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MaRS funding investigated by Ontario's auditor general

06/05/2014 09:15 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:00 EDT
As part of its annual audit, Ontario’s auditor general will be looking into the Liberals’ financial dealings with MaRS, the troubled government-backed research complex in downtown Toronto.

In a letter addressed to the NDP, the AG says she is conducting an audit of Infrastructure Ontario's Loans Program.

“The scope of that audit includes the loan made to facilitate completion of the MaRS Phase 2 building,” Bonnie Lysyk wrote.

The Liberals gave $71 million to build a second tower at the MaRS research complex near Queen's Park and provided a $234-million loan for the project.

Auditor General spokesperson Christine Pedias told CBC News the audit is part of a "regular, annual process" and was started last year. It will cover "all aspects of the loan program," Pedias said.

The Progressive Conservatives recently released documents that show the registered charity and the real estate developer behind the structure can't repay the money.

The PCs allege the Liberals secretly approved a $317-million bailout for a downtown Toronto real estate developer and the MaRS research and innovation charity. 

But Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne said the documents refer to negotiations that are underway — but not completed — to purchase the building at the MaRS innovation research centre. The Liberals say the deal would mean the province would own the building as valuable office space and amortize it over 40 years.

Last week, the NDP asked the auditor general to look into the matter.

“You have raised a number of questions that we will consider in drafting the chapter covering this audit,” Lysyk wrote.

PC Leader Tim Hudak has been likening the MaRS situation to the $1-billion gas plant scandal, during which the Liberals cancelled construction of two gas plants in an effort to save seats in the Legislature during the 2011 election.

Results of the audit are expected to be part of the auditor general's annual report to be released in December.

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