No Ontario Liberal "Slush Fund"???
Just when I thought this last week couldn’t get any worse for the Ontario Liberals (with racism and sexism rearing their ugly heads in association the Ontario Liberal Party), it turns out I’m wrong.
Some Liberals seem to think that Michael Colle’s resignation concludes this fiasco. As Jason Cherniak says in his blog: “In any case, Colle is now gone. The problems were pretty clearly centred in his office.”
Cherniak should be ashamed of himself. He defended Colle in the past, and suddenly, for political reasons, he’s willing to scapegoat a decent man (Colle apparently had volunteered to resign when this scandal heated up and McGuinty refused his resignation. This problem, however, cannot be whisked away just like that. Colle’s not innocent, but neither is McGuinty. Sorry, this problem is systemic and symptomatic of the arrogance and recklessness of this government.
As to the auditor general’s report, the main finding was actually this:
We found that the decision-making processes followed with respect to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s more significant year-end grants in the 2005/06 and 2006/07 fiscal years were not open, transparent, or accountable.
Pretty scathing I’d say.
Moreover, I’m not so sure that the charge that this money was a “slush fund” can be so easily dismissed. Everyone’s quoting the line:
“We found no evidence that any organization received a grant because it had political ties.”
Interesting that the next lines are conspicuously omitted in any renditions of the report I’ve seen:
However, in some cases those ties did exist, and, when this is combined with a process lacking openness and most of the normal accountability controls, it can create the perception of favouritism if the organization ends up obtaining a grant.
As I understand the term, a “slush fund” has two ethically questionable elements. First, is it’s illegitimacy, accounting or otherwise. And this was something well established in the present report.
Second there is an “understanding”, an expectation of quid pro quo (we’ve scratched your back, on Oct. 10th perhaps you might scratch ours). Cherniak calls this patronage and seems to see it as qualitatively different (i.e. not unethical) from a “slush fund”. Now whether this favouritism is real or perceived, especially if we look at some of the more glaring individual cases, I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to argue that such an expectation was created in some of the recipients of these grants. Added up, seems like a slush fund to me. Since the Ontario Liberals increasingly can’t rely on a large portion of the ethnic and immigrant vote, something had to be done.