September 12, 2005

Release of the Final Reports of the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry and the Toronto External Contracts Inquiry

This report has been a long time coming, and its recommendations are welcome and timely.

I would like to thank Justice Denise Bellamy, her staff, City Solicitor Anna Kinastowski, and Linda Rothstein and her team at Paliare Roland for all their hard work.

I would like to begin by reading you a short quote from the report. Justice Bellamy writes:

“The ethical culture of an organization is the set of values operating within it. These values contribute to the first line of defence against unethical behaviour, and they exert by far the most powerful influence.”

I have always been proud to be an elected official, and to be involved in public service.

And I have always believed that every elected official in every government must have a personal and professional commitment to honesty, transparency, and responsibility.

These values are at the heart of my goals as Mayor of Toronto.

Unfortunately, such a culture has not always been a reality.

This report – and the inquiry that led to it – has laid bare damning evidence of how the system allowed rot and corruption to flourish at City Hall.

The story told in this report amounts to a conspiracy to defraud the City by placing private gain above public service.

In addition to documenting this shameful scandal, the report provides in its recommendations clear direction for how we can help to prevent similar wrongdoing from happening at the City.

I will speak about some of the recommendations, but I first want to offer a few personal reflections on the MFP inquiry.

This scandal was a sad chapter in the history of the city.

This is a story marked by arrogance, corruption, complacency, and incompetence. These things offend me to the core of my person, and go against everything I believe about public service.

I believe in this inquiry as powerfully today as I did when I first fought for it. And of course it was not just me:

  • Anne Johnston
  • Bas Balkissoon
  • Other members of council who supported getting to the truth

It is a terrible thing – an outrageous thing – that this inquiry was necessary, but it was necessary.

This is time, energy, and money wisely spent. The inquiry, and this report, will help City Council govern better, and to serve the people of Toronto more honestly and accountably.

The lessons we have learned from Justice Bellamy will be important for the government of Toronto, and important for other governments as well.

It is our job to restore and preserve the good name of good governance. We owe this to the people of Toronto.

Also, as part of the new City of Toronto Act, and Toronto’s maturation as a full-fledged government, we need to manage our own affairs, and be seen to manage our own affairs.

We oversee a $7-billion dollar budget, employ 26,000 people, and deliver the services and facilities that are fundamental to the quality of life for all Torontonians, rich and poor. That places a tremendous responsibility upon us to ensure that people are dealt with honestly, transparently, and accountably.

I have said many times that when you do business at City Hall, the only thing that should matter is what you know – not who you know. Clearly, this was not the case in the past.

How can we be sure something like the MFP scandal won’t happen here again? We all know that there will always be people who try to take advantage of the system – people who will try to lie and dissemble, and to exploit the system for their personal profit.

There is a lot we can do – a lot we have done – to make it as difficult for them as possible.

I would like to thank Justice Bellamy for acknowledging in her report that my administration has already made major changes at the City to provide better accountability.

I would also like to thank her for recognizing that our current civil service is commendable for carrying out its duties ethically and accountably – clearly we have had some serious problems in the past, but the City of Toronto is overall an example of the best of public service.

We have in fact already made many of the changes that are now recommended in Justice Bellamy’s report:

This administration has made progress, but we still have more to do:

  • We already have a volunteer lobbyist registry. We need to make it mandatory
  • We are undertaking a governance review to make councillors and committees more accountable
  • We are working to improve and increase the information we provide to the public about business at City Hall
  • Culture of routine disclosure
  • Though it is not in the report, I would like to see all RFP responses and tenders made public – if this had been the case last time around, the MFP scandal might never have happened.

We have to improve Council behaviour, especially in terms of leaking confidential information, and the way they deal with staff. I have already begun to speak to committee chairs and deputy mayors, and will speak to every councillor about these issues.

I also feel very strongly that there need to be consequences for misconduct and betraying the public trust. I feel that way about this particular case, and about any such future breaches.

A final thought: Reports, inquiries, and policy documents, no matter how thorough they are, will only ever take us so far.

Policies are only as good as the people who enforce them and live by them. This report praises our civil service, and I commend them for their integrity and responsibility. But we must always be vigilant, and ensure that we live by the codes we create for ourselves. That goes for everyone from me, right through every level of civil service.

It also goes for the private sector. Their role should not be forgotten this scandal. It is every bit as unacceptable for private companies to play games and deceive the public as it is for the public service.

In closing, I assure you that this report only strengthens my commitment to the principles I have been talking about today. As important as this report is, what is vastly more important is what we do now.

We have already started changing the rules and the values at City Hall. We will continue this change the culture. I want the government of Toronto to be a leader in accountability and ethical behaviour. I am committed to making the City of Toronto the model for municipal governments – and all governments – across North America.

That’s what the people of Toronto expect of this administration, and it is what I intend to deliver.