QUEEN’S PARK – “Only weeks ago, the Minister of Health gave her word to the house that she would respect the ‘will of the house’ in establishing a Select Committee to investigate corruption and scandal at Ornge, but she failed to keep her word,” said PC Caucus House Leader Jim Wilson. However according to the Progressive Conservatives, “Discussions amongst the House Leaders fell apart about permitting the Public Accounts Committee to sit during the Easter break week to call further witnesses into Ornge, when John Milloy, Liberal Government House Leader, outright refused to let the committee sit, despite agreement by the PC and NDP House leaders and a formal motion from the committee requesting it do so”.
During Question Period on April 5/12, Frank Klees said, “It’s clear that the wagons are being circled. The member for Willowdale was dispatched yesterday to obstruct the hearings to protect the Premier. The Government House leader is scripted with embarrassing speaking notes to protect the Minister. The Premier refuses to answer questions. The Minister refuses to accept responsibility. The Government refuses to respect the express will of this Legislature to form a select committee. And now, shame on the Government House leader for refusing an express motion of the public accounts committee to continue hearings next week”.
Wilson charges, “Now we have a standing committee of the legislature requesting that it sit during break week to continue to investigate the findings from the Auditor General’s Report on Ornge, but the government is stonewalling and trying to delay this important investigation”.
In a media release the PCs state, “Wednesday in the Committee, when Liberal Members were trying to vote against sitting during the Easter Break Week, Liz Sandals, the MPP for Guelph, was caught literally elbowing her colleague, David Zimmer, the MPP for Willowdale, in the ribs to get him to raise his hand to vote against sitting. Instead he abstained, allowing the motion to pass. Little did Sandals know, Zimmer had just announced publicly his willingness to sit during the Break Week going against his own government’s attempts to stall committee proceedings”.
“It is clear that the Government’s atrocious stalling tactics will come back to haunt them”, commented Wilson. “As the investigation continues, new rot and scandal is being found and the McGuinty government is clearly getting nervous with what the opposition is asking. Since the government chose to ignore the will of the legislature in calling a select committee, the least John Milloy could do is show some courage and stand up to the Premier and authorize the committee to sit during the Break Week as the committee and both the PC and NDP House Leaders have asked”.
John Milloy, in the legislature, responding to questions on this issue stated, “The member talks about the fact that they want to meet next week, but what he hasn’t told the House is that there are no witnesses to call next week, because debate and discussion went on, and in fact, there were no motions passed. So meeting next week, during constituency week, when many members of this House—I would suggest all members of this House have commitments back in their ridings, a chance to be in their constituency”.
Klees responded, “At the risk of using unparliamentary language, I have to say that what the government House leader has just said is not true. We have a list of some 20 witnesses that we can call within 24 hours who would love to be here. Will the House leader admit that what he’s doing is simply obstructing a direction of the public accounts committee that we sit this coming week? He is now thwarting the expressed will of this House on two occasions: one, the expressed will of this Legislature that we have a select committee and now, the express will of the public accounts committee on which his members have the majority”.