Former Patrick Brown aide dismissed from OPG amid allegations of Tory political meddling
Alykhan Velshi's dismissal announced in memo to staff obtained by The Canadian Press
Weeks after a published report said Premier Doug Ford's office was meddling in staff matters at Ontario Power Generation, a top aide to former Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown was officially fired Friday.
In an internal memo obtained by The Canadian Press, OPG senior vice-president Jennifer Rowe informs staff of Alykhan Velshi's dismissal, saying the company has been working with him on a "thoughtful and orderly transition."
Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail, citing unnamed sources, reported that Velshi was hired by the OPG in September but fired on the day he started after Ford's chief of staff, Dean French, asked for his removal.
French did not immediately reply to request for comment but the premier's spokesman, Simon Jefferies, said that OPG is responsible for its own staffing decisions.
Ford said recently he has not asked French if the allegations against him are true, adding that his chief of staff has his full confidence.
"You're accusing him of doing something that I don't believe he did," Ford said when asked about the allegations last week. "I don't believe at all that he did that."
In a brief statement Friday, Velshi confirmed he had been dismissed at the agency but said the terms of his arrangement with OPG are confidential and he could not provide further comment.
"The last few months have been difficult for me both personally and professionally, so my regret at leaving OPG under these unusual circumstances is tempered by some measure of relief," he said.
Velshi worked with Brown until the former party leader resigned in January amid allegations of sexual misconduct he has denied. Ford won the Tory leadership in the subsequent race to succeed Brown.
Opposition parties have called for an investigation into French's alleged meddling in OPG staffing and Velshi's subsequent dismissal.
On Friday, interim Liberal leader John Fraser renewed calls for an investigation, but said Ford should first investigate the situation himself.
"He said he hasn't asked (French) and we haven't heard anything since," Fraser said. "It doesn't require much more effort than that. If he's done the things that are reported, then he shouldn't be working there."
Fraser said the entire situation speaks volumes about the government's priorities.
"This is just a glaring example of what this government's been spending its time doing," he said. "They're not focusing on the things that are important to people."
NDP energy and climate change critic Peter Tabuns said after weeks of evasion over Velshi, the government needs to address the situation and disclose the severance paid to him.
"People deserve to know if they're paying the price for political interference," Tabuns said in a statement.