TORONTO – The head of a committee that helps appoint justices of the peace has resigned after reports that he has ties to the premier’s former chief of staff.
Premier Doug Ford‘s office said it had been reviewing lawyer Andrew Suboch’s appointment as chair of the Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee and that he has now resigned.
The Globe and Mail reported that Suboch is a long-time friend of Dean French, who abruptly left his job as Ford’s top adviser three weeks ago when it first emerged that people given lucrative foreign postings were connected to him. Their sons also played lacrosse together, the Globe reported.
When contacted by The Canadian Press, Suboch would not comment on a connection to French or why he resigned.
“There is a public portal that ANYONE can apply to 1/8which I did 3/8, there is vetting of the application, AND, the Legislature through the Standing Committee of Government Agencies, which I understand was chaired at all relevant times by the NDP, can call appointees, such as myself, to testify as to their qualifications,” Suboch wrote in an email.
“I was never called by the Standing Committee to demonstrate my qualifications.”
He did not say if French encouraged him to apply for the role.
Suboch was appointed to the committee in September 2018, then was given the job of chair in February. The committee meets about 12 times a year and the chair is paid a $566 per diem.
Speaking at the end of a premiers’ conference in Saskatoon, Ford said Thursday that government appointments are under review. His staff have previously said the review encompasses pending appointments.
“I’m responsible for everything that happens at that province and I take responsibility,” he said. “Yes, we always look at improvement on vetting candidates. Keep in mind we appoint close to 3,200 people … I look at qualifications on the job and we’re going to continue appointing good, quality people.”
The premier revoked the agents-general appointments in London and New York City of Taylor Shields and Tyler Albrecht shortly after Shields was reported to be related to French and it emerged that Albrecht played lacrosse with French’s son.
Four days later, Katherine Pal resigned from the Public Accountants Council after the NDP noted that she is a niece of French’s wife.
WATCH: New controversy surrounding Ontario government appointments (June 25, 2019)
Ontario’s strategic transformation adviser was fired last week as a report emerged that he had known French for a long time, including buying life insurance from him. The civil service said the office he led was being eliminated after a review of its structure.
The opposition parties want Ford’s review of appointments to be conducted externally, and not by the same office that originally signed off on the appointments in question. Ford’s staff haven’t said who is conducting the review, how many appointments are pending, what criteria is being used, and if all revoked appointments will be announced.
Ford said Thursday he is “putting it through the treasury,” but NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said “it’s pretty clear” whatever process Ford purports to have underway is not happening. Most of the now-revoked appointments or resignations in the past few weeks have come after media reports.
“When’s the next person going to slide out from under a rock that’s received an appointment inappropriately?” she said.