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.
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.
Brendan Tighe, one of Ford’s family personal lawyer’s sons, is currently interning at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Last summer, he interned with the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario according to his LinkedIn.
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.
Albrecht, a friend of Dean French’s son, was appointed to a posting in New York with a salary of over $164,000. The posting was cancelled after news of the relationship to French broke. The bio described Albrecht as providing “corporate finance services to private companies seeking capital and many private placements, totaling more than $250 million,” a claim that reportedly did not reflect his real-life work experience. In fact, many speculated the only reason he was selected was due to his lacrosse connections to Dean French.
Shields, a cousin of Dean French’s wife, was appointed to a posting in London, England with a salary of $185,000. The posting was cancelled after news of the relationship to French broke. Shields is an assistant vice-president of marketing for Chubb Insurance.
Thomas Staples, whom French coached in lacrosse, joined then-government whip Bill Walker’s office last year and now serves as the executive assistant and legislative affairs advisor for the minister of government and consumer services.
According to a senior conservative source, French pressed the Progressive Conservative caucus office to hire Staples even though he was “completely unqualified.”
Dean French’s niece Pal was appointed to the Public Accounts Council in December 2018. She resigned after her relationship with French became public.
The Premier’s office confirmed Katherine Pal is French’s wife’s Jane Pal French’s niece. The NDP say she was appointed on Dec. 31 and made $1,400 per meeting.
Todd is a Conservative insider appointed to serve as Ontario’s trade representative in Washington with a salary of $350,000. In the position Todd is making 27 per cent more than his predecessor and at least 20 per cent more than Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton.
A realtor and former PC party president has been posted to Dallas, Texas with a salary of $165,000.
Former chief of staff to Rob Ford Earl Provost has been posted to Chicago with a salary of $165,000. Along with Jag Badwal, these positions have not existed in Ontario government since the 1990s.
A longtime friend of Dean French, Suboch formerly played lacrosse with his son and was appointed to the Chair of Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee. In 2012 he was found to have engaged in professional misconduct by the Law Society of Ontario, having mishandled settlement funds and acted “without integrity.” He was ordered to participate in a practice review and fined $8000. His role on the committee is currently being examined.
Raquel de Medeiros
De Medeiros is the sister-in-law of Dean French’s nephew, and was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Ontario Museum. She has an art history degree and had previously volunteered at the ROM. The three-year appointment is unpaid, but trustees are eligible to have expenses reimbursed.
The father of MPP Kinga Surma, Miroslaw Surma, serves as a policy adviser to Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli.
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