Top aide to Ford sold house to in­com­ing OPP com­mis­sioner

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Canada&world - KEVIN DONO­VAN

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.

TORONTO STAR PHOTO

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.