The Ontario Government, with an election due in October, is looking to recover, if it can, some of the remaining grant money from the Ontario Cricket Association.
The Toronto Star reported on Wednesday that new Provincial Citizenship and Immigration Minister Gerry Phillips said "I intend to discuss with them (the OCA) the grant and whether the $1 million was appropriate." A meeting is expected next week.
One major concern surrounds the investment of $500,000 in a 5-year term Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC). This was noted by the Ontario Auditor General as raising the question "why $1 million was provided to it in the first place when only $150,000 was requested."
Current OCA President Mike Kendall expressed surprise at the possibility of being asked to return some of the grant." Some $250,000 was spent on various upgrades to the Maple Leaf Cricket Club, which has five cricket squares. This ground now has ODI status, but this summer's home ODIs with the Netherlands were scheduled for the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. Such allocation decisions are made by the Canadian Cricket Association (CCA).
Previously, Kendall had indicated some of the uses for which the money was planned by the current OCA leadership. However, some of those uses are to meet operating costs whereas the grants were supposedly for capital related items.
The fact that some $20,000 of the grant was devoted to the OCA "Cricketers' Night with the Premier" no August 8 last year is highlighted in the Auditors' report. This does not sit well with the politicians and will not be appreciated by many cricket-lovers. Especially those attending the Canadian Under-19 practices at Maple Leaf over the last two weeks where $15,000 could be used to provide grass nets, of which there are realistically none in the Greater Toronto Area.
Still, we now know why the Master of Ceremonies spoke so much & hellip; there was a $5,000 fee, according to the report.
A bland media release was issued by CCA President Mr Ben Sennik on Tuesday. It acknowledges a key role in initiating the request for a grant that subsequently switched around to the OCA and expanded significantly. The CCA release fails to recognize the significance of the Auditors' key findings. The CCA/OCA application hit all four key exception concerns used as the base for investigating certain of the year-end grants.
The cricket grant was issued in 2006 as one of the year-end grants in fiscal 2005-2006. Other exceptions are noted for 2007. Mr Errol Townshend was the incumbent OCA President in 2006.
Some corrective procedural measures have been introduced by the OCA.
The lack of prior project management experience was cited in the report details on the OCA grant.
The Audit was performed in a short-time frame. Some checks were made with respect to political donations made by individuals or organization. Other checks of political influence or other insider involvement were not part of the audit.
This story will not be going away in a hurry. Clearly it has potential adverse impact on corporations to be willing to provide money to cricket in Canada. Solid plans of action and their swift implementation are necessary to counter this potential risk.
Meanwhile, parents of Canada's Under-19 players have been rotating duties at providing lunches for the squad. New balls have been in sort supply, but the players keep on going through their paces. Last Saturday, the Under-19 squad played under the Under-23 moniker in the Toronto and District Premier Division, losing to Brampton Masters. These two sides are now due to meet on Thursday at Maple Leaf CC to help the juniors preparations for World Cup qualification.