As controversy builds around the appointment of local police Superintendent Ron Taverner (and friend of the Premier) as head of the OPP, the Toronto Star (via the paywall free ourwindsor.ca) has found that Mr Taverner purchased a home in Weston in July 2017. The deal was private with $550,000 changing hands for the home near Church and George.
The problem? The seller, Simone Daniels worked for the Ford family business, Deco Labels, and is currently employed as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Premier.
In related news, the Globe and Mail reports that when Doug Ford was a Toronto councillor, he suggested to former Police Services Board Chair, Alok Mukherjee that his longtime friend would make a good Toronto Deputy Police Chief (Taverner did not apply for the job and was not appointed).
Rightly or wrongly, this steady drip of negative stories adds to the perception of strong connections between Doug Ford and Ron Taverner and a possible conflict of interest.
It will take great deal of determination to stare down this kind of pressure. My guess is that Mr Taverner (who has not commented publicly on the current brouhaha) may decide that the job isn’t worth the bother, plus, he’ll probably not want to begin his new job under a cloud that will likely persist during his term of office.
Update: We’ve removed the picture, because that seems like the right thing to do.
Whenever there’s a ‘Ford Fest’, the people in attendance could be anyone’s friends, neighbours or work colleagues. Most have shown up to support Doug Ford and possibly scarf the odd hot dog or burger (2,800 hot dogs, 4,200 burgers and 800 veggie burgers at the recent one in Vaughan). Free food and Ford Nation T-shirts aside, they’ve probably made the effort because they believe the Premier really is on their side; cutting the waste, the bureaucracy and all that red-tape while building subways and fighting for the little guy. This year, anticipating larger numbers, the ‘Fest’ was held away from his mother’s house at a Vaughan banqueting hall. The PC Party allegedly footed the bill.
Gone are the days of accidental encounters with prime ministers, free booze and $20 bills dispensed from a roll. No; Premier Ford needs to look, shall we say, presidential. As Ford Nation stalwarts shuffle along dutifully in a line, whether it’s for condiments from legions of servers doling them out a tablespoon at a time, or for a handshake and selfie with the great man himself, the event seems to have lost its spontaneity. Regardless, Ford Nation needs a pep rally every so often and gratitude must be shown for their unswerving loyalty but the events seem a bit more formulaic. There has never been a superlative that the premier doesn’t like. Taking his cue from south of the border, Ford seems to gearing up for more frequent events – the latest, tonight, will be a celebration of the first 100 days of his premiership.
There’s no doubt that legislatively, Ford has hit the ground running. There’s also an impression that cabinet members like Christine Elliot and Caroline Mulroney have been told to keep their opinions (and integrity) to themselves.
Let’s examine the 100 days of achievements that Ford Nation will celebrate.
Threatened to use the ‘Notwithstanding Clause’
Cut a planned welfare increase of 3% to 1.5%
Shrank Toronto Council to a gerrymandered 25 councillors.
Set up a teacher snitch line
Repealed the most heavily consulted Health and Sex-Ed curriculum ever
Cancelled Cap and Trade that made polluting companies pay money to conservation projects..
Cancelled a $100 million school repair program
Cancelled an almost complete 18.5 megaWatt wind turbine project
Cancelled the Green Energy Act
Got successfully sued by Tesla
Cut $17 million from public housing green upgrades
Ended the Green Ontario Fund (gave grants for homes to be more energy efficient)
Ended the Basic Income pilot a year early.
Paused the opening of new safe injection sites.
Forced the resignation of Hydro One’s Chair and Board.
Diverted money for mental health care into police budgets
Scrapped the Drive Clean program.
Fired Ontario’s Chief Scientist
Froze public service hiring
Enabled Buck a Beer
Shelved a law to cap concert and sport tickets at 50% higher than face value.
Shelved new vaping regulations
Shelved new indigenous curriculum writing teams
Froze the cost of a driving license at $90 (would have risen to $97).
The people who support ‘Ford Nation’ and those who voted PC at the last election wanted change and disruption after years of Liberal rule. Kathleen Wynne failed to tamp down the arrogance of some high profile ministers who had been in office too long. Ford Nation voted for change and disruption and they’re getting it in spades.
With about 1360 days to go in Ford’s mandate; a steady hand at the wheel seems unlikely. The clock is ticking on his premiership and Ford is desperate to stem the flow of money – especially since he has ended a lot of revenue streams and the province is on track for a $15 billion deficit this year. According to Ford, we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
In the near future, legislation will be announced that will:
Hold the minimum wage at $14.00
Repeal workers’ right to 10 annual leave days (including two paid days).
Ford instituted a ‘line by line review of government spending’. Ernst and Young recommended selling big assets like the LCBO, ending social program universality and tightening up government generally.
The report found that Ontario Government spending increased by 55% over 15 years. This sounds bad but it’s a less than 3% annual increase (compounding at work). This is remarkable when taking into account the increased health care spending needed on a growing senior population. When inflation is taken into account, it’s miraculous.
When compared to other provinces, Ontario is reasonably efficient in operating its services so there’s not much fat to cut. Over that 15 year time period, Ontario Public Service spending had a 0% increase.
What may be coming:
Along with a hiring freeze, Ford will need to cut expensive programs. Education, health care and social services take up more than 80% of the budget so that is where he may act. Selling off assets like Hydro or the LCBO produce a one-time gain and the revenue stream is lost forever (remember former PC premier Harris leasing the 407 for 99 years?).
Provincial government agencies may have to bargain through a central bargaining unit.
Sharing of data across ministries
A reduction of ‘red tape’ across ministries (this may imply fewer regulations)
More services available online
Means testing and co-payments for some services
Increased costs for civil litigation cases.
