Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 28, 2019
Doug Ford’s van customization has $50K price tag, documents show
Customizing a van for Premier Doug Ford — with items that included a reclining leather sofa and a mini-fridge — would have cost taxpayers more than $50,000, according to a document filed in Ontario Superior Court.
An estimate for customizing the van was filed by lawyers for Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair as part of a lawsuit. Blair is asking the court to force the province’s ombudsman to investigate the appointment of Ford’s friend, Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner, to be the next OPP commissioner.
Blair has alleged that Ford’s chief of staff told the OPP to buy a “large camper-type vehicle,” have it modified to the premier’s specifications and keep the costs off the provincial books.
The document shows the van would be kitted out with a dozen specialty items, including a mini-fridge, a 32-inch television with Blu-ray player, a leather power reclining sofa bench, four swivel chairs and desks, for a total price of $50,696 (HST included).
“Please keep in mind this is only the conversion cost this is excluding the price of the van,” says the estimate dated Nov. 21, 2018, from a company called A1 Mobility.
Ford’s appointment schedule shows he personally visited the company’s Mississauga office on Nov. 5.
The estimate for van customization is attached to emails between the company, Ford’s executive assistant, Nico Fidani, and members of the OPP. Fidani is using a personal email address, not his government of Ontario address.
The documents suggest two van options were being considered: a Ford Transit or a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
“The sprinter is an overall larger van this will give us more space inside the vehicle by almost 40 [inches],” said an email from the company to Fidani.
A spokesperson for Ford denies there was any attempt to keep the cost of the van hidden from the public.
“The allegations that anyone in the premier’s office requested a van be ‘kept off the books’ are a complete fabrication by Mr. Blair, and are categorically false,” said Ford’s director of media relations, Simon Jefferies, in a statement provided to CBC News. (Source: CBC News)
Meanwhile, February 27 was a day filled with shocking televised testimonies in both Canada and the USA, when Donald Trump’s former lawyer appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee, while in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau’s former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, appeared before the Commons’ Justice Committee