“We have seen this (Ontario) Liberal government make sure that they have taken care of their Liberal insider friends. … But we can tell you one thing my friends, we will make sure we bring government that respects the taxpayers. You know me. I’m for the little guy.” – then Ontario Conservative Party leader Doug Ford, campaigning in the June, 2018 provincial election.
“Doug Ford has been making it rain first-class tickets on the gravy train for friends and family of his inner circle. This reeks of nepotism, with paycheques, power and favours for Ford’s inner circle, while everyday Ontarians get nothing but cuts.” – Ontario NDP MPP Taras Natyshak
A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by news releases from Ontario’s Official Opposition (NDP) Party at Queen’s Park
Posted June 25th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
There was a time when the odd government out would actually try to hire what they believed to be the best individuals out there – regardless of party affiliations – to fill key posts.
More often than not, though, such posts – however important they are and however much skills and smarts are need to do the job well on behalf of the public – are gift wrapped and doled out like boxes of sugar candy to political friends and supporters, and even to relatives who apparently don’t have the wherewithal to make a go of it in the private sector or what some would call the “real world.” where most of us are doing our best to scrape by.
There is no arguing here that Ontario’s former Liberal government, led first by Dalton McGuinty and finally by the ever so demonized Kathleen Wynne, rewarded its share of plum jobs and seats on agencies and commissions to its partisan pals on the taxpayer’s dime.
And Ontario’s current Premier, Doug Ford, sure didn’t shrink from raising hell fire over that when he was running in last year’s provincial election.
On at least one occasion, candidate Ford called Wynne and her Liberals “corrupt” as some supporters aped the same “lock her up” chant Trump’s rally crowds still use against Hillary Clinton. If his so-called “party for the people,” forms a government, Ford vowed during the election campaign, “the party with taxpayer’s money will be over.”
“We have seen this (Ontario) Liberal government make sure that they have taken care of their Liberal insider friends,” Ford so smugly and self-righteously said. “But we can tell you one thing my friends, we will make sure we bring government that respects the taxpayers. You know me. I’m for the little guy.”
Over the last 12 months since Ford and his phony “Government for the People” have been in power, we’ve had one report after another about Tory Party friends and supporters receiving, as some opposition critics put it, tickets to board Ford’s gravy train.
So much for Ford’s pledge to put an end to a political party’s “insider friends” having “a “party with taxpayer’s money.” So much for making appointments that put the interests of “the little guy” first!
The appointments were doled out whether the person was qualified or not, and often in spite of the fact that anyone with knowledge of the post and the skills and experience it requires could – within a matter of minutes – come up with a list of at least a dozen others who have far more of what it takes to serve we, the people, in that position well.
In the last week alone, we have found out about at least four or five more plum appointments handed out by this Ford government, at least a couple of them to individuals who are relatives to Ford’s tough guy chief of staff Dean French, who suddenly resigned after the news of the appointments got out.
Ford then quickly let at least a couple of these individuals go but, again, only after members of Ontario’s Official Opposition Party, the NDP, smoked them out and media outlets in the province made them big news.
All of this begs the question. How many other plum government jobs has Ford and his Tories gifted out over the past 12 months to party hacks or to dullards in their family who can’t make the cut in the real world?
In the wake of all this, Ontario’s NDP put out a call this June 26th for a review of all appointments the Ford government has made since it came to power a year ago this June.
“We need a public and transparent review of every appointment Doug Ford has made,” Ontario New Democrat MPP Marit Stiles, a member of the Government Agencies committee, is quoted saying this June 26th in a news release.
The news release goes on to say that “friends and family of the Ford government, along with Conservative candidates and PC Party members have been given appointments to government boards and agencies. Apparently, cabinet has rubber stamped them all.”
In Niagara alone, two individuals who ran on Ford’s team as Conservative candidates in last year’s Ontario election and failed to win a seat – April Jeffs, who is also a former mayor of Wainfleet and who sat on the board of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NCPA) when that board was swirling in controversy, and Sandie Bellow, who is a former St. Catharines city councillor and now sits as a St. Catharines representative on Niagara’s Regional Council, were appointed by the Ford government to seats on the board of the Niagara Parks Commission.
Bellows wasy elevated to the position of the Niagara Parks Board’s Chair, and Jeffs, who is now serving as the board’s Co-Chair, is the nominee to run as a candidate in the Niagara Centre Riding for Andrew Scheer’s federal Conservative Party in this October’s federal election.
Although the monetary rewards for sitting on Niagara Park’s board do not amount to all that much, this time-honoured provincial parks commission performs a key role in protecting and preserving the integrity of the Niagara River corridor. It could therefore be argued that there are a good number of people in this region – people who are not so closely affiliated with the Ford Conservatives – who are eminently qualified to serve on this board and help Niagara Parks fulfill its important mandate.
