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McGuinty, not Bentley, should bear the blame

Premier Dalton McGuinty, left, and Energy Minister Chris Bentley chat Oct. 2, 2012, moments before opposition MPPs voted to send Bentley before a legislative committee for contempt. (Jonathan Jenkins/Toronto Sun)

Premier Dalton McGuinty, left, and Energy Minister Chris Bentley chat Oct. 2, 2012, moments before opposition MPPs voted to send Bentley before a legislative committee for contempt. (Jonathan Jenkins/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

Premier Dalton McGuinty was his best theatrical self Tuesday, abruptly changing his itinerary to hold a festival of indignation about the Tory/NDP contempt motion against his Energy Minister Chris Bentley.

The two opposition parties wanted to end debate and send the matter directly to committee. McGuinty put out a statement late Monday night, postponing a scheduled event, saying the government was “blindsided,” by the closure motion, which prevented one-third of MPPs — including the premier himself — from speaking to the matter.

Tuesday morning, McGuinty was in high dudgeon, invoking the likes of John Diefenbaker and Bill Davis as he asked the two opposition leaders to allow a free vote on the motion censuring Bentley.

“In the 220-year history of our legislature, no House has ever voted to find a fellow member in contempt, let alone impose a punishment for contempt,” McGuinty said.

Well, hello?

In 220 years, no government has so blatantly and wantonly piddled $230 million down the drain to scrap two power plants in order to save two Liberal seats.

The contempt motion relates to documents relating to the cancellation of the Oakville gas plant.

McGuinty’s campaign team cancelled plants in Mississauga and Oakville purely for political advantage.

The premier tried to turn the contempt motion on the opposition parties.

“These attacks, these threats, this heavy-handed, unprecedented process — using the full force of the legislature against one MPP — these are decidedly not in keeping with the standards and traditions we seek to uphold,” he told reporters.

Oh, and just what “standards” and “traditions” would those be?

That Liberals have the divine right to squander tax dollars at will? They have the right to give untendered contracts to their partisan buddies — and get away with it?

That they have the right to throw away $1 billion on an eHealth boondoggle?

They waste hundreds of millions of public dollars on an outrageous plan to privatize the air ambulance system — and they’re not supposed to be held accountable?

Finally, now we have a minority government, the other two parties have the clout to actually call the government to account for this disgraceful spending on gas plants — and according to McGuinty that’s “heavy-handed.”

I don’t think so.

This hissy fit is uncharacteristic for McGuinty.

Say what you want, he’s never looked petulant before. This makes him look like a spoiled child. For the past nine years, he’s had his own way. His party was the one that invoked closure. His party steamrolled the opposition any time they could.

Now he’s stamping his foot because he’s being held to account.

That burning flesh you smell is Bentley roasting on the spit. He’s the Grits’ sacrificial lamb.

Bentley admitted the contempt motion was, “difficult for me to have to listen to.”

Is he the fall guy, I asked him? He wasn’t energy minister when the decisions were made to scrap the plants.

It’s clear he’s taking one for the team.

“Look, I’m a member of the government,” he said.

“We made a commitment during the campaign. Both other parties made exactly the same commitment. It was our job as government to fulfil that commitment,” he said.

Perhaps we’re roasting the wrong guy.

Ornge, eHealth, the gas plants.

Whose fingerprints are on all of the above?

McGuinty’s, that’s who.

Perhaps this phoney outrage about the censure of Bentley is really all about deflecting criticism from McGuinty onto Bentley.

Bentley becomes the lightning rod for anger around the gas plants.

Perhaps, it’s his boss who should take the blame — and resign.

Poll

Is Chris Bentley his party's sacrificial lamb?


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