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'Project Vapour' covered up true cost of cancelled power plants: PCs

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives claim they’ve uncovered evidence of the Liberal government attempting to cover up the true costs of the cancellation of two proposed GTA power plants.

The Liberals on Friday released an additional 20,000 documents related to the cancellation of the Oakville and Mississauga plants. Those were on top of 36,000 documents released last month.

After sifting through the second batch of papers, the PCs say they found a code name — Project Vapour — that they claim was used by the Liberals to mislead the legislature about the true costs of the cancellations.

“The term Vapour appears to be code for anything related to the power plants,” PC MPP Rob Leone said in a statement. “The Premier’s Office, with the help of high-ranking government officials, made an obvious and duplicitous attempt to cover up their tracks and avoid any potential freedom of information requests made in the future regarding the power plants by using this code.”

The power plants were set to be built in two Liberal ridings. The Mississauga plant was cancelled weeks ahead of the 2011 provincial election. The Opposition claims the Liberals decided to relocate that plant to save their seat. The decision to cancel the Oakville plant was made in 2010.

The Liberals peg the cancellation cost at about $230 million. On Wednesday, the PCs said they believe that figure is close to $1 billion.

A rare contempt motion against Energy Minister Chris Bentley passed in the legislature earlier this month, meaning a committee will review the issue and rule whether Bentley should be found in contempt of Parliament.

Work on the committee investigation ended when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced on Monday he was proroguing the legislature and stepping down as the party leader once a replacement is decided at a leadership convention, likely in the new year.

“With codenames and curiously missing emails, this package of documents makes clear that Dalton McGuinty and his government are still not complying with an Order of the House, and are still not telling Ontarians the truth,” PC energy critic Vic Fedeli said. “With ‘Project Vapour’ coming to light, no wonder Dalton McGuinty resigned.”