Legacy of Mr. McGuinty – gone, but not forgotten

By MPP Toby Barrett

A week ago Tuesday, we watched as Andrea Horwath cemented the Liberal/NDP budget deal to endorse new spending and breathe life into a minority government.

The irony came later that day when the former captain of the scandal-plagued ship resigned his Ottawa South seat to further soften his landing in private life. Much as I predicted, the emergence of Premier Kathleen Wynne as a case of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” – what I didn’t predict was the “old boss” would head for the exit the moment he saw his legacy secured. Gone, but not forgotten, Mr. McGuinty leaves a legacy of broken promises, mismanagement, overspending and cover-up that really is the gift that just keeps on giving.

A legacy of:

* The largest income tax increase in the history of Ontario

* The Harmonized Sales Tax

* Smart Meters

* $1 billion eHealth scandal

* Caledonia

* Green Energy Act * $7 Billion secret Samsung deal * Eco Fees

* Ornge Scandal

* $1 billion Mississauga and Oakville gas plant cancellations.

* proroguing Legislature to avoid gas plant accountability

* destroying gas plant cancellation emails

Mr. McGuinty’s legacy lives on as the OPP investigate Ornge, and now the deletion of emails by government staff to cover the gas plant trail. Make no mistake, as he turns his back on Queen’s Park, Mr. McGuinty’s name reverberates through the halls as senior staff are fingered for hitting the delete button.

Ontario’s ‘email-gate’ bears more than passing resemblance to the scandal and cover-up that saw Richard Nixon vacate the U.S. presidency — while Mr. McGuinty walks scott-free. Much as members of the Nixon administration went to extremes to hide their activities, erasing taped conversations in the Oval Office and offering weak explanations, McGuinty’s top political operatives have wiped their e-mails clean of all references to the multi-million-dollar relocation of two power plants.

The destruction of gas plant emails did not escape the condemnation of Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian who pointed out that laws were broken. “It is difficult to accept that the routine deletion of emails was not in fact an attempt by staff in the former Minister’s office to avoid transparency and accountability in relation to their work. Further, I have trouble accepting that this practice was simply part of a benign attempt to efficiently manage one’s email accounts.”

In her report, Deleting Accountability: Records of Management Practices of Political Staff, Cavoukian indicated the email deletions either violated or undermined, The Archives and Recordkeeping Act, The Freedom of Information and Protection of Personal Privacy Act, and the records retention schedule established by the Archives of Ontario,

And so we await the results of the police investigation as Mr. McGuinty heads into the sunshine, leaving his scandal-plagued government under a new premier committed to continuing his legacy.

Unfortunately in Ontario this summer it seems to be another costly case of, “the more that things change, the more they stay the same.”