Former head of ORNGE ordered to testify before committee
London Community News
Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie/Torstar News Service
A rare order has been served on Dr. Chris Mazza, the disgraced former head of ORNGE, to appear next month before MPPs probing the scandal at the embattled air ambulance service.
A warrant from Speaker of the Legislature Dave Levac has been delivered to Mazza, who earned $1.4 million a year before he was fired following a Star investigation into high salaries, unusual business deals and patient safety concerns.
It’s the first time in 21 years that a warrant has been issued, which stems from Mazza’s dismissal of an earlier request that he appear before the Legislature’s public accounts committee, Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees said Monday.
“He (Mazza) now has to,” added Klees, who has led his party’s attacks on ORNGE and sponsored the motion for a warrant.
Mazza, who has gone into seclusion and refused media interviews, has been ordered to show up on May 16 to answer questions on his role in the troubles at ORNGE that have also led to a police probe.
Ontario Provincial Police are investigating financial irregularities at ORNGE, which gets $150 million a year in taxpayer funds but had a web of private, for-profit companies and loaned Mazza cash to purchase a tony Etobicoke home that has since been sold.
“We continue to hear from witnesses that Dr. Mazza gave the directions to structure these for-profit companies, it was Dr. Mazza who was paid $1.4 million of taxpayer money, it was Dr. Mazza who took out a loan of tax dollars granted by the board that we want some answers on,” said Klees (Newmarket—Aurora).
The warrant was served on Mazza, a former emergency room physician, on Friday by the Legislature’s top cop, Sergeant-at-Arms Dennis Clark, Levac said Monday.
“I beg to inform the House that I have laid upon the table a copy of my warrant . . . respecting testimony of Dr. Chris Mazza, which was delivered in person, on my order, by the sergeant-at-arms on April 20,” Levac told the Legislature.
If Mazza refuses, or if any reasons for not showing up are deemed insufficient by the committee, he can be called to appear before the Legislature prior to further steps being taken, said Klees.
Health Minister Deb Matthews welcomed the testimony from anyone shedding light into what happened at ORNGE.
“This is an absolutely appropriate opportunity for the standing committee to call whoever they want and ask whatever questions they want,” said Matthews.
Also appearing before the committee will be Don Guy, Premier Dalton McGuinty’s political mastermind who has run the 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 Liberal election campaigns.
“He’s indicated a willingness to testify,” Government House leader John Milloy said.
Guy confirmed his appearance has been scheduled for May 2.
“Looking forward to it,” he said in an email Monday.
Last week, Alf Apps, former president of the Liberal Party of Canada and formerly a lawyer at the Toronto firm of Fasken Martineau doing work for ORNGE, told the committee that he twice consulted Guy for help with the air ambulance service.
Appearing before the committee this Wednesday are former ORNGE chair Rainer Beltzner and lawyer Lynne Golding, director of the health law practice group at Fasken Martineau and the wife of federal cabinet minister Tony Clement.
The last time a speaker’s warrant was issued was during the 1991 imbroglio concerning doctors’ billings and questions over former New Democrat MPP Shelley Martel’s access to confidential information. An inquiry was held and the warrant went to Sudbury