The Ontario government is looking after its friends by hiring a former party staffer and brother of a top advisor to Premier Dalton McGuinty to design websites, the New Democrats charge.
“There’s clearly a close relationship,” MPP Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre) said Thursday after revealing Lorne Kinsella, brother of well-known advisor Warren Kinsella, is now on the civil service payroll.
Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips defended the hiring, saying Kinsella is an experienced designer who is saving the province $1.5 million a year because the work is no longer contracted out to private firms.
“The taxpayers would say it’s a wise use of money.”
But Kormos said the hiring smacks of a “patronage spree” that undermines McGuinty as “the self-proclaimed champ of squeaky-clean government” because Kinsella is depicting web pages done for the government on his own website, at LorneKinsella.ca, designed to attract customers to his private design business.
“Is it appropriate for Mr. Kinsella to be promoting himself on his own website with these government websites that the government now says he’s only doing in the course of his government job?” Kormos asked.
“Talk about a Liberal culture of entitlement.”
The criticisms from Kormos appeared to have found their mark -- the website could not be called up on Friday afternoon.
Phillips said there are no rules against hiring relatives of government advisors.
“Brothers or sisters are not prohibited from being employed,” Phillips added. “He’s a public servant, subject to all the rules of the public service.”
Kinsella has prepared websites for the following ministries: education; training, colleges and universities; natural resources; finance; and research and innovation.
He is listed in the latest government phone book as manager of web communications and marketing in the cabinet office.
“I think the picture is somewhat murkier than the government would have us believe,” Kormos said.