Province Should Name An Administrator To Run City

Monday at audit committee absolutely nothing was mentioned about the Trillium Line procurement that screams for an investigation.

To be brief, the company that landed the lucrative contract failed the technical specifications twice and the committee that handled the procurement said that the winning SNC Lavalin affiliate should not receive the contract. But it did.

All that sounds extremely unusual … at best.

And yet not a word from auditor general Nathalie Gougeon on this very important public-policy issue. The Trillium Line audit is the most important ethical question facing local municipal government and yet Gougeon let its audit slip down her list of priorities over time until the new two-year (unprecedented) workplan shows no Trillium Line procurement audit.

The only hope for this audit occurring is it might (it’s a long shot) be part of a larger light-rail audit on the AG’s workplan.

Gougeon should know that her reputation and that of the auditor general’s office rides on her performing a robust audit of this procurement question. It is worth noting that the company with the technical specification problems is now monstrously late on delivering the Trillium Line. The commuter service was supposed to be finished in 2022 but now officials hope that it will be running sometime in 2024 though the chance of that launch occurring in 2025 is possible. Thus three years late and one wonders how well it will work upon completion. The precedent of SNC Lavalin’s Confederation Line is not good.

Concerns appeared in the community about the auditor general after her very weak audit of the Ottawa Police Service reaction to the Freedom Convoy when some members of the force went rogue.

Ottawans do not need a lapdog AG. We need a crusading auditor general working on the behalf of the people of Ottawa, not someone folding in the face of inside political pressure.

Gougeon’s reputation is on the line here. The value of her office is on the line.

But more than that, the legitimacy of municipal government is also in question. The failure of billions of taxpayer dollars spent on a botched light-rail project and the highly questionable value of Lansdowne 2.0 have thrown the reputation of the City of Ottawa into the gutter.

If the AG is unwilling to address this procurement issue, the ability of municipal government to self-right itself is drawn into question.

At that point, and that point has been reached already, it is time for the provincial government to appoint a commissioner and a board to run the City of Ottawa until the next election to get to the bottom of this woeful administrative, fiscal and ethical mess.

The provincial Mike Harris government did that with the board of the Ottawa Hospital when that group ran into trouble. Something similar occurred with provincial transition board under former Tory cabinet minister Claude Bennett that formed the current City of Ottawa.

The City of Ottawa is so short of principles and competence that it is time to do it again.

The provincial government cannot let the gruesome reputation and gross waste of money by this municipal government to continue or its very fiscal foundation might be in jeopardy. So too its legitimacy.

We need the auditor general to help clean up this municipal administrative and ethical mess.

And after Monday’s audit committee, it looks as though she is unprepared to do that.

The chaos that is Ottawa municipal government cannot continue.

Over to you Premier Doug Ford.

Ken Gray



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2 Responses

  1. Richard says:

    The problem with a Provincial Government appointed “administrator” is that the reputation of Doug Ford’s Government starting with the Greenbelt scandal is in a shamble and places him in the position of not being able to convince the majority that such action would be any improvement.

    Incompetence and pork barrelling real estate interests is a hallmark of the government of the day at Queen’s Park. So we are only left with self help . . and the system seems tilted against that as well.

  2. Ron Benn says:

    I agree with you to some extent Richard. It is like many a debate about matter political or social. Much like arguing about whether it is worse to step in goose droppings or dog droppings. The focus of what passes for debate is on the adjective not the noun.

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