Along with Bellows, who ran for a provincial seat and lost in the St. Catharines Riding, and Jeffs, who ran for a provincial seat and lost in the Niagara Centre riding, former provincial Tory candidate Chuck McShane ran and lost in the Niagara Falls Riding before the Ford government appointed him to part-time seat on the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.
Also appointed to a seat on the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission was Bart Maves, a former Niagara Falls regional government who served as an MPP for two terms in the Niagara Falls Riding for the former Ontario Conservative government of Mike Harris.
Now here is the news release, circulated this June 26th by the Ontario NDP and Official Opposition Party –
New Democrats call for review of all Ford appointees
QUEEN’S PARK – The NDP is now calling on the Doug Ford Conservatives to recall the Standing Committee on Government Agencies, and give them the mandate to conduct a review of all Ford government appointees, past and current.
New Democrat MPP Marit Stiles, a member of the Government Agencies committee, says that, to this point, Doug Ford has not only been handing out appointments to family, friends and insiders, but also ensuring appointees can skip the committee hearings intended to provide a transparent review of their appointments.
“Doug Ford has been making it rain gravy train tickets, and signing off on every single one – from Ron Taverner to Tyler Albrecht. We can’t trust him to lead a review of the appointments that he has personally signed off on,” said Stiles. “A Doug Ford behind-closed-doors review is useless. We need a public and transparent review of every appointment Doug Ford has made.”
Friends and family of the Ford government, along with Conservative candidates and PC Party members have been given appointments to government boards and agencies. Apparently, cabinet has rubber stamped them all.
Meanwhile, the NDP has called on dozens of Ford’s appointees to come before the committee to answer questions on their qualifications, their connections to the Ford government, and the plans and philosophies they intend to apply in their new roles, but Conservative MPPs have been putting up roadblocks. In the last six months alone, 31 appointees who were asked to appear before the committee by New Democrats have failed or refused to show up.
“Doug Ford’s gravy-train passengers are being handed buckets of public money, perks and power, while dodging scrutiny and oversight,” said Stiles.
Among many others, the Ford Conservatives have stonewalled the NDP’s efforts to question Ford’s former key staffer Jenni Byrne, who he appointed to a $197,000-a-year position at the Ontario Energy Board for which she lacked the posted qualifications; and former PC Cabinet Minister Charles Harnick. Despite being a registered lobbyist, Harnick was named chair of Legal Aid Ontario with $150,000 in additional compensation.
Ford’s history of appointing his own insiders includes a board chair appointment for his personal family lawyer, Gavin Tighe; a million-dollar special advisor contract to long-time family friend Reuben Devlin, and a failed attempt to appoint close family friend Ron Taverner to be the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
“Doug Ford wants to keep his appointments and his appointees in back rooms,” said Stiles. “The lack of transparency here should have everyone worried about what this government is cooking up behind closed doors.”
Here is another recent news release from the NDP that ultimately led to Ford cancelling the appoint to a post of Katherine Pal, Ford’s now former chief of staff Dean French’s neice –
Gravy train doesn’t stop: Doug Ford appointed Dean French’s niece to Ontario’s Public Accountants Council
QUEEN’S PARK — Yet another sneaky appointment for friends and family, Doug Ford quietly appointed Dean French’s niece, Katherine Pal, to the Public Accountants Council.
The government did not announce French’s family member’s appointment with a news release when it was confirmed on Dec. 31, 2018. Pal is the niece of Dean French’s wife, Jane Pal French. The position comes with a $1,400 a meeting paycheque.
“Doug Ford has been making it rain first-class tickets on the gravy train for friends and family of his inner circle,” said NDP MPP Taras Natyshak. “This reeks of nepotism, with paycheques, power and favours for Ford’s inner circle, while everyday Ontarians get nothing but cuts.”
Also serving on the Public Accountants Council is Doug Ford and Dean French’s personal attorney, Gavin Tighe. Ford appointed Tighe to be the council’s chair in September.
“How many family members, close personal friends, business partners and lacrosse-playing friends of the French family will Doug Ford hand over cushy jobs to, paid for by the people of Ontario?” said Natyshak. “Do qualifications even matter in this government, when Doug Ford appoints the family members of his own staff to government jobs? These appointments stink and Ontarians deserve so much better.”
To watch a recent CBC television new report on this issue, click on the screen below –
NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.
A Reminder That We Only Post Comments By Individuals Who Also Share Their First And Last Names.
For More News And Commentary From Niagara At Large – An Independent, Alternative Voice For Our Greater Bi-National Niagara Region – Become A Regular Visitor And Subscriber To NAL at Www.Niagaraatlarge.Com