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ORNGE: Committee wants Mazza to testify

April 24, 2012, Toronto - Ontario’s bickering political parties agree on one thing: They want a warrant issued for ORNGE’s former CEO, Dr. Chris Mazza, to force him to appear before the committee investigating the air ambulance scandal.


April 24, 2012
By The Toronto Star

The only trouble is, they can’t seem to find him.

Now, the all-party committee public accounts hearing into the affair
has asked Speaker Dave Levac to issue a warrant for him to appear on May
16.

If Mazza can’t be reached, the warrant goes to his lawyer, Roger Yachetti, the motion reads.

Mazza, a former physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, left
the service that he founded, terminated after a series of scandals
involving secretive and high salaries, executive perks, mysterious
payments from suppliers and wasted public money. At ORNGE, Mazza earned
$1.4 million a year.

The extremely unusual move to seek a warrant — it was last done 21
years ago — is now before Levac, who was unavailable for comment
Thursday.

Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees, a committee member, said
they had to resort to this move because Mazza hasn’t responded to
requests to appear.

“Seeing as he is a key figure in this, it is important we hear from
him sooner than later,” said Klees. “The fact we didn’t know where he
was is disconcerting to us. You never know what people have in mind.”

The last time a speaker’s warrant was issued was during the 1991
imbroglio concerning doctors’ billings and questions over former NDP MPP
Shelley Martel’s access to confidential information. An inquiry was
held and Sudbury businessman Keith Harfield, a reluctant witness,
received a speaker’s warrant.

On Wednesday, the nine-person committee, which is dominated by PCs
and the NDP, heard Premier Dalton McGuinty’s political mastermind was
hired to advise on ORNGE by a key Liberal lawyer who did some work for
the air ambulance service.

Alfred Apps, the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada,
said he consulted with Don Guy, director of McGuinty’s election
campaign, twice on ORNGE matters.

Also testifying Wednesday was Louis Bartolotta, AgustaWestland
Philadelphia Corporation’s executive vice-president. AgustaWestland
manufactures turbine-powered helicopters in use all over the world.

Klees asked Bartolotta about Finmeccanica, a main shareholder of
AgustaWestland. Finmeccanica’s chair Pier Francesco Guarguaglini
resigned in 2011 after a series of corruption scandals. “Prosecutors
exposed a system of patronage, slush funds, bribery and kickbacks at
this company,” noted Klees.

Bartolotta responded: “Sir, you’re talking about reports in the
press. I can only tell you I have no more knowledge of what went on (at)
Finmeccanica at that level than you do.”

Klees said it was important to have the discussion about Finmeccanica
due to a “very interesting payment” of $6.7 million by Agusta to ORNGE,
made a short period of time after a multi-million helicopter purchase.

The OPP is currently investigating the $6.7 million payment.