Friday, July 27, 2007

Mike Colle: Not Crooked, Not Competent

The good news from Auditor-General Jim McCarter's report on the Liberal "slush fund":

Mr. McCarter said he found no evidence that any organization received a grant because it had ties to the Liberal Party.

The bad news, of course, is that Mike Colle's Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration was handing out millions of dollars without asking for any kind of paperwork from the groups requesting the cash. In many cases (according to Mr. McCarter's interview on CBC yesterday evening) the grants arrived after group representatives met Mr. Colle at events, and in several instances it was two or three times the amount they had originally asked for. For example, the Ontario cricket club has invested $500,000 of the $1,000,000 they received (after requesting a mere $150,000) in a GIC until they can figure out how to spend it.

Unfortunately, this is a new variety of bad news for the McGuinty Libs. Previously, there had been no real question, no matter what you might have thought of the promises made and broken, that they were able to maneuver the levers of government in a relatively forthright and transparent fashion. That the administration was, at least, competent. Now...?

Overall a pretty bad week for the Ontario government, what with the "ghetto dude" incident, Kinsella's "intervention", and now this. Luckily, folks are probably more interested in BBQing than politics, and luckily the opposition Conservatives have been far less than inspiring. But the Libs better get their election machine cranked up pretty quickly.

Personally, I smell a minority in the works.

Update: Because it has come up in the comments, here is the section from the report re connections between the Ontario Liberal Party and the grant recipients:

One question we asked was whether political donations made by individuals or organizations
might have played a role in the receipt by certain organizations of a year-end grant. To help address that question, we asked the Office of the Chief Election Officer to provide us with a list of the donations that the 29 grant recipients we selected for review and/or selected directors and key staff members had made to any of the three major political parties
in the previous four years. We found that, in the last four years, only two of the 29 selected organizationsm that received funding had made donations. These were all to the Ontario Liberal Party and totalled only $1,034. The largest single amount of a donation was $280. We also found that, within the last four years, 43 of approximately 140 recipient-organization board members and key staff we selected for review had made political donations totalling $23,326, of which $16,814 went to the Ontario Liberal Party or one of its constitutency associations. The remaining $6,512 went to the other two major provincial parties.

The connections are pretty minimal, in other words. And here is a link to the entire report.

SouthWestern Ontario Liberal has a good post on this today (and is hot).

30 comments:

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Personally, I smell a minority in the works.

I agree.

billg said...

If your in charge of 32 million taxpayer dollars, and, instead of showing respect for those dollars you, throw it around like its yours and your party's....your a crook. Liberal, NDP or Conservative..it doesnt matter. If you take millions from a German Inverstor and your a Conservative PM...your a crook. If you grab a dozen pencils and some note pads from your place of employment for your kid to use for school work..your a crook. I get that your a Liberal and that you will support the Liberals when they need support the most, its part of being a team, but, Mike Colle is crooked, he stole taxpayer respect, he didnt have the basic human courage to just go to the Preim and tell him that this money was being wasted. Instead, he took the easy path and showed weakness, and, until all party's and all party supporters demand better this will happen again and again and again, why?..because your headline says it all..one little mistake doesnt make you a crook...except, this was not a mistake.

Ti-Guy said...

Shorter billg: Shriek!!!

I mostly agree though, although I reserve the accusation of crooked for what I have evidence to support.

Anonymous said...

Mike Colle by on means is a crook, as he did not benefit from the grants, and it cost him his job. Very bad week for the Liberals, but even with this being a bad week, they are still better than the Conservatives and NDP.

Anonymous said...

You get what you deserve. If you're happy voting in a liberal government with the resultant Mohawk occupations, continued gangland shootings, money-stealing antics, and continuing decay of Toronto, then I'm happy!

Torian said...

"However, in some cases those ties did exist, and, when this is combined with a process lacking openness and most of the normal accountability controls, it can create the perception of favouritism if the organization ends up obtaining a grant."

from the same AG report

bigcitylib said...

Torian,

That' a fair point. I linked to the Globe piece this morning because I liked the story best. However, in McCarter's CBC interview last night he was quite clear that there were only "one or two" (I think he said) cases where there were specific links to the Party. He basically gave the Libs a clean bill of health IN THAT RESPECT, but this doesn't come out quite as clearly in the Globe story.

Anonymous said...

The Mowhawk occupations is a "federal" responsbility - duh.

I remember how Mike Harris handled it...sigh.

Ti-Guy said...

Only wingnut Conservatives are willing to think something they perceive is the truth. Too bad Canadians have gotten tired of the wingnuts' screeching outrage and accusations of criminality at every thing they don't like or agree with.

