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Mazza tells his side of the story today: Ornge

July 18, 2012, Toronto - Ousted Ornge CEO Chris Mazza will be in the hot seat today.


July 18, 2012
By The Canadian Press

Mazza is slated to appear before a legislative committee that's looking into Ontario's troubled air ambulance service.

His lawyer has said Mazza is very interested in setting the record straight about his involvement in creating Ornge, which has been mired in controversy for months.

It's been a long wait to hear Mazza tell his side of the story about the organization that's now under a criminal probe over financial irregularities.

Two Speakers' warrants were issued to compel him to testify, but his appearance was put off because two psychiatrists declared him medically unfit to testify.

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Mazza took medical leave last December when allegations about questionable business deals made headlines.

Many of the witnesses have pointed the finger at Mazza for the controversy that's created a major embarrassment for the governing Liberals.

Auditor general Jim McCarter has criticized the government for failing to oversee Ornge, despite giving it $730 million over five years and allowing it to borrow another $300 million.

The committee has heard numerous stories about people who died while waiting for an air ambulance, about understaffing by Ornge, and about helicopters that were so badly designed paramedics often could not perform CPR on patients.

Former Ornge employees have described Mazza as "impressive,'' "brilliant'' and a "visionary,'' but also a tyrant whose volatile temper exploded when they didn't do what he wanted.

The committee has also heard about Mazza's $1.4-million annual compensation package that was hidden from public view, the personal loans he received from Ornge and his involvement in hiring his girlfriend, a former water-ski instructor.

Mazza's lawyer Roger Yachetti plans to accompany Mazza at his committee appearance.