TORONTO - Doug Ford seems intent on proving the adage “if you cannot say something intelligent, just shut up”. This is especially true if people who are a part of your team are under police investigation. Ford Nation, however, recognizes no limits.
The court of public opinion is more exacting than the Court of Law. Usually, if an investigation is under way, the public usually assumes guilt, or at least borderline criminality. It’s an odour daily more associated with Ford’s team.
Ask former Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton what happened to her ambitions when the FBI re-opened the investigation into her e-mails. “Lock her up”, shouted Trump and his supporters.
It’s what PC hacks demanded for Patricia Sorbara, Premier Wynne’s former campaign manager. She had to be acquitted twice – once following a criminal investigation and a second time, under administrative law, for the same charge. She is no longer around.
In short, her “crime” was that an allegation had been made that she had interfered in a candidate-selection process. Unfair perhaps, but, in Ontario, we take tampering with the electoral process very seriously.
A fair and transparent political process is the basis for our civil society. A Leader who cannot provide guarantees for that within his/her own Party will not be able to guard society against the consequences of graft and corruption.
After the story broke about a breach of data at 407 ETR – data used for political gain – PC candidate Simmer Sandhu felt the need to resign just before the official deadline set by Elections Ontario. A former defeated candidate in another riding was promptly appointed by Doug Ford as a replacement – no vetting process required.
407 ETR claims that a list of clients containing 60,362 names, addresses and [some] phone numbers was stolen. Sandhu, now a former employee, denies any wrongdoing. So apparently does Snover Dhillon, a self-proclaimed “political consultant”, with whom he is associated.
Dhillon is not a candidate but his “services” have been available to those who aspire to candidacy – at $25,000 a pop, according to a reliable PC source who spoke under condition of anonymity. Those lists form a significant part of that service, claims the source.
The Corriere Canadese was able to view the lists, after it went to print on Wednesday. It began fact-checking, but, by 6:30 pm, Simmer Sandhu had resigned. All his websites and social media accounts were shut down.
Meanwhile, Snover Dhillon claims to have done nothing wrong. Indeed, he has not been charged with anything at this point, although the Star reported on Sunday that he had two prior convictions for fraud.
Dhillon’s “political consulting” business took a spike upwards when the federal Conservatives – more specifically, Maxime Bernier’s campaign – benefited from his “recruitment” strategies using the 407 ETR lists, says our source.
The Star reported at least two police forces now investigating. Our source claims that at least ten PC candidates in the GTA have bought the services of Dhillon and his group knowing the “illegitimately acquired” product from which they profited to secure their nomination or currently to buttress their automated phone canvassing, robo-calling.
Ford must have known about the problems, which included “strong-arm tactics” and questionable behaviour in several ridings where the outcome has led to Court action (Ancaster Hamilton), or the formation of a splinter party (King Vaughan), to name but two.
The conditions under which a “PC team of potential MPPs” were selected so disgusted Leadership candidate Tanya Granic-Allen that she said publicly, during a debate in February, she would rescind tens of nominations and start over again.
Interim Leader, MPP Vic Fedeli, was equally disgusted by the rot that needed to be cleaned out if the Party was to present a credible, competent and honest management team for the electorate to consider. He withdrew from the Leadership race. Ford, at the time, agreed he would deal swiftly with the corruption and mess were he to become Leader. What happened? Ford keeps stepping on “prairie patties”.
Now, thanks to “highway 407 ETR piracy”, the election has morphed into a debate about whether Ford Nation is an honest, capable alternative for government. Its Leader, clearly irked by reporters’ questions about the Sandhu – Snover Dhillon scandal, blustered, “I was elected… to command and to clean up a mess”, which he claims to have done. How? His signature on the nomination papers of his candidates confirms and certifies their “legitimacy”, in his eyes. Their transgressions are now his unless he summarily dismisses the transgressors. Further frazzled by questions emerging from potentially widespread fraud underlying the election of PC candidates, Ford found refuge in a Pontius Pilate moment… and in denials.
Outside a brewery in Baysville, Muskoka, he said plaintively …” I don’t know this snowbird guy (Snover Dhillon) from a hole in the ground … You want answers on this? Patrick Brown was the leader under this whole group of people”.
Which people? How many?
Patrick Brown is writing a tell-all book on his own political assasinations by Party insiders.
Dhillon reported to the Star that he had met with Ford, in his Boardroom at Deco labels, to talk about campaigns.
Advise from Shakespeare: “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion”.