McGuinty aide to testify at gas plant hearings

TORONTO – Efforts by senior Liberals to pressure the Speaker of the Ontario legislature to change a preliminary finding of the government will be the focus of committee hearings today.

Email exchanges show a group of in former ’s office tried to get Speaker Dave Levac to change a ruling that there was a “” of contempt against then-energy minister for not releasing documents on two cancelled gas plants.

, a senior McGuinty adviser, wrote that Levac was being put “on notice that we need better here,” while Liberal campaign boss Don Guy wrote that the Speaker “needs to change his mind.”

Miller will be asked to explain her recently uncovered emails when she testifies under oath today at hearings into the Liberals’ decision to scrap gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, which cost at least $585 million.

After the Speaker refused to change his ruling, McGuinty prorogued the legislature and resigned as premier, preempting the hearings into the cancellation of the gas plants prior to the 2011 election.

Last Friday, Ontario’s integrity watchdog said she had no jurisdiction to investigate Opposition complaints that “Liberal operatives” tried to pressure the Speaker into changing his ruling, which they said was “akin to trying to influence a judge.”

“The Commissioner’s jurisdiction under the Act deals only with the conduct of elected officials,” wrote Lynn Morrison.

In his only comment on the issue, Levac put out a statement July 30 that did not deny Liberals had attempted to persuade him to change his ruling, but saying he never felt when meeting with officials from any party.

“I have never felt unable to make an informed, objective and procedurally , free of political interference,” Levac said in the statement.

“The fact that the ruling did stand should also speak for itself.”

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