US embassy cable - 05TORONTO2680

Sorbara's Resignation Trumps Lackluster Ontario Throne Speech

Identifier: 05TORONTO2680
Wikileaks: View 05TORONTO2680 at
Origin: Consulate Toronto
Created: 2005-10-13 14:56:00
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
SUBJECT: Sorbara's Resignation Trumps Lackluster 
Ontario Throne Speech 
Ref: (A) Toronto 2631  (B) 04 Toronto 364 
Sensitive but unclassified - Protect accordingly. 
1.  (SBU) The 23-page October 12 throne speech 
delivered in an hour-long monotone by Ontario's 
Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman contained only a 
few new initiatives: a money-back guarantee to provide 
birth certificates within 15 days for on-line 
requestors; and raising the age of mandatory education 
age from 16 to 18, with the accompanying introduction 
of an alternative secondary school "trades-focused" 
diploma.  Otherwise, the speech was a recitation 
of past investments in and incremental adjustments to 
education, health care, and environmental programs. 
2.  (SBU) The U.S. was mentioned several times in 
passing as Ontario's number one trading partner and in 
connection with the province's focus on fixing border 
issues.  Former Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Kergin, 
the new borders czar was introduced to the assembly and 
infrastructure improvements to border gateways in 
Niagara Falls and Sarnia were included in the 
recitation.  Softwood lumber, agricultural subsidies 
(in the U.S. and Europe), and BSE were mentioned as 
check-off items, without much commentary.  The Consul 
General attended the ceremony with the rest of the 
diplomatic corps. 
3.  (SBU) Comment:  Spectators and cameras were far 
more interested in former Finance Minister Greg 
Sorbara, who assumed a backbench seat due to his 
resignation after being named in an RCMP fraud warrant 
(see ref (A)).  Before the proceedings began, other 
Liberal MPPs circled round Sorbara with handshakes and 
embraces.  During the throne speech, he rose 
reluctantly to accept applause from fellow 
parliamentarians, including some opposition members 
(Progressive Conservative John Tory among them) when 
the Lieutenant Governor mentioned that the provincial 
deficit had declined from C$5.6 billion to C$1.6 
billion.  The Liberals appear to be successfully 
limiting fallout from the Sorbara resignation. 
Accepting Sorbara's prompt offer to resign and moving 
on helps.  Losing Sorbara is, however, "a body blow," 
as John Tory characterized it; but perhaps one less 
serious than the press is now reporting.  We are left 
wondering why the RCMP issued the fraud warrant naming 
Sorbara the day before the long-planned delivery of the 
throne speech opening the Ontario Parliament. 

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