A Brief (And Ongoing) History of Doug Ford’s Patronage Corruption
While overseeing deep cuts to public services that will make life worse many in Ontario, not everyone is suffering in Doug Ford’s Ontario. Ford’s friends and political allies are doing better than ever, with many receiving high-paying and powerful jobs on the public dime.
Many in Ontario are familiar with Ford’s ongoing project to install political allies at the top of the Ontario Provincial Police. But the Premier’s work to get his friends sweetheart gigs with big public salaries runs much further than this. Here’s a roundup of the provincial appointments Ford has doled out to friends since he took office in June 2018.
Ford has appointed Cameron Montgomery to chair the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), a full-time position with an annual salary of $140,000 plus vacation, pension and benefits. Montgomery ran a failed campaign for the Progressive Conservatives in the riding of Orléans last June. The EQAO position was formerly a part-time role, with the chair only making about $5,000 a year. The agency is responsible for administering tests to students in Ontario and measures proficiency in reading, writing and math skills. Critics say that partisan influence to the EQAO could be a useful tool in the provincial government’s attack on publicly funded education.
In July, former Ontario PC party president and friend of Ford Rueben Devlin was appointed head of the premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine. He’ll make $348,000 in the role, making him one of highest-paid people on the public payroll in Ontario. Devlin was one of the province’s highest-paid hospital bosses for almost 20 years, helped devise Ford’s healthcare platform, and served on his transition team. A column by Bob Hepburn in the Toronto Star says that Devlin’s appointment is indicative of Ford’s venture down a “dangerous path” of assuming the power to do whatever he wants.
Ian Todd, Ford’s former tour director during his campaign, is earning $350,000 annually as the new Ontario trade representative in Washington. This is a salary increase of $75,000 from the last politician in the position, the Liberal Party’s Monique Smith.
The Ford family lawyer, Gavin Tighe, has been given a three-year long position with the Public Accountants’ Council with a salary of $166,666 annually, in turn getting rid of Ontario’s special advisor on climate change appointed by the Wynne government. Tighe represented Rob Ford when he was sued for defamation and again when he was sued for his alleged involvement in a jailhouse assault.
Ford’s former principal secretary Jenni Byrne was appointed as a full-time member of the Ontario Energy Board, a two-year term that pays $197,000 annually. Before joining Ford’s team, Byrne worked for the Harper government and ran the Conservative Party’s 2011 and 2015 campaigns. After Byrnes’ appointment, NDP critic Peter Tabuns said that Ford’s objective is to make sure the people who are supposed to be independent from party affiliation are loyal to him, which will have “major consequences for Ontario’s energy sector.”
Doug Ford attempted to install his old family friend Ron Taverner as commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. While politically interfering in the police should raise obvious red flags, Ford’s Conservatives went so far as to lower the job requirements for the position so that Taverner would qualify.
After facing criticism over the appointment from deputy OPP commissioner Brad Blair, Ford backed down on the appointment. However, Ford later fired Brad Blair for whistleblowing — another case of political interference with the OPP.
We’ll continue tracking Doug Ford’s corruption…
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