Wynne’s campaign manager has received almost $900,000 in contracts from her office alone. A previous story from The Globe & Mail shows that David Herle and his Gandalf Group received $1.1 million in contracts from the Liberal's caucus services fund.
The Liberal caucus services fund is a pot of money provided to the party by taxpayers based on the number of seats they have in the legislature. Each party is allotted funds on this basis.
A Globe and Mail story last fall noted that Herle and Gandalf were among the biggest recipients of such funds.
Almost $2 million in contracts from closely connected political allies to her campaign manager, but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne doesn't see a problem or think she actually has to answer questions about the concerns.
After her office provided vague answers to questions from The Rebel, Wynne was questioned about this very issue during Question Period at Queen's Park.
Patrick Brown: David Herle's being rewarded for his political work with nearly $1 million of taxpayers' money. Mr. Speaker, does the Premier have an ounce of ethics left? Does the Premier think it is acceptable to hand out $1 million…. of contracts to her Liberal pals and cronies? Does the Premier think that's acceptable?
Premier Kathleen Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite will know that market research and polling companies have been used by governments traditionally, Mr. Speaker. In fact, in fact there are at least six other companies, Mr. Speaker, that have contracts. Forum research, Ipsos Reid, Strategic Counsel, Ekos Research, Environics, Harris-Decima.
Similar to questions I sent to her office via email, Brown asked the premier to tell the people of Ontario how many contracts have gone to Herle and his firm and which government ministries authorized them.
Wynne ignored the question and deflected by mentioning other polling firms that get contracts from the government.
But as I've pointed out before, while other polling firms bid on and receive polling contracts from bureaucrats in government departments, Herle and Gandalf group received close to $2 million from the two most political offices at Queen's Park; caucus services and the premier's office.
This is without looking at other departments and I am told there are many.
Which departments? We don't know. The government is not saying and neither is Gandalf Group.
Alex Swann, vice-president at Gandalf Group told me via email that they would not comment on that question or any other questions about their work.
"We provide research services and the research data essentially belongs to our clients. We generally don’t speak to work they have commissioned or to what the research is informing, as a matter of policy. So I have to refer you to the clients at this time."
That would be fine if the client, the government of Ontario, would tell us how they spend tax dollars but they aren't talking.
In fact I've sent several follow-up questions to the premier's office trying to get answers and so far, I haven't received any real reply.
In response to four specific questions, the premier's spokesperson Jennifer Beaudry sent me a transcript of Question Period.
None of my questions were answered.
Let me read you the questions:
* Can you tell me what, exactly, Ontario taxpayers received for the nearly $900,000 in research contracts awarded to Mr. Herle and Gandalf Group?
* Are these polls public?
* Is there a record of the RFP, the tender process and the selection process for the two contracts awarded to Gandalf?
* I am told market research and polling are not subject to ARB reviews. Are you saying they are?
So far, I've received nothing of substance from the premier's office on these or other questions.
Premier Wynne and her government are awarding millions of dollars worth of contracts to her campaign manager. The public has a right to know and the government has a duty to answer. It's our money being spent so what did we buy for all that cash?
I think it is up to Wynne to prove this wasn't simply a case of political payback.