Tories set up G8 fund to dodge oversight: NDP
CTV News.ca Staff
Published Monday, August 15, 2011 9:49PM EDT
The NDP is claiming the government created a $50-million slush fund for the G8 summit last year to avoid the watchful eye of the auditor general.
In a news release issued Monday, the New Democrats contend that Conservative Minister Tory Clement -- who is the MP for the Muskoka riding where the summit took place and was industry minister at the time of the summit -- tried to avoid scrutiny from the auditor general by monitoring the G8 fund via his constituency office and hand-picking projects that would receive money.
The allegations are based on municipal documents obtained by the NDP under Ontario's provincial Freedom of Information laws.
"This stinks of a cover-up. Even at the height of the sponsorship scandal Canadians knew they could count on the Auditor General to get to the bottom of the spending," NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said in a news release.
"Why didn't the Conservatives tell the AG that they set up a private, parallel system outside the normal checks and balances of the bureaucracy? Tony Clement's fingerprints are all over this file."
Clement's office hasn't yet responded to the accusations.
The documents obtained by the NDP include minutes from a Feb. 27, 2009 meeting attended by Clement as well as numerous civil servants and local mayors, to discuss how the $50 million would be distributed.
In June, interim auditor general John Wiersema released a report stating that no public servants had been involved in selecting projects that were to receive money.
The report also found that Wiersema's office could find no paper records to suggest what criteria were used to pick the successful projects.
The fund doled out funding for 32 projects in the Parry Sound-Muskoka region, including construction of parks, gazebos, public washrooms and several beautification projects in and around Huntsville.
Many of the projects that won funds were located hours away from the resort where the summit was held.
Parliament had approved the $50-million fund for border security and not for beautification projects hundreds of kilometres farther north, the auditor general's report said.
"Asking for money for one purpose and using it for another purpose is a serious problem," Wiersema told CTV's Power Play in June.
"Supporting documentation is important for transparency and accountability," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press