Ford asked Wil­son to re­sign

Pre­mier con­firms sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tion against Jim Wil­son

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - ONTARIO NEWS - SHAWN JEFFORDS

ASTRA, Ont. — A se­nior On­tario cabi­net min­is­ter was forced to step down last week after fac­ing an al­le­ga­tion of sex­ual mis­con­duct, Pre­mier Doug Ford said Wed­nes­day, break­ing his govern­ment’s days-long si­lence on the con­tro­ver­sial mat­ter.

Ford’s of­fice said last Fri­day that Jim Wil­son was im­me­di­ately re­sign­ing from his role as eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter and the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive cau­cus to seek treat­ment for ad­dic­tion is­sues.

Speak­ing at an event in eastern On­tario, the pre­mier said Wed­nes­day that his of­fice had ini­tially re­fused to con­firm pub­lished re­ports about the al­le­ga­tion against Wil­son in or­der to pro­tect the iden­tity of the com­plainant.

“What is ir­re­spon­si­ble is if I was to give the me­dia the story, against the wishes of the peo­ple who had the courage to come for­ward dur­ing these stress­ful times,” Ford said. “I think it would be ir­re­spon­si­ble for the me­dia, ir­re­spon­si­ble for the party, and as the leader I will not do that.”

Ford said he acted de­ci­sively as soon as he learned about the al­le­ga­tion.

“We were swift and asked him to re­sign,” he said. “We launched the in­ves­ti­ga­tion im­me­di­ately with a very rep­utable in­ves­ti­ga­tion team, for­mer po­lice of­fi­cers that deal with this on a fre­quent ba­sis.”

The pre­mier would not iden­tify the firm con­duct­ing the probe or com­mit to re­leas­ing the re­sults.

On­tario’s op­po­si­tion par­ties crit­i­cized Ford for the way he han­dled the sit­u­a­tion.

NDP deputy leader Sara Singh said her party be­lieved the pre­mier was try­ing to pro­tect Wil­son.

“Mr. Ford ab­so­lutely could have been hon­est, and told On­tar­i­ans that there were se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions against his most se­nior min­is­ter, and could have done that with­out re­veal­ing the iden­tity of any­one im­pacted,” she said. “He didn’t — he chose to mis­lead the pub­lic to pro­tect Mr. Wil­son.”

In­terim Lib­eral leader John Fraser said the govern­ment should have ad­dressed the is­sue of the al­le­ga­tion five days ago when it first an­nounced Wil­son’s res­ig­na­tion. Drag­ging out the sit­u­a­tion isn’t good for any­one, in­clud­ing the com­plainant, he said.

“It’s five days later and we’re still talk­ing about this,” he said. “That’s not good for the per­son who came for­ward ... if pri­vacy was im­por­tant they should have han­dled it far dif­fer­ently than they have.”

Fraser said the govern­ment has a duty to alert the pub­lic to the con­clu­sion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion while still pro­tect­ing the con­fi­den­tial­ity of the com­plainant.

Wil­son, who has been a leg­is­la­tor for 28 years, stepped down Fri­day, hours after ap­pear­ing with Ford at a bor­der cross­ing near Sar­nia, Ont., where they un­veiled a sign ad­ver­tis­ing On­tario as “Open for Busi­ness.”

VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

MPP Jim Wil­son was forced to step down last week after fac­ing an al­le­ga­tion of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

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