Top aide to Ford sold house to incoming OPP commissioner
TORONTO — Ontario’s new top cop, Ron Taverner, purchased a Toronto home privately last year from one of Premier Doug Ford’s closest advisers in both politics and business.
Property records show that Taverner, the incoming Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner and a current Toronto police superintendent, purchased the three-bedroom cottage-style home on Church St. in the Toronto neighbourhood of Weston in July 2017 for $550,000.
The seller was Simone Daniels, 33, a political operative who has had a decade-long association with Ford and is described in a Ford press release as “a longtime adviser.” At the time Taverner bought the home from Daniels, she was a senior executive at the Ford-family company, Deco Labels.
She was part of his handpicked transition team when Ford swept into office in June 2018 and is now one of two deputy chiefs of staff in the premier’s office. Prior to her time at Deco, Daniels was executive assistant to Doug Ford when he was a city councillor.
Real estate records show there was no MLS sale listing for the home and it was sold privately. Taverner took out a $440,000 mortgage from National Bank at the same time he made the purchase.
Mortgage documents do not specify the interest rate or term of the mortgage.
The Star reached out, with detailed questions, to Taverner, Daniels and the premier’s office on Wednesday. Chief among the questions was this: Did the fact that the new OPP commissioner had a real estate transaction with a top adviser to Ford raise a conflict of interest in the eventual choice of commissioner, or does it affect the relationship between the OPP and the premier’s office going forward. None of the parties queried responded to the Star.
Thursday, the NDP raised the Star’s story in the legislature, renewing its weeklong demand to have the provincial integrity commissioner review the appointment. Ford was not present, and in his place Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said her government supports the hiring of Taverner. She did not address the sale in the legislature.
Later, Jones told the Star’s Kris Rushowy that the Daniels-Taverner sale was a case of “willing seller, willing buyer.” She said the house sale involving the incoming top cop and a key Ford adviser raises no concerns with her and “I’m thrilled with his appointment to the OPP.”
Daniels, who has worked for Ford in both politics and business, is listed on the provincial government’s telephone system as “Deputy Chief of Staff, HR Administration & Tour.” Thirtysix staff in the premier’s office report to her, according to the province’s online directory.
Opposition critics have complained that the Ford family’s long friendship with Taverner creates a potential conflict in that it is the OPP that is typically called in to investigate the actions of government, political parties and elected officials. Under the Liberal government, the OPP was called in to investigate the ORNGE air ambulance scandal and the deleted documents gas plants scandal.
The NDP said last week that “Doug Ford is promoting a close friend and ally by several ranks, leapfrogging the OPP’s senior leadership team without an explanation.” Ford responded, saying an independent selection committee chose Taverner and he played no role.
Last week, the provincial government announced that Taverner, 72, would become OPP commissioner on Dec. 17, replacing Vince Hawkes, who recently retired. The province announced that a selection panel unanimously approved Taverner for the job.
Supt. Ron Taverner’s Toronto home that he bought off of a close Ford adviser who is now his deputy chief of staff.
Supt. Ron Taverner