Former Ornge CEO Chris Mazza testifies on Wednesday July 18, 2012 at Ontario government committee looking into the troubled air ambulance service. Mazza, who oversaw the evolution of the service into a complex public and private web of companies, says he always acted in the best interest.
Credits: Antonella Artuso/QMI AGENCY
Surely, by now, Premier Dalton McGuinty is one of the very few people left in Ontario who still has confidence in Matthews and her ministry team.
The fact he still does is unfortunate because as long as the Ontario Liberals cling to power, McGuinty's is the only opinion that counts.
Let's put aside Mazza's huge salary, bonus, interest-free loan and other perks, the waste of public money, the compliant Ornge board of directors, the odd hiring decisions and the botched helicopter designs.
Ditto the speedboat and other questionable purchases, the falling patient transfer numbers, the morale and operational problems and the labyrinth of private companies Ornge executives set up that not even Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter could completely decipher.
The bottom line remains, where was Matthews and her ministerial team when all this was going on?
Mazza insists Matthews and her bureaucrats knew what he was doing every step of the way, that he would have changed it if they had expressed concerns and that he tried to reach out to Matthews to brief her and was rebuffed.
Matthews counters she and her bureaucrats were kept in the dark about problems at Ornge and that while she went to an Ornge base and asked to meet with Mazza on another occasion, in neither case did he show up.
This would be a comical case of "he said, she said," were it not for the fact millions of public dollars were wasted in the process and Ontarians ended up with a cut-rate air and land ambulance service at five-star prices.
For heaven's sake, Matthews was, and is, the health minister.
Is she seriously suggesting she was stymied because Mazza didn't show up a couple of times when she expected him to do so?
Why didn't she personally demand a meeting with Mazza as the problems escalated, or instruct her bureaucrats to arrange one?
It's up to the police investigation to determine whether any criminal charges should be laid in connection with Ornge.
But taxpayers have a right to expect more than the mere absence of criminality when it comes to the delivery of government services.
They have a right to expect efficiency, value for money, competence and, in the case of Ornge, adult supervision by the health minister and her staff, none of which they got.
And yet Matthews still has her job.