QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP says the story on recent high-profile departures from Doug Ford’s inner circle doesn’t add up. According to dubious official statements, the departure of Ford’s chief of staff, Dean French, and the disbanding of the entire strategic transformation office, including advisor Peter Fenwick, had nothing to do with the ongoing patronage scandal.
“Everyone knows Ford is making stuff up again. Tickets for the gravy train are getting ripped up because Ford gets caught handing them out, and not until then,” said NDP MPP Marit Stiles, who sits on the standing committee on government agencies.
“Is Doug Ford lying about why these folks are leaving because he thinks it’s ok to lie to the people of Ontario? Is it because he’s shelling out severance or continuance payments to gravy train passengers whose trip was cut short? It’s time for the Premier to come clean.”
The entire strategic transformation office was disbanded late Thursday, hours after The Toronto Star revealed Fenwick is yet another appointee with ties to Ford’s inner circle. Despite the suspect timing, Ford’s office claimed the staff members in that unit were all let go because the government has “evaluated the structure of Cabinet Office.” Likewise, when Dean French left the premier’s office on June 21 — right after appointments for French insiders were revoked — the official statement from Ford’s office said “he will be returning to the private sector after a first successful year of government, as he had always planned.”
The NDP has been pushing for the standing committee on government agencies to be recalled and given the tools to vet all public appointees in a transparent way, going back to Ford’s swearing in. The NDP is also in communication with the Integrity Commissioner.
“Ultimately, for every single public appointment, and most of the hiring and staffing concerns we’ve been talking about, Doug Ford has personally signed off. The buck stops with him.”