By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Saturday January 28, 2012
The politics of grounding ORNGE high flyers
No other Liberal minister disarms a debating opponent as deftly as Deb Matthews when she rises in the Legislature to say, in so many words, “I feel your pain.”
Now, the minister of empathy has shown she has a spine of steel.
Her surgical strikes against the executives and directors at ORNGE have unburdened its fleet of air ambulances from the greed and guile of its disgraced leadership team. Matthews moved with calculated resolve to dismantle the corporate empire and fiscal camouflage erected by ORNGE and its affiliated companies.
Last month, infuriated by a series of Star articles, she sidelined the charismatic Chris Mazza from his perch as CEO — he of the egregious $1.4 million annual income.
This week, she swept aside the rest of that legacy by bouncing the interim ORNGE president and the entire board. The affiliated Ornge Global Solutions — whose questionable side deals were shrouded in secrecy — will be wound down.
Matthews is not covered in glory here, nor are the Liberals. The government ignored persistent opposition questioning for months, and it took sustained coverage in the Star to ratchet up the pressure.
But she has acted decisively against an organization that was midwifed by her government and is still heavily staffed by Liberal insiders. Mazza’s rise to power at ORNGE came courtesy of former health minister George Smitherman, who eagerly embraced his vision for a privatized air ambulance service. As with ORNGE, Smitherman’s fingerprints are also on eHealth — another notorious political albatross that Matthews inherited. (Source: Toronto Star)