A TIME OF SCANDAL
Date: Saturday, April 23 2005
Topic: Canadian Politics
A TIME OF SCANDAL
Two political scandals have been unearthed in Canada over the past two months. But only the sponsorship scandal in Ottawa has received the attention that's warranted.
In Ontario, news that Hydro One handed out lucrative contracts to former Tory advisors has been ugly to behold. Reports say Ontario's publicly owned utility paid out $5.6 million to former advisors to Premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.
The players involved in the Hydro One affair were key insiders during the 8-year Tory reign at Queen's Park: Tom Long (former Harris advisor), Paul Rhodes (Tory campaign communications director), Leslie Noble (co-chair of the Tory election campaign), and Michael Gourley (a reported advisor and confidant of Eves).
The difference with the sponsorship scandal in Ottawa is that at least the Martin Liberals are taking action. Earlier this year auditor-general Sheila Fraser's report found $100 million of sponsorship money was paid to Liberal-connected communications firms in fees and commissions for which little was done. The firms received these fees through government contracts Fraser described as, "highly complicated and questionable methods."
Among other things, Prime Minister Martin announced an independent commission of public inquiry; hired an outside lawyer to pursue firms and individuals who improperly received money (threatening to possible sue them); promised new "whistle-blower" protection for public servants; initiated a review of the way cabinet is responsible for the actions of public servants; and promised reforms in the way Crown corporations are operated.
But the McGuinty Liberals haven't taken any concrete steps to ensure this kind of plundering of public resources doesn't occur again in Ontario.