I prefer to let the law deal with such things. That's because I'm normal.

Anonymous said...

People seem to forget that those groups who received funds are also taxpayers.

God help the Conservatives if John Tory gets in - he'll ruin the party for many, many years to come. I think they should look at the long picture here.

Torian said...

big city lib...

the star has at least 5 such instances...

From the Star today:

http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/240471

The Liberal connections:

Iranian-Canadian Community Centre ($200,000 grant): Multiple Liberal ties. One director is former policy adviser to Health Minister George Smitherman, who has given patronage appointments to four centre directors. A former director is the Liberal candidate for Richmond Hill in the Oct. 10 provincial election. Another former director is president of the Liberal riding association in Richmond Hill. A current director is a long-time acquaintance of Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, who is also chairman of the Liberal re-election effort.

Chinese Professionals Association of Canada ($250,000 grant): A former director, Michael Huang, is a policy adviser to Colle.

Bengali Cultural Society ($250,000 grant): Director Farhana Rahman is a member of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Ontario Khalsa Darbar ($250,000 grant): Several directors are Liberal donors. The Sikh group is embroiled in a court case over allegations that $2.5 million in membership fees are not reflected in its books.

Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood Social Services of Peel ($23,914 grant): Executive director is common-law partner of Mississauga West MPP Bob Delaney.

bigcitylib said...

Torian, I've added some material from the report to the actual post, and linked to the entire report.

Anonymous said...

Re: this issue - I suggest you read the blog "Southwestern Ontario Liberal" - excellent.

billg said...

Ti-Guy, I'm not sure how much more evidence you need. I have no issue with Daulton on the broken promises...thats just part of the deal these days. I have some issue with Caledonia, but, its a loose loose thing. This Ti-Guy is sickening, its sickening because they knew what they were doing was wrong but went ahead and did it anyways. I'd bet if you put together all the pissed away money federally and provincially over the past 25 years we wouldnt be in debt, we'd have palace's for schools and medical centre's that would be the envy of the entire world. Is that short enough for ya?

Torian said...

that blog was a laugh.

in essence her spin is this:

1. because another government under a different leader did this (which should not have happened, either), it is ok for McGuinty to do the same. Funny, whenever the conservatives try to use that excuse, the libs go nuts and say (correctly) "That does not make it right!" or "Didn't so and so say that they were going to do better?" Relying on this to excuse what they did is laughable.

2. Of course organizations will have connections to government. People know people. That is not the point. The point is that money went to these well connected groups WITHOUT PROPER DOCUMENTATION, ACCOUNTABILITY OR OPENNESS. In those cases, would you not think that you have to be EXTRA CAREFUL to dot the "i's" and crosss the "t's" so that NO ONE can try to make a call of favourtism stick???
Either that or stop the funding for cultural groups altogether. Considering Ontario is broke (dalton always claims), do we spend our money on luxury items or do we make sure we spend our money on needed things, like infrastructure, education, etc?

Liberals luv slush funds . . . said...

Liberals, Canada and slush funds . . . . I am shocked, SHOCKED I tell you.

& your boy Cretin is laughing all the way to his golf course . . or did he get his money out of that deal by getting the BDC to loan tax bucks to a buddy ??

Christian Conservative said...

BigCity, the Auditor may have looked into donations made by the groups that got grants, but has anyone looked closely at the memberships of those groups who have ties to the Ontario Liberal Party? That's where I think the majority of the "links" are showing up... ie - vice president of the riding association for Liberal MP Maria Minna?

Christian Conservative said...

BCL, there are a couple of sections in the report that you didn't mention that do suggest there was more going on...

Did Politics Play a Role?

We also found that, within the last four years, 43 of approximately 140 recipient-organization board members and key staff we selected for review had made political donations totaling $23,326, of which $16,814 went to the Ontario Liberal Party or one of its constitutency associations.

The remaining $6,512 went to the other two major provincial parties.
(in the interest of full disclosure)

Iranian-Canadian Community Centre

The organization behind the Iranian-Canadian Community Centre was established only recently, having been incorporated in August 2005. In the 2005/06 fiscal year, it received a year-end grant of $200,000 to assist with the construction of a new community centre. We note as an aside that, since certain of the other grant programs administered by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration require an organization to have been operating
for at least two years to be eligible for a grant, this organization would normally not have qualified for a grant under such programs
. We also noted that there was no written request for the funding.

When the funds were received, they were invested 16 Special Review for the Premier of Ontario in a guaranteed investment certificate. We understand that the organization is currently working on acquiring the necessary land for the centre and has begun fundraising efforts for the project.

