Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ORNGE: Health minister pleads ignorance ... Or should it be "stupidity"

Health minister Deb Mathews appeared before the Accounts Committee today, and used those old, 'protect thy ass' standbys for doing just that. She accused the 'other guy', former CEO Chris Mazza, claimed ignorance of important correspondence, and browbeat any and all who challenged her. She also tried that other tactic of talking over the questioner.

Now all of this is politics as usual, except we are talking about hundred-of-millions-of-dollars belonging to the tax-paying public, and which may never be recovered. From this perspective it is arrogance of an astonishing level, and shameful if not negligent behaviour on the part of a minister of the crown.

Here, thanks to Tanya Talaga of the Toronto Star Newspaper, is what took place.

The memo was from Malcom Bates, director of the ministry’s emergency health services branch, dated June 29, 2011.
The letter warns senior ministry staff that the government may have to step in and assume massing debt at ORNGE. It also mentions a $4.3 million loan receivable where “taxpayer dollars” have been lent out and it discusses the jump in ORNGE’s capital assets. They rose from $96.4 million to $264 million and cite “assets under construction” as the reason for the rise.
“We do not have additional information on this — we assume this is planes that are not completed but are in progress,” the letter stated.
Matthews told the committee she has never seen Bates letter before.
Klees retorted back that he found it “passing strange” she had not seen it and questioned why.
“What are you hiding?” he questioned her.
Often, Liberal committee members jumped in to stop Klees as he questioned Matthews.
The health minister said Klees has a history of dropping information bombs that turn out to be untrue.
“On behalf of the frontline staff, the paramedics, pilots, the engineers, all 600 staff — would you stop running down the organization and be part of the solution? I am hungry for this committee to finish its work and write its report … I’d like the recommendations of the committee,” she said.
Klees shouted back his recommendations would be, “first of all start with your resignation.”

This is not surprising coming from the McGuinty administration, of course, for when it comes to arrogance, and downright lying there are few that can match McGuinty himself. In my opinion he and Mathews are birds of a feather that should be put on the endangered species list!


Monday, July 30, 2012

The ORNGE scandal ... A fiasco within a scandal!

It is enough to boggle the imagination! Hundreds of millions of dollars squandered by high flying bureaucrats running amok without any apparent accountability--not even to the provincial auditor.

Here is a list of scandalous activity so far.

For the last four months, an all-party provincial probe has heard of CEO Dr. Chris Mazza’s reign at ORNGE including the promotion of his water-ski instructor girlfriend to associate vice-president, of a Porsche-driving board chair who pocketed $200,000 in compensation, of a senior employee with drug problems and another who was told to fake an MBA because it would impress investors.
Then there were the dreams and schemes of now-defunct ORNGE spinoff companies, lavish business trips, a $6.7-million marketing services agreement that is being investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police, and a $275-million “bond issue” to pay for a fleet of helicopters and office space.
Throw in a speedboat, a law firm that billed 22,000 hours and a couple of customized orange motorcycles and you’ve got the latest scandal of an agency that seemed to fly off the government’s radar. Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star.
And yet the McGuinty administration goes acts as nothing untoward has taken place at all.

I mean, whats a few hundred million?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The following is the July 24th, 2012 editorial comment in the Toronto Sun Newspaper. See it at:  http://www.torontosun.com/2012/07/24/lame-response-to-gang-violence 


Torontonians can take no comfort from this week’s meetings on gang violence involving Mayor Rob Ford, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

They were dog-and-pony shows by politicians who treat us like mushrooms — covering us in manure and keeping us in the dark.

Ford’s meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Tuesday had all the earmarks of a session organized just so the two could say they’d met.

After his meeting with McGuinty Monday, Ford declared victory without achieving anything. McGuinty’s promise to maintain current funding for police anti-gang initiatives — which has not stemmed this summer’s gang violence — was basically a commitment to do nothing other than continue doing what hasn’t worked.

Following Toronto’s infamous Summer of the Gun in 2005, 400 additional police officers were assigned to city streets through a combination of increased provincial funding — which McGuinty boasted about — and an internal redeployment of the force.

That led to a wave of arrests that helped stem the carnage.

Today, the Toronto force is down at least 175 officers due to budget cuts, but no one’s talking about bringing it up to its full complement.

Why? For Ford, it’s because he ordered those cuts in the first place and for his left-wing opponents on council, it’s because if they’d had their way, those cuts would have been even deeper.

