Cricketers asked for $150Gs -- got $1M

ANTONELLA ARTUSO -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

A $1-million grant to the Ontario Cricket Association just wasn't, well, cricket, concludes Auditor General Jim McCarter in his damning report into a provincial multicultural grants program.

McCarter said then citizenship and immigration minister Mike Colle apparently decided on his own to give the group $1 million after receiving a request for $150,000.

Even after spending $20,000 on a party in part to celebrate the grant, the organization couldn't find any immediate use for half of it and put it into a five-year guaranteed investment certificate.

"We asked the minister point blank how did it get to $1 million," McCarter said.

"The minister's response was basically, 'You know, I had to make the decision fairly quickly but in my opinion $150,000 wasn't enough.' "

Premier Dalton McGuinty presented the $1-million cheque at a dinner hosted by the Ontario Cricket Association last year.

Yesterday, McGuinty said he's asked Gerry Phillips, the new minister of citizenship and immigration, to review this grant and any others appropriate to determine how to best protect taxpayers' money.

The Canadian Cricket Association was invited by the then minister to apply for funds on Feb. 27, 2006, and a day later sent in its request for $150,000.

The next day, the ministry listed the grant at $1 million and it was approved March 23.

McCarter said cricket association officials were also confused why they had been given so much more money than requested.

"They basically said to us, 'We got a million dollars; we don't need a million dollars.' "

The auditor also found documentation in many cases was insufficient to justify grants, many grants were rushed out the door to organizations "unfamiliar" to government, and grants given far in advance of when a group needed it.


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