TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford has revoked the appointments of two people to lucrative foreign posts a day after announcing them, following reports that they had ties to his chief of staff.
Ford announced four agents-general appointments, which come with salaries between $165,000 and $185,000, shortly after a massive cabinet shuffle Thursday intended as a reset after a rocky first year in power. The roles aim to drum up business in the province.
Taylor Shields, an assistant vice-president of marketing for Chubb Insurance, was appointed to a post in London and Tyler Albrecht, a senior analyst at Optimize Capital Markets, was being sent to New York City.
But the premier backtracked less than 24 hours later.
The Globe and Mail reported that sources say Shields is related to the wife of Dean French, Ford’s chief of staff, and that Albrecht, 26, is friends with one of French’s sons. A 2014 tweet from French says one of his sons and Albrecht are former lacrosse teammates.
The premier’s office would not give a reason for revoking Albrecht and Shields’ appointments. Requests for comment from Albrecht and Shields were not immediately returned.
Two other appointments are going ahead: Jag Badwal, who is a past president of the Ontario PC Party, is being posted to Dallas, and Earl Provost, who served as chief of staff to Ford’s late brother Rob Ford when he was mayor of Toronto, heads to Chicago.
New Democrat Taras Natyshak said Ford was trying to “slip first-class gravy train tickets to friends and family.”
“For Doug Ford to create these posh international appointments for family and friends is gross,” Natyshak said in a statement. “For him to try to sweep this under the rug when he’s caught is disgusting.”
The agents-general positions are ones that have not existed in Ontario’s government since the 1990s. Ford said Thursday that the positions will help increase investment and jobs in Ontario.
Opposition politicians have previously been critical of appointments Ford has made of friends and loyalists.
Ford sparked a huge outcry when he named family friend Ron Taverner as Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, an appointment Taverner ultimately turned down.
Jenni Byrne left her post as Ford’s principal secretary for an appointment with the Ontario Energy Board with an annual salary of about $197,000.
Past Progressive Conservative party president Rueben Devlin was granted a three-year term as a health-care adviser, Ford campaign adviser Ian Todd was appointed Ontario’s trade representative to the United States, with a $350,000 salary, and Ford family lawyer Gavin Tighe was appointed to the Public Accountants Council.
Failed Tory candidate Cameron Montgomery was appointed to lead a standardized testing organization.
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press