March 5, 2019 12:21 pm

Bill Kelly: Doug Ford’s double standard

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Monday that the appointment of Ron Taverner as the head of the OPP went through all the proper channels.

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When Doug Ford was campaigning to be the next Ontario premier, he vowed that he would end what he called the cronyism that he alleged the Liberals used to give patronage appointments to their friends and supporters.

Once in the premier’s office, Ford certainly began to swing the axe, including not only the CEO of Hydro One, Mayo Schmidt, but the entire Hydro One board of directors.

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As the purge of Liberal appointees continues, most of the vacancies will be filled with Ford acolytes, which is to be expected to some degree.

READ MORE: Doug Ford defends $1,250-a-plate PC party fundraiser in Toronto

But Ford’s promise to bring integrity to the hiring process begins to ring hollow with curious circumstances surrounding the appointment of a new OPP commissioner.

The job opening was posted as required and a list of qualifications was included.

A couple of days after the posting went up, someone changed the qualifications, which, coincidentally, allowed Ford’s long-time friend, Ron Taverner, not only to apply for the job, but also get the job.

READ MORE: Brad Blair, who questioned the appointment of Ron Taverner, fired as OPP deputy commissioner

That appointment is on hold, pending an investigation by the Integrity Commissioner about how that process unfolded, although Ford says he will appoint Taverner to the job, no matter what the Integrity Commissioner recommends.

In the latest wrinkle to this saga, the OPP deputy commissioner, who has been vocally critical of the hiring process and of Ford, was fired on Monday.

The premier, of course, denies any involvement in Taverner’s appointment or Dep. Commissioner Brad Blair’s firing; I suppose it’s just one of those weird political coincidences.

But what’s more troubling are the appointments of key Ford supporters to rather lucrative posts.

iPolitics is reporting that the new chair of the internal corporate audit committee, Charles Antoine St. Jean, will be given a 67 per cent pay hike over what his Liberal predecessor was paid.

Just let the irony of that sink in: Doug Ford just gave a whopping 67 per cent salary increase to the guy who is supposed to root out excessive government spending.

READ MORE: Ontario’s education minister Lisa Thompson defends $140K EQAO job for failed Tory candidate

Then, there’s Cameron Montgomery, a failed PC candidate in last year’s election, but a Ford loyalist. He’s now the chair of the board of the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

The previous chair was paid a $225 per diem for the job, but Montgomery will take home $140,000.

Jenni Byrne, a key member of Ford’s campaign team, was awarded a position on the Ontario Energy Board with an annual salary of $197,000; and, of course, Reuben Devlin, the former president of the Ontario PC Party, is now a special adviser to the premier on health care reform and he’ll pocket $348,000 annually.

WATCH BELOW: Jones says Blair firing decided by public service commission and OPP

There are more, of course, but I think we get the picture.

While his government is telling Ontarians to tighten our belts because the government cupboard is bare, it seems that Ford’s cronies, if I can borrow the premier’s own phrase, are doing quite well.

It seems that cronyism is alive and well at Queen’s Park!

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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