Opposition critics are urging Ontario Ombudsman André Marin to probe a secret investigation by the Ontario Power Authority into allegations an employee profited from the decision to scrap the controversial Oakville gas plant.
The provincial agency, responsible for planning Ontario’s electricity needs, confirmed last week for the Toronto Star that an investigation was launched in May but has refused to release details on the investigation headed up by an outside lawyer.
So far the agency won’t identify the employee or lawyer, won’t say when the investigation is to be completed and refuses to make public the lawyer’s finding or what disciplinary action that could follow.
“The investigation and what actions should be taken should not be protected. It should be made public,” Progressive Conservative MPP John Yakabuski said Monday.
Among other things, it is alleged the unidentified employee held and or purchased stocks in TransCanada during negotiations between the agency and the company with respect to the cancellation of the Oakville gas plant and subsequently profited from the stock transactions.
Yakabuski said after he saw that Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli refused through a spokesperson to direct the OPA to come clean, he decided that he would write a letter to Marin, urging the activist ombudsman to intervene.
“We are going to write a letter to the ombudsman,” he said.
Chiarelli issued a statement Monday stating: “Certainly if these allegations are found to have merit, we expect the OPA to pass the findings to the appropriate authorities, in a timely fashion. We have a responsibility to ensure the privacy of those involved while the investigation is ongoing.”
In a letter to Marin, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns stated the government and its agency must be held to account.
“Holding an investigation behind closed doors, and then keeping the results under lock and key is not transparency. New Democrats believe that in order to get the truth and safeguard the public’s interest, an investigation must be conducted by an independent third party,” Tabuns said.
“This very serious matter of breach of public trust should not be taken lightly and deserves the utmost scrutiny,” he said.
Marin spokeswoman Linda Williamson said the ombudsman “does not have a comment on this at the moment,” but noted he does have oversight of the OPA.