michael ford

Doug Ford explains choice to give nephew cabinet spot promoting multiculturalism

It's been four days since Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced his new cabinet, and people are still fuming over one particular appointment: his own nephew to the position of Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

The decision is widely being deemed as an act of nepotism, with many criticizing not just the familial ties but also the blatant fact that a white 28-year-old (the third-youngest person ever granted such a position) may not be the best candidate for a position focused on diversity in the province.

It's a far cry from, say, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's choices for his first Cabinet in 2015, which included a doctor for a Minister of Health, an astronaut for a Minister of Transportation, a scientist for a Minister of Science, a former Canadian Forces member for Minister of Defence, and more similarly uniquely-qualified people. 

(Ford instead also named a man charged with breaking endangered species laws as his Minister of Natural Resources.)

It's clear that people are not happy — albeit perhaps not surprised — with the selection, which the premier has stepped up to defend in the face of criticism.

"Michael has extensive experience, he's been elected democratically four times now: two years as school trustee, eight years as a city councillor, and then he just won the seat in York South-Weston that we haven't won in 71 years," Ford said when pressed on the topic during an unrelated press conference on Monday.

"And let me just point out about the multiculturalism side: Etobicoke-North is one of the most multicultural areas in the entire province. We've worked very closely, not only Michael has over the last 10 years of his career, but myself and my brother Rob... I think he'll do an extremely good job, he has a lot of knowledge."

The elder Ford also noted that his sister's son has been an elected official "longer than probably 60 per cent of our caucus," and called on Toronto Mayor John Tory, who was also at the briefing to discuss affordable housing, to likewise stick up for Michael.

"I can speak to you as someone who understands the experience of having your name cause people to form stereotypical impressions of what you're capable of and what you're not capable of and why you might be where you are."

He also noted that he has personally worked with the younger Ford, placing him on the city's police board and audit committee in past years.

"I can tell you he is thoughtful, he is hard-working, and he does understand his community as well as anybody else... he will work hard. So give him a chance."

Tory also isn't the only Toronto political figure who has shown their support of the new minister: Toronto Centre MPP and former City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, an active proponent of all things diversity and inclusion, posted a photo with Michael on Monday.

"Political differences never stopped @MichaelFordTO,   @marymargaretbey and I from being friends and working together at Toronto City Council," Wong-Tam wrote along with a photo of the trio at a meal out together.

"Today we had a chance to catch up and share ideas for future collaboration at Queen's Park."

She also acknowledged that there are "different feelings out there" about the minister, including, unfortunately, unnecessary comments on his weight, which she wrote are not welcome.

Like his uncles before him, Michael has already been subject to public fat-shaming, which is obviously not the way to question his qualifications as a leader if that's what people are trying to do.

It's certainly not the first time a politician has hired on a family member or close friend, and the political background of so many members of the Ford family, Michael included, do indeed make it something more than simply appointing a loved one at random.

Lucky for the premier, he's faced more than his fair share of censure over his tenure, so ought to have a very thick skin by now — something that, for Michael's sake, hopefully runs in the family.

Lead photo by

CPAC


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