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Liberals bungle oversight of tire stewardship

(January 12, 2016) We are barely into the New Year and we are greeted with yet another example of Liberal mismanagement.


As you might have read or heard on the weekend, the Ontario Tire Stewardship has squandered thousands of dollars on boozy meals, stays at luxury hotels, wine tastings and a boat cruise.


Now, if you haven't heard of the Ontario Tire Stewardship, let me tell you all about them: they are a private agency, designated by the Liberal government. The organization's job is to oversee the recycling of used tires in Ontario.


"The Ontario Tire Stewardship is funded by car and truck drivers who collectively have paid millions of dollars in tire recycling fees since the program began in 2009," the Toronto Star reported on Saturday, in a story about the stewardship's spending shenanigans. "Each consumer pays $4.25 as an "eco fee" when a tire is purchased. Proceeds of the recycling program fund the stewardship's operations."


And this is why the news about the organization's spending is so galling. The organization is using proceeds from Ontarians to pay for the finer things in life. That's just wrong.


As the Star reported, credit card statements paint a picture of the stewardship's activities: wining and dining, while discussing agency business.


During a stay at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa in 2015, the Star reports the stewardship spent $16,104 for 13 board and staff members for a board meeting. Another event last year, the newspaper stated, consisted of a sunset boat cruise on Lake Rosseau.


If you feel your blood pressure rising, I don't blame you. This is a terrible way for an organization to act, especially when it's an agency that's sanctioned by the provincial government.


But wait, there's more.


The Toronto Star reports that at a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery, 10 agency directors and senior executives took part in a tour and tasting in 2014. This little outing cost $2,023 and another $2,200 for hotel rooms.


"The expense documents provide rare insight into the spending of the government-legislated agency that operates without public oversight, despite overseeing the collection of roughly $80 million a year in recycling fees," the Star stated.


Rare insight, indeed.


The story also illustrates a complete lack of self-control by the board. But what's worse is the Kathleen Wynne Liberals allow this type of activity.


Of course, why should the Liberals mind the stewardship's proclivity for the good life? After all, the organization has ponied up donations to Liberals.


For example, the stewardship contributed $3,200 to the Liberal Party's 2015 Summer Golf Classic. And in 2014 they shelled out $1,000 for another Liberal fundraiser.


It seems inappropriate to me that an agency sanctioned and mandated by the province would turn around and give money to the party that holds power at Queen's Park. You would think someone at the stewardship – perhaps a board member – might have raised red flags over this.


But alas it appears not.


"These are modest contributions as a way of supporting the democratic process," tire stewardship chair Glenn Maidment told the Star.


In fact, Mr. Maidment doesn't see a thing wrong with what's transpired.


"I am not uncomfortable with the nature of the meetings, the nature of the meals, or the nature of the accommodations," he told the newspaper.


It certainly seems like some changes are needed at the stewardship, especially when it comes to senior staff and the board.


And clearly, this is another example of how the Liberals just aren't up to the job of running this province.


It's certainly a new year, but the same inept Liberal government is overseeing Ontario, and that's unfortunate.


Ontarians deserve so much better.

 

Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.


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