Friday, May 17, 2013
Never do a Liberal a favour
“I was fired,” Paul Godfrey said with a grin Thursday night after being dismissed by Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Finance Minister Charles Sousa.
And he wasn’t just fired but there was an attempt to embarrass him.
Word of this shiv in his back came out through anonymous sources Monday in a story in the Globe and Mail.
“All she had to do was make a phone call and say you are not my guy,” Godfrey said. “That’s her prerogative as premier.”
Instead, he was hung out to dry like a nameless, faceless, powerless pawn.
It should be noted that he had the opportunity when that story came out to put the boots back on her but decided, in the interest of the team he has assembled at the OLG, to take the high road.
But I did take note of that grin at his news conference.
I read it as this was all the premier’s folly and this was probably the wrong guy to do this to.
If it was a hockey cheap shot, the person bleeding on the ice normally looks up long enough to memorize the number on the back of the dirty player.
Never leave a scar on the face of an opponent unless you want one, too, is the general rule of thumb.
From a purely economic point of view, only in Ontario would the premier fire the guy who helped bring billions of dollars of revenue into the coffers and protect those who let billions disappear into thin air, never to be seen again.
And that’s exactly what happened.
There wasn’t as much swift public action to deal with the failed leadership in the e-health, Caledonia, Ornge or gas plant scandals.
It’s just tough politics.
Whoever replaces him — and right now cabinet secretary Peter Wallace has the job — they won’t be inheriting the disaster Godfrey did.
After all, the legendary media executive was brought in to clean up the disaster that was Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. which was rocked with scandal after scandal.
There were rigged games, stolen winnings and mostly a failing business.
Integrity was not a word being used around there.
Liberal finance minister Dwight Duncan reached across the bench and brought back into public life a famous conservative businessman to help fix things.
And he did.
He brought in CEO Rod Phillips and with a new board, in concert with existing stellar staff, they modernized the place.
The result was the OLG generated its highest consolidated gross gaming revenue ever in 2011 at $6.692 billion which meant a high spending government was handed $2.068 billion — an increase of $193 million or 10% over the year previous.
Wrongs were righted, winners that had their tickets stolen were found.
And then the government asked Godfrey and team to fix the gaming side of things.
With the border casinos no longer prosperous they wanted a location in Toronto and who better to steer that ship into port than Captain Toronto.
He understood being in downtown Toronto was the only way to get an “iconic” building, a massive convention centre and millions of tourist dollars.
He also understood for it to be in Toronto, the share to the city had to be in the $100 million range annually.
So did Duncan.
But somehow Wynne does not want gaming in downtown Toronto but won’t cancel it anywhere else.
Still a cynic could conclude this is really all about Larry Tanenbaum and his downtown business group lost in the casino sweep stakes and Liberal stalwart Greg Sorbara and his Vaughan or Markham crowd has possibly won.
And with that settled the premier, it seems, has decided to make Godfrey her fall guy.
The problem for her is the political ball keeps on bouncing and it’s a long game.
Either way, one thing for sure is Godfrey has learned to never do a favour for a Liberal again.
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