Thursday, July 26, 2007


Minister quits over grants
July 26, 2007
Canadian Press
Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle has resigned after a report from the auditor general slammed the doling out of $32 million in year-end grants to ethnic groups, the Canadian Press has learned.
Auditor General Jim McCarter said he found there was no evidence that Premier Dalton McGuinty's government doled out year-end grants to Liberal friendly ethnic groups.
But he says but the province rushed money out the door without adequate accountability or transparency.
McCarter says the process for awarding the grants was not "open, transparent or accountable."
He says the decisions were made in Colle's office without much consultation with ministry staff.
McCarter says decisions were based on "conversations, not applications."
Although McCarter said he doesn't think the organizations received the money because they donated to the Liberal party, he said the lack of a formal application process left the government open to accusations of "favouritism."
"More could have been done and quite frankly, more should have been done," he said.
Some organizations got cash when they didn't really need the money, McCarter added. The Ontario Cricket Association requested $150,000 but got $1 million, he said.
"You need a better process in place," he said.
McGuinty reluctantly called upon the auditor general to review the year-end grants doled out to multicultural groups by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in the wake of mounting criticism.
Opposition critics argued many of the groups had ties to the Liberal party and that no formal application process existed for handing out the grants – the latter of which the Liberals did admit to.
The Liberals initially voted down an opposition motion to have the province's auditor examine how the grants were doled out, adding fuel to the scandal that dominated legislative business for about two weeks.
Instead, the Liberals passed a motion urging the grant beneficiaries to account for their spending and to report back within six months – a deadline that would have been after the Oct. 10 election.
While the Liberals succumbed to the pressure and called for the review, many suggest the timing of the report's release was strategic so as not to dominate debate just prior to the election.

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