ONTC was given the short shrift – by Tom Mills (Sault Star – December 14, 2013)


Does it surprise anyone that this provincial government apparently didn’t bother to find out how much it would cost to shut down the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission before announcing the move?

Or that taxpayers will foot the bill for another Liberal financial “oopsy”? Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported Tuesday that costs of the ONTC selloff could top $820 million.

That makes the projected savings of $265.9 million over three years, which the government trumpeted in its 2012 budget, seem like a figure pulled out of a hat. Or perhaps it was pulled out of that part of a finance minister’s anatomy where the sun don’t shine.

A cynic might point out that the difference between a $266-million savings and an $820-million cost isn’t much more than the amount taxpayers have paid to give a succession of Crown corporation executives some of the most obscene golden parachutes and platinum-plated expense accounts around.

But in this case the money itself might not be the most disturbing revelation in Lysyk’s investigation.

It’s that the government, as North Bay Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli puts it, might as well have drawn its plans for dumping ONTC on the back of a cocktail napkin. And then, of course, expensed the cocktails.

“It was only well after the divestment announcement of $265.9 million in savings that the government obtained the information that would normally be needed for a comprehensive business- case analysis,” says Lysyk.

Business case? The McGuinty- Wynne folks don’t need no stinkin’ business case.

In fact, Lysyk says the government didn’t even bother to consult the ONTC board, senior managers, unions or major customers before dropping the axe.

The ONTC and its political masters at the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines did not have a trusting or open relationship, so communication was poor, Lysyk notes.

Even the subsequent divestment process has had little input from senior management.

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