Doug Ford appoints Gordon Campbell to lead Ontario government spending audit

Gordon Campbell | BIV file photo

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario’s new PC government, has appointed former B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to lead an independent inquiry and line-by-line audit of the previous Ontario Liberal government’s spending under Kathleen Wynne.

Campbell, who was B.C.’s premier from 2001 to 2011 and served as Mayor of Vancouver from 1986 to 1993, will chair the commission that will include forensic accountant Al Rosen and public servant Michael Horgan.

“We promised to restore trust in Ontario’s public finances and that is what we are doing,” Ford said via Twitter.

“The people deserve to know where their money is going, how it was being wasted and how we’re going to fix it. Promise made, promise kept.”

Ford had promised during his campaign that his government would look into the province’s finances under the Liberals, specifically why deficits as reported in a pre-election report were understated. In April, Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk issued a report that said Ontario’s deficit would run to about $11.7 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year – $5 billion more than the $6.7 billion reported by the Liberals. The discrepancy was related to two understated expenses: the financial impact of the Fair Hydro Plan’s electricity rate reduction and expenses relating to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

In the report, Lysyk had said, “We concluded that the pre-election report is not a reasonable presentation of Ontario’s finances.

“When expenses are understated, the perception is created that government has more money available than it actually does.”

Ford said the Ontario government is taking bids over the next 15 days for companies wishing to conduct the consulting services in the review.

The Ontario government has not disclosed the expected cost for the inquiry. The commission’s final report is expected to be issued August 30.