With a hiring freeze continuing and an estimated annual civil service turnover rate of 15%, it’s clear that some government departments will become severely understaffed and personnel will need retraining if they are transferred.
If none of this works, a money saver for a future term might be a voucher school system. Parents would be given a voucher for each child’s education to be be used in a public or private school of their choosing. Home schoolers could convert the voucher to cash. The diversion of students to home and private schools would reduce the size of the public system and therefore administration, pension and maintenance costs.
Public transit could be auctioned off to private companies (as happened under Margaret Thatcher) and this would provide instant cash and get the government out of fare subsidies. If Ford (as rumoured) takes over the TTC’s subway system, it could be sold or leased for a good amount and the province could keep the cash.
How will these changes affect Weston and Mount Dennis? We live in an area with a substantial number of people working minimum or low wage jobs. Many others rely on benefits or welfare. With less money coming in, there will be increased poverty and reduced spending. There is a danger that the local economy will be affected in terms of lower sales.
In the larger community, squeezing the economy will mean reduced government revenues, the possibility of a recession and an even greater deficit.
Perhaps not the effect that Ford Nation was anticipating.
Fun facts from the report:
90% of gambling revenue in Ontario goes to ‘grey market’ online sites.
33% of tobacco sales in Ontario are contraband and therefore contribute no tax revenues.
There is an estimated $16 billion in unreported economic activity each year in Ontario.
The latest video from Crosstown shows before and after views of the vehicle maintenance yard located on the old Kodak lands in Mount Dennis. The video begins with a shot of the site back in March 2017 and then moves forward to this October. The work is substantially complete; most of the tracks are down and a striking feature of the project is the green roofing of the complex. The green roof will save money on heating and cooling while reducing the buildings’ carbon footprints.
One can speculate whether or not such ‘frills’ could happen if the project had been approved under the current Ford regime.
Nobody ever said that Toronto politics was dull. Yesterday after getting judicially spanked for re-arranging Toronto Council’s seats, Premier Doug Ford went nuclear. He used the ‘Notwithstanding Clause’ contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; originally designed to hold confederation together during constitutional impasses. Under the clause, provinces can declare a law too important for it to be judged as unconstitutional.
The NC was designed to be used in exceptional circumstances; not in anger, petulance or bloody mindedness. What Ford has done is something like finding that there are no seats in a subway car and pulling the emergency cord; someone forgot the pepperoni on his pizza so he phoned 911 (insert your own meme here).
Ford actually dissed the judge yesterday on the basis that judges are unelected and this one, Edward Belobaba was tainted, having been appointed by Premier McGuinty (actually it was Paul Martin). What’s worrying is that Ford seems likely during his time as premier to take any actions he deems necessary in order to get his way. The possibilities are frightening.
The Legislature will meet tomorrow to begin the process of passing Bill 5 once again. So, barring a mutiny of MPPs, or a blockade of the Legislature, we’re going to be back to 25 seats, gerrymandered (thanks to being out of date) to favour the suburbs rather than downtown. Our new Ward 5, using the York South-Weston boundaries will once again feature a showdown between decades long incumbents Frank Di Giorgio and Frances Nunziata pitted against new main challengers, Lekan Olayowe and Chiara Padovani.
Premier Doug Ford’s surprise re-alignment of city wards from 47 to 25 seats has been kicked into touch by a Superior Court judge this morning after a challenge by a group of concerned citizens. The judge cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and called his legislation unconstitutional. He made it clear that Ford’s actions were unjustifiable. No doubt Mr. Ford will be railing at ‘elite’ judges this morning but he now finds himself in a serious quagmire with his latest legal setback. If he doesn’t appeal, there’s just enough time for the election to go ahead with 47 seats instead of Ford’s 25 that would have matched provincial ridings. These 47 seats were the result of much consultation and expense to better reflect increased populations in the downtown core. The 47 seat count is likely to produce several more left-wing councillors as downtowners tend to vote in that direction.
If Ford appeals, either the October 22 poll date will have to be delayed – a decision will take weeks – or we’ll keep the original date and hold a 25-seat election. Either way, an appeal will be a disruptive and constitutionally risky event.
What’s a premier to do? My guess is that he will forego the appeal but ask his lawyers to look for ways to sideline Council’s future decisions. One idea already floated is to expropriate important City assets such as our subway system.
Locally, Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata will not be facing Ward 12’s Frank Di Giorgio and Ms. Nunziata’s main challenger, Chiara Padovani will now be able to focus her finances and resources on our section of York South-Weston. On the other side of the water, in Greater Weston™, it’s back to being in Ward 2, most likely represented by (barring an apocalyctic event) Premier Ford’s nephew Mike.
Under the proposed new municipal setup, councillors will represent federal ridings and as a result, Wards 11 and 12 will become one. In York South-Weston, two incumbents, Frances Nunziata and Frank DiGiorgio will be battling for the same job and will likely split the vote since they are both right-leaning, developer friendly and often vote in unison with Mayor Tory. Left-leaning Chiara Padovani has been mounting a solid campaign, canvassing extensively in old Ward 11 and from today will no doubt begin to make an impression on voters in old Ward 12.
If Ward 11 largely votes for Nunziata and Ward 12 for DiGiorgio, depending on the strength of the votes and the turnout, Padovani could scoop the progressive Ward 11 and 12 votes and come through the middle – even with a relatively small percentage of York South-Weston’s overall vote.
No doubt Ms. Padovani will join the chorus of protests at Doug Ford’s move to shrink council but it should work in her favour. Look for strategists on both incumbent teams to set their sights on Ms Padovani once campaigning gets under way in earnest. It won’t be pretty.