Doug Ford hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt on his nomination scandal - Macleans.ca

Doug Ford hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt on his nomination scandal

Stephen Maher: The leader of the Ontario PCs has blustered his way through political rough patches before. We shouldn’t let him do it this time.

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There are two reasons why I hope Ontarians don’t make Doug Ford premier on June 7.

The first reason is selfish. I don’t want to listen to him for four years.

Ford has the folksy manner of an overbearing, loud-mouth salesman trying to bully you into buying something you can’t afford. He often says things that are verifiably untrue. He says these things in an entitled tone, incredulous that he has to explain anything to the weaselly reporters who have the nerve to pose their questions to him.

If Ford wins, we will have to listen to this all the time, because he will be discussing important matters of public business, and we will have no choice but to listen, just as we have to listen to Donald Trump’s inanities.

MORE: Doug Ford can’t hide behind the ‘Patrick Brown’ excuse anymore

The second reason I don’t want Ford to become premier is that I don’t trust him to be as forthcoming with the truth and rigorous in seeing that the law is followed as a premier must be.

Ford has a long track record of trying to buffalo the public by speaking loudly and unhelpfully when he has difficult things to explain.

Governing politicians are all, to some extent, slippery, because there are many reasons not to tell the public the whole truth about things. For political and legal reasons, they often want to avoid getting pinned down, they often make political compromises that they don’t want to be honest about, and they want to avoid being blunt to take away reasons for people to vote for their rivals.

Ford, as premier, would be as slippery as his predecessors, but more belligerent.

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He is a populist, which means that he sees himself as the embodiment of the will of The People. Populists typically have little patience for the niggling officials who are concerned with administering the laws that are supposed to keep our leaders in check.

On Thursday, the Liberals released an affidavit from Pina Martino, who was defeated in the Etobicoke Centre Progressive Conservative nomination contest by Kinga Surma, who is close to Ford.

Martino alleges that in canvassing from party lists back in November, she spoke to 46 party members who told her they were signed up without paying the $10 membership fee.

MORE: Ford participated in ‘bogus’ membership sales, intimidated a PC nominee: Liberals claim

The Liberals also released a recording of Ford, made by an unknown person at a Tim Horton’s, in which Ford says: “It doesn’t cost ya’ anything, we’re just signing people up today. That’s it.”

If Ford was paying for memberships while Martino was following the rules and only signing up people who would agree to part with $10 for the privilege, then he was cheating to help Surma win.

On Thursday, when he was asked if he paid for memberships, he said: “This goes back almost two years ago, the claims were dismissed. This is the liberals trying to change the channel two weeks before an election.”

The claims were dismissed by the same party officials who were presiding over a number of allegedly crooked nominations, allowing ballot boxes to be stuffed to get their friends’ names on the ballot.

Disturbingly, Martino says that Ford twice followed her, once to her home, which she characterized as an attempt to intimidate her. (Ford denied that he followed her home or intimidated her.)

I feel for Martino. I would not like Doug Ford to come to my home.

When his crack-smoking brother Rob was mayor of Toronto, Ford often found himself in front of the cameras, spewing baloney to justify his brother’s outrageous behavior.

MORE: Doug Ford’s politics of indulgence

In 2014, when the Toronto Star reported that the Toronto police were going to subpoena Rob Ford to testify in the extortion trial of his driver, Sandro Lisi, who boasted of infesting his enemies’ homes with bedbugs, Doug Ford complained that Police Chief Bill Blair had leaked information to damage his brother.

Blair, who later became a Liberal MP, filed a defamation suit. Ford couldn’t back up his false claims and had to apologize.

Many odd things have happened in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the past year, while all kinds of characters jostled to be among the group that looked poised to take the keys away from an exhausted Liberal government.

There are ongoing investigations and unresolved allegations concerning stolen data, stuffed ballot boxes, secret loans and all kinds of fishy business that will not be resolved before the election, if ever.

Many of the people who were running the party during this period are gone, but some of them are still involved.

If the Tories win on June 7, Ford will be the only person with the power to stand between the public interest and any unscrupulous people who might have wormed their way into the party, calling in the police when necessary and standing back to let them do their work, even if it damages the political prospects of his government.

That’s not his record.

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