Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 27, 2019
Doug Ford to review appointments after Dean French’s niece resigns
Premier Doug Ford is investigating the French connections in the wake of the cronyism scandal embroiling his Progressive Conservative government.
Ford “called for a review of all pending appointments” on Tuesday after a relative of his former chief of staff, Dean French, resigned from the province’s Public Accountants Council.
French, who stepped down after a separate nepotism imbroglio on Friday night, is the uncle of Katherine Pal, managing director of Pal Insurance.
Pal had been named as a provincial appointee to the council on Dec. 31.
“When the premier found out about this one, he hit the roof,” said a senior Ford official, speaking confidentially in order to discuss internal conversations.
“He didn’t know about this personal connection so he’s called for a review of all pending appointments. He was really unhappy,” the government insider said.
Indeed, Ford sent a damage-control note to Tory MPPs underscoring that French has been defenestrated.
“I need to be clear he no longer has a role in our government or the party,” the premier wrote to caucus members.
“Dean’s advice and support has been appreciated, but he no longer has any influence in this government.”
French was a source of aggravation for the premier due to his headline-grabbing antics, such as loudly berating Tory MPPs and staffers.
French resigned Friday night, just hours after the premier revoked two patronage appointments he had pushed through.
French had installed his wife’s cousin, Taylor Shields, as the $185,000-a-year Ontario agent general to London, England and his son’s 26-year-old lacrosse buddy, Tyler Albrecht, as the province’s $164,910-a-year trade representative in New York.
After Ford rescinded the appointments, two cabinet ministers personally urged him on Friday morning to fire French for embarrassing the government.
The Tories felt blindsided because they assumed they would have to defend the other two patronage appointees named Thursday afternoon as Queen’s Park was preoccupied with a massive cabinet shuffle.
The patronage debacle is especially problematic to Ford, who on Saturday railed against “the downtown insiders … (and) media who criticize us at every single step.”
He charged that his opponents are “a select few (that) can’t stand that we are taking their hands out of the cookie jar.”
But opposition parties say Ford is the one driving the “gravy train.” (Hamilton Spectator)