Cablegate: Throne Speech to Be Overshadowed by Finance

Published: Wed 12 Oct 2005 02:02 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Throne Speech To Be Overshadowed by Finance
Minister's Resignation
Ref: 04 Toronto 364
Sensitive But Unclassified - Protect accordingly.
1. (U) A widely anticipated self-congratulatory
provincial Liberal government throne speech today
(October 12) to mark Premier McGuinty's mid-term and
set the tone for the next election in October 2007 will
likely be overshadowed by the resignation, announced
last night, of Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara.
Sorbara was named in a criminal RCMP fraud warrant for
activities during the time he served as a director of
Royal Group Technologies. This company specializes in
plastic building products and its founder, Vic Den Zen
had some questionable dealings with a St Kitts resort,
as well as a series of Ontario land deals that involved
the Sorbara Group.
2. (U) Sorbara had asked in February 2004 to be
relieved of his responsibilities for oversight of the
Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) when he first
learned that he might be the subject of an OSC
investigation in connection with Royal Group
Technologies in early 2004; he was cleared at that time
of any wrongdoing by the province's Integrity
Commissioner Coulter Osbourne. Sorbara will be
replaced by Dwight Duncan, the current energy minister;
and Donna Cansfield, currently Duncan's parliamentary
assistant, will take on the Energy portfolio.
3. (SBU) Comment: This will be the third provincial
minister (Minister of Transportation Harinder Takhar
and Minister of Economic Development and Trade Joseph
Cordiano) to come under a cloud for Premier McGuinty,
who prides himself on maintaining a squeaky clean
image. Sorbara was well qualified for his position -
often called "the smartest man" and "most powerful
minister" in the cabinet - and a personal confidante of
Premier McGuinty, having served as party president,
campaign chair, and architect of the Liberal landslide
victory two years ago. His resignation is viewed as
being in the British tradition of stepping down in the
face of allegations that could reflect negatively upon
the government. The investigation could take years to
complete and, so far, nothing has been proven in
court. John Tory, the provincial Progressive
Conservative leader who is neck-in-neck with McGuinty
in the polls and New Democratic leader Howard Hampton
had called for Sorbara's resignation earlier in the
day. McGuinty will next face election on October 4,
2007; Ontarians have proved to have a short memory of
their politicians' failings.
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