Hudak calls for non-confidence vote over gas plants
Joshua Freeman and Chris Kitching, CP24.com
Published Monday, April 29, 2013 3:30AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 29, 2013 1:44PM EDT
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak is calling for a vote of non-confidence in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government over the cost of two gas plants cancelled by the Liberals during last year’s election.
The Tories introduced a non-confidence motion at Queen's Park on Monday, as Hudak accused the Liberal government of corruption, and said Ontarians should have no faith in Wynne's government because of the gas plants scandal.
"I want Ontarians to have confidence in their government," Hudak told reporters. "We're going to hold this Liberal government to account."
For the motion to be voted on, it requires the government's consent, but Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday that the motion will not be supported by her party.
Wynne said the Tories should wait for Thursday’s budget vote because it is an automatic confidence vote.
“There’s a big confidence opportunity with the budget, and we’ll be bringing the budget down on Thursday,” Wynne told reporters. “I know that the opposition parties will have a chance to express their confidence or not in the government, come the budget.”
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said the motion likely won’t be called for debate, and she is concerned the motion is “another political game” that will not deliver answers.
"I don’t think the confidence motion is going to be called for debate," she said. "That’s why it’s a bit of a game and I think this issue deserves more respect than being used as a political football."
In a video released to media over the weekend, Hudak said the gas plant cancellation shows “a callous disregard for taxpayers” and said it crossed a line.
“We want to see a vote in the house that says ‘this quite frankly shakes our confidence in the government’s ability,’” Hudak told CP24 at an event Sunday. “I worry if they get away with this they’ll try to do it again.”
He said it was the auditor general’s report on the gas plants that spurred his decision to table a no-confidence motion.
“When you see some of the contracts (the Liberals) knew were there and they cancelled … those are some of the things that cross the line towards corruption,” Hudak said. “That’s why I’m going to be bringing this forward to the house on behalf of Ontarians.”
The premier is set to testify Tuesday before a legislative committee about the costs of the cancelled gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville.
A report from the auditor-general has already pegged the cost of moving the Mississauga plant at $275 million. The Liberals had originally said the cost of moving the plant was $190 million.
The auditor-general has not yet clarified the costs of cancelling the Oakville plant.
Wynne has said previously that she was not in the room when the decision to cancel the gas plants was made.
The move comes just days before a new budget is set to be tabled by Finance Minister Charles Sousa.
Sousa’s budget – set to be unveiled Thursday – is the first budget the Liberals have presented since Wynne took over the reins from former premier Dalton McGuinty, who stepped down last year amid anger over the cancellation of the gas plants, as well as fury from teachers over legislation that allowed the government to impose new contracts.
Hudak has said previously that he won’t vote for the budget.
In that case the Ontario New Democrats would be left to decide whether to prop up the minority Liberals or send the province to the polls.
Horwath has said she’ll wait to see what’s in the budget before deciding whether to vote for it. However, she’s made it clear she expects the premier to deliver on key concessions, such as closing corporate tax loopholes – a goal she describes as being within reach.
“We want to see a program for youth unemployment,” Horwath told CP24 during Khalsa Day festivities in downtown Toronto Sunday. “We want to see overall fairness in the budget as well. We want to see closing of corporate tax loopholes.
“None of these things are unachievable… If Ontarians don’t get those results in the budget, we won’t be able to support it.”
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