London

After she called Doug Ford's cellphone multiple times, the OPP told this autism advocate to quit it

A London woman who made frequent calls to Doug Ford's cellphone says the Ontario Provincial Police called her Dec. 21 to tell her to stop calling the premier on his personal cellphone.

Ford spokesperson says she was only asked to leave a message instead of making repeated calls

'I fear for the vulnerable children of this province,' said Elsbeth Dodman. (Ontario Parliament)

A London woman who made frequent calls to Doug Ford's cellphone says the Ontario Provincial Police called and told her to stop calling. 

Elsbeth Dodman, 30, lives with autism and has long been an advocate of increased government support for others on the autism spectrum. 

She estimated she called Ford's office about the issue twice a week since he was elected in June. 

Then in November, the Ford government announced they would close the Ontario Child Advocate's office. Dodman called it a "dark day for the province and its children." She travelled to Toronto and spoke out about the issue at rallies and a news conference at Queen's Park. 

Ford's cellphone number is no secret; he often shares it with people he meets. 

Dodman got his number in November and admits she called Ford's phone "a few times a week" and would sometimes make back-to-back calls. 

Elsbeth Dodman said of her friends on the autism spectrum, she's one of only a few with a job. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

But she said knowing the number didn't get her any closer to speaking to the premier. 

"I figure the phone probably lives in a drawer because no one ever answers," she said. "The voicemail is always full and no one ever calls back."

Dodman admitted she was persistent, sometimes making up to eight calls at a time, but said she was never aggressive, impolite or threatening.

Then on the evening of Friday, Dec. 21, she did get a call back. But it wasn't the premier on the line, it was the OPP. 

"He said 'Someone at this number has been calling the premier and I said 'Oh no.'"

'Stop calling him'

Dodman explained to the officer that Ford's cellphone number was made public by the premier himself. Still, she said the officer told her 'You're going to need to stop calling him.'"

Dodman said the officer was polite and suggested she try reaching out to Ford in other ways. The OPP's call was only regarding Dodman's calls to Ford's cellphone, not ones she placed to his office.

"I haven't called him on that cellphone since," said Dodman. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford often gives out his cellphone number. When Elsbeth Dodman called it regularly the OPP called, asking her to stop. A spokesperson for the premier said Dodman was simply asked to leave a voice or text message instead of calling repeatedly. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

A spokesperson in Ford's office said Dodman was not asked to stop contacting the premier, but only asked to leave a text or voicemail message instead of calling back-to-back. 

"Premier Doug Ford is one of the most accessible politicians in the country," said spokesman Simon Jefferies. "He gives his personal cellphone number out to everyone he meets and receives thousands of calls and messages on a wide range of issues."

Dodman said having the police call her amounts to overkill. 

"It's a misuse of the OPP's time," she said. "Don't they have better things to do? I have a legitimate disagreement with him about policy," she said.

Dodman said she will stop calling Ford's cellphone but will continue to call his office with her concerns.

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