Ford says he asked Wilson to resign after learning of sexual misconduct allegation
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2018 11:59AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2018 8:28PM EST
Five days after his office cited “addiction issues” as the reason for a cabinet minister’s resignation, Premier Doug Ford admitted he was made aware of an allegation of sexual misconduct against Jim Wilson that same day.
Ford addressed the matter while speaking to the media in Trenton, Ont. on Wednesday. The premier took questions from reporters after making an announcement regarding the government’s plans to help military families.
“On Friday, I was notified that there were allegations of sexual misconduct from Minister Wilson,” Ford said. “We acted decisively – we are very decisive, swift – and asked him to resign.”
“I take this very seriously. I have zero tolerance for this behaviour, and I want to emphasize, zero tolerance for this behaviour.”
Ford repeated multiple times that he did not disclose the misconduct allegation in a statement released by the Premier’s Office on Friday in an effort to “protect his team.”
“When we sat down with the person who made the allegation they repeatedly asked us not to make this a media story and I want to make sure that every single person on our team at Queen’s Park knows they are going to have a safe environment and if they come forward they are going to be protected,” he said.
“What would be irresponsible is if I were to give the media the story against the wishes of the people that had the courage to come forward under very stressful times asking us to not come forward to the media. I will not come forward when I am there to protect my staff.”
PC MPP Jim Wilson resigned from his post as minister of economic development, job creation and trade as well as caucus on Friday evening, hours after appearing at an event alongside Ford in Sarnia, Ont.
When the announcement of his resignation was made, Ford’s office cited an addiction issue as the reason for Wilson’s departure. CTV News Toronto, however, later learned that Wilson stepped down amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
The sources said Wilson immediately resigned at around 5 p.m. that day after being presented with the allegation.
Ford confirmed this on Wednesday by saying Wilson “understood the situation and understood he had to leave the party” when confronted with the allegation. If he did not offer his resignation, Ford said he “would have been fired immediately.”
Andrew Kimber, the premier’s executive director of issues management, also stepped down on Friday. CTV News Toronto confirmed that Kimber’s resignation was also connected to an allegation of misconduct.
Ford said the provincial government has hired a third-party team, which includes former police officers, to investigate the matters.
The accusers have not gone to police with these allegations, according to Ford.
Responding to Ford, the NDP brushed off the premier’s explanation for omitting the misconduct allegations last week.
“Protecting a victim of sexual misconduct is the right thing to do. Protecting a powerful man accused of sexual misconduct isn’t. Pretending that those things are at odds with each other is wrong,” NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“Mr. Ford absolutely could have been honest and told Ontarians that there were serious allegations against his most senior minister, and could have done that without revealing the identity of anyone impacted. He didn’t — he chose to mislead the public to protect Mr. Wilson.”
Kimber and Wilson have not responded to requests for comment. None of the allegations has been tested in court.