Premier Ford’s office refuses to address allegations that led to Jim Wilson’s resignation
TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford‘s office refused for a second day to address media reports that an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour was behind the abrupt resignation of a prominent cabinet minister last week, prompting opposition parties to call for answers on the matter.
Global News learned from multiple sources that two senior members of Ford’s inner circle were forced to resign Friday due to allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Jim Wilson resigned from his position as Minister of Economic Development and Trade, as well as from the PC caucus after he was confronted with the allegations.
Ford’s office has not confirmed or denied the allegation, saying only that Wilson left to seek treatment for addiction issues.
When asked for comment by Global News on Monday, the premier’s office responded after the story was published.
“Jim Wilson is no longer a Minister of the Government, nor is he a member of the PC Caucus. He has entered a treatment facility to deal with addiction issues,” the statement said.
However Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod has indicated a third-party investigation involving Wilson is underway.
WATCH: Global News’ political panel discusses misconduct allegations
“My understanding is that swift action was taken, he resigned from caucus immediately and an investigation is put in place,” she said during an appearance in Ottawa on Monday. “I’m not in a position to know fully what the allegations were.”
MacLeod’s office did not offer further details, referring questions to Ford’s staff.
NDP legislator Sara Singh called Tuesday for Ford to clear the air around Wilson’s departure, saying the government needs to clarify whether there is or isn’t a third-party investigation underway.
“Mr. Ford didn’t tell Ontarians the truth about the departure of his most senior minister, and that’s wrong,” she said. “For Ford to refuse to face the press or the public, and stay entirely silent on this issue, is wrong.”
Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said while the government must respect the privacy of alleged victims, clarity and due process must be key elements of any investigation.
“Now you’re in a situation where everybody’s trying to sort out what’s going on,” he said. “You’ve got the premier’s office saying nothing … it creates unnecessary uncertainty which is not fair to anybody.”
Wilson, who was most recently the minister of economic development, has not responded to requests for comment.
The veteran politician stepped down from his post hours after appearing with Ford at a border crossing near Sarnia, Ont., where they unveiled a sign advertising Ontario as “Open for Business.”
Global News also learned from multiple sources on Monday that Andrew Kimber, Ford’s executive director of issues management and legislative affairs resigned Friday as well after being confrontabout multiple sexually inappropriate text messages he allegedly sent to a female staffer at Queen’s Park.
The premier’s office confirmed Kimber’s resignation but would not go into further detail.
—With files from Travis Dhanraj
© 2018 The Canadian Press