Ontario’s integrity commissioner is hitting pause on a request from the NDP to investigate whether Premier Doug Ford acted improperly in relation to his daughter’s stag and doe party.
The decision was written in an interim report released Thursday.
In the report, Integrity Commissioner David Wake says despite the “flaws” in NDP Leader Marit Stiles request for an investigation, he is “not prepared to dismiss it at this point.”
Wake notes there is some overlap in another request related to whether the Ford government may have used their influence to further the interests of developers when deciding to carve up the Greenbelt.
The commissioner says staff are reviewing “extensive material,” and have done “independent research on the matter.”
“We are preparing summonses for numerous witnesses to be interviewed,” he wrote in the report.
“In the end I will prepare and deliver a public report on our inquiry as I am required to do.”
The investigation complaint was brought forward by the NDP after media reported that developers and lobbyists had attended a $150-entry stag and doe party for Ford’s daughter.
In a letter to Wake in February, Stiles argued that “concerning details have come to light about developers and lobbyists with donor and political ties to Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario PC Party being invited to participate in two Ford family events.”
She argued the premier is “obligated to avoid conflict and the appearance of conflict.”
The premier has argued the event was a private affair and that he had no part in managing the guest list. Ford also said the integrity commissioner cleared him of wrongdoing.
Ford went to the integrity commissioner in January after journalists began to privately ask him questions about the event. At the time, a spokesperson said that information submitted by Ford suggested he had no knowledge of the gifts given to his daughter and son-in-law “and that there was no discussion of government business at either of the events.”
The interim report released Thursday provides a first glimpse of the evidence Ford presented ahead of this decision.
In the report, Wake says Ford’s staff contacted his office on Jan. 25 asking to arrange a phone call with the premier related to a media inquiry.
“When I spoke to Premier Ford he stated that he had ‘stayed clear’ of the planning for his daughter’s wedding and left it to his wife and daughters and their friends,” Wake wrote in the interim report. “This was consistent with what he had told me on an earlier occasion when he commented on the prospect of having two weddings in one year.”
Wake said Ford named four developers and the sons of developers and said they were long-time friends of the family.
“Some developers and lobbyists may have attended the pre-wedding celebration, but Premier Ford maintained that he was not keeping track of who may have attended the event, noting that most of the people were friends of his daughter and future son-in-law.”
The premier, Wake wrote, denied receiving any financial contributions from any developer or lobbyist and was adament that no government business was discussed.
The commissioner found there was nothing wrong with inviting personal friends, who happen to be government stakeholders, to an event in which confidential government information was not revealed.
This is a developing news story. More to come.