Ford says au­di­tors ex­am­in­ing OLG books

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - ROBERT BENZIE

There is a high-stakes game be­tween Premier Doug Ford’s gov­ern­ment and the province’s gam­bling agency.

A vis­i­bly un­happy Ford said Thurs­day that au­di­tors have been called in to ex­am­ine the books of the On­tario Lot­tery and Gam­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

“I’ll tell you right now with OLG, we’re send­ing an au­dit­ing team in there,” the premier told re­porters. “If there’s one thing I won’t tol­er­ate it’s peo­ple wast­ing tax­pay­ers’ money,” he said.

“So once we get the au­dit done and make sure we’re trans­par­ent ... we’ll be talk­ing to (the) me­dia and you can take a look at the au­dit.”

In fact, the au­di­tors have been prob­ing the Crown cor­po­ra­tion since June.

Still, Ford’s com­ments come af­ter a se­ries of sto­ries in the Toronto Sun, de­tail­ing the spend­ing of OLG’s CEO Stephen Rigby. Rigby, who made $765,406 last year, has been crit­i­cized in the pa­per for lav­ish of­fice ren­o­va­tions.

Ap­pointed by Lib­eral premier Kath­leen Wynne, he served as the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser to Con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper.

In an in­ter­nal email sent Wed­nes­day to OLG em­ploy­ees, board chair Ge­orge Cooke said the Sun’s cov­er­age was “sen­sa­tion­al­ist, mis­lead­ing, and a dis­tor­tion of the facts.”

Cooke, who also penned a col­umn for the Sun Thurs­day de­fend­ing the CEO, praised Rigby in the memo.

“In 2014, the then-board of di­rec­tors of OLG con­ducted a cross-coun­try search ... and chose an em­i­nently qual­i­fied leader to take the helm: a re­spected pub­lic ser­vant with a proven record of lead­ing trans­for­ma­tions of large or­ga­ni­za­tions na­tion­ally,” he wrote.

“Stephen was brought in to mod­ern­ize the de­liv­ery of land­based gam­ing, and max­i­mize lot­tery op­er­a­tions. He has done so while gen­er­at­ing record re­turns year over year.”

The chair noted that since 2015, “OLG has in­creased re­turns to the province from $2 bil­lion to $2.5 bil­lion.

“This un­prece­dented growth was achieved while OLG was twice awarded the “Best Re­spon­si­ble Gam­bling Pro­gram” by the World Lot­tery As­so­ci­a­tion; the first gam­ing cor­po­ra­tion to earn this global recog­ni­tion.”

But sources at Queen’s Park tell the Star there are con­cerns with the op­er­a­tions of the gam­ing mo­nop­oly, in­clud­ing de­lays to Ni­a­gara Falls En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre, which is still un­der con­struc­tion.

CHRIS YOUNG THE CANADIAN PRESS

Premier Doug Ford

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