TORONTO — Doug Ford signalled Tuesday he is placing a firm hand on Ontario’s fractious Progressive Conservative party as its new leader, vowing to put all of the party’s nominations under a microscope to ensure they were aboveboard.
About a dozen elections of Tory candidates have been appealed in the past year or so amid allegations of voter fraud and ballot stuffing, and the party has already overturned two of them.
In an interview with the National Post, Ford said he’s seen evidence himself of “a lot of indiscretions” and wants a broad examination of the issue.
“We’re going to review every single nomination,” he said. “There were a lot of ones that weren’t transparent. That’s disturbing, to say the least.”
During his campaign for the Conservative leadership — which Ford won by a hair’s breadth on Saturday — he spoke of meeting would-be candidates in some ridings who had sold hundreds of new Tory memberships but were told by party officials that they could not run to be the candidate.
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As well as the disputed nominations, former leader Patrick Brown appointed candidates himself in about 60 constituencies, and refused to hear appeals of those that were clouded by controversy. Many Tories believed Brown’s top-down approach violated the party’s constitution, prompting a “Take back our party” campaign by Cambridge lawyer Jim Karahalios.
“There were a lot of indiscretions in a lot of nominations,” Ford said Tuesday. “I spoke to people who were disqualified the day before (the nomination election), and that’s not being transparent.”
He said any decision on whether to open up a riding to a new election would be made with the Tory caucus.
A Ford adviser said the new leader believes people should be able to win nominations on their own, without the leader’s help. Otherwise, “they’re probably going to be a terrible candidate.”
In the brief interview between appointments Tuesday, Ford also shed some light on his philosophy of government, saying he would strive to shrink its size and cost if he wins the June 7 election.
“I don’t believe in government being in our lives and dictating how we should live,” he said. “Let the market dictate … instead of letting the government run things.”
But Ford remained fuzzy on exactly how he would carry out his promise to trim spending by four per cent — about $5.6 billion — without a single public servant losing his or her job.
Ford said he would employ technology and the Toyota-inspired “Lean” system to find efficiencies, although Lean has already been used in Ontario health care for close to a decade, with mixed results.
He also talked about getting better prices for supplies by issuing government-wide tenders for everything from pencils to cars, and eliminating sole-source contracts he claimed are widespread.
Ford seemed to suggest that health care would be …read more