Ford faces tough questions in Cambridge
PC leader grilled on controversies over candidates, fundraiser
CAMBRIDGE — Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford was in Cambridge Thursday to announce a promise to reduce the small business tax rate, but he faced a barrage of questions about recent controversies surrounding his campaign.
From the resignation of Brampton East PC candidate Simmer Sandhu after an alleged data theft at Highway 407, to Ford’s illegal attendance of a party fundraiser in April, Ford spent about eight minutes answering questions unrelated to his party’s plan to cut the small business tax rate from 3.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent should they win the June 7 election.
The PC leader also faced questions related to the dismissal of MPP Michael Harris, who was replaced by appointed candidate Mike Harris Jr. last month. Ford repeated his position that it was the provincial nomination committee that made the decision to turf the Kitchener-Conestoga MPP.
Ford said the party is “looking into” the allegations surrounding Sandhu, and said it replaced him with another candidate immediately after accepting his resignation Wednesday.
“I took immediate action as soon as I found out,” Ford said at the campaign stop at Capri Pizza in Cambridge. Sandhu had previously worked for the company that operates the toll route, and the NDP is asking Elections Ontario to investigate whether the PC party benefited from the data theft, which allegedly included information for about 60,000 people.
When asked about the party fundraiser he attended last
month, Ford said he was “misinformed” about the dinner, and the party reacted by firing Tory organizer Srini Suppiramaniam on Wednesday. The Ontario Elections Act forbids MPPs, cabinet ministers, party candidates or party leaders from attending fundraiser events.
“We have an internal investigation and I take Elections Ontario very seriously,” he said.
“We have new protocol, a better protocol in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
All money raised at the event will be returned, he added, but questions about exactly how much was raised were not answered by Ford.
A media release detailing the small business tax cut was circulated just before the announcement Thursday, but offered no details about how much the tax cut might cost the government, or how it would make up that revenue. It follows an earlier campaign pledge to cut the corporate income tax rate from 11.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent.
The cut represents “money taken out of the government’s pockets and put back into the pockets of the mom-and-pop stores, the innovative startups, and the family businesses working hard to get by,” said Ford, who has previously said his government will find billions of dollars of efficiencies if elected.
“Change is coming and help is on the way.”
This latest announcement came one day after Ford pledged to cut gas prices by 10 cents per litre if elected. That includes the 4.3 cent per litre carbon tax and reducing the provincial fuel tax by 5.7 cents.
A news release from the Liberals claims these cuts could put funding for local two-way, all-day GO service at risk, and Ford did not offer any details on how his government would pay for the cut.
Ford was asked about this lack of detail in recent announcements.
“I think I’ve been pretty in-depth,” he told reporters. “Every single day we meet with a new announcement.”
Ford is scheduled to appear at a London medical and wellness centre Friday for another campaign announcement.
Angelo Ognibne, owner of Capri Pizza in Cambridge, opens the door to a pizza oven so Doug Ford can place a pizza inside on Thursday.