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Tories want OPP to investigate Ornge

March 7, 2013, Toronto – Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis will be called to testify before a legislative committee examining the province's troubled air ambulance service, the Progressive Conservatives said Wednesday.


March 7, 2013
By The Canadian Press

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March 7, 2013, Toronto – Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis will
be called to testify before a legislative committee examining the
province's troubled air ambulance service, the Progressive
Conservatives said Wednesday.

Both the Tories and New Democrats say they want to know what's
been going on since the OPP started their criminal investigation of
Ornge a year ago.

"It's been a year, we haven't heard a peep out of them," said
NDP health critic France Gelinas.

"When all you have is silence . . . you tend to assume the
worst."

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The all-party committee probing the Ornge fiasco has the right to
know how the investigation is going, said Tory Frank Klees.

Both Gelinas and Klees said they're not looking for any details
that could jeopardize the case, they just want some reassurance.

"But it's been many months," Klees said. "We want to know how
seriously the OPP is pursuing the actions of a number of people in
this organization."

Lewis is expected to appear before the committee on March 20, but
the date hasn't been confirmed yet, said OPP spokesman Sgt. Pierre
Chamberland.

The evidence gathered must be able to stand up in court, so they
have to be very careful, he said.

"It's unfortunate that the commissioner is being called to
testify or we have to talk about it before we are able to complete
an investigation," Chamberland said.

"But that's what we have to do, so that's what he'll be doing."

The committee has heard explosive testimony about an alleged
kickback scheme, exorbitant salaries and badly designed medical
interiors in brand new helicopters. Ornge receives about $150
million a year from the province.

The recent arrest of the head of an Italian company linked to
Ornge is another reason why the OPP need to provide an update on the
case, Klees said.

Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi is under investigation in a case
involving the payment of bribes in the US $670-million sale of 12
helicopters to the government of India.

It's "uncannily parallel'' to the $144-million deal
helicopter-maker AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica,
signed with Ornge for 12 helicopters, Klees said.

Agusta paid an Ornge spinoff company $6.7 million after it
reached the deal, which included a $4.7-million agreement for
marketing services.

Ousted Ornge chief executive Chris Mazza said the extra fees were
not part of a kickback scheme and Agusta has vehemently denied any
wrongdoing.

"I want to know from the OPP commissioner, have they called in
the RCMP?" Klees said.

"It's been a long time and we're hoping to at least get some
confirmation from the commissioner that no stone will be left
unturned."

He said he also wants to know what the governing Liberals are
doing to recover funds from Ornge's spinoff companies.

Documents tabled with the committee show Mazza assigned a
$10-million life insurance policy for himself, Klees said.

The policy appears to be under the control of one of Ornge's
for-profit companies, along with $450,000 meant to pay the premiums,
he said.

"The question we have is what has happened to that," Klees
said.

If the money is still there, the government should go after it,
he added.

Health Minister Deb Matthews said she's instructed Ornge to do
whatever they can to recover “any inappropriate expenditures."

"I'm sad to say that nothing shocks me anymore when it comes to
Chris Mazza," she said.

Auditor general Jim McCarter found that Ornge received $730
million from the Health Ministry over five years _ and borrowed $300
million more _ with virtually no government oversight.

Other documents tabled with the all-party committee showed that
Mazza received $1.2 million in loans in a single year, in addition
to his high salary.


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