Ontario taxpayers to foot $500,000 severance bill for fired Pan Am Games CEO
The decision to fire the man leading the 2015 Pan American Games will cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars.
That's the total tab for the settlement between the committee organizing the Games and former CEO Ian Troop, who was turfed late last year. Mr. Troop's payout, approved Friday by the Games' board of directors, will include a lump sum of $478,200, deferred retirement benefits of $27,300, medical benefits of $15,800, outplacement payments of $10,000 and legal fees of $3,500.
Board chair David Peterson, the former Ontario premier, said the money will come from a contingency fund within the Games' current budget. The deal follows a provision in Mr. Troop's contract.
"This is absolutely normal ... These things happen all the time," he said in an interview, describing the payout as "part of normal commercial life."
Mr. Troop ran the Games preparations for more than three years, launching the construction of several new venues and other infrastructure in the Toronto area.
But, two sources told The Globe and Mail, when Mr. Peterson was appointed in September of last year, his personality clashed with Mr. Troop's.
Mr. Peterson denies this version of events.
"I didn't fire him. The board did," he said. "This isn't unilateral. The board came to the conclusion that it needed a different kind of leadership going into the last 18 months [before the Games.]"
He has also maintained Mr. Troop's dismissal had nothing to do with an expenses scandal in September, during which PanAm executives were found to have dinged taxpayers for such things as cups of tea and parking charges.
Mr. Troop did not respond to a phone call seeking comment Friday.
Progressive Conservative MPP Rod Jackson said the money spent on Mr. Troop's severance would have been better used to pay for food and transportation for PanAm volunteers.
He also questioned why, if Mr. Troop was not the correct person to run the latter stages of the Games, he had been hired in the first place.
"They made bad decisions," he said. "They should have hired someone who had the right skill set from the beginning instead of going back to the taxpayers' trough, asking for more money to make right one of their mistakes."
New Democrat Paul Miller said in a statement that the spending was a bad use of tax dollars: "While families are working harder than ever just to make ends meet, the Liberals are handing out Olympic-sized paydays to an ousted CEO, once again."
In a statement, Culture, Tourism and Sport Minister Michael Chan thanked Mr. Troop: "I thank outgoing CEO Ian Troop for his contributions to the Organizing Committee over the last three years and wish him well."