Ford faces tough ques­tions in Cam­bridge

PC leader grilled on con­tro­ver­sies over can­di­dates, fundraiser

Waterloo Region Record - - Front Page - JAMES JACK­SON Water­loo Re­gion Record

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.

PETER LEE WATER­LOO RE­GION RECORD

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.

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