Liberals and New Democrats Battle over Accountability

Ontario Politics

Ontario Politics
TORONTO – The provincial election campaign is underway. The Liberals and New Democrats are jousting over allegations on a new Financial Accountability Officer. The Liberals, in a media statement say that, “Andrea Horwath made the lack of a new Financial Accountability Officer the centre-piece of the NDP’s rationale for an election, but new documents reveal that the vacancy exists only because the NDP blocked the appointment of two qualified candidates”.

The Liberals add, “NDP MPP Catherine Fife, a member of the all-party hiring committee, brought the hiring process to a halt in April by withholding the NDP’s support for any applicants. Fife personally wrote to the Speaker of the Legislature: ‘I am looking forward to finding and hiring an independent and qualified applicant from a new field of candidates’.”

“The lack of a new Financial Accountability Officer was the centrepiece of Andrea Horwath’s opposition to our job-creating budget, but that office would already be up and running if the NDP didn’t stop it,” said Vaughan MPP Steven Del Duca. “I know because I was there. I sat on the all-party hiring committee and watched as the NDP rejected qualified applicants and demanded a restart to the application process.”

The New Democrats wasted little time in firing back at the Liberals. In a battle of media releases, the New Democrats state, “After dragging their feet on their commitment to hire a Financial Accountability Officer for over a year, the Liberals are now desperately trying to pin the blame for their failures on anyone but themselves.”

The New Democrats say, “Finance Minister Charles Sousa committed that the Office would be filled by the end of 2013. (Globe and Mail, September 26, 2013). But months after the Budget had passed, the Liberals still hadn’t even struck a hiring committee. As media noted at the time: “Promises, promises. No doubt they were made in good faith last spring when the minority Liberal government needed the support of the NDP to prop up its budget and avoid a snap election. Unfortunately, that urgency appears to have faded.” (Toronto Star, November 25, 2013)”

“Once again, we see a desperate Liberal party failing to keep their promises and desperately trying to pin the blame on everyone but themselves. It’s more proof that it’s time for change,” said NDP MPP Gilles Bisson.

The Progressive Conservatives are not included in the battle yet. The PCs are going to be hosting a media conference call later today, but that call will be with party officials.

The Liberal guns are aimed at the New Democrats. The Liberals state that MPP Del Duca wrote to Fife last month: “I would like it to be clearly understood, for the record, that I was prepared to accept on behalf of the government caucus either of the two applicants that our committee last interviewed because I felt that both were qualified, and because I believe it is important that Ontario have its first Financial Accountability Officer in place sooner rather than later.

“I was, and remain, extremely disappointed that our committee could not achieve consensus after going through an exhaustive hiring process and so I have grudgingly accepted that the NDP and PC representatives on the committee want to restart said process.” (Email from Steven Del Duca to NDP Catherine Fife, April 11, 2014)