Chris Bentley announced his intention to resign as provincial Energy minister at a press conference on Friday. The news comes only one day after Finance minister Dwight Duncan announced his resignation. Both will take effect Feb. 14.
As if choreographed, Bentley echoed Duncan by saying that this was a time of renewal for the Liberal party in Ontario.
Similarly, Bentley praised incoming Premier Kathleen Wynne. “She is a very capable, very hardworking person,” he said.
Bentley was at the centre of the political storm caused by the Liberal decision to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.
Although Bentley became minister after that decision was made, he faced contempt of Parliament charges initiated by the provincial Conservatives for not releasing all documents pertaining to the decision.
Bentley became the ‘fall guy’ for the Liberal’s vote-grabbing decision, scoffed Conservative MPP and energy critic Victor Fedeli.
Even though the charges will not follow Bentley into private life when he leaves office, contempt of Parliament charges will still be pursued against the Ontario Liberal party. The action is against the position and not the individual, said Fedeli.
As Kathleen Wynne and her newly chosen cabinet prepare to be sworn in Feb. 14, she faces the prospect of calling two by-elections to replace Duncan and Bentley.
The legislature is set to return Feb. 19, four months after being prorogued by then Premier Dalton McGuinty.