Some Doug Ford supporters outside a televised provincial leaders’ debate Monday night were hired actors, an Ontario PC party official said.
“We were very confused by this situation because we are getting record numbers of supporters to every event across Ontario,” Ford spokesperson Melissa Lantsman said in a statement on Tuesday.
While Ford, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath were inside taking part in their first televised debate, throngs of supporters cheered outdoors. But little did they know, some on the Ontario PC party side were not who they seemed.
The official said the actors were hired by local candidate and the practice “won’t be continuing.”
Ford was questioned by a reporter about the incident Tuesday morning during an education announcement in Toronto and said he had no prior knowledge that had happened.
“You know something, that’s the first I’ve heard of that,” Ford said.
“We don’t need to pay anyone. We have events. We’re packed. We have standing room only.”
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Ford said he’ll speak to Meredith Cartwright on the matter — one of several candidates appointed by the PC leader to run in the upcoming election.
“Well, I can assure you, I’ll be calling Meredith and ask what’s going on,” Ford said. “We don’t need that but I’ll definitely talk to her.”
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Cartwright’s campaign website said she’s a human rights lawyer, businesswoman and philanthropist, as well as a graduate of Queen’s University and Harvard University.
Global News has reached out to the Toronto-Centre riding candidate for comment but did not hear back at time of publication.
Ford is currently the frontrunner in the election, with the latest Ipsos poll giving him a commanding lead among decided voters over Horwath and Wynne.
If the election were held tomorrow, Ford would receive 40 per cent of the decided popular vote, with Horwath’s NDP receiving 29 per cent and Wynne’s Liberals 26 per cent, the poll found.
Election Day in Ontario is June 7.