The Progressive Conservatives are “interested in getting to the bottom of this and getting to the truth.” Sault Ste Marie MPP Ross Romano told reporters at Queen’s Park today.
Romano is part of a special legislative committee probing the (former) Liberal government’s finances.
The committee was struck in September to examine the former provincial government’s handling of Ontario’s finances. Premier Doug Ford alleges that (former Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s actions bordered on the criminal and constitute the greatest “government scandal in a generation.”
The creation of the select committee, which Mr. Ford has said will be given the power to call witnesses and compel documents, comes after Ontario’s Finance Minister announced in late September that the provincial deficit has increased to $15-billion this year. Ms. Wynne’s government had estimated the shortfall before the spring election at $6.7-billion.
At the time, NDP leader Andrea Horwath stated that if the Ford government really believes that the Wynne government’s actions were ‘criminal’, they should call for a police investigation. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli refused to answer numerous reporters questions as to why that has not happened if Doug Ford believes the Wynne government’s handling of finances bordered on what he (Ford) has publicly stated as bordering on ‘criminal’.
Emails and documents from former premier Kathleen Wynne, several of her cabinet ministers, top aides and senior bureaucrats are being demanded by government MPPs dominating a select committee putting a microscope on Ontario’s finances after almost 15 years of Liberal rule.
The motion came Thursday morning at a hearing of the committee on financial transparency.
“People need to get some answers to the questions that we have. There is a $15-billion deficit in this province right now and we need to know what happened.” said Romano.
“I think it’s a very relevant question to look at all those people who could have been part of coming up with this particular accounting practice that has led us to have a $15 billion deficit,” he said.
Ontario’s Auditor-General and the province’s Financial Accountability Office have released public reports over the past three years that have documented the dispute over accounting practices. Those reports also looked at the former government’s decision to use American private-sector accounting standards rather than Canada’s public-sector standards to account for the billions of dollars in new debt required to reduce hydro rates.
Ms. Wynne, who still holds a seat in the legislature, said Mr. Ford was using the select committee as an excuse to allow his government to cut more public services.
Romano further told reporters this morning, “I think the people of Ontario would want to know who was responsible.”
Saultonline.com will have more on this developing story at a later date.