If you’re going to restrain spending, people need to see sacrifices being made by those in power. Right now, it looks like exactly the opposite is happening.
I was a fan of Doug Ford during the campaign, and I’m still a fan now. He was handed a tough situation after years of Liberal mismanagement, and he’s being forced to make tough decisions to salvage the Ontario budget and economy.
Moves like restraining spending, scrapping the Beer Store monopoly and treating Ontarians like adults, and focusing on core services are all steps in the right direction.
However, perception often matters as much or even more than reality when it comes to how people see things, and the fact is that recent moves by the Ford government are giving off a pretty bad perception. While much of that is due to the biased, anti-Conservative media, some of it is due to the government itself, and particularly Chief of Staff Dean French.
On the same day Ford launched a massive overhaul of the cabinet – a rare move just a year into a majority government – it was announced that some other appointments had been made.
In one case, the government appointed Tyler Albrecht to an ‘advisory’ role that sends him to New York City with a $164,910 taxpayer-funded salary.
Interestingly, Albrecht is a close friend of Joe French, the son of Ford’s Chief of Staff Dean French.
Then, it was announced that Taylor Shields had been appointed to a cushy position in London, England.
Reports then indicated that Shields is a cousin of Dean French’s wife.
So, appointing a friend of the Chief of Staff’s son, and appointing a cousin of the Chief of Staff’s wife to high-paying positions in foreign countries?
That’s about as far from “for the People” as you can get, and it’s the ultimate elitist move – the exact thing the PCs promised to get rid of.
The fact is that if the Ford Government wants to remain in power, they need to show that they are cutting their spending at the top. You can’t ask citizens to sacrifice when the leaders aren’t sacrificing.
The Ford government has since revoked those appointments, under intense public pressure.
Beyond those shady appointments, French is also facing criticism for apparently treating elected MPPs like garbage. Here’s what Brian Lilley reported:
“Mississauga Centre MPP Natalia Kusendova had just told the premier she and other backbenchers needed more support to be able to sell the party’s message but they were not getting that support from staff in the ministers offices.
Shortly after, French, alerted by a nearby staffer about what Kusendova had said, told her they needed to talk when he got back from vacation and spoke to her in what was described as a threatening manner.
It was this incident that brought the MPP to tears and it all happened in front of her colleagues and even Premier Doug Ford who was none too happy with what he saw.
Worse still for French, this leaked out to the Toronto Star and led to a story describing his management style as instituting “a culture of fear — it’s like the KGB.”
This is potentially devastating for the Ford government. If they get locked into a reputation of elitism and contempt for elected officials, then they will be in big trouble and could get crushed in the next election.
There is still tons of time to reverse that, and Doug Ford still shows better instincts for communicating with real people than far more politicians do. But to let those instincts flourish and to get things back on track, Dean French needs to be fired.
Enough is enough.
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