Democracy Watch’s opinion is that Premier Ford’s appointment of Jenni Byrne to the OEB violated provincial government ethics law because Byrne was a senior adviser on Ford’s election campaign and his senior staffperson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, January 17, 2019
OTTAWA – Democracy Watch released the letter it sent yesterday to Ontario Integrity Commissioner David Wake calling on him to rule on the legality of Premier Ford’s participation in the appointment of his election campaign adviser and senior staffperson Jenni Byrne to a two-year term on the Ontario Energy Board that pays $197,000 a year.
The letter raises questions about whether the Premier’s appointment of Ms. Byrne violates the rules in the provincial Members’ Integrity Act that prohibit provincial politicians from participating in (section 2) or trying to influence (section 4) any decision that could further their own interests or improperly further another person’s interests.
“Democracy Watch hopes that the Integrity Commissioner will issue a strong ruling that finds Premier Ford and his Cabinet ministers violate the provincial ethics law when they give government jobs to Conservative election campaign advisers or ex-staff or other friends of the Conservative Party,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.
The Premier and Cabinet ministers are allowed to hire anyone they want as their staff as it is considered acceptable that, despite the fact staff are paid for with the public’s money, Cabinet ministers would want them all to be loyal supporters of the ruling party.
However, Democracy Watch’s position is that, based on Part 3 of a key Cabinet policy, it is improper for the Premier or any other Cabinet minister to appoint party loyalists or friends to any other government position. It is especially improper when the government hasn’t done a public, merit-based search for qualified candidates, and when the position is quasi-judicial (as the OEB is) and the person appointed lacks expertise in the area.
Another improper aspect of Ms. Byrne’s appointment is that the OEB issues rulings that could affect the Premier’s and government’s interests in Hydro One, given that the Government of Ontario owns 47 percent of Hydro One, and Premier Ford has intervened in both staff and board positions at Hydro One since he was elected.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179 Cell: 416-546-3443