Ontario Premier Doug Ford was hit with another resignation Tuesday—an appointee to the Ontario Public Accountants Council stepped down after her personal connection to Ford’s former chief of staff Dean French was uncovered.
Ford’s office announced Katherine Pal handed in her resignation hours after the NDP raised concerns about her public appointment, characterizing it as a case of “nepotism.”
Pal, who the NDP says is the niece of French’s wife, was given the appointment last New Year’s Eve – a position the Premier’s office says came with compensation of $700 per meeting, with four meetings scheduled per year.
“Doug Ford has been making it rain first-class tickets on the gravy train for friends and family of his inner circle,” said NDP MPP Taras Natyshak. “This reeks of nepotism, with paycheques, power and favours for Ford’s inner circle, while everyday Ontarians get nothing but cuts.”
Sources in the Premier’s Office say Ford was unaware of the personal relationship and asked staff to “clean it up.”
“(The Premier) wanted her to be gone from that position by the end of the day,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Hours after the appointment came to light, the Premier’s Office released a statement saying it has “spoken with Katherine Pal” and she resigned effective immediately.
One source close to the government says Ford is “pretty serious” about the situation and believes every single appointment past and present made by French, every file the former political staffer worked on and every email will be scrutinized as the government looks for any potential issues.
Ford announced a full review of any pending public appointments to investigate whether any have personal ties to French.
Newly appointed government house leader Paul Calandra says the government routinely reviews “every single position” no matter who made the appointment.
“There should be no instance where it’s not in the best interest of the people of Ontario and the best person for the job,” Calandra told CTV News Toronto. “We’ll review appointments constantly moving forward and appointments that were made in the past.”
The Public Accountants Council defended Pal’s position on the board saying she was an “extremely well qualified” member of the board.
The council also says her reported compensation package was “inaccurate and significantly overstated.”
“In addition, none of the expenses associated with the Concil and funded in any way by taxpayer monies,” said Keith Bowman, CEO of the Public Accountants Council in a statement.