Ford says auditors examining OLG books
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.
Premier Doug Ford