Straight Talk
CHRISTINA BLIZZARD - Someone needs to be accountable for Ornge

Former Ornge CEO Chris Mazza

Credits: Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun

CHRISTINA BLIZZARD | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - Frank Klees wants Premier Kathleen Wynne to take a lie detector test on Ornge.

The Newmarket-Aurora Tory MPP said Thursday he wants Wynne to agree to reconstitute the legislature's public accounts committee and allow it to continue to probe the Ornge air ambulance scandal.

Klees, who early on sounded the alarm on Ornge, questioned Wynne's assertion that she had no knowledge of the Ornge dealings -- and questioned why Health Minister Deb Matthews was not only not demoted in the recent cabinet appointments but was promoted to deputy premier.

"There are far too many unanswered questions," Klees told reporters.

"If she insists that as the campaign co-chair and as someone who sat at the cabinet table to approve this deal that she has no recollection, she may want to establish her credibility by submitting to one of those lie detector tests," he said.

In a scathing report last year, provincial auditor general Jim McCarter slammed the government for not having more control over $700 million that was poured into the agency.

In emotional testimony to the public accounts committee last July, disgraced former Ornge CEO Chris Mazza talked nonchalantly about a $450,000 loan on top of his $1.4-million salary to buy a house because he was in "distress."

He was combative about the hiring of a waterski instructor, Kelly Long, who became his girlfriend.
She rose quickly through the ranks of Ornge to become a vice-president.

Barely a day goes by without new revelations about Mazza's expenses and the plundering of Ornge.

This week, Reuters reported executives with an Italian company involved in the controversial sale of helicopters to the air ambulance service are facing allegations of bribery in an Indian deal.

Worse, the mismanagement at Ornge may have been responsible for the death of patients when air ambulance service wasn't available.

Coroner Dr. Andrew McCallum has appointed a review panel to look into deaths associated with Ornge between Jan. 1, 2006, and June 30, 2012, to probe whether lives could have been saved if things had been done differently.

Klees is right that someone needs to be held accountable.
No one in the vast health ministry bureaucracy has taken the blame.

And someone should.

When the so-called Sunshine List comes out April 1, take a look at the bloated list of fat-cat bureaucrats in that ministry who make more than $100,000 a year.

Then consider that some of the biggest scandals to beset the McGuinty government were in health -- Ornge and eHealth are top of mind.

While one deputy minister resigned over eHealth, you can't help thinking the entire ministry needs a purge.

Some of those high-priced heads should have rolled over Ornge.

They didn't. The OPP is still probing the deal.

A spokesman for Wynne said the new premier "has been very clear" about wanting to make the legislature work.

"That's why, since her election as premier, she has worked to build common ground with the Opposition. Premier Wynne has agreed to appear at committee and answer questions from committee members," said the spokesman via e-mail.

"Unfortunately, the latest musing from the MPP for Newmarket-Aurora devalues the work of Legislative Assembly of Ontario."

Klees is quite right about those unanswered questions. He wants the entire former board of Ornge to testify.

We need the public accounts committee back up and running -- soon.

Do we need the premier to take a lie detector?
Probably not.

After all, Wynne's not just the new premier -- she's the agriculture minister.

She'll learn that down on the farm, they can sniff out a pile of manure a mile away.

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