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Energy minister defends tourney

Timing of golf event questioned
Won't influence bids, Dwight Duncan says

Toronto Star - August 26, 2004
by Rob Ferguson and Caroline Mallan

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan is defending a recent golf fundraiser held days before yesterday's deadline for proposals from companies hoping to win electricity generation contracts in Ontario.

There should be no concerns because an independent consulting company is considering the proposals on behalf of the province, Duncan, who charged $5,000 per foursome of golfers participating in the event, said outside a cabinet meeting yesterday.

"We're not involved in the selection at all."

The annual tournament, for which invitations were sent to energy companies and other potential donors, was held Monday in Windsor and proceeds went to Duncan's Liberal riding association in Windsor-St. Clair.

"It has nothing to do with the minister's office," said Duncan spokesperson Angie Robson.

Opposition critics have complained the timing was questionable, given that the tournament was two days before yesterday's deadline for proposals on electricity generation from renewable sources, such as wind and the sun.

Duncan insisted no one who donated was buying influence with him, saying donors came forward for the "same reason they donate to the Tories. It's part of the process. As did auto companies and developers. It's part of the process."

A list of donors and the amount raised at the tournament was not immediately available. The riding association could not be reached for comment.

Attorney-General Michael Bryant said he is willing to look at every aspect of political fundraising in an effort to raise public confidence, as the Liberals promised in last fall's campaign. If concerns are raised about the timing of major political fundraisers in conjunction with major government policy decisions affecting big business or others, that's something that might be looked at in the reform process, he added.

Duncan also confirmed the coal-fired Lakeview Generating Station in east Mississauga, which is blamed for air pollution problems, is still on schedule to be closed next year despite "potentially serious" new problems at the Pickering B nuclear generating station.

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