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BLIZZARD

Kathleen Wynne should uncover the gas-plant coverup

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

Premier Kathleen Wynne faces media on Monday, July 15, 2013, at Queen's Park. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

Premier Kathleen Wynne faces media on Monday, July 15, 2013, at Queen's Park. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

Toronto - 

It’s not so much the scandal as the coverup that gets you into trouble.

Just ask Richard Nixon, and book yourself a suite at Hotel Watergate.

The gas plant scandal would be dead, buried and long forgotten by now if the Liberals had simply come out and said they’d screwed up, made a mistake - and were honestly trying to fix it.

If their backroom operatives hadn’t tried to be so clever, they’d have released all the documentation around the plant closures. It would have been embarrassing - but they would have survived.

As it is, the ham-fisted attempt to cover-up their stupidity has turned into a giant onion of lies.

You peel back one layer and another one emerges.

Recent e-mails reveal that Don Guy, who co-chaired three winning election campaigns for premier Dalton McGuinty, suggested bullying Speaker Dave Levac into revisiting his contempt ruling against former energy minister Chris Bentley.

In one e-mail, Guy told Laura Miller, a staffer in McGuinty’s office, “Speaker needs to follow up on his prima facie finding and change his mind.”

At the last two meetings of the justice committee probing the gas plant cancellations, Liberal chair Shafiq Qaadri refused to allow questions about the apparent attempt to strongarm Levac.

Tories said this week they’d bring another contempt motion on that issue to the Legislature when it returns in September. New Democrats said they want the scope of the committee expanded.

And Premier Kathleen Wynne?

Well, she said Thursday that she was “surprised” by Qaadri’s ruling.

“I was surprised, the chair of the committee was advised by the clerk that the questions being asked weren’t in order. So I was surprised because I had fully expected that those questions could be asked,” she told reporters.

Wynne said she does not have the authority to direct the Clerk or the chair and any discussion about changing the scope of the commiittee requires unanimous consent of all parties.

"The chair of the committee takes advice from the Clerk. This is part of the legislative assembly process and the reason I make this point is the chair takes that advice from the Clerk and is not directed by my office," she said.

"It’s a committee of the legislature and the advice from the Clerk is taken by the chair," the premier said.

NDP House leader Gilles Bisson scoffed at that.

“All she has to do is say ‘yes.’ It’s as simple as that. The government House leader takes his direction from the premier’s office,” he said.

“The easiest thing to do is say yes and allow the committee to do its work and that way the Legislature can deal with all the other things it has to deal with.”

So, there’s the solution if the Liberals don’t want a legislature gridlocked by a contempt motion this fall.

Just say yes.

Sunlight is a great sanitizer. Open up the committee and let some fresh air in.

Because we all know what happens when you peel a rotten onion.

It starts to stink.

And then it makes you cry.



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