Frank Klees

Press Release

“We congratulate Ornge on choosing AgustaWestland to supply its fleet of medical transport helicopters. The AW139 is a good fit for Ontario and we look forward to working with AgustaWestland in the years to come."

- Sandra Pupatello, Ornge Press Release, September 23, 2010


January 21, 2013


QUEEN”S PARK – Despite her insistence that she was not involved in the scandals that ran rampant in the McGuinty government, Liberal leadership hopeful Sandra Pupatello needs to clarify her involvement with AgustaWestland, the company that sold Ornge 12 AW139 helicopters and is alleged to have paid a $6.7 million kickback as part of that deal, said PC Transportation Critic Frank Klees.

“Between 2010 and 2011, Ms. Pupatello met with AgustaWestland executives on three occasions," Klees said. “Ontario taxpayers deserve to know what Pupatello's involvement was in the Ornge deal, if she knew anything about the structure of the financial arrangements, and at the very least - given the revelations about Chris Mazza's expenses associated with his Ornge-related excursions - she should disclose her expenses related to those trips."

Klees made the comments following revelations about the exorbitant expenses incurred by the former Ornge CEO Chris Mazza during his visits to AgustaWestland's facilities in Italy - the same facilities visited by Pupatello. "Something doesn’t sit right with me – how does a cabinet minister meet three times with a company that has done a $144 million deal with an agency of the Ontario government and claim to know nothing about the deal?

“These were tax dollars and a high-profile transaction. How can you not insist on a detailed briefing of the deal?”

Klees questioned if Pupatello was briefed about the allegations of bribes and kickbacks to an Italian political party by Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland's parent company. Ironically, those allegations related to the sale of helicopters to Panama in 2010. The company is also under investigation for alleged kickbacks in a 2010 deal that involved the sale of 12 helicopters to India.

"Anyone with access to the Internet would know that AgustaWestland and its parent company were being investigated for possible criminal conduct," said Klees. "Was it incompetence on the part of her ministry for not doing the necessary due diligence on these companies or was it just poor judgment on her part?"

“We think Ontario taxpayers deserve to know what went on during those meetings between Sandra Pupatello and AgustaWestland, who was present at those meetings, who paid for what during those visits and what those trips cost Ontario taxpayers," said Klees.

Klees concluded, “For the past three months, the Liberals have shut down the Legislature and put the province on pause to escape scandal and to put their Party’s interests ahead of Ontarians.

“Pupatello needs to commit to bringing the House back on February 19th and to re-launch the Public Accounts study of the Ornge scandal immediately.”