Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, gentlemen, madam.
Thank you for the invitation to appear before your committee to answer your questions.
This review began in May 2006 at the request of the Minister of Transport. There were concerns about whether the Toronto Port Authority had well managed its responsibilities. There were allegations in the press and elsewhere about actions that the authority had taken with respect to the fixed link, which eventually was approved and eventually was cancelled, and the settlement that occurred thereafter.
The purpose of my review was to do just that: review the decision regarding these matters. The minister wanted to be satisfied that the principles of good governance had been upheld.
My mandate, which you will find as attachment 2 of my report, sets out specifically the questions that I had to look into in the context of a very important agreement that was entered into in 1983 between the federal government and the then Toronto harbour commissioners and the City of Toronto.
I had the assistance, for the purpose of my review, of Jeffrey Smith, who was retained by the Department of Transport. Jeffrey Smith is a member of the BDO Dunworthy firm of forensic accountants. You have a summary of his findings attached to my report.
For the review, I had the assistance and cooperation of quite a number of people: the City of Toronto, the staff of the city, members of the Toronto Port Authority or TPA, the Department of Transport in Toronto and at an office here in Ottawa, and the Department of Justice lawyers who had been involved in the various events under review.
I received great collaboration from all the people I talked to. I have looked at hundreds and hundreds of documents, if not more. I met with anyone who wanted to talk to me about the TPA and their management, the decisions that had been made, the concerns they had. I received a lot of e-mails and had a lot of meetings, including meetings with representatives from the community associations on the Toronto waterfront. You have a list of the members.
Now for my findings.
In summary, I've come to the conclusion that the Toronto Port Authority had complied with due diligence requirements in all respects on the matters that concerned the proposed construction of the bridge, the purchase of the new ferry, and the commercial arrangements that were entered into as part of the settlement agreement. This is discussed on page 3 of my report.
The overall settlement after the cancellation occurred, as you will well know, cost $35 million, and there were a lot of questions relating to that amount. People were saying, why would it cost $35 million to settle claims? We don't have a bridge, and the bridge itself would have cost $14 million. So there were a lot of questions.
And people were concerned that one of the difficulties, perhaps, was that in effect there was not much information that could be made public and was made public at the time regarding the process of negotiations.
But I've come to the conclusion, and I will say more if required later, that the amount of $35 million was reasonable, that the principles of good governance here again had been respected not only in reaching the global settlement but also in the way the $35 million was allocated to each of the parties who were involved and who had been damaged by the cancellation of the bridge.
I looked at the Aecon contract. Aecon was the builder who had been retained, after a process of tenders, by the authority to construct the bridge. There had been allegations that in effect the construction contract had been purposely and inappropriately accelerated to ensure that the bridge could not be stopped by a new municipal administration. I deal with that in my report very carefully, at pages 64 and 68.
My conclusion, after having looked at all the circumstances, talking to people, and having looked at the documents that were available, is that such allegations were grossly exaggerated, and I have set out the reasons on page 66 for my coming to that conclusion.
There were also many questions about the environmental assessments that had to be performed before the contract could be let. There were assessments in 1999, in 2003 regarding the bridge itself, and in 2006 regarding the ferry, after the bridge had been cancelled. I reviewed in detail the various stages of the environmental processes, from the beginning to the end. You will find that on seven pages, on page 68 and following. Again, my conclusion was that principles of good governance have been complied with.
It was not easy. Every step had plenty of difficulties, but my conclusion is that the TPA itself managed the issues well, and the processes as well.
There was a question as well that had been specifically raised by many, and that was part of my mandate. There were questions about how it was that the Toronto port had come to be governed by the Canada Marine Act. I have read fascinating debates in the House of Commons and in the Senate. This is related at page 90.
In effect, there were two administrations involved. They were two Liberal administrations, but there was an election between. First, Bill C-44 was introduced; there was a lot of debate about it. And there was another, Bill C-9, which followed the election of the Liberal government.
Again, if you're interested, I can tell you more about that. I've learned a lot about Toronto and about the Senate committee and the House of Commons committee debates on these matters. I found them fascinating.
But my conclusion was that Parliament had decided that the Toronto Port Authority qualified as a national port and that it should be on the list. Parliament itself—you people—had decided that it should be on the list. It was not a function or a responsibility that had been left to a minister afterwards.
There were provisions for the minister later to look at applications that other ports in Canada might make, and there were some criteria. These criteria were before the House when the list was devised and when steps were taken and amendments were made to get the Port of Toronto and the Port of Hamilton on the list. I didn't find anything wrong with that.
Although the department itself initially had proposed and the minister had agreed that Toronto should not be on the list, eventually—I guess there were caucus meetings and members' meetings—the decision was made, and there was an all-party agreement that the Toronto Port Authority should be on the list.
That's enough of that.