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Should Chris Bentley go down for Dalton McGuinty

Bruce A. Stewart — The Prince Arthur Herald — October 12, 2012

Chris Bentley has been the Minister of Energy in Ontario since the 2011 election. Right now, he’s facing the possibility of being found in contempt of the legislature. “Contempt of Parliament” can not only cost him his ministerial seat, it could send him to jail. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong man facing the charges.

Let me state clearly that in our system of responsible Parliamentary government, a Minister of the Crown is responsible to the members in the chamber. (All of them, not just those in his own party, despite what Whips and Premiers may think!) She or he must answer all questions, not mislead the House, provide requested information to the House, etc. He or she is also fully responsible for all the actions of their department, and its agencies, boards, commissions and crown corporations.

For Chris Bentley, it would be bad enough that what comes with this is responsibility for his predecessors’ doings as well.

But is he responsible for the actions of the Ontario Liberal Party’s campaign team? You be the judge.

During the 2011 general election, the Liberals were worried they’d lose two Etobicoke seats, two Mississauga seats and the Oakville seat, due to local concerns about gas-fired power plants being erected in the area. The Mississauga plant was already under construction; the Oakville one was on the drawing board with preliminary planning work done.

Playing the NIMBY game (“not in my backyard”) was seen as a way to swing the ridings back behind Team Red. So the orders were given — from the campaign — to kill both plants.

The Premier, Dalton McGuinty, was reelected with a minority government. He’d have that if any or all of these seats had gone another way. Not that they were going to: subsequent poll analysis shows that the worst case would have seen all five stay Liberal, just with reduced majorities (typically, from 16% over the second-place candidate to 3-4% instead).

But, hey, what’s $230 million of the taxpayer’s money thrown down the drain to rack up the margins, eh?

(To continue reading, click here)

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