Face of 'Ontario News Now' named executive director of PC caucus services
Lyndsey Vanstone is seen in this undated photograph posted to ontarionewsnow.ca.
The face of "Ontario News Now," Premier Doug Ford’s controversial faux-news outlet, is getting a promotion—a move that will change the look and style of the government’s self-promotional videos.
Lyndsey Vanstone confirmed to CTV News Toronto that she was named the executive director of the Progressive Conservative Caucus Services (PCCS) “about a week ago.”
The role puts her in charge of a $6.7 million budget for the party to support its caucus.
All recognized parties in the Ontario Legislature gets a caucus services budget to help MPPs navigate administrative issues, research and outreach.
The move means that Vanstone will be less of a presence on "Ontario News Now," a dramatic shift from the current videos funded and produced by PCCS.
The social media videos often feature Vanstone styled as a news reporter – complete with an "Ontario News Now" branded microphone – often promoting the government’s messaging.
The videos also include interviews with the premier and other members of cabinet, which are often portrayed by the government as a digital news release.
"Ontario News Now," however, has also been a source of controversy for the government after it was revealed last July that donors to the PC party were being featured in promotional videos, along with a visit from Ford.
Sources in the PC caucus say MPPs wanted "Ontario News Now" to go in a “different direction” with more “member driven” content.
While the exact budget for "Ontario News Now" is a closely guarded secret – caucus services budgets are not subject to public disclosure or freedom of information laws – Vanstone was paid at least $100,000 for her role, according to a report from the Globe and Mail.
Vanstone replaces Jeff Silverstein, who has been close to the Ford family for years serving as a spokesperson for former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and as campaign spokesperson for Doug Ford during the 2018 election.
Caucus sources say caucus services wasn’t meeting the needs of PC MPPs and the “premier listened” and acted on their frustrations.
Silverstein, according to the Globe and Mail, was paid close to $150,000.