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Ontario Hansard - 12-September2012

AGENCY SPENDING


Mr. Steve Clark: My question is to the Minister of Finance. The minister simply won't come to terms with his addiction to wasteful spending, and the people of Ontario are fed up. Minister, how can you justify to those 600,000 men and women who are out of work in this province the fact that you condone the Municipal Property Assessment Corp.-that you appoint, sir-the fact that they've flown in 2,000 bureaucrats to the extravagant performing arts centre at the peak of TIFF for a two-and-a-half-hour Lego party?

Minister, I want to quote MPAC's website: "MPAC is governed by a 15-member board of directors. Eight members of the board are municipal representatives; five members represent property taxpayers; and two members represent provincial interests. All members of the board are appointed by the Ontario Minister of Finance."

Minister, you appoint the board. Stand in your place and tell us what you're going to do about this.


Hon. Dwight Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I'd remind the member that, yes, we do appoint the municipal representatives based on the recommendations of AMO and the municipalities.

Interjection: He knows that.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: He knows that because it was in fact the Conservative government that set this very unwieldy creature up.

In my view, I don't condone this expenditure. I think it's a completely inappropriate use of municipal tax dollars. If I had the directive power to undo it, I would have undone it when I first heard about this about 24 hours ago. Unfortunately, I don't have that. But what I can say is that we will continue to pursue a balanced budget in those areas that we control.

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My hope is that AMO and our municipal partners will look at this carefully to decide how to handle it. I would invite the member to speak to his local mayors and others. I concur: I don't think this is an appropriate use of taxpayers' money. It does not make sense. I don't think there's any benefit to municipal taxpayers from this.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Steve Clark: Again to the minister: I can't believe what I'm hearing. After nine years of scandal and waste that have led to record debt and deficits, I think we all have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Minister, you have a serious addiction on wasted spending. I can't understand why you condone what's happening with MPAC, the fact that you bring them into town for a two-and-a-half-hour Lego party.

Minister, they are your boards. You appoint them. Do the honourable thing: Rein in their spending or resign.

Interjections.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.

Minister of Finance.


Hon. Dwight Duncan: Speaker, I don't condone this. If I had the legal authority to do what the member asks, I would likely exercise that authority. Regrettably, I don't. Let me say again that I do not condone this. I hope our municipal partners will take this issue very seriously. I do not think it's an appropriate use of taxpayers' money.

I do appoint members based on the recommendation of our municipal partners. We do have two of 15 members on the board who are provincial appointees. This whole situation makes me wonder if we do have to look at the construct of this. It was badly set up initially by the previous government. I think we need to look at MPAC, its future, how it should be governed, who should own it and what's appropriate. Unfortunately, the structure that was set up by the previous government has left us with no ability to influence this. But I do concur with the opposition: This is an inappropriate use of municipal tax dollars.

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