Frank Klees

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2013

WYNNE MUST HOLD HER DEPUTY PREMIER ACCOUNTABLE FOR ORNGE

 

If Premier Kathleen Wynne is serious about being accountable to Ontarians, she must immediately bring back the committee investigating Ornge Air Ambulance, Newmarket-Aurora PC MPP Frank Klees said today.

“Premier Wynne has said she wants to continue her predecessor’s legacy, but we hope that doesn't extend to Dalton McGuinty's handling of the Ornge file,” Klees said. “Witness after witness confirmed that Health Minister Deb Matthews failed to provide proper oversight of Ornge, allowing millions of dollars to be wasted and patient care to decline, and yet neither she, nor any ministry staff who had specific oversight responsibilities, were held accountable. And now, that same minister is rewarded with a promotion to Deputy Premier.”

When the House was shut down last October, the Legislative investigation into Ornge was suspended, leaving five committee requests for information outstanding and the evidence from a number of key witnesses yet to be heard.

“Earlier this week, we learned that two senior executives of Finmeccanica – the parent company of Agusta-Westland – were arrested on bribery charges in Italy in connection with the sale of 12 helicopters to India,” Klees continued. “That deal is suspiciously similar to Agusta-Westland's deal with Ornge. In both cases, the sale of 12 helicopters and questionable side payments that in the India deal led to criminal charges and arrests, and in the Ornge deal, is under investigation by the OPP. And we now know that two cabinet ministers – Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello – wined and dined with one of those arrested on bribery charges. How many other ministers or senior bureaucrats enjoyed similar chats? I'm hopeful that the O.P.P. will leave no stone unturned in their investigation.”

Equally concerning is the obvious failure of the Directors of the Ornge Board to exercise their fiduciary and oversight responsibilities and the refusal of the government to pursue those individuals. Those Directors either knew, or should have known, about the scandalous payments to Chris Mazza and his outrageous expenses and they should have known about the details of the multi-million dollar helicopter deal and the suspicious side payments. Yet none of them, including the Chairman of the Board, are being held to account for failing to protect millions of tax dollars and the standards of care of our air ambulance service. 

“We have a responsibility to ensure that the members of the board are held accountable to the full extent of the law. That includes pursuing the recovery of funds, whether through the directors' liability insurance or holding them personally responsible,” said Klees. “At the end of the day, there are many unanswered questions, taxpayers deserve answers and we have a responsibility to ensure that those responsible for this scandal are held to account – whether Ornge executives, directors or ministry staff or the minister. To date, there have been no consequences for those who failed in their oversight responsibilities of Ornge – whether at the Ministry of Health or on the Board of Directors. That's unacceptable and that's why we want the new Premier to commit to the immediate striking of the Public Accounts Committee so that we can get on with the work that taxpayers expect us to do.”