leader Tim Hudak is calling for a provincial election as soon as possible, refusing to back the budget.

The Forum Research poll found that Ontarians want a public inquiry into the gas plant fiasco.

More than four out of 10 (43%) support the idea, while 23% believe it should continue to be examined at a government committee.

The poll found that 26% of people -- but 42% of Liberal supporters -- want the file dropped.

Forum surveyed 869 Ontarians on Friday, with a margin of error of 3%.

antonella.artuso@sunmedia.ca

Poll

Do you think the government has lied about the Oakville gas plant?


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