May 17, 2018 10:49 am
Updated: May 17, 2018 1:50 pm

Doug Ford under fire for attending party fundraiser, defying campaign laws

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PC Leader Doug Ford has breached Ontario’s campaign rules by attending a fundraiser hosted by Progressive Conservatives last month, a report says.

According to the Toronto Star, Ford attended the $250-a-plate fundraiser, hosted by Srini Suppiramaniam, on April 29 at the Chandni Banquet Hall in Scarborough.

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The event fell on the same evening as the Mel Lastman Square vigil for victims of the April 23 van attack that killed 10 people and injured 16. The fundraiser was omitted from Ford’s itinerary that day.

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As a result of Ford’s attendance and the released report, Suppiramaniam was removed from his position within the campaign team Thursday.

“We have been made aware that the leader was misinformed by the organizer about the nature of the event. The organizer was removed from the campaign team yesterday, immediately after these revelations were brought to the party’s attention,” said Melissa Lantsman, PC campaign spokesperson, in an email sent to Global News Thursday morning.

Doug Ford commented later that afternoon reiterating Lantsman’s statement.

“Listen, I go to hundreds of events and I was misinformed, very clearly misinformed,” he said.

“The person who put on the event was immediately dismissed and walked out of the office and we have an internal investigation because I take the elections Ontario very seriously, the rules.”

At a campaign stop in Toronto Thursday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it’s shocking that this happened in the middle of an election campaign.

“It’s surprising that Mr. Ford is prepared to flout the rules when it comes to fundraising. And look, this is a party that was pretty visceral in their attack on the Liberal cash-for-access fundraisers,” she said.

She added the event is disturbing and that the people who attend these fundraisers “pony up thousands and thousands of dollars to get a minute to whisper in the ear of a cabinet minister.”

Lantsman told Global News that any money raised at the event and given to the campaign will be returned to the donors.

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“We will not accept any money from these guests going forward,” she said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Ford will have to answer the questions during a campaign event in Ottawa Thursday morning.

“I don’t know the details but there’s a law in this province about candidates attending fundraisers. We all know about that law, we all know when we go to an event whether it’s a fundraiser or not and we don’t go to fundraisers because that’s not allowed under the law. So certainly Doug Ford will have to … answer those questions.”

Lantsman also told Global News that the party “always follows Election Ontario fundraising rules and as such we are filing an infraction.”

Ford said the party is going to put in new protocol to ensure there are no repeats of the incident.

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“We’ll put new protocol, better protocol in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Anyone that donated at all will receive their money back but, again, I take this seriously and we acted immediately,” he said.

The Ontario campaign law was introduced in September 2016 by the Liberal government and prohibits anyone seeking office or a party leadership from attending fundraising events.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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