An article posted on the Canadian news website The Star reports that a private agency, designated by the Liberal government to recycle Ontario’s used tires, has spent thousands on wine tastings, fine dining, a boat cruise, luxury hotels — and donations to the Liberal Party of Ontario.

Thousands of dollars spent on wine tastings, fine restaurants, a boat cruise, etc. by Ontario's private agency recycling used tires

According to the article, the private agency designated by the Liberal government to recycle Ontario’s used tires has spent thousands of dollars on wine tastings, meals at fine restaurants, a boat cruise, luxury hotels — and donations to the Liberal Party of Ontario.

The Ontario Tire Stewardship is being funded by car and truck drivers, who collectively have paid millions of dollars in tire recycling fees since the program has started in 2009. Each consumer pays $4.25 as an “eco fee” when a tire is purchased. Proceeds of the recycling program fund the stewardship’s operations.

Credit card statements obtained by the Star have shown stewardship executives and board members have enjoyed fine wines, gin martinis and steak dinners while discussing the agency’s business.

At the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa, $16,104 has been spent for 13 board and staff members for a three-day stay for a board meeting of the Etobicoke-based agency in 2015. Another event, this one on Lake Rosseau in Muskoka last summer, has included a sunset boat cruise.

The article continues with examples – at the Trius Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 10 of the agency’s directors and executives have enjoyed a vineyard tour and a five-course tasting menu, with 10 bottles of wine, in the summer of 2014 ($2,023), plus accommodations at the Prince of Wales Hotel ($2,200).

At Via Allegro in Etobicoke, two people have enjoyed a $288 dinner where elk tenderloin, wild boar chops, cabernet sauvignon and Italian lager have been served. Names of those in attendance have not been listed.

To that Glenn Maidment, chair of the tire stewardship, has said the following: “I am not uncomfortable with the nature of the meetings, the nature of the meals, or the nature of the accommodations. All of those things, I think, were fair and reasonable.”

The Star further shares, that the corporate credit card statements are under the name of tire stewardship executive director Andrew Horsman, but typically include the expenses of others who attended the events.

The expense documents investigated have provided rare insight into the spending of the government-legislated agency that operates without public oversight, despite overseeing the collection of roughly $80 million a year in recycling fees.

In the past few years, consumers in Canada have paid between $5.45 and $5.84 in recycling fees on each newly purchased passenger vehicle tire (truck tires have higher fees). Current passenger tire charges in the country are $4.25 per tire.

Those fees fund the Etobicoke-based stewardship, which is tasked with recycling the 12 million tires disposed of in Ontario each year. The producers and retailers of tires initially pay these fees, but all costs are passed on to the consumer. A proposed provincial law, if passed, would eventually phase out the stewardship and others like it, explains the article.

Documents, including partial credit card statements and restaurant receipts for 16 separate months dating back to 2011, have offered a snapshot of how Horsman, Maidment and other board members have spent some of the money paid by the public to recycle tires. Horsman has said in an emailed statement that expenditures on board functions were just “0.1 per cent of our overall administration costs.”

In some cases, the records have shown that money has been used for political donations, something industry sources have told the Star was unusual in a government-created agency.

“These are modest contributions as a way of supporting the democratic process,” Maidment has told the Star.

For further examples, given by the website on the expenditures of the stewardship, you can read the full article here.