Department of Finance Contracts Questioned
Despite Treasury Board rules requiring a bidding process for contracts of $25,000 or more, Flaherty admitted his office broke government contracting rules in hiring MacPhie & Company to help write the 2007 budget speech and provide advice on how to sell the document. MacPhie & Company was awarded the $122,000 contract without tender by Flaherty's office. On February 7, 2008, Liberal finance critic John McCallum formally called on Auditor General Sheila Fraser to conduct an audit into the untendered contract awarded by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty to MacPhie & Company for work done in advance of the 2007 budget.
The Toronto Star determined that several people who supported Flaherty when he was an Ontario cabinet minister or who supported his two failed bids to lead the Ontario Tories were awarded employment contracts or given appointments. The employment contracts awarded were under the $25,000 Treasury Board contract bidding limit. Bronwen Evans received a $24,877.50 contract to write speeches for Flaherty from June 2006 until last February. David Curtain, who worked on Flaherty's Ontario leadership campaign, received $24,877.50 to write the finance minister's first budget speech. Curtain was also paid $3,350 to write a keynote address earlier in 2008 for Flaherty. Lawyer James Love, who donated $63,000 to Flaherty over two leadership campaigns, was appointed to the Royal Canadian Mint. Another Flaherty donor, Carol Hansell, was appointed to the board of directors of the Bank of Canada in October 2006. Toronto family law lawyer Sara Beth Mintz, an Ontario Progressive Conservative Party vice-president, received $24,900 for budget "analysis, assessment and advice." MacPhie & Company also got another contract for $24,645 for work done on Advantage Canada, a long-term, national economic plan. Opposition parties say they are suspicious that contracts are coming in just under $25,000 in order to give business to Flaherty's friends and supporters.
On May 13, 2008, Flaherty appeared before the Public Accounts committee, facing questions about multiple sole-sourced contracts worth more than $300,000 that were given by the government. The finance minister says he was unaware his former chief of staff broke government rules in handing a well-connected Tory an untendered contract to write the 2007 budget speech.
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