editorial: Which scandal caused McGuinty to throw in the towel?
KJ Mullins-Toronto: In Ontario many have been asking “Where’s the money?” when it comes to government spending. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has weathered many scandals from eHealth to the most recent power plant closings.
McGuinty shocked some Monday when he stepped down as Liberal leader and closed up legislature. Telling the Liberal caucus at Queen’s Park that it was time for ‘new blood’ to continue the Liberal causes McGuinty’s exit brings forth questions of just what was the final straw that had him saying goodbye to his career.
Right now Ontario has a $14.4 billion deficit. In some areas that would be enough to impeach a leader but in Ontario there are no Articles of Impeachment.
There have been several scandals going on in Ontario for a while now. The eHealth, the Ontario Lottery, Ornge and the recent OPA scandals have all had the province asking how did it get so bad and why are taxpayers being jilted out of their hard earned money. In the days ahead more scandals could be tossed to the media fray.
For many the eHealth scandal should have been McGuinty’s ticket out of politics. The plans to computerize Ontarians health records has cost millions with little results.
In 2009 MP Olivia Chow was not surprised by the spending wastes that McGuinty. It’s who you know in the government. I am not surprised to see duplications and waste going on. This is most unfortunate for the citizens on Ontario.”
Ontario’s Lottery and Gaming Corp. was plagued with scandal in 2009. From board members getting Weight Watcher’s memberships to winners being denied their prizes the sums did not add up.
“I am disappointed with what has been brought to my attention,” Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told a news conference CTV reported. “The expenses are a symptom of a much larger problem.”
Ontario’s air ambulance service is one of the biggest recent scandals. Executives were given huge salaries while new helicopters were not set up to carry ill patients. President and CEO Chris Mazza’s salary was $1.4 million a year. The operations were in such a bad state that provincial health minister Deb Matthews called in the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate in early 2012.
When Mazza was fired in February Toronto Star quoted Health Minister Deb Matthews called the bankruptcy of the firms “vitally important and necessary steps needed to restore the confidence of Ontarians in the leadership team responsible for Ontario’s air ambulance service.”
The final reports stated that the government had paid Ornge $700 million in a five year period. The company also borrowed $300 million for aircraft. The costs increased during that 5 year period twenty percent with six percent fewer patients being transported.
More recently is the cancelling of two gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said at the beginning of the month, “We can’t fix every problem in our energy system overnight, but we can start by showing people exactly what they’re paying for,” continued Horwath. “I’m hoping that with the help of the Auditor General we can get answers for the people who are paying the bills.”
On October 7 Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak said in a press release:
“Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals have now received three formal requests from the Legislature to release all documents in full on their decision to cancel the two gas plants,” Wilson said. “They failed to comply the first two times. Now their Energy Minister is facing extremely serious contempt charges. What exactly will it take for the Liberals to step up, show some respect for taxpayers and produce these documents immediately?”
On Friday the Ontario Power Authority released 20,000 documents prompting allegations of McGuinty lying to Ontario and the Legislature.
It was a move that had at least one newspaper, The Toronto Sun, saying that it should be the end of the Ontario Liberals.
In the past McGuinty smooth talked his way out of the scandals that cost Ontarians millions. What could have changed that has the Premier giving up? Are there more skeletons in the Liberal closet that will have the people of Ontario shouting “Where is my money?”