Notes from the campaign trail: Long list of questions for Doug Ford
Ontario PC leader Doug Ford makes an announcement at Capri Pizza during a campaign stop in Cambridge, Ont., on Thursday, May 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Ryan
George Hoff, CP24 Elections Producer
Published Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:41PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 22, 2018 12:05PM EDT
Reporters had a list of questions for Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford today but they had to wait until early afternoon. Ford started late and went to a pizza shop in Cambridge. He made a very short four minute announcement committing to an 8.7 per cent cut in small business tax. Again today there was no explanation how a PC government will make up the revenue lost by forgoing more tax dollars.
Then Ford took eight questions from reporters. The first was about his candidate in Brampton East who dropped out last night hours before nominations closed today. Simmer Sandhu put out a statement late yesterday denying allegations made against him tweeting, “This election is too important to get caught up in the issues surrounding any one person.” The issue appears to be connected to data of users of the 407 toll highway. Sandhu worked for the 407 ETR Concession Company. 407 ETR sent out a release yesterday afternoon stating, “407 ETR is directly contacting approximately 60,000 customers by mail to advise that their account name, mailing address and in some instances their phone number were removed from 407 ETR's office at some time over the past 12 months.” How and if any data was used in the campaign is still not clear. But Ford said he acted as soon as he learned about the issues involving Sandhu saying he learned about it yesterday. He said, “I took immediate action and we’re moving forward with a new candidate.”
But Ford had another issue that touched him directly. The Toronto Star reported Ford went to a campaign fundraiser in Scarborough at the end of April. This is a clear violation of Elections Ontario’s new campaign law. Ford said he was unaware that the event was a fundraiser. He said today, “I was misinformed, very clearly misinformed. The person that put on the event was immediately dismissed.”
The questions didn’t stop there. Another reporter wanted to know why PC candidates are not going to all candidate debates. Ford said that was the first he was hearing of this noting that he’s “never told them not to go to a debate.” Ford then deflected a question about the PC candidate, Andrew Lawton, in London West. Yesterday, the Liberal Party released a series of racist and sexist statements Lawton made on an online program. Ford said he accepted Lawton’s apology and then went on to say, “We have a big tent…we welcome everyone inside that tent.” Ford did not comment on the words used by Lawton. The Ford appearance at the pizza shop lasted 13 minutes that shaved a full two minutes off yesterday’s media event that lasted 15 minutes.
The NDP and Liberals put transit issues at the top of their election agendas this morning. Both Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath were up early this morning and both were quite content to get their announcements out of the way and take questions about Doug Ford’s problems. Horwath said of Ford, “it’s pretty shocking somebody would flout the rules so blatantly.” Wynne said, “both situations are disturbing” and went on to say that “there is a law in this province about attending fundraisers. We all know that law.”
This afternoon Ford tweeted that he cannot comment on the allegations around the use of the 407 ETR data without seeing the evidence. Tomorrow Ford will be in London and will surely face more questions about Andrew Lawton. How many questions he takes will be in the hands of Ford’s media handler.