When it received the grant, the IranianCanadian Community Centre had several board
members, two of whom resigned in March 2007: one to run as a Liberal candidate in the October 2007 provincial election and the other to become the President of the first individual’s constituency association.


Chinese Professionals Association of Canada

In February 2007, the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada submitted a request for funding to the Office of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to go toward the construction of a new career centre. In March 2007, it received a year-end grant of $250,000.

We noted that until April 2007, the President was the Treasurer of an Ontario Liberal constituency association. In addition, 10 of the Association’s board members were identified as having attended a fundraising event for the Minister of Citizenship
and Immigration on October 19, 2006. Also, one former board member, who resigned from the board on October 26, 2006, has been working in the Minister’s Office since September 2006.


Both in this case and in the case of the former board members at the Iranian-Canadian Community Centre who are now campaigning for the Liberal Party, we found no evidence that political ties were a contributing factor in the receipt of grants by these organizations. However, given the lack of an open and transparent process in the provision of the grant to the recipient, the existence of political ties could create the perception that those ties played a role in the grant decision.

wilson said...

"one or two" (I think he said) cases where there were specific links to the Party...

Like Chretien said about adscam...'afew million dollar'

Today, McGuinty announces 200 more police officers to be hired, $26 million.
The Cricket Club is flush, received 10X what was asked for in sponsorship, all the while, Toronto has been BEGGING for more police.
That 'slushfund/sponsorship scam' could have put 300 new police officers on duty ALREADY.

bigcitylib said...

Your right, Wilson, its almost like Mcguinty shot all those people himself.

Anonymous said...

I've cut and pasted from Southern Ontario Liberal's blog today:

Friday, May 18, 2007
Page: 4
Section: Editorial Byline: Kelly, Paul

The Ontario Progressive Conservative party is up in arms about the Liberals spending money.
Seemingly (and allegedly), of a $32 million dollar program a couple of $100, 000 grants have found their way into groups that have - brace yourself - Liberal supporters.

You must be thinking that it would not happen in a PC government. Well, I beg to differ.
At the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources between 1997 and 2002, there was a program called the Fish and Wildlife Protection and Enhancement Fund.

It was a three-year, $10 million program divided yearly into $5, $3 and $2 million respectively.
It was extended for another $10 million for another period of time.

The first year it ran, it was for $5 million in unspecified spending but the projects somehow had to be linked to the crown jewel of Mike Harris's government - hunting and fishing.

MNR district offices submitted proposals for programs developed with local outdoor clubs - a core constituency for the Harris Tories.

The list was sent to a small group of Progressive Conservative MPPs for "review and approval."
The group was the 'MNR Caucus' and it included several current Progressive Conservative MPPs.


When the committee got the list there were two items they could not touch: $400,000 for Premier Harris's riding - a group dealing with Lake Nipissing - and some $60,000 for an advertising campaign with a high-profile angler with close links to the premier.

To mess with those two projects was to invite almost certain career-ending death.
Another tab was for a fish hatchery in Haliburton (the riding of a very powerful minister, Chris Hodgson). It was another $164,000.

There were some other projects in the Haliburton region that came in for another $50,000.
There was no end to the demands for more money.

The MNR committee quickly went to work 'liberating' money. The first round was a 'rapid fire' round of killing things for what they sounded like and where they were. If it typically had anything to do with conservation or 'tree huggers,' it died an ugly death.

If it was in an opposition member's riding it was killed with glee.

This money was 'Conservative money' and was to be spent on Conservative projects.

I could look at a list even today and tell you where it came from and who spoke to it.

Once the list was tidied up and some money was freed up, these MPPs (and usually they were the only ones who knew about the fund) would come back with their own ideas or those of other government MPPs.


There would be the small boat launch for $10,000 and the larger Lake Erie studies for hundreds
of thousands of dollars.


There would be a new release, photo in the newspaper and a lot of "Me and the premier brung you this cheque" giddiness.


My own personal favourite involves a current MP and MPP. At the time Gord Brown, current Conservative MP for Leeds-Grenville, was chairman of the St. Lawrence Park Commission.

Over lunch at a Yonge Street restaurant, he mentioned needing money for a project.
I suggested a letter from cabinet minister Bob Runciman to the MNR might help. And, $60,000 later, it did.


All of it was done perfectly legal.

Contracts were signed, guidelines where adhered to, memorandums were approved, etc. The auditor could check it today - all rules were followed.


Was it a 'secret' fund? No. Was it an obscure fund? For sure. Was it a 'slush fund'? In many ways, it was.


