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Toronto Star May 18 2000, - by Tony Van Alphen, Business Reporter
Developer says McGuinty slandered him
A Vaughan developer is demanding a public apology from Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty for ``slanderous'' remarks about his construction firm receiving a sweetheart land deal from the Conservative government. Nick Cortellucci, president of Mavis Valley Developments Inc., said yesterday he never got any ``special'' break or reward in buying 79 acres in Mississauga for $13.27 million in 1998.
``Mr. McGuinty either has not bothered to inform himself or knows the facts and is deliberately misleading Ontarians,'' Cortellucci said in a statement. ``Under cover of legislative immunity, he has chosen to slander a private business and all those involved with it. . . . We expect a public apology.'' Cortellucci said in his statement that the 500-home development in Mississauga has cost almost $28 million in services, such as roads and sewers, and no one has moved in yet.
Development project has cost almost $28 million so far, Cortellucci says ``However that is our business,'' he said. ``We take these risks because we think we can make money, and usually, but not always, we are right.'' Cortellucci challenged McGuinty to repeat the charges outside the Legislature, where his comments are not protected from legal action, so Mavis ``may take appropriate action.''
Cortellucci noted that no one in Mavis or anyone related to the company sought or received any ``special favour.''
``To suggest otherwise is not only unfounded, it is slanderous,'' he said. Tracey Sobers, press secretary for McGuinty, said the Liberal leader stands by his remarks inside and outside the Legislature concerning the widening ``scandal'' at Ontario Realty Corp., the government's real estate arm.
``The responsibility for the land sale ripoffs rest with Mike Harris and his government,'' she said.
`Under cover of legislative immunity, he has chosen to slander a private business and all those involved with it. . . . We expect a public apology.' - Nick Cortellucci, president of Mavis Valley Developments, in a statement responding to Dalton McGuinty
When asked if McGuinty would apologize to Cortellucci and his firms, Sobers repeated that the Liberal leader stands by his comments.
McGuinty told the Legislature last week that after selling the Mississauga land, Ontario Realty Corp. took back an interest-free mortgage of $10.77 million for 18 months. Cortellucci also received a discount of 7 per cent on the principal, if he made certain payments in that period.
Companies tied to Cortellucci and business associate Saverio Montemarano have made more than 340 donations to the Tories, totalling $463,000, since they came to power in 1995, according to the Liberals. ``This is another special deal for a special friend,'' McGuinty said.
But Cortellucci insisted he paid a fair price, the down payment was higher than normal and the mortgage conditions were not unusual in such transactions in the real estate industry.
``These were all negotiated terms, done in accordance with practice with which we and so many other developers are familiar.''
Cortellucci acknowledged in an interview that his firms have donated more to the Tories and said that's because he has liked their policies in recent years.
However, he noted that the firms have also contributed to the Liberals and NDP.
Cortellucci said a picture accompanying a newspaper story about allegations of a ``sweetheart'' deal contained a picture of a project opening that included himself, provincial Attorney-General Jim Flaherty and Liberal MP Judy Longfield, co-chairperson for McGuinty's campaign during the last provincial election.
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