Ontario government hydro ads aren’t in contempt of parliament: Speaker

Speaker Dave Levac ruled Thursday that he cannot "interpret or presume what might be in that possible legislation," so a case for contempt couldn't be established. Maria Babbage / File / The Canadian Press

TORONTO – The Speaker of Ontario’s legislature says government ads about planned hydro bill reductions are not in contempt of parliament.

The Progressive Conservatives had complained that the ads tout a reduction on hydro bills coming this summer as a done deal, when no legislation has been passed or even tabled yet.

But government house leader Yasir Naqvi argued that because no legislation has been introduced, the ads don’t interfere with any legislative proceedings.

READ MORE: Ontario PCs say Liberal hydro ads are in contempt of parliament

Speaker Dave Levac ruled today that he cannot “interpret or presume what might be in that possible legislation,” so a case for contempt couldn’t be established.

Both the Tories and NDP say the taxpayer-funded radio and social media ads are only meant to boost the popularity of a party sagging in the polls.

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Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has said it’s important to inform people of upcoming hydro relief.

READ MORE: Ontario PC leader calls for publicly-funded ‘partisan’ Liberal hydro ads to be pulled

The ads say people will receive an average of 25 per cent off their hydro bills this summer and rate increases are being held to inflation for four years. It doesn’t mention that the 25 per cent includes an eight-per-cent reduction that already took effect Jan. 1.

Thibeault said the government has so far spent less than $1 million – how much less, he wouldn’t say – on the ads, but that adding print and TV to the campaign later is likely.

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