• Hi Guest: Welcome to TRIBE, the online home of TRIBE MAGAZINE. If you'd like to post here, or reply to existing posts on TRIBE, you first have to register. Join us!

Ontario Liberal insiders paid millions in publicly funded deals

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
Ontario Liberal insiders paid millions in publicly funded deals

ADAM RADWANSKI
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 24 2014, 6:00 AM EDT


A gap in transparency has allowed millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts to be awarded to friends and allies of political operatives in Ontario without the checks, balances and disclosures that accompany a public tendering process.

A Globe and Mail review has found a pattern of payments, about which little information is available, involving a tight circle of advisers that surrounded former premier Dalton McGuinty during his time in office. Among them were payments of more than $50,000 in the same year to two different companies in the name of the former premier’s campaign director; money repeatedly directed to a high-profile strategist through his then-wife’s business; and more than $300,000 paid to a former chief of staff shortly after he was pushed out of his job.

While there is no indication that any of the transactions were illegitimate, the lack of transparency makes it difficult to determine what services were provided at taxpayers’ expense.

During The Globe’s review, sources who previously worked as senior political staff said they were offered “top-ups” to their salaries through contracts that would never have to be made public.

The Globe review follows a criminal probe that helped bring to light the fact that nearly $160,000 in public funds were paid through a numbered company to Peter Faist, the boyfriend of a deputy chief of staff to Mr. McGuinty, for IT services that police believe led to the destruction of government records. (Mr. Faist was not the subject of the investigation, and police have not accused him of any wrongdoing.) Multiple sources told The Globe and Mail the contract was not an isolated incident.

Such arrangements have been hidden from view because they have been paid out of legislative funds given to each party for spending on the needs of their caucuses, which are not subject to freedom-of-information rules or other transparency measures that apply to government expenditures. Nor are they subject to conflict-of-interest rules.

Through a formula unique to Ontario, “caucus appropriations” are distributed to government and opposition parties proportionate to how many seats in the legislature they hold, and are intended for research, communication and administrative services. But there are virtually no checks on how that money, which amounts to about $5.5-million annually, is spent.

A similar situation exists with the “global budgets” given to MPPs primarily for their office and staffing needs, which vary slightly depending on the size of their ridings, but tend to be about $300,000 each. When members do not need to use their entire budgets, they are able to pool them together with their colleagues – in some cases effectively adding them to the funds for caucus. That adds to the money entrusted to a select few officials in the premier’s or leader’s office, with minimal accountability.

When contracts awarded with that money are worth less than $50,000, as most are, they are all but impossible to track. It is with contracts below that threshold, sources say, that salary top-ups were offered.

However, payments to an individual or company that total more than $50,000 in any given year are listed on Ontario’s public accounts – albeit with no information about what they are for.

Public accounts for 2013-14, the first year in which Kathleen Wynne was in the premier’s office, have not yet been released. However, by reviewing the public accounts from 2003-04 through 2012-13, and speaking with sources in or around government during that time, The Globe and Mail has gained insight into how the funds were spent during Mr. McGuinty’s time in office.


In 2011-12, for example, $55,935 was paid to Artisan Research, a company owned by Liberal campaign director Don Guy. The same year, the exact same amount was also paid to Cardinal Creative Services, a company name registered to a numbered entity directed by Mr. Guy.


Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, contracts adding up to $383,249 were paid to SEAK Communications – a company registered to Suzanne Amos, who was then the wife of Liberal campaign strategist Warren Kinsella. In 2009-10, around the time the marriage of Mr. Kinsella and Ms. Amos ended, payments that cumulatively totalled $262,355 started being made to West Bay Communications – a company registered to Mr. Kinsella, but not the one through which he usually does business.

In 2003-04, $320,484 was paid to the Excelsior Group, a company founded that year by Philip Dewan after he left as Mr. McGuinty’s chief of staff – a departure that multiple sources have said was not voluntary.

Others whose companies received payments included veteran Liberal adviser Gordon Ashworth and former premier’s office staffer Charlie Angelakos.

There is nothing to suggest these or other recipients of contracts did anything wrong, and the services delivered in return are less ambiguous in some cases than others. For instance, Pollara Strategic Opinion and Market Research Group – a company in which Mr. Guy played senior roles before and after he was in government, and which received $3.4-million in legislative funds – served as the Liberals’ pollster under Mr. McGuinty, and is said to have conducted riding-specific research for MPPs.

Because of the lack of transparency, however, there is little way of identifying what each payment was for, and whether it was delivered. It is also difficult to determine if caucus spending was directed toward election expenses, which would violate campaign-finance rules.

The fact that opposition parties have done little to raise questions about how the Liberals spend their legislative funds may have to do with their own use of them. While fewer entries in the public accounts can be traced to New Democrats and Conservatives, which reflects the oppositions’ smaller caucus budgets, the same lack of transparency applies – because of the $50,000 threshold, it is unclear how many smaller contracts they awarded.

All parties, as well, may have benefited from the fact that public accounts lumps all caucus contracts over $50,000 together, rather than specifying which party paid for them. That leaves some payments - such as $50,850 in 2011-12 to “Strategeme,” a company for which no ownership is available and which sources in all three parties could not identify - completely cloaked in mystery.

