Thursday, May 6, 2021

An Assault On The Olfactory Cells


To paraphrase a character from the play Hamlet, something is rotten in the state of Ontario.

And one needn't be a master detective to trace its source. Indeed, it is perhaps to state the obvious to conclude that Doug Ford is in the thrall of, and debt to, the developers. 

Let's consider the evidence. First, of course, is the infamous video that emerged during Ontario's last election campaign.

Despite Ford's later walking back those comments somewhat, the image of an ideologue bent on development at all costs has stuck. And as I pointed out in a recent post, his appointment of Norm Sterling, the failed environment minister under Mike Harris, to head the Greenbelt Council solidified that image.

But there is much more to Ford's entanglement with those who would blithely pave over environmentally-sensitive areas of the province, and thanks to steadfast journalism, the arrows pointing to the premier's indebtedness to those interests (not to mention conflict of interest and possible corruption) are becoming increasingly obvious.

The Toronto Star has brought its usual investigative rigour to all of this, and I will excerpt just a small part to get to the pertinent elements. 

The RCMP is investigating a group that launched an ad campaign attacking Ontario teachers last year.

Vaughan Working Families took out full-page ads in the Star and other major newspapers in February 2020 in advance of province-wide teachers’ strikes.

The ads were an apparent contravention of the Election Finances Act, according to Elections Ontario, because Vaughan Working Families had failed to register as a third party.

Of particular note is the fact that these ads appeared while Ford's government was in contract talks, led by education minister Stephen Lecce, with Ontario teachers. And just who is associated with the group behind the ads?

Vaughan Working Families is associated with developer Michael DeGasperis, founder of Vaughan-based Arista Homes and CEO of TACC Construction.

That would be the same DeGasperis who owns land along the proposed corridor and stands to greatly benefit from the Highway 413 development, an environmental disaster-in-waiting that Ford and his cronies have been vigorously pushing.

If built, the road will raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut across 85 waterways and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan. It would also disrupt 220 wetlands and the habitats of 10 species-at-risk, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

The full extent of the government's ties with DeGasperis and others is probably not knowable at this point, but it is noteworthy that shortly after the 413 proposal was resurrected (the previous Liberal government had shelved it), 

DeGasperis hosted Ford and Lecce, before he was education minister, in a private luxury suite at an NHL game in Florida in Dec. 2018.

Spokespeople for Ford and Lecce have said both politicians paid for their own tickets to the game and no government business was discussed.

No word on who paid for the transportation to Florida. 

Obviously, there is much more to be uncovered, but for now, the stench from Queens Park is becoming intolerable. Unfortunately, the opportunity for a through airing-out has to wait until June of 2022, when Ontario's next election is scheduled.


  1. We knew who Ford was before we elected him, Lorne. We've been wilfully ignorant since then.

    1. Indeed, Owen. As well, Ford has taken advantage of the fact that we are currently preoccupied with other matters to advance his foul agenda.

  2. I wonder how Mr. DeGasperis figured out how much to charge Doug and the kid for their seats in his box and whether, and if applicable. his accountant deducted it from the amount that he claimed as a business expense. A less questionable premise could earn a working slug a closer look from the auditor. Anyway, I don't care who paid for the tickets or the flight. He had no reason to invite the rest of us; so we weren't there. They were.

    1. Truly, John, since we have nothing to offer his ilk, we get nothing in return.