by Christina Blizzard
What a relief it is in provincial circles that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been kicked out of office for a conflict of interest amounting to a piddly $3,000.
Now perhaps we can hound out of office some of the people responsible for the massive boondoggles at the province.
We can start with former Government Services minister Harinder Takhar.
In 2006, integrity commissioner Coulter Osborne found Takhar broke the Integrity Act by assigning a political ally to manage his business assets in a blind trust. The trustee is supposed to operate at arm’s length from the minister.
Osborne said Takhar was “egregiously reckless” in the way he handled his business assets while in cabinet.
Not only did Takhar not step down. He steadfastly hung in.
In Liberal circles, breaching the Integrity Act is a badge of honour, it would seem.
Premier Dalton McGuinty didn’t shuffle him. Takhar was returned to cabinet after the 2007 election. And last week, Takhar announced he’s running to be premier of the province.
And what about the $1-billion eHealth boondoggle?
Heck, here’s the judge bringing down the hammer hard on Ford over $3,000.
Just think what he’ll do when he finds out about all those millions of dollars in sole-sourced contracts that went to Liberal buddies over eHealth.
Ford’s so-called “sins” pale by comparison when you consider one Liberal-friendly consultant was picking up $3,600 a day for work he did for the government.
Then there’s so-called “Colle-gate” — where hundreds of thousands of dollars was blown out the door with no accountability, no followup.
One grant of $250,000 went to the Bengali Cultural Society in Toronto after the intervention of Liberal MP Maria Minna. A grant of $200,000 was given to the Iranian Canadian Community Centre — an organization whose entire board of directors donated money to the provincial Liberal party.
They gave $850,000 to the Ontario Cricket Association — a grant the cricket club hadn’t even asked for.
Then there’s the Ornge air ambulance scandal.
“To the nose of this watchdog, this just didn’t pass the smell test,” auditor general Jim McCarter said when he released his scathing report.
Who was at the helm of the health ministry when both eHealth and Ornge got rolling?
Well, that would be former health minister George Smitherman. Keep that in mind when the former mayoral candidate — defeated by Ford — starts to get preachy about his former rival.
Finally, there’s the $1-billion gas plant boondoggle.
In the middle of an election campaign, the Liberals pulled the plug on an unpopular power plant in Mississauga — to save a couple of Liberal seats.
Then, when Energy Minister Chris Bentley was asked to produce documents about that cancellation, he dragged his heels and was found to be in contempt of the legislature.
When that ruling came down, to hear McGuinty speak, you’d think it was the fault of the two opposition parties for holding their feet to the fire — not the fault of his government for playing fast and loose with campaign promises.
London, Ont., Mayor Joe Fontana is facing criminal charges stemming from his time as a Liberal MP. He has failed to resign.
Whatever you think about Rob Ford, he didn’t benefit personally from the $3,000 conflict of interest. It seems to me if you’re a left-wing politician in this province, you’re held to a much lower standard than if you are a right-wing politician.
Or do we just expect less of Liberals than we do of Tories?
Either way, I hope there’s a mayoral byelection.
I hope Ford runs in it — because I’m betting he’ll win hands down.
Let the voters decide who’s right and who’s wrong.
Categories: Contributor Columns