ORNGE’s suppliers are going to jail; Premier must allow investigation – MPP Jim McDonell

February 15, 2013

CORNWALL – Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell is calling on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to re-establish the parliamentary inquiries into the gas plant cancellations and the ORNGE air ambulance service following reports of the arrests in Italy on charges of international corruption of the former and current CEOs of Agusta Westland, whose questionable helicopter supply contract with ORNGE was being investigated by Public Accounts Committee before the prorogation.

MPP McDonell commented: “The arrests are linked to an investigation into the supply of helicopters to India which is alleged to have involved bribes and kickbacks. From the details we have available to us, it appears the circumstances of the India contract are disturbingly similar to what has been shown to have happened at ORNGE, including fictitious scouting contracts and overpayments. According to the Italian authorities, corruption was a “corporate philosophy” at Agusta Westland. Seeing that Agusta was involved in the questionable supply of 10 helicopters to ORNGE at the Ontario taxpayer’s expense, it is imperative that we get to the bottom of this matter through a full Committee inquiry.”

The Liberal government refused to appoint a powerful Select Committee to investigate the ORNGE scandal despite an order to do so by the Legislature. Instead, the investigation was given to the Public Accounts Committee, whose work was cut short when Dalton McGuinty prorogued the Legislature on October 15th.

During the investigation, witnesses confirmed ORNGE CEO Chris Mazza refused a negotiated $10 million discount on the contract between taxpayer-funded ORNGE and Agusta Westland. Following the sale, Chris Mazza’s spin-off ORNGE Global was paid $7 million by Agusta for market research that, upon inspection, amounted to little more than a collection of Google searches.

MPP McDonell stated: “Ontarians deserve to know the truth. Every day that Kathleen Wynne delays the re-establishment of Committees is one more kick of the accountability can down the road.”