Toronto·The Campaigner

Liberals allege, Doug Ford dodges

Two weeks to go until election day — but the focus today is on two years ago when Liberals allege PC Leader Doug Ford was trying to sell "bogus" PC memberships inside an Etobicoke Tim Hortons. Here's where we are on day 16.

Talk of the issues is fading as scandals steal the campaign spotlight

PC Leader Doug Ford answers reporter questions during a campaign stop in Tillsonburg on Thursday. (CBC)

Two weeks to go until election day — but the focus today is on two years ago when Liberals allege Doug Ford was trying to sell "bogus" PC memberships inside an Etobicoke Tim Hortons.

And as the Liberals likely hoped, it's dominating discussion on the campaign trail Thursday.

Here's where we are on day 16.

Latest from the campaign

The moment

Doug Ford answers questions about membership allegations

4 years ago
Duration 0:16
Doug Ford says this old issue "went through the appeals process and was totally dismissed'

He was asked, but didn't really respond.

This morning, the Liberals released an audio tape recorded in 2016 in which PC Leader Doug Ford appears to implore customers at an Etobicoke Tim Horton's to fill out party memberships without paying the $10 fee or completing the necessary paperwork, both violations of party rules.

Ford was working to sign up new members to boost the candidacy of Kinga Surma, who was seeking the PC nomination in Etobicoke Centre. 

Less than two hours after the Liberals released the tape, Ford was asked about it at a scheduled campaign stop at a Tillsonburg metal fabrication plant.

Liberals release audio recording of Doug Ford allegedly trying to sell bogus PC memberships

4 years ago
Duration 1:19
Doug Ford can be heard attempting to sign up new members with Etobicoke Centre PC candidate Kinga Surma, Liberals allege

Asked if he would fire Surma, now the candidate in the suburban Toronto riding, Ford accused the Liberals of "trying to change the channel" with two weeks to go until voting day. Surma's nomination was appealed but was upheld by the party, he added. 

Ford was asked if he ever paid for anyone else's memberships, a violation of party rules. He again accused the Liberals of trying to divert attention from their own record. Asked why he's heard assuring people on the tape they don't have to pay, Ford again evaded the question. 

He also didn't directly answer a final question about the nature of his relationship with Surma, and why he allegedly broke party rules to help her campaign.

Riding to watch

Kitchener Centre, population 105,260, profile by Kate Bueckert

Liberal incumbent Daiene Vernile — who served as minister of tourism, culture and sport prior to the writ being issued — has some stiff competition in this riding, which has been Liberal since 2003.

Along with Vernile, the candidates for the other main parties are all women: Mary Henein Thorn for the Progressive Conservatives, Laura Mae Lindo of the NDP and Stacey Danckert for the Greens.

Lindo has been visible in the community for her work at Wilfrid Laurier University's diversity and equity office. Some will know Thorn because she used to work for former PC MPP Michael Harris as well as former federal human resource minister Diane Finley while Danckert is known for her work with the Waterloo Region Environment Network.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, centre right, attends a discussion with health care professionals during a campaign stop in Toronto on Thursday. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)


Search traffic for the NDP has significantly spiked in the past month as the party surges in public opinion polls. On Google, the New Democrats are outpacing their Liberal and PC counterparts, particularly in the past few days.


It's 14 days until the election and the PCs are still without a platform. There's been a smattering of PC announcements but no fully costed platform yet.

It's also uncertain how much the PCs will adopt from the People's Guarantee, former PC Leader Patrick Brown's platform, released six months before the election.

Leader Doug Ford said a fully costed platform will be out before the election, which is now just two weeks away. The PC team is staying quiet on when though. Longtime PC politician Lisa Macleod told reporters Wednesday the platform would be coming "in a couple of weeks."

It's worth noting the Liberals haven't released a platform per se either, with their budget functioning as one instead.

Where the leaders are

  • Ford: Visit to metal fabricator in Tillsonburg (11 a.m.), meet and greet in Brantford (1 p.m.), rally at Lincoln Alexander Centre in Hamilton (6 p.m.)
  • Horwath: Visit to Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto (9:15 a.m.), visit to retirement home in Whitby (2:15 p.m.)
  • Schreiner: Climate change announcement in Toronto (1:30 p.m.)
  • Wynne: Announcement at Wattpad in Toronto (11:50 a.m.), bakery visit in Toronto (3 p.m.), rally at Brighton Convention Centre in Toronto (6:15 p.m.)

Track all the places the leaders have gone so far.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne walks onto her campaign airplane in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Wednesday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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Haydn Watters is a roving reporter in Ontario, mostly serving the province's local CBC Radio shows. He has worked for the CBC in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and entertainment unit. He ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont. You can get in touch at