11/09/2011 11:51 EST | Updated 01/09/2012 05:12 EST

Discussions underway but no new info on Mississauga gas plant, McGuinty says

TORONTO - The governing Liberals are no closer to moving a gas plant they promised to shut down during the provincial election despite calls from the opposition to at least stop work on the site so that taxpayers don't get stuck with a massive bill.

"The taxpayers are just being hosed," said Progressive Conservative critic Jim Wilson.

"I think (Premier Dalton McGuinty) didn't have an end game and I think he misled the people of Mississauga and the people of Ontario."

Both the Tories and the New Democrats question the government's decision to allow construction to continue on a plant they have promised to relocate, and wondered whether the Liberals will be able to keep their promise as the Mississauga facility gets closer to completion.

McGuinty could ask for a work stop order while he negotiates to move the plant, Wilson said, but is instead letting the project progress.

"He's probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars at this point, and every day they drive in another nail or turn another bolt, the cost to Ontario taxpayers is going up," said Wilson.

McGuinty has insisted he will move the plants but had no progress to report Wednesday, only saying that "discussions are still underway."

He also couldn't say how long those discussions will take.

Energy Minister Chris Bentley refused to answer questions about why the government was allowing the plant to grow bigger, which would only make its transport more difficult and costly.

"I'm not going to get into the minute-by-minute discussions about various parts of this," said Bentley.

"It would be my hope to see a resolution to this as quickly and expeditiously as possible."

New Democrat Jonah Schein said that answer wasn't good enough, especially given that the promise was a last-minute decision just days away from last month's election.

"We need to hear from the government on this issue, this is a big deal," he said.

"They changed their mind at the last minute there, and we need to get some answers about that."

The opposition also pointed out that if the government ultimately backtracks on the promise, it wouldn't be the first time: McGuinty had vowed to block the construction of homes in Oak Ridges Moraine during the 2003 election but said after that win that he wouldn't be able to do it.

Wilson hinted that if it comes to that, his party could go as far as to push for a byelection the ridings around the power plant, where four Liberals were re-elected because residents wanted the facility gone. They said the Greenfield South plant, which straddles the Toronto-Mississauga border, was too close to homes, schools, a hospital, a hospice and a large mall.

Taxpayers are already on the hook for a cancelled gas plant in Oakville — another Liberal riding.