Royson James’ column from Wednesday got a ton of attention from talk radio and the like, as it really worked for the narrative that left-wing councillors voted against the ‘Notion of Motion’ for the TCHC board item because they hate the auditor general and love wasteful spending.
The whole thing was plainly disingenuous. James conflated two separate stories in an over-the-top effort to smear left-wing councillors. In short: on Wednesday morning council did two things. First, they voted against a motion of notice for the item that would see the TCHC board dissolved. Second, they voted for a motion that would see an investigation into the recent leaks of reports prepared by the auditor general.
These items are related in the sense that one of the leaks was the TCHC report, but suggesting that anyone critical of the leaks is against the auditor general’s work on the TCHC report is a leap too far.
Compare and contrast these two accounts. Here’s how James colourfully describes things:
But instead of focusing on the indiscretions of public service workers, the councillors seemed intent on protecting them, even in the face of the auditor’s findings. And instead of condemning staff behaviour, they wanted to focus on media leaks in the public interest.
The dissenting councillors intimated that Griffiths and/or staff may have leaked portions of two auditors’ reports to the media. They all but said Griffiths had come under the “undue influence” of the mayor. They cast aspersions on his integrity, even as they professed not to.
Note the great use of the “all but said” phrase. That’s a neat way of insinuating someone believes something they didn’t say.
Now here’s an account of the same incident by Jonathan Goldsbie at OpenFile:
10:40 a.m.: On item AU1.3, “The Audit Committee – Roles and Responsibilities,” councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches–East York) questions auditor general Jeffrey Griffiths about the leaks of two recent reports: the one about the TCHC (which is actually two reports) and the one about paid-duty police service. In the case of the former, the Toronto Star learned of its contents three days prior to its official release. In the case of the latter, what is apparently an entire draft report was leaked to the Star about a month prior to it being delivered to the Toronto Police Services Board. Davis wants to know what security measures are in place. Griffiths says this is the first time in his twenty years that the contents of his reports have been leaked. And “certainly the leaks don’t come out of my office.” He was “shocked and appalled” to see his police report on the front page of the Star.
The motion to have the Attorney General investigate these media leaks was adopted 22-16 which would seem to indicate, to Royson James at least, that a majority of councillors voting that day were “attacking” the auditor general.