In brief: The premier speaks to labour, 100 CEOs speak up for basic income, new trade representative, no breach of privilege and Patrick Brown's office expenses

In brief: The premier speaks to labour, 100 CEOs speak up for basic income, new trade representative, no breach of privilege and Patrick Brown’s office expenses

Premier Doug Ford spoke to rallying LiUNA members on the south lawn of Queen’s Park Thursday morning, promising to reverse Wynne-era legislation the union opposes and inviting the hundreds of workers to text him on his personal cellphone.

“We’re going to make sure you have an opportunity to bid on all the jobs,” the premier told rally members of the construction union, promising to repeal legislation the Liberal government passed in its last budget bill before the election.

The legislation delves into a dispute between Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners concerning a collective agreement dating back to the 1970s.

LiUNA has been strongly supportive of Ford and union regional vice-president Joseph Mancinelli lauded him in an introductory speech, praising his election win and first moves as premier, including his controversial decision to cut the number of Toronto city councillors in half.

Ford seemed to appreciate the crowd as well — near the end of his speech he gave the few hundred construction workers his personal cellphone number, inviting them to text him any time they need anything.

Ontario CEOs spoke out against the cancellation of the basic income pilot in a letter that urged a reversal of the government’s controversial policy decision. “As Canadian business leader we urge the Ontario government to continue the Ontario basic income pilot,” reads the note addressed to Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod. “We see a guaranteed basic income as a business-friendly approach to address the increasing financial precarity of our citizens and revitalized the economy.”

The letter was signed by more than 100 CEOs, mostly from the tech and start-up community. Together they represent companies that generate almost $1.5-billion in annual revenue. CEOs like Paul Vallée of Pythian spoke about the value of a basic income in allowing the next generation of entrepreneurs to take risks, as well as eliminating some government bureaucracy. “We firmly believe that basic income is essential to supercharge Ontario’s economy in the 21st century,” he stated.

Ontario is getting a new trade representative in Washington.

As iPolitics first reported, Ford is appointing Ian Todd and paying him $350,000 a year.

Todd has a long history in Conservative politics and served as an adviser on Ford’s election campaign.

The NDP slammed the move.

“Apparently, the Ford gravy train has arrived at Queen’s Park and it’s all aboard for Ford’s friends, and those he owes a favour to,” said NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, pointing out his salary will be $75,000 more than Liberal appointee Monique Smith. “Most Ontarians would be lucky to earn $75,000 a year, never mind getting a $75,000 bump in pay. And while Ford’s buddy gets that huge paycheque, Ontario families pay for it.”

The NDP dubbed it a patronage appointment and said it wasn’t Ford’s first: Former PC party president, Ford campaign adviser and retired hospital CEO Rueben Devlin was appointed to a three-year term as a health care adviser and Ford family lawyer, Gavin Tighe, was given a $667,000 government contract to sit on the Public Accountants Council.

Trade Minister Jim Wilson said the decision was above board and Todd, who’s had a long career in working in politics and government, is highly qualified. His total compensation will be comparable to Smith’s, as Smith was receiving pension contributions and a one-year severance that Todd will not be eligible for.

Speaker Ted Arnott has ruled against a point of privilege raised by MPP Donna Skelly, who accused NDP Leader Andrea Horwath of pushing her in the legislative chamber.

“The member alleges that, during the ringing of the bells, the member for Hamilton Centre crossed the chamber floor to the government side and while there made deliberate and unwanted physical contact with her and made remarks that the member contended could be construed as an attempt to interfere with her right to vote,” he said, recapping Skelly’s complaint.

Arnott found that no prima facie case of breach of privilege has been established because the circumstances at issue did not prevent Skelly from discharging any of her parliamentary duties.

“I understand that, in some ways, this place is adversarial, to say the least,” Arnott remarked. “That is the very nature, though, of parliamentary debate. Members will inevitably have different opinions and approaches, and sometimes this will lead to conflict and heated exchanges. We see that from time to time. As I say, that is all fair and in the nature of this place.”

He also took the opportunity urge MPPs to act with “dignity befitting this institution” and with the respect and professionalism constituents would expect.

“However, we all share the honour, having been elected to this Legislative Assembly, to represent the citizens of Ontario and our constituencies. It would be a disservice to this place, and to those citizens who elected us, for us to tolerate honourable disagreement degenerating to the level of personal insults, confrontation and closed-mindedness.”

PC MPP Randy Hillier slammed former PC leader Patrick Brown for what he saw as profligate and inappropriate spending by his one-time colleague.

The Toronto Star reported that between April 1 and June 7, when Brown was an independent MPP in the legislature, his office spent $292,451. That’s almost the annual limit of $300,000 for total MPP expenses.

Hillier, speaking in a media scrum at Queen's Park, did not hold back about what it said about Brown. "He is unfit to hold any public office," he alleged of his former leader, who was months away from becoming premier before sexual misconduct allegations prompted his resignation. Brown denies any wrongdoing, and is suing the media outlet that originally reported the story.

"He is pathological in his pursuit of public office," Hillier alleged of Brown, who hopes to be elected the mayor of Brampton in four days, "And we now know why. He is for enriching himself."

According to the document obtained by the Star, other outgoing MPPs did not spend nearly as much on office expenses as Brown did. NDP MPP Sarah Campbell, who did not run for re-election, spent $79,994 in the same time period. Brown told the publication part of the additional costs were to pay staff severance, as well as communicating with constituents.

QP Briefing Staff

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