QUEEN’S PARK — In one of his first acts as Finance Minister, Rod Phillips appointed one of his major donors and long-time business partner Neil Selfe to the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO). Another long-time Phillips business associate, Brian Gibson, was also quietly appointed to the IMCO board on June 20.
Official Opposition NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said Doug Ford and the Conservatives are continuing to rubber-stamp patronage appointments of close friends and insiders to key roles. That’s why Natyshak and the NDP are calling on these and all recent Conservative appointees to appear before the Standing Committee on Government Agencies to face questions about potential conflicts of interest, and their qualifications.
“It’s troubling that Phillips’ first move as Ontario’s Finance Minister was to hand out a couple tickets on Doug Ford’s gravy train, rather than get to work on the things that matter to Ontario families,” said Natyshak. “Ontarians have a lot of questions about why his former business buddies are now in charge of directing multi-billion dollar investments, including people’s public sector pensions and investment funds.
“Time and time again, the Ford government manages to rubber-stamp their friends and insiders to taxpayer funded positions, robbing Ontario families of transparency and scrutiny. These insiders are getting power, control over public funds, or a ride on the gravy train — while the rest of us are getting cuts.”
Selfe and Gibson are just the latest in a string of appointments that have skirted public scrutiny, with Earl Provost, former chief of staff to Rob Ford, and Jag Badwal, real estate agent and former Conservative party president, gifted appointments, complete with salaries of up to $185,000 along with living expenses in exotic locales as Ontario’s “agents-general” — positions that were scrapped as unnecessary in the 1990s.
The IMCO is supposed to operate independently of government and is tasked with achieving the long-term investment objectives of Ontarians. Natyshak said the goal of questioning these appointees at committee is ensuring the appointees put the interests of Ontarians above all else.
“No one voted for the Conservatives to secretly appoint their friends and allies to taxpayer-funded positions,” said Natyshak. “If Ford’s ministers are going to continue to rubber stamp these positions, then the opposition must be given every opportunity to call these appointees to committee and ensure that they face the level of scrutiny that Ontario families expect.”