Yesterday it was revealed to the public that the Ford government in Ontario had made a series of controversial new hires, as the province appointed four people to act as ‘agents-generals’ in locations around the world. The new roles, which have not existed in Ontario since the 1990s, came with a hefty yearly pay packet of $164,910 CAD and were contracted to three years.
Some of the hires were short-lived, however, as it was announced on Friday morning that Ford would be revoking two of these four appointments, just one day after announcing them.
The Ford government has given no reason for the un-appointment of the new staff, however, the change comes following significant backlash and criticism yesterday, as strong accusations of nepotism were thrown in Ford’s direction. Two of the new hires are said to have had close, personal and ‘friendly’ connections with Premier Ford, with one of them being the friend of his chief of staff’s son.
The new advisor role, which is based in New York City, was given to 26-year-old Tyler Albrecht yesterday. In a statement, a spokesperson for Doug Ford said, “Albrecht has worked in the finance industry in New York City and Toronto. In his most recent role at Optimize Capital Markets, he provided corporate finance services to private companies seeking capital and many private placements, totalling more than $250 million.”
What the statement did not mention, however, is that Albrecht is believed to be a close, personal friend of Joe and Dean French, who is the chief of staff for Doug Ford. Ford and French are known to play lacrosse together and have pictures together on social media sites.
The awkward and pretty immediate un-hiring, which comes only a day after the premier announced a major cabinet reshuffle in his government, is likely due to the strong criticism faced by Ford from the public. Not only has he been accused of offering these extremely high-paying roles to his friends, but also criticized for reinstating roles that have not been active in Ontario for decades.
NDP MPP, Taras Natyshak, was quick to criticize the appointments, saying “At a time when Doug Ford is handing out pink slips to everyday people – to teachers and educators, to health care professionals, to autism service providers – he is doling out cushy, high-paying jobs to his buddies.”
According to The Star, a senior government source revealed that the decision to revoke the hires came directly from the premier, but no reason was given why. The confidential source said that the intention was to bury the patronage appointments under the news of the sweeping cabinet shuffle, adding that “Doug can’t be happy.”
Both members of the political Opposition and Ontarians responded to the news on social media with harsh criticism. One Twitter user from Toronto said, “Doug Ford may be slashing Ontarians' health services, students' education, special needs services, legal system among many others, but if you are a #Conservative friend of his or his cronies you are for a lucrative job paying $165,000!”
Natyshak also said, “He bends over backwards to take care of the wealthy, the well-connected and people who have an inside track to his office. And Ontarians are the ones who have to foot the bill.”
Global News approached The Premier’s office but was declined comment on the appointments being revoked. Global reports that attempts to reach both Shields and Albrecht for comment were also unsuccessful.