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Harris tipped $18.5Gs For Hydro One advice

Toronto Sun - March 18, 2004
by Alan Findlay

Hydro One yesterday admitted that Mike Harris was indirectly paid $18,591 for advice after he left the premier's office. The company released a letter yesterday stating that Harris received the money as part of a Hydro One contract granted to former Quebec premier Pierre-Marc Johnson in 2002.

Harris was never paid directly by Hydro One, but hired instead by Johnson as part of his $115,807 contract with the publicly owned utility.

Johnson was brought on by then Hydro One chairman Glen Wright in a bid to win Quebec's support for a major hydro transmission line connecting Ontario to its neighbouring province's electricity-rich grid.

Glen Wright was Harris' tour director during the 1995 election and recently resigned as the head of Ontario's Workplace Safety Insurance Board amid revelations that included the hiring of another well-placed Tory on a $100-an-hour contract.

Johnson said he hired Harris on his own initiative to gain his expert advice on issues related to the Ontario government and its electricity sector.

"No one imposed Mike Harris on me," Johnson said. "I felt that having Mike Harris to advise me was essential. He was extremely useful."

Tory MPP John Baird, energy minister at the time of the contract, said he never knew Harris had been hired by Johnson.

"Hydro One didn't contract with Mike Harris," Baird said. "The conflict of interest is zero per cent."

New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos said the Harris payment reinforces his call for a criminal investigation into whether any of the contracts related to senior Tories were fraudulent.

"This is pork-barrelling super-sized," Kormos said.

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