Dean French’s ‘nepotism continues to contaminate the Ford government’: source

Click to play video: 'New controversy surrounding Ontario government appointments'
New controversy surrounding Ontario government appointments
WATCH ABOVE: There is new controversy surrounding a number of Ontario government appointments. Travis Dhanraj reports – Jun 25, 2019

Global News has learned that multiple individuals who have direct links to the Ontario premier’s former chief of staff, Dean French, are scattered throughout the PC government.

The individuals include French’s family members, and former lacrosse players from St. Michael’s College School where French coached.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a PC Party source told Global News: “Of course, who you know in politics is what matters. That’s how we all got here at the end of the day. But we still had to pay our dues and jump through the hoops. When you see others getting a job just because they happen to play a sport, it hurts morale and is bad for the team.”

Global News reached out to the premier’s office for comment on the story on Monday.

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“I won’t be providing comment to you about interns and junior-level staff,” said Laryssa Waler, executive director of communications for Premier Doug Ford. One of the positions, Global News has learned is as press secretary to a cabinet minister, a job with the previous Liberal government that paid $60,000-$70,000 dollars annually.

The news comes just days after Global News broke a story about two patronage appointments linked to French, each paying more than $150,000. Tyler Albrecht, a friend of French’s son, was appointed to a posting in New York, while Taylor Shields, a cousin of French’s wife, was appointed to a posting in London, U.K.

Less than 24 hours after Global News broke the story, the premier rescinded the appointments. The next day, it was announced that French had submitted his resignation.

WATCH (June 21, 2019): Doug Ford revokes 2 foreign Ontario government appointments after allegations of nepotism

Click to play video: 'Doug Ford revokes 2 foreign Ontario government appointments after allegations of nepotism'
Doug Ford revokes 2 foreign Ontario government appointments after allegations of nepotism

The source also told Global News: “Many party staff are upset because, despite working their butts off, they keep having less qualified people put into positions of authority because they are one of the St. Mike’s ‘lax boys.’ Many people were given jobs just because they played lacrosse and went to St. Mike’s with Dean’s sons.”

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Senior sources with the government also confirm that after his resignation on Friday, French showed up to Queen’s Park on Monday telling staff he was still “in charge.” The premier’s office denies this happened.

Waler said French “came to Queen’s Park [Monday] morning to pack up his office. He said goodbye to staff, thanked them for their hard work and continued service to the premier and the people of Ontario. Dean French is returning to the private sector.”

However, on Tuesday afternoon Global News obtained an internal email sent by Premier Ford to his caucus.

Part of the email reads, “While I thank Dean for his service over the last year, I need to be clear he no longer has a role in our government or the party. Dean’s advice and support has been appreciated but he no longer has any influence in this government.”

The news also comes on the same day the NDP says Ford quietly appointed Katherine Pal, Dean French’s niece, to the public accounts council.

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“Doug Ford has been making it rain first-class tickets on the gravy train for friends and family of his inner circle,” said NDP MPP Taras Natyshak. “This reeks of nepotism, with paycheques, power and favours for Ford’s inner circle while everyday Ontarians get nothing but cuts.”

Another PC Party source told Global News: “French’s nepotism continues to contaminate the PC government — even when he’s gone, his connections still run deep.”

Shortly after Global News broke this story, however, the premier’s office told Global News that Pal resigned.

In response, interim Liberal leader John Fraser called the situation “incredible, but unfortunately not surprising.”

“Doug Ford’s first hires were $350,000 a year jobs for his party president, his campaign tour director and he tried to hire his friend as the commissioner of the OPP. This isn’t a Dean French problem, it’s a Doug Ford problem.”

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