Here’s a nutty story we don’t quite know what to make of: former provincial insider Jodie Parmar (mainly known as the dude responsible for the 407 during the Mike Harris years) tells the Toronto Star that he knows how Ontario could save $1 billion. For a government facing many times that in deficits for the next few years, this should be an easy sell. The problem, apparently, is Parmar’s insistence on an unorthodox payment scheme: 2.5 per cent of any money he finds through existing provincial projects. See? Nutty.
If he identified an additional $1 billion that could be returned from 407 International Inc. to Ontario taxpayers in reduced tolls, municipal property tax revenues and other fees, he would receive $25 million.
While he emphasizes he is willing to be flexible on compensation and would accept far less—including a lifetime posting as a deputy minister or a hydro board appointment—he noted that the $1 billion is money the province might otherwise never see.
Right, because Dalton McGuinty so desperately needs the money that he’d be willing to make a questionable deal with a consultant and potentially cost the taxpayers millions of dollars—because that never turned out badly for them before. McGuinty can then spend his free time after the election babysitting for George Smitherman.
On top of the political downsides, it’s kind of hard for us to believe that the government (which hires a ton of well-paid lawyers who presumably know contracts) missed some super-secret magic words that have such dramatic potential. The government did, after all, take the 407 matter to court and lose. Which leaves us back at square one: what is going on here?