Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doug Ford Launches Independent Inquiry into Ontario's Finances

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doug Ford Launches Independent Inquiry into Ontario's Finances

Article excerpt

Ford launches inquiry into Ontario's finances

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TORONTO - An independent inquiry led by a former British Columbia premier will look into Ontario's finances, newly elected Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday as he accused the former Liberal government of cooking the books and faking the deficit numbers.

Ford said the Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry, and a line-by-line audit covering the past 15 years of Liberal rule, will help the new Progressive Conservatives right the province's fiscal path in short order.

"I want the people to be presented with a full, honest and accurate picture of Ontario's finances," he said in a news conference. "You deserve to know where your money is going, how it was being wasted and how we're going to fix it."

The commission will be led by Gordon Campbell, a former B.C. Liberal leader who governed from 2001 to 2011, and will have until Aug. 30 to report on its findings.

Looking into the Liberals' accounting practices was one of Ford's promises in the leadup to the June 7 provincial election. The province's auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, had said in a pre-election report that the government understated its deficit by billions. She suggested that the $6.7 billion deficit projected by the Liberals for 2018-2019 would instead be $11.7 billion, and the projected $6.5 billion for 2020-2021 would actually be $12.5 billion.

The former Liberal government attributed the discrepancy to an accounting dispute related to calculations surrounding its Fair Hydro Plan and pension expenses.

"You're fed up with being deceived," Ford said on Tuesday. "Fed up with paying more and getting less. Fed up with the shady accounting tricks because in the last 15 years nothing was off the table. Even Ontario's budget numbers under the Liberals, the books were cooked. The deficit numbers were faked."

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the commission of inquiry and the line-by-line audit would have a budget of a total of $1 million. …

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