TORONTO — A senior Ontario bureaucrat was fired Thursday as a report emerged that he had ties to Premier Doug Ford’s former chief of staff.
The head of the province’s public service said in a memo to staff that Peter Fenwick, Ontario’s strategic transformation adviser, was out of his post and the office he led was being eliminated.
“As we go into the second year of supporting the government to deliver on its agenda, we have evaluated the structure of Cabinet Office,” Steven Davidson wrote. “As a result of the review, the Transformation Office in Cabinet Office is being dissolved.”
It came the same day that the Toronto Star reported that Fenwick has known Dean French for a long time, including being a life insurance customer of Ford’s now-former right hand man for 20 years.
French abruptly left his post last month following news that at least three government appointees had personal ties to him.
Taylor Shields and Tyler Albrecht were being given lucrative agents-general posts in London and New York City respectively before their appointments were revoked after ties to French emerged. Shields was reported to be related to French while Albrecht played lacrosse with French’s son.
Katherine Pal resigned from the Public Accountants Council after the NDP noted that she is a niece of French’s wife.
Neither French nor Fenwick responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press.
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The government did not announce Fenwick’s hiring, but then-Secretary of Cabinet Steve Orsini informed deputy ministers in a Nov. 2 memo.
“His deep experience in the use of technology will support all-of-government initiatives to drive greater efficiencies in the delivery of public services,” Orsini wrote. “Peter will work closely with ministries to ensure central agency support in setting government transformation policy.”
Fenwick was previously managing director at Fenwick & Associates, a management consulting firm, a senior provincial director at Alberta Health Services, and worked at GE Healthcare, Orsini wrote.
Ford ordered an internal review of pending appointments after the third French connection was reported, but his office has not said who is conducting the review, how many appointments are pending, what criteria is being used, and if all revoked appointments will be announced.
The opposition parties have called for such a review to be done outside the premier’s office.
“I don’t have any confidence, I don’t think Ontarians have any confidence, in the government carrying out, or Mr. Ford carrying out, his own internal review of appointments,” said New Democrat Marit Stiles.
Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said Ford has so far only acted on appointments following media reports.
“This is no way to run a government of any stripe,” he said in a statement.
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