So let’s not kid the troops about what’s really going on here. The real plan by both the mayor and his opponents, albeit for different reasons, is to rag the puck in hopes the recent outburst of gang violence abates on its own. But that’s not a plan. That’s crossing your fingers.

As for McGuinty’s advocacy of increased social spending to fight the root causes of gang crime, the reason he doesn’t have any of our money to spend on such programs is that he’s blown it on fiascoes like eHealth, Ornge and the Green Energy Act.

But even if McGuinty had the money to spend on anti-gang initiatives, and the wisdom to spend it effectively, those are long-term solutions that do nothing to help people caught in the cross fire today.

All our politicians — at all levels — are really telling them at the moment is “duck.”


Monday, July 23, 2012

It doesn't take a community to raise a child. It takes two dedicated parents who have the right values, themselves.

All around the mulberry bush

Well, the politicians (Mayor Rob Ford and Premier Dalton McGuinty), as well as top police officials met today for a much touted meeting of the minds--euphemistically dubbed the "Summit of the Gun." With lots of press hanging around, the politicians made plenty of noise about finding a solution, but in the end they merely spent another $5M (that's on top of the $10M of taxpayer's money already being spent), and went home.

Meanwhile, police officials and community activists (the "hug-a-thug" crowd) took the spotlight by hauling out their own list of threadbare, expensive ideas, which, for the most part, have all been tried before with varying degrees of success, i.e.:

  • More funding for social services 
  • Gun control
  • More police officers

The problem with all these solutions is that they are all merely treating the symptoms. Putting salve on root rot isn't going to get to the heart of the problem. 

Nonetheless, since everyone is getting in on it, I suppose I may as well get my tax-dollars'-worth, too.

So here's my list:

  • Full identification of the facts, including racial profiling of criminals.

It is almost impossible to choose a direction unless you know where you're at, and that requires a full identification of the facts. Prohibiting racial profiling of criminals is like blinding one eye. It is also incredibly naive. The first six pages of the newspaper is both an obituary and also racial profiling for anyone with eyes to see.

  • If kids are old enough to have kids, they're old enough to raise them.
Having a baby? Congratulations! Now get a job to support it. Every kid that comes into this land (Ontario) goes on the public dole almost from its inception. Pre-natal care, gynaecological consultation, paediatrics, subsidized day care and nursery school, and when it gets old enough the school system takes over with all-day kindergarten. Meanwhile, for single parents ("baby moms" and "twink daddies") there's social assistance and a "pecker cheque" from Uncle Dalton McGuinty.

I'm single and childless, but I'm helping to raise a million-or-so.


  • Hold parents responsible for the transgressions of their kids, and open the door to allow civil suits as well. 
I believe there is already legislation on the books that holds parents responsible for this sort of thing, but I have yet to hear of it every being applied. It falls under the category of "you had them, you look after them." It seems a dichotomy of thinking that a person can be held responsible for allowing a person to drink and drive, but enjoy carte blanc when it comes to their kids' actions.

  • Tell religions that preach against birth control and abortion to mind their own 'beeswax.' Surely most of them have a backyard to clean up, first
The term "opiate of the masses" used to apply to organized religions (now it's iPods), but no one has bothered to tell them. Oh, sure, they make a feeble attempt to gain lost stature by slandering the GBLT community, but given their own record(s) it is laughable at best.

So there you have it. Gerry's list of "let's get real" solutions to gun warfare and gang violence.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Scarborough shootings: Rob Ford’s response to gang crime gets cool reception from premier....

Toronto Star, July 18, 2012.

The headline was with regard to the unprecedented shooting of two people, fatally, and the wounding of 23 more. Since then there have been four more shootings in The City of Toronto.

Naturally, Mayor Rob Ford is angry and upset with this level of violence and wants to call an end to it, so he has called upon the premier, Dalton McGuinty, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for assistance. We haven't heard from Stephen Harper, but McGuinty's response was fairly typical for him.

In the above mentioned new story he is quoted as saying, “It’s a time for us to be reflective and not reflexive,” McGuinty said during a stop in his Ottawa riding Thursday."

He is also quoted as saying, "Political leaders should not so much to come to the table with demands of each other, but rather questions for ourselves that we need to ask.”

In other words, the most that is likely to come out of these meetings is talk--McGuinty's general approach to things. Mind you, he's quick to move if there's the prospect of votes to be had. Case in point: The moving of a generating plant from Mississauga (at a cost to taxpayer of $190M) to save votes in that city.