McGuinty is ‘all ears’ to plan to get $1 billion back from Hwy. 407


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Published On Tue Mar 22 2011

Premier Dalton McGuinty says he’s “all ears” to a proposal that could return $1 billion to Ontarians from the owners of Hwy. 407.

As first disclosed by the Star on Tuesday, the architect of the $3.1 billion highway sale in 1999 says there are clauses buried in the contract favourable to the province.

Jodie Parmar, who was vice-president of the Ontario government’s privatization secretariat, said the 15-centimetre thick agreement and its enabling legislation contain provisions that could help rein in skyrocketing tolls and increase property tax revenues from 407 International Inc.

McGuinty, who faces an $18.7 billion deficit and an election Oct. 6, acknowledged Tuesday he is intrigued by Parmar’s scheme.

“We are very much open to sitting down and having some of our representatives meet with this individual and hear from him any ideas that he might have,” said the premier.

But McGuinty, whose government lost in court to 407 International in 2006 over a bid to regulate soaring tolls, is not optimistic money can be recovered.

“We don’t see that at this point in time, but if he has something that’s there and it is real then we’re all ears,” he said.

A key stumbling block is that Parmar is seeking a percentage of any savings he finds as compensation. He’s also said he would accept payment in the form of a government appointment or increased provincial funding to fight ovarian cancer.

“I think what we should do is sit down and talk before we begin to try to negotiate some kind of payment,” said McGuinty.

“My sense was the gentleman was committed to the public interest and had some savings in mind that would benefit the public at large.”

Parmar said he was “heartened” by McGuinty’s comments.

“Unfortunately, as of yet, I have not heard anything,” he said Tuesday.

“I remain, as I have always, prepared to move forward in good faith with the government of Ontario in a manner that promotes the broader public interest and appropriately rewards expertise in a knowledge-based economy.”

For its part, 407 International, which is owned by Spain’s Cintra Infraestructuras S.A., the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and SNC-Lavalin, maintains any disputes over tolls and such matters were dealt with in the 2006 legal settlement.

Hwy. 407 — which runs 108 kilometres from the Queen Elizabeth Way/Hwy. 403 interchange near Hamilton to Brock Rd. in Pickering — is slated to be extended to Hwy. 35/115 outside Peterborough by 2020.

But in announcing that last week, Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said the extension would remain in public hands so the province would benefit from toll revenue.

Article Source: www.thestar.com

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2 Responses to “McGuinty is ‘all ears’ to plan to get $1 billion back from Hwy. 407”

  1. […] needless to say after reading the new article that was just posted, I am more than […]

  2. Tammy Flores says:

    When are these reporters gonna get it right. The government didn’t lose in 2006. They settled. They stopped half way. Let me be very clear. Disputes over tolls is not over with.

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