Jim McCarter – Ontario’s Auditor-General from 2003 until 2013 – told The Globe he was unaware of any issues with misuse of caucus budgets during that period. A senior official in Ms. Wynne’s office declined to speculate on how legislative funds were spent under Mr. McGuinty, but suggested that a closer eye is now being kept on the Liberal Caucus Service Bureau.

Through Mr. McGuinty’s time in office, sources say, deputy chief of staff for operations Dave Gene had strong control over how many of the caucus funds were spent. Laura Miller, another deputy chief of staff (and Mr. Faist’s partner), also had a strong hand toward the end of Mr. McGuinty’s tenure. Ms. Miller did not have signing authority, according to a source close her. But with the exception of Mr. Guy, who ran the premier’s office during Mr. McGuinty’s first term, other chiefs-of-staff were relatively hands-off in how the money was spent.

Mr. Gene did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Miller replied through her lawyer, Brian Shiller, that “caucus budgets are spent by all three parties in a way that is open, transparent and audited.”

In an e-mail, Mr. Guy stressed that while in government, he was not engaged in awarding contracts to companies with which he had a prior relationship. He also said that while at Pollara, he was not personally the contractor for Liberal caucus contracts.

Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian said she does not have jurisdiction over such spending, but expressed concern that if a “commitment to transparency is absent, then accountability cannot be assured, and the public’s trust may completely erode.” Ms. Cavoukian said she would support bringing such activities under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

from the Globe:
Ontario Liberal insiders paid millions in publicly funded deals - The Globe and Mail


*****

I am totally sad to see this Warren Kinsela guy actively involved in Olivia Chow's campaign for Mayor.... There must be future money in it for him somewhere down the line because I don't think he is doing it out of the goodness of his heart. This is worrying.

These insiders seem to cycle themselves through all levels of government, filling their pockets at every turn.
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
all this stuff with the liberals is really pissing me off. I don't want Hudak to win, but the Libs are handing the election to him
 

Wiseman

TRIBE Member
Leadership at the Provincial Level is awful.

Hudak is horrid and I think a Conservative government would set us back even further than where we are.

The liberals are a failure and their time is done for now.

I traditionally support NDP but Horwath should have stepped up against the Liberals a long time ago. I don't want to support the current Provincial NDP leadership.

If it's a best of the worst scenario I don't even know how to answer who the 'Best' is.

Bleh.
 

DJ Vuvu Zela

TRIBE Member
Dalton was an idiot, and has damaged the Liberal brand, but Wynne seems to be competent so i don't have a problem if they stay in power. I rather there not be an election for a bit, so i hope the NDP will support them.

I wouldn't be totally against the NDP having a crack at things, probably best if they started as a minority initially.

Hudak and the PCs are the worst of the lot. Divisive and petty with no actual ideas save for the standard conservative trickle down BS and populist nonsense.

I'd actually take Dalton back in a heartbeat over Hudak if it was a choice between dumb & dumber.
 
tribe cannabis accessories silver grinders

kyfe

TRIBE Member
I've been vocal in the past about voting NDP and I will continue to support them on the provincial level.

as for Kinsella I hope some of you realize exactly what you are getting with Chow, now that this information is on public record.

Lastly IF you want to be a public servant you should be forced to give up your other interests, no deco lables paycheque, no west bay communications paycheque etc etc. do the job and if you really are doing it for the right reasons you'll be alright with the ~130,000 salary that comes with the job
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
I'd actually take Dalton back in a heartbeat over Hudak if it was a choice between dumb & dumber.
well then that would make you dumberer:D
Dalton cost this province (you and me) BILLIONS and walked away scot free
he should serve jail time
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
THIS should be in the general forum, although it's politics is affects every taxpayer and should be more visible
 

DJ Vuvu Zela

TRIBE Member
well then that would make you dumberer:D
Dalton cost this province (you and me) BILLIONS and walked away scot free
he should serve jail time
it was certainly not any kind of endorsement for Dalton. I have no problem with him facing a trial if there's enough evidence to prosecute.

It's more about Hudak being the worst kind of slime-ball politician. Everything about him and that party is about being negative and divisive.
 

basketballjones

TRIBE Member
versus horvath and wynne?????
reallly. they cant even be friends well

whorevath just props up wynnne to keep seats and stay relevant

she is even worse than the liberals as she is aiding them
 
Last edited:
tribe cannabis accessories silver grinders

kyfe

TRIBE Member
versus horvath and wynne?????
reallly. they cant even be friends well

whorevath just props up wynnne to keep seats and stay relevant

she is even worse than the liberals as she is aiding them
Her party is always the 3rd place finisher, yet somehow she has clout in directing future decision making, it's just unfortunate they don't have stronger candidates in key ridings that can win.

I have no problem giving them the reigns for 4 years and seeing what they can do. The problem is the Cons and Fibs both stripped the province of funding and downloaded so much to the municipalities that any party attempting to reverse that trend will look like they are running a tax/spend platform which all of them try to shy away from as it's not what gets you re-elected
 
Top