PCs mov­ing to beef up curbs on crony­ism

The Peterborough Examiner - - LOCAL - ROBERT BENZIE

Queen’s Park is look­ing to beef up the public ap­point­ments process in the wake of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives’ “French con­nec­tions” crony­ism scan­dal.

Gov­ern­ment House Leader Paul Ca­lan­dra told the leg­is­la­ture “there is more to come” as the Tories move to curb pa­tron­age abuses.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to work on im­prov­ing that process for public ap­point­ments, mak­ing them more open and trans­par­ent,” said Ca­lan­dra.

“These are peo­ple that do very good work on be­half of the peo­ple of On­tario … but we want to make sure that they are in it for the right rea­sons and that the work that they do is in the best in­ter­est of the peo­ple of On­tario,” he said.

Doug Ford’s gov­ern­ment was rocked last sum­mer by al­le­ga­tions of in­sid­ers ben­e­fit­ing from their con­nec­tion to Dean French, the premier’s then chief of staff.

French re­signed June 21, one day af­ter it emerged his wife’s cousin and a 26-year-old lacrosse pal of his son were awarded six-fig­ure pa­tron­age ap­point­ments to be On­tario rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Lon­don, Eng­land, and New York City.

Ford per­son­ally re­voked those two plum post­ings and parted ways with his chief, who has since been re­placed by Jamie Wal­lace, a well-re­garded for­mer Toronto Sun ex­ec­u­tive and one-time Queen’s Park press gallery pres­i­dent.

In all, seven “French con­nec­tions” ap­pointees have stepped down or been forced out so far.

Ca­lan­dra in­sisted the gov­ern­ment would wel­come “sug­ges­tions” from op­po­si­tion crit­ics to fur­ther im­prove the sys­tem.

“When it comes to the (public ap­point­ments leg­isla­tive) com­mit­tee process, we are following the process that was ac­tu­ally put in place by the pre­vi­ous NDP gov­ern­ment,” he said.

But NDP MPP Taras Natyshak (Es­sex) said he wants to see spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions to bol­ster over­sight.

“The sad real­ity is that no­body trusts Doug Ford and his gov­ern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate … the premier’s gov­ern­ment scan­dals,” said Natyshak.

“For months the premier has laid low while de­tails of his pa­tron­age ap­point­ments leaked out, hand­ing lu­cra­tive for­eign post­ings to a for­mer PC party pres­i­dent, and the lacrosse­play­ing friend of his chief of staff’s son, stack­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies with friends and re­la­tions,” he said.

That’s a ref­er­ence to for­mer Tory pres­i­dent Jag Bad­wal, who was named On­tario’s agent­gen­eral in Dal­las.

Bad­wal’s ap­point­ment is go­ing ahead as is that of Earl Provost, a for­mer On­tario Lib­eral party ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and chief of staff to the late Rob Ford when he was Toronto mayor. Provost is agent-gen­eral to Chicago.

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