Ford government urged to overhaul appointments process amid cronyism scandal
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the media following a cabinet shuffle at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday, June 20, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin)
Published Wednesday, July 31, 2019 12:16PM EDT
Ontario's Green Party is calling on the Progressive Conservative government to overhaul the province’s public appointments process to avoid repeating a scandal that has rocked Premier Doug Ford’s office.
Over the past month, several high-level Ford government appointees were fired or resigned after their personal or familial connections to Dean French, the premier’s former chief-of-staff, were revealed.
The scandal forced French to tender his own resignation and the government to put pending appointments under the microscope to investigate any inappropriate ties to the party.
Opposition parties, however, have called on the government to investigate the backgrounds and qualifications of every single appointee since Ford came to office -- a call that has largely been ignored by the Premier’s Office.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner says the government’s lack of action is “undermining people’s trust in government” and is asking the Tories to adopt seven recommendations to strengthen the process for future governments.
The recommendations include:
- Merit-based criteria for public appointments, which Schreiner says would bring Ontario in line with four other provinces and the federal government.
- Standardize transparency measures, including publishing qualifications and selection criteria online.
- Publicizing the results of any investigations by Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner. Currently, the results of any ethics investigation into a staff member governed by the Public Services Act can only be disclosed to the MPP the staff member works for.
- Add a public process to register complaints about potentially inappropriate appointments.
- Strive for diversity and gender parity in public appointments.
- Establish a committee to reform the appointments process.
While the Premier’s Office has not responded to Schreiner’s suggestions, the green party leader says Ford’s slumping poll numbers should be an indication that voters care about and are being influenced by the scandal.
“People I talk to care very deeply about this,” Schreiner told reporters at a news conference. “I think people are turned off by the apparent and in many cases actually cronyism in his government.”