NDP files integrity complaint about Ford family stag-and-doe event

TORONTO — NDP Leader Marit Stiles has asked Ontario's integrity commissioner to issue an opinion on Premier Doug Ford's actions surrounding his daughter's stag-and-doe event, which she calls "troubling."

Ford has acknowledged that some developers, who are friends, attended the $150-a-ticket event and media reports say lobbyists and government relations firms were also invited.

Stiles said in her complaint that several individuals and developers who attended the subsequent wedding have received favourable Minister's Zoning Orders and at least one has benefitted from recent policy changes related to removing land from the protected Greenbelt for development.

She cited media reports that said invitees felt "browbeaten" into purchasing tickets.

"I am concerned that invitees felt pressured to contribute to the premier's family fundraiser, particularly as some invitees felt they weren't being asked as 'friends' of the premier – but as government stakeholders – and feared impacts on their professional reputations and working relationships with the government," she wrote in her complaint.

The evidence Stiles said was attached to the complaint outlines "a troubling pattern of ongoing government policy decisions benefiting particular private interests of individuals and developers with ties to the premier through these two events."

Ford has said he already asked the integrity commissioner for an opinion on the stag-and-doe event and the commissioner's office found there was no violation.

Ford was not in the legislature to respond to questions Thursday from Stiles, but government house leader Paul Calandra calls her complaint a "drive-by smear."

"(They) tried this once and the integrity commissioner has said that there was no issue," Calandra said. "The premier has answered the question. So (the NDP figures) let's try another smear tactic. Let's try bringing the family into it."

Stiles is asking the integrity commissioner to look into whether Ford violated sections of the Members' Integrity Act relating to furthering someone's private interests and accepting a gift or benefit connected directly or indirectly with the performance of a member's duties.

She said Ford only asked the integrity commissioner for an opinion on his conduct around the event months after it took place, after a journalist started asking questions, and she doesn't know what information the commissioner based his opinion on.

"We don't know what he told (the commissioner)," she said.

"We don't know if he gave the integrity commissioner names ... There are people who said they were asked to pay $150 (and additional donations of) $1,000 to attend and that they felt browbeaten, that they felt that this was dirty. And we don't know if Mr. Ford provided any of that information to the integrity commissioner."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press