Scott Stinson: Documents show Liberals knew all along that $317M MaRS bailout would raise questions


Scott Stinson
May 30, 2014


Deep inside the leaked document that has landed with a thud on the Liberal campaign, the one that was to go before the Treasury Board of Cabinet to seek approval of Ontario’s $317-million bailout of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, there is a note about communications strategy.

Should questions arise about the revelation that the taxpayers of Ontario were buying a beautiful new, 20-storey building at College and University that was intended to a be cornerstone of the province’s “innovation agenda,” the documents say respondents should stick to the following key messages:

“The government is committed to ensuring that its real estate portfolio is managed in a responsible manner that realizes value for taxpayer dollars.”

And: “The buyout presents an opportunity for Ontario to address a range of priorities with respect to the building’s future ownership and use.”

Asked on Friday about the government takeover of the shiny glass building, Premier Kathleen Wynne responded that it was about: “Having a building that we own … that allows government of Ontario offices and functions to be in one place. That’s a responsible thing to do.”

So there you go. Ms. Wynne may have cast aside the advice of her selected panels on matters such as, say, transit funding, but she is sticking with the advice of the experts on this one.

Still, it remains a little surprising that, a day after news of the MaRS rescue effort was first leaked, thanks to documents slipped to the Progressive Conservatives, the Premier was still pretending that this was nothing more than a real estate play to consolidate government office space.


There was, for example, the little matter of the statement from the MaRS board that came out late in the day that said it has been “working with our partners to bridge short-term financial needs” and bring “additional capital” in the project.

More than that, the confidential documents, full of information about the troubled state of the 780,000-square-foot Phase 2 building, make clear that this is a purchase made primarily in the purpose of solving an embarrassing problem for the governing Liberals by throwing a pile of cash at it.


The deal, which would buy MaRS and its California-based real estate partner out of their ownership in the Phase 2 building, and thus avoid a pending default on payments on a $234-million loan from Infrastructure Ontario that was used to construct it, would indeed allow the Ontario Public Service to consolidate some office space. But the real reason the government would fill out a bunch of offices in the MaRS building is because it would have to do so. “Using the building primarily for government purposes,” the documents say, “would satisfy the Ministry of Infrastructure Act of 2011, which requires that at least 51% of acquired realty be for the use and purposes of government.”

Sure enough, the projected use of government space in the building: 51%. The purpose of piling a bunch of civil servants into the now-empty floors of the tower is not because it’s an optimal use of space, but because without those government workers in there the purchase of the building would be against the law.

Not that it seems there’s much of a risk of innovation-oriented tenants suddenly clamouring to get in the MaRS doors. Though MaRS isn’t talking, sources in the startup field have suggested that it — or specifically its U.S. leasing partner — was charging rents well above market value, with one person telling me that a venture capital firm considered MaRS-based companies to be risky investments because just being there demonstrated poor fiscal management. The documents also note that even with plans to fit out half the building with its own employees, the government expected to lose more than $45-million on the Phase 2 building over the next four years as operating costs exceeded rental income. It wouldn’t be in a net positive position until 2018-19. Unless it wasn’t. The documents also say that the Infrastructure ministry would “investigate options for greater government occupancy if innovation lease-up” doesn’t hit required targets.

Wynne may have cast aside the advice of her selected panels on matters such as transit funding, but she is sticking with their advice of the experts on this one

Another indication of the oddity of the purchase is the fact that the negotiations include plans for a “significant” donation to MaRS from a donor who wants naming rights and statues at the facility. The documents note that government buildings have a process for naming rights, and it doesn’t include selling them to private bidders. They would also have to get special permission for the statue thing. But no, just a typical government building, Ms. Wynne insists.

It is true that MaRS has an impressive record of accomplishments, and Phase 1 seems to have been pulled off without incident — although the number of government agencies that also fund it in various ways gives one pause. The most optimistic view is that the deal with the U.S. firm didn’t work out, and it found itself with a very large new building that it couldn’t fill. That way bankruptcy lies.

So now Ontario, if the rescue deal hasn’t been derailed by public scrutiny, gets itself a new office. One the government knew all along would raise questions.

“Furthermore,” the cabinet documents say at one point, “using a high-end tower designed specifically for research lab space for public servants may generate additional communications issues about the government’s priorities.”

It may indeed.

National Post


MaRS pales into insignificance to the Billions of Dollars that decades of Corrupt Liberals have spent on funding the promotion of hatred towards those the Government decides are sub human.

Kathleen Wynne is a supporter of the Billions of Dollars spent on funding Ontairo's Cartel of Criminal Organizations called "The Children's Aid Societies of Ontario"

where man hating Evidence Fabricators spend Billions of Dollars promoting hatred towards fathers.

In Ottawa, the street thugs of this criminal organization are like PHIL HILTZ-LAFORGE

a professional Criminal, a fabricator of evidence and child abuser employed by the CAS Ottawa as a Child Protection Worker.

In Ottawa scum bag lawyers like Marguerite Isobel Lewis FABRICATE EVIDENCE and cowardly corrupt Crown Attorney's like TARA DOBEC and VIKII BAIR stay charges to help those involved in promoting Violence against men.

Thanks Kathleen Wynne for her unbridled support of Criminals.

Vote Liberal for more of the same, and there is little hope that any politician in Ontario is willing to come out and demand a Government Dept of Child Protection, and Judges who are not Rubber STamps for Ontario's Baby Snatchers.


Check out the wanted pages at

Ottawa Mens Centre