Spending ‘worst that we’ve ever seen,’ auditor general says
A scandal over $32 million in grants to multicultural groups has cost Ontario Immigration and Citizenship Minister Mike Colle his job and jolted Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government with an election just 11 weeks away.
Colle resigned yesterday after Auditor General Jim McCarter slammed spending controls on the grants as among “the worst that we’ve ever seen.” Colle acknowledged the money was often doled out with little or no paperwork.
Colle’s resignation comes despite earlier attempts by the government to defuse the controversy over the grants in the face of a series of Toronto Star revelations and opposition party attacks.
The government found comfort yesterday in McCarter’s finding political favouritism did not play a role in the awarding of the grants to community groups.
But his criticism was scathing as he detailed the lack of control and transparency as the money was doled out at the end of the past two fiscal years.
In one case McCarter highlighted, the Ontario Cricket Association received $1 million when it asked for $150,000. More than half remains in the bank.
He suggested the furor over the grants, made in the last two years with no formal application process or criteria, was a case of the government shooting itself in the foot.
“We found no evidence that any organization received a grant because it had political ties. 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,” McCarter wrote.