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Media barred from fireside chat with Premier Doug Ford

Premier Ford barred media from attending a fireside chat held at the offices of the CD Howe Institute in Toronto.
Premier Ford barred media from attending a fireside chat held at the offices of the CD Howe Institute in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

On Wednesday morning Doug Ford attended an event entitled “Breakfast with Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford.” The function, sponsored by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, was billed as a “roundtable breakfast” with the premier. It was held at the offices of the CD Howe Institute in Toronto.

The institute is a non-profit public policy research organization funded by corporations and business people. The conversation with Ford touched on a number of news items including the carbon tax, deficit and other provincial matters.

READ MORE: Doug Ford congratulates Trudeau on election win, says he’s ready to work together

Media were not informed of the event until 8:26 a.m. on Wednesday morning just 34 minutes before the 9:00 a.m. chat was scheduled to begin.

In an email, Kayla Iafelice the premier’s director of media relations said, “this event is closed to media but I have managed to secure live stream capabilities for those who may be interested in watching.”

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After subsequent calls to Iafelice and others with Ford’s communications team Global News was told the event was closed to media following a request from CD Howe. When reached for comment however, CD Howe spokesperson Laura Bouchard said in an email to Global News, “we did not bar media from coming to the premier’s chat this morning.”

Premier Doug Ford no show at climate rally
Premier Doug Ford no show at climate rally

The premier’s office doubled down when reached about the conflicting information saying that Ms. Bouchard was misinformed and that media were absolutely not allowed to attend.

Subsequently, Bouchard emailed clarifying, “while the event was definitely open to the media, and we absolutely do not bar media from attending events with elected officials, the Q&A portion of the event was off the record.”

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On Tuesday Premier Ford held an event at the Ontario Provincial Police Association’s annual general meeting in Blue Mountains which was also closed to media.

Reporters have had limited and infrequent access to the Ford since the legislature rose for the summer break in June. His office has been also been criticized for withholding information from the Queen’s Park press gallery.

On Friday Ivana Yelich, Ford’s press secretary told Global News in relation to a request about the Premier’s schedule, “you can access the Premier’s daily itineraries through a Freedom of Information Request.” FOI requests can sometimes take months.

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NDP leader Andrea Horwath released a statement on Wednesday saying “five months ago, Doug Ford shut down the legislature and went into hiding to help his friends in the federal Conservative party. It didn’t work.”

Horwath also wrote “the premier’s break time is over. It’s time for him to come out of hiding and face the people who have been dealing with the consequences of his cuts. I look forward to working hard for those people this session.”