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Ford plans to form special committee to probe province's fiscal situation

Last Updated Sep 24, 2018 at 11:22 am EDT

Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends Question Period at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, on Sept. 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Premier Doug Ford says his government plans to strike a special committee to further investigate Ontario’s fiscal situation in light of a newly reviewed multi-billion-dollar deficit.

Ford says the select committee will have the power to call witnesses, compel documents and gather evidence.

The Progressive Conservative government said it plans to have the committee investigate accounting practices, decision making and policy objectives of the previous government.

“This committee will have the power to call witnesses, to compel documents … I’ll tell you, what a team we’ve picked too. Boy, I’d be worried to go in front of them,” Ford said.

The names of the committee members have not yet been disclosed — six including the chair will be from the sitting Ontario PC government, and three will be from the Official Opposition.

It is not yet known how much the committee will cost.

His announcement comes days after the finance minister said an independent commission of inquiry found the practices of the previous Liberal government had resulted in a $15-billion projected deficit for 2018-2019.

“If you try to play these dirty accounting tricks in a business, if you tried to pull that kind of coverup in the private sector, the OSC would come calling, the police would come calling. The only reason this is not fraud is because the Liberals got to set their accounting rules,” Ford went on to say.

However, it is far from clear though, as to if any fraud was actually committed. The ballooning deficit was largely the result of an accounting disagreement that was known about for some time.

The Liberals had disagreed with the auditor general over accounting principles applied to two pensions plans and its Fair Hydro Plan, a situation the fiscal watchdog said resulted in the province understating its deficit by billions.

Ford said a motion to strike the select committee will be put forward in the legislature on Monday.