Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Pan Am Games expense claims include Argos tickets, dress shirts
Officials with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games billed Ontario taxpayers for everything from dress shirts and parking tickets to orange juice and wine before reimbursing them, documents released Friday reveal.
The Toronto Pan Am committee released five years’ worth of expense claims and credit card reports — about 5,000 pages of documents — to all media after a newspaper filed a freedom of information request.
TO2015 CEO Saad Rafi said the government had no say in the timing of the “document dump” on Friday, one day after the legislature recessed for two months.
“We of course work with the government on all these matters,” said Rafi. “In the past the expense claims for the organization garnered a lot of attention, so we wanted everybody to have that information at the same time.”
The expense reports, which often do not include the name of the executive making the claim, show Pan Am officials frequently charged taxpayers for their coffee, bottled water and snacks. Some also put cash advances on government credit cards, at very high interest rates.
The inappropriate expenses, some going as far back as 2010, only turned up after the FOI request, and the reimbursements were made in recent weeks, said Rafi.
“I didn’t know they existed,” he said. “When I saw those things, I said you know what, that’s not going to stand.”
The Progressive Conservatives said the Liberal government has clearly not been able to change the “culture of entitlement” at the Pan Am organizing committee.
“If you’re appointed to a committee by a Liberal, you can basically expense whatever you want, that’s the message that I think the public is hearing now,” said PC Pan Am critic Todd Smith. “The scandalous spending is continuing even after the new regime has been put in place.”
The New Democrats said Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals appeared to have learned nothing from a similar scandal involving inappropriate expenditures at eHealth Ontario, which forced the n-health minister David Caplan to resign. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)