UPDATE: Metrolinx Chair OKed to be Casino Lobbyist
The province is standing behind Metrolinx's chairman, who's staying out of casino-related traffic impact discussions given he's a registered lobbyist for one of the companies vying for a Toronto resort.
Robert Prichard and the lawfirm he's also a chair of, Torys LLP, have been recruited to push for MGM's Exhibition Place proposal.
Transportation Minister Glen Murray says Prichard consulted with the province's Integrity Commissioner to ensure he would be following the rules.
However, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns underlines that just because something is by the book, doesn't mean it's the right choice.
Tabuns questions if Prichard can do his job properly if he's walking out of the room when casino-related discussions are being held. He says dealing with traffic a potential casino would bring is a huge undertaking and the chair of Metrolinx needs to be there for those talks.
Tabuns says Prichard will have to choose between the two jobs because he can't be both.
Multiple resort companies have been pushing for a casino in Toronto's downtown core, all of which would have a traffic impact to the area.
As for if Murray thinks Prichard should remove himself from the lobbyist registry, he says the province tries not to interfere with arm's length organizations but repeats Prichard is following the rules.
Prichard issued this statment Wednesday afternoon:
"Torys LLP acts for MGM in its pursuit of a casino opportunity in Toronto. I sought advice regarding any real, perceived or potential conflict of interest resulting from my part-time position as Chair of Metrolinx and my full-time position as Chair of Torys LLP from Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Justice Sydney Linden, and accepted his advice that it was appropriate for me to continue as Chair of Metrolinx, but that I should recuse myself from any involvement in transit discussions with respect to the casino proposal with either Metrolinx or MGM, and advise the parties accordingly. I confirm that I have advised both parties and that I have not participated in any such discussions.
In anticipation of any dealings with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission that may be construed to require registration as a lobbyist, I registered under the Lobbyists Registration Act. I did so out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of full transparency.
My actions are compliant with provincial law and policy and with Metrolinx’s conflict policy.
When I recuse myself, Stephen Smith, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors, assumes the role of Chair.
Declaration of real, perceived or potential conflicts is an important part of governance, and we work to make sure that these areas are identified and addressed in an appropriate fashion."