Kitchener-Waterloo

Ontario government appointments should be merit based, not 'for elite insiders,' Green leader says

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says he wants to see the province move to a merit-based process for political appointments. He says this would be more transparent than the current system, which finds 'cushy jobs for elite insiders.'

Government shouldn't be 'finding a cushy job for family, friends or donors,' Schreiner says

Mike Schreiner is the leader of the Green Party of Ontario and the MPP for Guelph. He said Wednesday that he wants to see the Ontario government move to a merit-based system for making political appointments. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Ontario government should take some lessons from its recent patronage controversy and change the appointment process to be more transparent, says Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner.

On Wednesday, Screhiner released details of a merit-based plan he says the government should consider in order to revamp the appointment process.

"I firmly believe governments should be about service; service that puts people first, not about finding a cushy job for family, friends or donors," Schreiner, the MPP for Guelph, said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

He says his merit-based process is similar to the way other jurisdictions make appointments. That way, people with "dubious qualifications" who have connections wouldn't be considered over someone who is the right fit for the role, he said.

Schreiner said currently, Ford's appointment process "appears to be that his government's for finding cushy jobs for elite insiders" and that goes against Ford's motto of being for the people.

"If the premier wants to be on brand, then I think it's important for him to reform the appointments process," Schreiner said.

Government reviewing process

In June, the premier rescinded two patronage appointments made by former chief of staff Dean French. It came after reports the two people appointed knew French. Other appointees also came under scrutiny after French resigned.

Earlier this month, Ford promised a more transparent process for appointments.

"I look forward to doing that," Ford said.

In a statement to CBC K-W on Wednesday, Ford's press secretary Ivana Yelich said the premier has asked staff to review all pending appointments. Also, if Ford finds anyone has been appointed to a position "for the wrong reason and are not performing to the highest standards, these individuals will be removed from their positions."

Yelich added Treasury Board officials are currently reviewing the appointment process. Part of that includes strengthening the conflict of interest screening.

"As every government in the past has done, we will continue to search for and appoint individuals who we believe are qualified and support our Open for Business agenda," Yelich said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, sits alongside his chief of staff Dean French at the Ontario PC convention in Toronto on November 17, 2018. French resigned in June after reports two people appointed to government positions had ties to French. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

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