02/20/2013 11:12 EST | Updated 04/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Liberals fuming as Tories return to gas-plant controversy

The governing Liberals faced familiar questions from opposition parties Wednesday about the costly cancellation of two gas plants, the same controversy that ground legislative business to a halt last fall.

The Progressive Conservatives moved quickly to resurrect a contempt motion that had died when former premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued the house last October and announced that he was stepping down as leader.

Four months later, the Liberals have a new leader in place, but their opponents still want to know more about who made the decisions to cancel gas plant projects in Oakville and Mississauga.

The Liberals admit those cancellations cost taxpayers $230 million. The opposition believes the true price tag is much higher.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said the revived contempt motion, which passed on Wednesday morning with NDP support, has a "mean spiritedness to it."

The justice committee will now examine the contempt motion, which the Liberals say blames former energy minister Chris Bentley, who is no longer an MPP, for the withholding of documents related to the gas plants issue.

Government house leader John Milloy insists he and Bentley made honest mistakes last September when they told the legislature all the documents had been released, only to find another 20,000 pages a month later.

But the Conservatives aren't convinced.

"About a dozen (Liberals) said 'You have all the documents,' but the fact of the matter is we allege they knew we did not," PC energy critic Vic Fedeli said Wednesday.

"So they spoke with statements that misled the legislature."

Motion a 'personal attack' on Bentley, Wynne says

Wynne told reporters that she believed the motion was "a personal attack on a member who was a member in good standing who worked very hard for the people of this province in every way he could and he's not here now.

"And I think that there is a mean-spiritedness to this."

Wynne said she was disappointed that the special committee option she offered to probe this issue was not chosen.

"I offered a different path, they've chosen this path .… My hope would have been that we could have moved on to talk about, yes, the root of the issue. And I have said all along that as questions come forward, if there are questions that decision around the gas plants, we want to make sure all that information is available."

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath she would have preferred for the premier to follow her suggestion for a public inquiry.

"I would have preferred that this entire mess be punted out of the legislature and dealt with in a public inquiry process," she said Wednesday.

Horwath disagreed with the premier's belief that the opposition parties were being vindictive.

"On the contrary, it's a matter of getting the answers for the people of Ontario," she said.