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26 2011

Power and Politics

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

For years now, many people in Peel Region have been protesting the construction of a gas power plant in Mississauga, which has been six years in the making.   This weekend, the Ontario Liberals did a volt face on the issue and pulled the plug on the plant. Why?   This was Premier Dalton McGuinty's explanation, given at a downtown Toronto pub event on Sunday.             Undoubtedly, "listening to the community" was part of the Liberals' decision.   But the notion that politics --- essentially, trying to hang on to all those seats in Mississauga and western Etobicoke --- didn't figure into the mix just strains credulity.       Cabinet minister Charles Sousa was no doubt vulnerable in Mississauga South. Same for minister Laurel Broten in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.   The Liberals held Mississauga East-Cooksville but had run the risk of losing it because of the power plant. (Peter Fonseca held the seat for the Grits in the last house, left to run federally and lost. So the seat is open and "in play.").         Critics of the government note that when the heat got too hot in Oakville riding, the Liberals cancelled a gas-fired plant there too. That may save Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn.   However, they're still planning to go ahead with another power plant north of Toronto, in a riding held by the Conservatives.   Premier McGuinty picked a good place to announce his turnaround on the gas plant in Mississauga. He was surrounded by university students, pleased with his post-secondary announcements on tuition breaks, three new campuses, and 60,000 new post-secondary spaces.           It was yet another event where the premier's organizers ensured he'd only be surrounded by familiar and happy faces, and no critics (other than the media).   And with all those beer taps staring him in the face, the inevitable photo op of the premier filling glasses wasn't far behind.     When I quipped to the premier that tomorrow's headlines would say, "McGuinty Getting Students Drunk," he smiled and joked, "It's worse: I haven't asked any of them for I.D. either."   Yet another day on the hustings...

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