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Premier Dalton McGuinty takes aim at opposition over contempt

By Jonathan Jenkins, Queen's Park Bureau

Dalton McGuinty. (Toronto Sun files)

Dalton McGuinty. (Toronto Sun files)

TORONTO - 

Premier Dalton McGuinty appealed directly to his opposition rivals Tuesday, asking Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath to release their members from party discipline for a vote on Energy Minister Chris Bentley’s contempt of parliament case.

McGuinty said it’s unfair and unprecedented to send an MPP before a committee to decide if he’s in contempt and the continued of the charge by both opposition parties risks “dishonouring” the Legislature.

With only a minority of seats in the House, the government can’t prevent the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats from voting to send Bentley before the finance committee in a vote after Question Period Tuesday.

The House has debated the issue for a week — blocking any other business from proceeding — after Bentley finally agreed to release 36,000 pages of government documents on the decision to relocate two gas plants at a cost of at least $230 million.

McGuinty argued that Bentley had produced the papers before a deadline set by Speaker Dave Levac but PC MPP Peter Shurman said the release was too late and still incomplete.

“If Dalton McGuinty wants to defend Chris Bentley he can be the first witness to come before the committee,” Shurman said.

One Tory official said McGuinty’s appeal would not sway the party.

“It’s full steam ahead for us,” the Tory said.

No one has been found in contempt of the Ontario Legislature in more than 100 years.

McGuinty has said the decision to move the two plants — one a year before the election, the second just days before — was made because of local opposition, but the Tories and New Democrats have called it a shameless effort to save nearby Liberal seats, at taxpayers’ expense.


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