Thursday, September 24, 2009

The New Game That's All the Rage in Ontario

Dalton McGuinty plays "dodge the accountability"

Poor Dalton McGuinty must be an awfully exhausted fella lately.

He's been busy doing all kinds of things. Like misleading Provincial Parliament. And impeding Access to Information requests. And not investigating the eHealth scandal.

After today, one can add "shrugging off a contract tendering scandal" to the list.

McGuinty has announced that his government will not get involved in a case where the Vice President of a London hospital awarded $3 million in untendered contracts to a former colleague.

“That is the responsibility of the board of directors there to ensure they are enforcing the rules they have on the books and I would encourage them to do that as quickly as they can,” McGuinty insisted. “The hospital has a board of directors, who have a lot of authority and accountability.”

Of course, anyone familiar with the story would know differently. The Vice President in question didn't actually have the authority to award the contract, and nothing was ever done about it.

It's actually a matter of hospital administrators exceeding their authority and Boards of Directors failing to hold them accountable.

Anyone who's paid attention to the growing list of scandals besetting the McGuinty government would know that the avoidance of responsibility has become thematic of his government. When $3 million in taxpayer dollars are handed exhorbitantly over to a hospital administrator, the government has a responsibility to get involved.

The scandal in London hospitals would be much less troubling if it hadn't become so bloody thematic in McGuinty's government. But unfortunately the McGuinty government has produced so many scandals -- with Health Minister David Caplan squarely at the centre of many of them -- that some people may be beginning to lose count.

Even if McGuinty himself won't answer for the matter, David Caplan must -- even if both of them share responsibility for this matter.

"[Caplan]'s showing a lack accountability at the top. I don't think he has control of his ministry. And, if he's not able to demonstrate that, then yes, he should go," said Christine Elliott, the Progressive Conservative Health Critic. "It starts at the top with the arrogance of the Premier and the Minister of Health in leading the way with $16 million in untendered contracts to eHealth. It sort of shows people that it doesn't really matter, that proper rules don't need to be followed, and it encourages similar sorts of practices."

To date, the closest that either the Liberal government or the hospital in question have come to taking accountability for the error is cancelling the contract.

But considering the rampant corruption running through Ontario's health care department, an independent investigation and a full systemic audit must occur.

To date, McGuinty has refused to do either, and has instead passed the buck to the hospital board in question which will, unless there is a serious change in the state of affairs, also refuse to do so.

It's almost like "dodge the accountability" is a game -- and Dalton McGuinty is in it to win it.

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