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Ooops. Your contempt is showing

September 21, 2012

All party talks have broken down over the contempt ruling on release of documents relating to the cancellation of two gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

Speaker Dave Levac ruled last week that Energy Minister Chris Bentley was in contempt of the House for not releasing the documents. Instead of going immediately into the contempt debate, however, he tossed the issue back to the House leaders and told them to work it out between them.

That politicized something that should essentially not have been a political decision. It set an unfortunate precedent, because Parliament is supposed to be supreme.

Now, predictably, talks have broken down between the parties. The Liberals offered two options: They would release them to the estimates committee – but they would remain sealed for six weeks. Since their are no committees up and running right now, that could drag on forever. And the government could prorogue the House, in which case the issue could get pushed to the back burner forever.

The second option was to create an ad hoc committee comprised of an MPP and a staff member from each party who would review the documents. A special panel comprised of the Provincial auditor and two judges would have the final say on what could be released.

That, too, was a non-starter for the other parties. They expect about 50,000 – 100,000 documents and don’t consider this an option.

“We have said from the beginning these documents have to be released,” said NDP House leader Gilles Bisson.

“Why should we believe anything they say when they haven’t kept their word before?” Bisson asked.

The government has until 6 p.m on Monday to produce the documents. Watch for fireworks next week.

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