Takhar learned lesson, keeps job: McGuinty
Toronto, Feb. 13, 2006
Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar got assurances
from his boss Monday that he won't lose his job for
running afoul of the province's Integrity Act, but
angry opposition critics say they won't rest until
he's kicked out of cabinet.
Takhar was "egregiously reckless" when
he attended a meeting last year at the corporate offices
of the company he once headed, concludes a report
by Integrity Commissioner Coulter Osborne tabled Monday
in the legislature.
Takhar touched off a political firestorm last April
when he was photographed by a Conservative staffer
at the Chalmers Group of Companies office in Mississauga,
Ont., where he was chief executive before entering
Politicians are required under the province's Integrity
Act to place their assets in a blind trust to ensure
they avoid conflicts of interest, and also to inform
the commissioner whenever they find themselves in
a potential violation of the act.
Takhar also failed to ensure the independence of
a trustee who was assigned to manage his personal
business affairs, a requirement for all ministers,
Osborne's report concludes. The trustee later became
treasurer of Takhar's riding association, but Osborne
was never notified.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said Takhar learned an important
lesson and should not be punished any further.
"(The mistake) does not in any way shape or
form involve any use, misuse, abuse of taxpayer dollars
and in those circumstances . . . I am comfortable
maintaining (Takhar in cabinet)," McGuinty said.
But Conservative Leader John Tory said he's not about
to drop the issue, and wants Takhar out of cabinet.
"We're not through with this yet, we have a
debate that has to be held in the legislature on this
under the rules, and I will have more questions for
(McGuinty)," Tory said.
"What he seemed to be saying in (the legislature)
is you actually have to steal money or misappropriate
money in order to be found to have engaged in conduct
that is worthy of being removed from the cabinet."
Osborne's report stopped short of recommending further
sanctions against Takhar, and McGuinty said that was
good enough for him.
"I'll quote from the integrity commissioner:
`I have to recognize the minister did not go about
intentionally trying to short-circuit the system,"'
"He then goes on to conclude, `It would be unfair
to sanction the minister beyond issuing a reprimand."'
But Tory said the integrity commissioner didn't specifically
comment on whether Takhar should be kicked out of
cabinet, since it's not his place to do so.
Tory said he wrote Osborne to clarify whether the
minister should stay at his post; the commissioner
replied that he had no jurisdiction to advise the
premier on his cabinet.
Because he broke the rules, Takhar should go, Tory
For his part, Takhar refused to answer questions
from the media Monday about whether he ever considered
resigning from cabinet.