It’s a rare move in Ontario politics but the right one.
A select committee will be struck to investigate, via the legislature, the accounting practices of the previous Wynne government.
This shouldn’t be a surprise.
When he announced the details of the review of the provinces books last week, Vic Fedeli said that accountability of the Ontario Liberals didn’t end on election day, it started there.
Well the accountability is set to continue.
Today Fedeli stood with Premier Doug Ford as Ford announced his call for a select committee that will have full powers and a real role.
That the Committee investigate and report on the accounting practices, decision making and policy objectives of the previous government or any other aspect of the report that the Committee deems relevant; and
That the Committee have the power to send for persons, papers and things
This is how it should be.
Some might think there is no need for this.
The Liberals perverted the standard accounting practices used by governments across the country. They used financial tricks that would see private sector CEOs face charges.
This needs investigated.
A select committee will allow that to happen.
Too often politicians punt responsibility to others. By using a committee, Premier Ford is signalling what I have long said, our elected representatives have the authority to police themselves.
“This was quite possibly the worst political cover up in Ontario’s history,” Ford said as he announced the committee in front of his PC caucus.
“Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals lied to all of us, and we all know that if you lie on your taxes, if you lie on your mortgage, if you lie on your car loan there are consequences.”
What will those consequences be?
That we don’t know yet.
Let’s hope that the committee does it’s work properly and doesn’t become a platform for grandstanding on either side.
The PCs don’t need to exaggerate the underhanded way the Liberals played with the accounting rules. All they need to do is tell the truth.
The NDP needs to stop being Kathleen Wynne’s defenders in the legislature and realize the former government broke the rules. There is political gain to be had from simply showcasing the misdeeds of the Liberals.
The committee will be made up of 9 members, 6 from the PCs and 3 from the NDP.
The Liberals are complaining that they are not included but the mini-van party only has 7 members and doesn’t hold official party status.
Wynne defends her record.
Former Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters at Queen’s Park that there was nothing new in the report last week and nothing new to learn with this committee.
“You know there’s an accounting dispute on the pension issue. There was a dispute. That was all talked about before the election,” Wynne said.
Except that her government had “disputes” with the Auditor General and the Financial Accountability Office. The Liberals claimed both of those independent offices were wrong on how the provinces books should be accounted for.
They basically steamrolled both offices and claimed they were liars. Yet as I documented last week the Liberals were the liars and have now admitted as much.
Press gallery as partisans.
The Queen’s Park press gallery, a group that has shown that they firmly believe they are the real opposition to Doug Ford, have made up their collectivist minds on this.
Most in the gallery show that they believe this to be nothing more than a show trial.
That shows not only their bias but their ignorance of Parliamentary procedure, Parliamentary duties and the role the legislature should play.
Having elected members, in committee, call witnesses, hear and gather testimony and issue reports is a function of the legislature. They can spend time putting together what happened and if need be turn it over to police if needed.
But they would do that after using the extraordinary powers that any committee already has.
The media has already determined that this is a show trial and nothing more. Which is why I say they are showing their ignorance. Now the committee could, if handled badly, turn into a show trial.
No doubt about that.
Yet if handled correctly, if members don’t grandstand and simply focus on the facts, it could be incredibly useful.
Ontario taxpayers need answers on how such a false presentation of the provincial finances was allowed to occur. Taxpayers need to be sure it won’t happen again.
The MPPs on this committee could accomplish that, if they take their work seriously.