So what is the point of all this? Well, the Tories raising a stink about this against the Liberals are hypocrites and, even more so, frauds.

In the global scheme of multi-million dollar budgets - in fact, billion dollar budgets - this is all nickel and dime stuff.


More so, if the Tories were in power they would do the exact same thing. I have seen it done.
At one point in time, the Tories had the wife of a cabinet minister secretly checking on groups applying for Trillium grants.

This is what politics and being in power is all about.


The ability to throw around a small amount of money to groups that support you and that you are involved with comes with the territory. To the victor goes the spoils.

I have no axe to grind with any of these people. I turned the page on this chapter of my life long ago. But this is a clear demonstration of the pot calling the kettle black.


Nowadays with so few people involved with volunteer groups, it is noticeable the people who are involved in the political process and are also involved in local community groups, festivals and such.

So you are never going to get an organization without one link to any political party. So are they to receive nothing? I don't think so.


But to sit back and watch the Tories attack the McGuinty government for doing such a thing is a laughable sight.

Laughable because not so long ago, they did - and would do again - the very same thing.


Questions? Comments? Contact the author at:
positivelypaulkelly@sympatico.ca

Torian said...

come on, BLC...wilson has a point.

mcguinty has been going on for ages about how ontario is broke. so broke, in fact, that it has no money for cops, autism programs, education, infrastructure, etc.

but he's able to give HOW much more to a cricket organization that requested ALOT less????

come on...there is no excuse for this. and yes, if a PC or conservative govt did this, I'd be screaming bloody murder about it, too.

bigcitylib said...

Torian,

I agree that Mike Colle deserved what he got, and that the Libs damaged themselves and may pay for it come election time.

Do I think anything he did somehow compromised anyone's safety by defunding the police? No.(Can the Province directly fund TO's police? I don't know) Do I think in general the McGuinty government has underfunded the police? Or education? No. And the funds allocated to Colle's department were there to fund such things as cricket clubs to help new immigrants settle in and feel at home in the country. Its the sloppy manner in which the funds got doled out that was the problem.

wilson said...

'Your right, Wilson, its almost like Mcguinty shot all those people himself.'

So, based on your rebuttal, you know the Prov Libs are on the wrong side of this.

IMO this is not about stealing, does have shades of vote buying (no political party is immune to the disease), but not criminal.
This is about very poor management of taxpayers cash, under the mentality
'If you don't use it, you lose it (for next year, when you may really need it)'.

That mentality persists in our Education and Health systems as well.
That is why, when governments are asked to make cuts, it ain't that tricky to do.

So Libs, fess up. Take your lumps.

Torian said...

BCL

had to read wilson's post again. nowhere did he blame shooting on mcguinty. what i got, and agree with, is that for someone who says there is no money for things the we NEED, there are certainly money for things the liberals WANT.

So you are ok with Mcguinty giving (because if i recall correctly he was there at the presentation) this cricket club more money than they requested? You're ok that there are at least 5 damning instances that link the liberals giving money to groups with direct connections to their party? Your even ok with the donations back to the party?

Here's a test. If the conservatives did this, would you be ok with it? I know I would not be.

I can tell you are trying to down play it...only a few donations, just a few well connected (and fiscally benefitting) friends. It's like adscam when someone tried to minimize the horror of it by saying it only cost each person $2.

There is no justification for this. If I were the premier not only would I not fund these groups (unless all our necessary financial obligations-education, healthcare, infrastructure) were met, but when that happened, I would OVER compensate the transfer of funds to a group that had ties to me JUST BECAUSE I would want to be upfront about everything and avoid the label of favouritism.

Ti-Guy said...

This Ti-Guy is sickening...

You're becoming hysterical...Take deep breaths and go lie down.

What, pray tell Billg, aside from screaming about these things, do you propose to do? Scream some more?

One thing I won't be doing is voting in not-reformed Harrisites back into government where they can fuck everything up and still leave a five billion dollar deficit.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

One thing I won't be doing is voting in not-reformed Harrisites back into government

If only there were some to vote back in.

*Sigh*

Ti-Guy said...

Oh, stow it.

Anonymous said...

Did the money go to stupid charities? I will ask you, the United Jewish Appeal Federation, is that stupid? Flemington Neighbourhood Services, is that stupid? Engish as a Second Language programs, is that stupid? the money went to 110 different multicultural and community groups as stated by Auditor General Jim McCarter, is that stupid? You know what is stupid? closing hospitals, allowing students to lose class time, leaving a 7 billion dollar debt after telling the public the budget was balanced.

Anonymous said...

Ay Rosario, give back that chandalier.