Those opponents of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford calling for the province to step in may have to wait a while: Premier Kathleen Wynne has her own legal problems in the form of an OPP investigation into the cover-up of the gas-plant scandal.
We now have the ignominy of police looking into the goings-on of the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier’s office and the mayor’s office in the country’s largest city (as well as similar investigations elsewhere, most notably the widespread corruption in Quebec that has already unseated several mayors).
The Ford Saga has been well documented. Immediate fodder for comedians when the long-denied crack video surfaced last week, Ford and his gong show kept it rolling right through another week, including his attempt to pass a motion calling on drug testing for members of council (not a bad idea for all politicians given the widespread displays of incompetence and bad judgment, but hardly likely to gain traction).
Likewise, the Senate scandal and Stephen Harper’s role in the cover-up have been front and centre, though without the same accident-at-the-side-of-the-road value inherent with Ford. Harper keeps trying to change the channel, but Canadians know when they’re being lied to, and any talk of accountability and fiscal responsibility is now as believable as a senator’s expense claims.
At the provincial level, critics have rightly pointed out that the government hasn’t seen anything like the scrutiny in Ottawa and at city hall. This despite the billions of dollars that have been wasted through friends-of-the-party consultants, pandering to public sector unions, outright incompetence and, last but not least, attempts at vote-buying via the gas-plant fiasco.
The mess that is eHealth and ORNGE already attacked the credibility of this government. The gas plants and subsequent attempts to hide the truth – the OPP search of the premier’s office Wednesday centered on the deletion of emails – should have invited more attention.
With Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimating the cost of the gas plants cancellations at $950 million to $1.1 billion in order to protect a few seats in the GTA, there ought to be more vitriol directed at Wynne, who was at the cabinet table when the decisions were made. Wynne first tried to distance herself from the incompetence, later apologizing for the decision and her role in it. She apologized again following the release of the Auditor General’s report.
Saying “sorry” and promising to do better is no consolation for Ontarians, however, who’ll be on the hook for the costs, including the prospect of higher electricity rates. There’s no excuse for a purely political decision. As Harper should do for the growing evidence of malfeasance in the Conservative ranks, Wynne should call for an inquiry into the scandal. In both cases, that would be the right thing to do, the accountable thing. But, again in both cases, neither Wynne nor Harper has any interest in the public knowing the truth. Being bounced from office, already likely and well deserved, would be a certainty if the truth were known – unlike Ford, whose numbers jumped last week despite a long list of sordid revelations, the prime minister and the premier have no more capital to trade on. The trajectory is decidely downward.