June 5, 2014 5:25 pm
Updated: June 5, 2014 5:28 pm

Ontario election: auditor-general examining MaRS loan

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynnes talks to media outside her office at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Ontario’s auditor-general is examining the controversial bailout of the MaRS building by the Liberal government and Infrastructure Ontario as part of the her annual review.

That loan as well as a wide array of others handed out by Infrastructure Ontario will be investigated, according to a letter from Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk to the NDP.

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“As it happens, we are currently conducting an audit of Infrastructure Ontario’s Loans Program and the scope of that audit includes the loan made to facilitate completion of the MaRS Phase 2 building, the subject of your concerns,” the letter addressed to NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said.

In Depth: Ontario Election 2014

Her letter was in response to a request from Bisson to investigate the so-called “secret payment” involving MaRS.

“Ontarians deserve to know the full cost of the government’s election-eve decision to bail out the MaRS building,” Bisson wrote in his letter to Lysyk.

The Progressive Conservatives have been piling on to Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne since releasing documents about the purported MaRS bailout accusing her of “secretly” approving the loan.

The Liberals paid $71 million to buy the land needed to expand the MaRS innovation research centre and loaned MaRs and the developer $234 million to build a new tower – but they’ve been unable to fill the tower and can’t repay the loan, according to the PCs.

Wynne refuted the Tories’ claim, saying the documents hadn’t been made public because the purchase agreement had not been finalized.

The revelation that Lysyk is examining the MaRS loans as part of her regular audit cycle led to some political theatre on the campaign trail Thursday as Horwath appeared to back away from the NDP’s claim they triggered the audit.

“We have no way of knowing what the auditor-general is or isn’t doing,” Andrea Horwath said at a campaign stop in Niagara Falls.

But that didn’t stop the Liberals from accusing the NDP of being “desperate and devoid of a positive progressive plan of their own.”

“Today Andrea Horwath attempted to revive her struggling campaign by deceiving reporters about a regular report being undertaken by the auditor general as part of her annual report,” the Liberals said in a news release.

Results of the audit are expected to be released in December.

–        With files from The Canadian Press 

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