Doug Ford's appointment schedule revealed through freedom of information request
Premier's daily itinerary has not been made public, a break in practice from previous Ontario governments
Unlike his predecessors as premier of Ontario, Doug Ford is not providing the media with a daily itinerary of his public events. So CBC News sought and obtained Ford's appointment schedule, using the province's freedom of information laws.
The documents provided by the cabinet office list Ford's meetings both at Queen's Park and elsewhere for his first three months in office, from his June 29 swearing-in until Oct. 1.
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The schedule shows Ford had a briefing with his top staff entitled "Plan to engage US governors" one week after taking office. Ford then had phone calls with the governors of 10 U.S. states from mid-July until mid-August as NAFTA negotiations dominated the news.
However, Ford's calls with governors then all but ceased, with only one (a repeat call with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder) shown on his itinerary in the following six weeks, before the new U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade deal was reached at the end of September.
Ford met five times in the three-month period with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft, according to the documents. Government officials say Ford has long had a good working relationship with Craft. The ambassador and her husband count Ford and his wife, Karla, as friends.
Lovely evening in Toronto this past weekend with our friends, the Fords! <a href="https://t.co/T6WQy3FwSA">pic.twitter.com/T6WQy3FwSA</a>—@USAmbCanada
Many of the events on Ford's itinerary were publicized, including his July meetings with Toronto Mayor John Tory, his August roundtable with chief economists, and his visit to the Ottawa area following a tornado in September.
However, Ford has had other meetings that have not been made public. Among the notable people Ford has met privately, according to his itinerary:
- Galen Weston Jr., executive chairman and CEO of Loblaw Companies Ltd. (Aug. 14).
- Darryl White, chief executive officer of BMO Financial Group (Sept 12).
- Frank Klees, a former PC MPP now registered as a lobbyist (July 6 and Aug 17).
- Mike McCormack, president of Toronto Police Association (July 28).
- Jerry Dias, president of Unifor (Sept. 8).
Ford met three times in the summer with Toronto city councillor Cesar Palacio, with two of the meetings happening before Ford's plan to slash the size of Toronto city council became public in late July.
On Sept, 26, Ford met his nephew, Toronto city councillor Michael Ford, along with Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark and Kathy Milsom, the CEO of Toronto Community Housing
He also met in August with Coun. Vince Crisanti, whose ward forms part of Ford's Etobicoke North riding. The records do not show Ford holding meetings with any of the 41 other Toronto councillors in that three-month period as the debate over the number of council seats raged.
The appointment schedule shows frequent meetings with his handpicked adviser on healthcare, Dr. Rueben Devlin, including one meeting in July in which the topic was Ontario Medical Association negotiations.
Ford had a briefing on Sept. 20 about the master beer framework, a legal agreement between the province and Brewer's Retail (the Beer Store) that sets out the rules for beer sales in Ontario. The contract, which is in effect until 2025, does not allow for beer to be sold from corner stores, which is a key promise the Ford government made in the Throne Speech.
Ford met with members of the Canadian Association of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine on Aug. 14. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are regulated by a professional college established under provincial law. Procedures such as acupuncture are not covered by OHIP.
Ford's itinerary also shows separate meetings in September with Robert Foster, president and CEO of Capital Canada Ltd., with John Fleming, vice-president and general manager of performance infrastructure at Johnson Control, and with George Hatzis, described by the premier's office as a long-time friend. The topic of each meeting was not indicated
Minister <a href="https://twitter.com/RodPhillips01?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RodPhillips01</a> and I had a terrific meeting this afternoon with my friend Mel Lastman, former Mayor of Toronto and North York. After serving in office for over 30 years, he's still as passionate as ever about the residents and issues of Toronto. <a href="https://t.co/z4TVWbTmmx">pic.twitter.com/z4TVWbTmmx</a>—@fordnation
Ford's spokesperson is defending the government's refusal to provide Ford's full public itinerary to the media in advance.
"The premier's office informs the media of public events that are photo opportunities or where he will be taking questions from the media, and the premier regularly informs the public about his daily meetings through his social media feeds," said Ford's director of media relations, Simon Jefferies, in an email to CBC News.
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New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns says the Ford government is undermining the media and the opposition by not providing Ford's daily schedule.
"How do you hold a government to account if you don't know what it's doing?" said Tabuns in an interview with CBC News. "It speaks to a very closed and untransparent and unresponsive government."
Tabuns is concerned that only "insiders" are getting meetings with Ford.
"From what you've indicated, he's just continuing to travel in this narrow circle of business and political friends, seeing what they're concerned about, what interests they want looked after," Tabuns said. "So how is this helping the people of Ontario?"
Some appointments on Ford's schedule were redacted from the documents provided on the grounds that they were "not responsive" to the freedom of information request. That includes Ford's schedule the evening of Aug. 23, when he was in full view of the nation giving a speech at the opening ceremony of the Conservative Party of Canada convention in Halifax.
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