Premier Ford lost four high-level staffers this week
Premier Doug Ford lost four high-level communications and policy advisers this week, less than a year after being elected.
The Premier’s Executive Director of Strategic Communications David Tarrant announced he was leaving for the private sector earlier in the week, calling his time in the Premier’s office “quite a ride.”
On Thursday, Director of Media Relations Simon Jefferies and Director of Communications Veronica Green both announced they would be leaving the Premier’s office to work for federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Jefferies, a skilled and well-regarded political communicator, was headhunted by the federal party and tells CTV News Toronto that he’s “looking forward” to the next national election.
On Friday, the government confirmed that Mitchell Davidson, executive director of policy for the Premier, would also be leaving this summer — a departure that conservative insiders have described to CTV as a “huge loss.”
The Premier’s office described the timing of the resignations as “natural” as the government comes to the end of its first year in office.
Multiple sources told CTV News that much of the staff in the Ford government has signed onto one-year contracts and more staff members may be eyeing the exits, citing low morale.
The Premier’s office points out, however, that all four staff members are leaving on good terms and are either returning to the private sector, or were scooped up by their federal counterparts.
“We wish ever single one of our team members nothing but our full support and continued friendship as they move on,” Executive Director of Communications Laryssa Waler said in a statement.
“This is quite remarkable to see so many people leave so quickly,” says political analyst Jim Warren.
“Usually people will stay until the two-year mark. Mid-term you indicate whether you want to stay into next election.”
Warren says former Premier Kathleen Wynne lost her ability to run “effective communications” when her office lost key advisers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Ford, he says, could suffer from the same issues.
The departures come as the Ford government takes a political hit over unpopular budget cuts that have affected everything from school boards, to municipalities and local health agencies.
A recent Pollara survey, published Thursday, found support for the Progressive Conservatives has dropped to 30 per cent while the NDP, Liberals and Green Party have gained momentum.
The New Democrats, led by Andrea Horwath, are currently in first place with 31 per cent support, the leaderless Liberals have risen to 26 per cent support, while the Greens now have 11 per cent support.
Ford has already shuffled his staff to fill the vacancies as the government continues to sell its April 11 budget.