Toronto upset about $1250 tickets to eat dinner with Doug Ford
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is defending his own honour this week amidst criticism over his decision to host a $1,250 per ticket fundraiser on behalf of the PC party.
More specifically, he's facing criticsm for tapping what The Toronto Star calls "high-powered lobbying firms" to help sell tickets.
The 2019 Toronto Leaders' Dinner, as the event is called, will take place this Wednesday at The Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. It includes a welcome reception, a dinner program, a dessert reception and, at some point, a keynote speech from Ford featuring members of the PC Caucus.
If you missed Premier Doug Ford's $25-per-plate fundraiser in Kitchener last week, you can head to the PC party's $1,250-per-ticket fundraiser dinner in Etobicoke next month. No word yet if spaghetti is on the menu: https://t.co/ax3P33h4iG— James D.E. Jackson (@JamesDEJ) January 14, 2019
"Doug Ford and our Ontario PC Caucus accomplished a great deal in 2018, working to make life better and more affordable for Ontarians," reads a description of the event, which The Star says should net about $2 million for the Progressive Conservatives.
"There is much more to achieve in 2019, and to continue getting things done for the people, we need your help to build up our Party’s financial resources as quickly as possible."
Some critics are taking the event's promotion as evidence that Ford and his colleagues are "for sale," so to speak.
The premier told reporters in Washington on Friday that this is not the case.
"I can tell you one thing: no one can influence Doug Ford, no one can influence my ministers or my caucus," he said, per The Star.
"Lobbyists are here, the lobbyists are in Canada, they want to get their point through, good luck to them," he continued. "But we're going to do the right thing for the people."
I asked Doug Ford about lobbyists selling tickets to his fundraisers. "I can tell you one thing: No one can influence Doug Ford," he said, which is the same answer Kathleen Wynne gave when I uncovered her government's cash-for-access system #onpoli https://t.co/wdht5crYCs— Adrian Morrow (@AdrianMorrow) February 22, 2019
"It is wrong for [Ford] to bring back the same old cash for access events that got the Wynne Liberals in hot water," said Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner on Twitter Thursday morning.
"Big money has no place in [Ontario politics]. I call on the Premier to remove the for sale sign on his door."
"Who can pay for Doug Ford's $1250/plate fundraiser?" said the Liberal advocacy group Progress Canada on Twitter similarly.
"The nurse working nights? No. The factory worker? No. The restaurant chef? No. Working people? No. Only the rich who work for the rich and against working Ontarians."
Adding more fuel to the fire are allegations published this week by the Globe and Mail that members of Ford's caucus are pressuring lobbyists to sell tickets under the threat of losing future meetings with government officials.
"Several people helping sell tickets, both in the lobbying and industry worlds, said they are under heavy pressure — including through repeated phone calls and reminders of sales targets by party fundraisers — to fill the room amid concerns about their continued ability to get meetings with key decision-makers," reads the Globe piece.
Many are pointing out that the PC party's actions seem a little too similar to what got Kathleen Wynne's Liberal Party into hot water during their time in power.
Ontario did crack down on so-called "cash-for-access" events with new, tighter fundraising rules in 2016, but those rules were amended by the PC party last fall.
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