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National Post - May 12, 2010 - By Megan O'Toole -

Mississauga inquiry already costing city $1.5M

Mississauga’s judicial inquiry has already cost the city nearly $1.5-million, and the judge has yet to begin hearing evidence.

A monthly report on inquiry expenses presented in council on Wednesday confirmed both the time frame and overall costs — initially pegged at about 40 days and $2.5-million — will exceed those projections, though it was unclear by how much.

“At this time it is not possible to provide council with a proper estimate of either of these matters,” the report stated.

City solicitor Mary Ellen Bench cited a number of unforeseen issues, including five days of preliminary hearings and delays in document production.

Councillor Katie Mahoney, a close ally of Mayor Hazel McCallion and a staunch opponent of the inquiry — which will probe business dealings involving the Mayor’s son, and by extension Ms. McCallion herself — said yesterday’s report raises genuine concerns.

“Council is being asked to deal with a matter that is beyond our control,” she said.  “It’s like endorsing a provincial budget or a federal budget or something; we have no control and yet we’re paying the bill.”

Taxpayers have a right to know the price tag is headed “way beyond initial expectations,” Ms. Mahoney added.

Councillor Carolyn Parrish, who has been behind the inquiry since day one, dismissed her colleague’s comments.

“If the premise of the inquiry is to get at the truth, does she feel $2.5-million worth of truth is enough and then we stop?” Ms. Parrish said in an interview, noting earlier reports had already predicted the process would surpass initial cost estimates.

“The appeal process of the Mayor’s son has cost time and money.  The slow production of the Mayor’s notes has cost money …  The electronic setup of the courtroom took time.  All this adds up,” Ms. Parrish said.

The judicial inquiry is scheduled to begin hearing evidence on May 25.

Should the process run into the fall municipal election period, Ms. McCallion’s lawyer has asked that it be put over until after the vote, a request the inquiry commissioner has taken under advisement.

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