The Progressive Conservatives have parted ways with a campaign organizer and promised to refund donations after Doug Ford attended a fundraiser in April, a breach of Ontario election law.
The event was held at Scarborough’s Chandni Banquet Hall on April 29, the same evening as the #TorontoStrong vigil, where Ford also made an appearance.
Srini Suppiramaniam, a Tory organizer, was “removed from the campaign team” on Wednesday as a result.
“We have been made aware that the Leader was misinformed by the organizer about the nature of the event,” said Ford campaign spokesperson Melissa Lantsman.
The party will be filing an infraction with Elections Ontario, as well, according to Lantsman.
Ontario’s Election Finances Act bars MPPs and candidates who have secured a nomination and party leaders from attending fundraisers during campaigns.
According to a report in the Toronto Star, attendees paid $250 a plate — and $2,000 a piece for a seat at the head table — for the opportunity to meet Ford.
On Thursday morning, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told reporters it was “surprising” that Ford participated in the dinner.
“It’s pretty shocking that anybody would flout the rules so blatantly as Mr. Ford did,” she said.
“Look, this is a party that was pretty visceral on their attack on the Liberal cash-for-access of fundraisers, and rightfully so.”
At her own campaign event in Ottawa, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne called the revelation about Ford’s participation in the event “disturbing” and said Ford will have to answer tough questions about how it happened at all.
“There’s a law in this province about candidates attending fundraisers in this province. We all know about that law,” Wynne said.
It’s been a difficult 24 hours for the Tory leader. Earlier on Wednesday the former PC candidate in Brampton East, Simmer Sandhu, abruptly quit after his one-time employer, 407 ETR, announced it was investigating an “inside theft of data” that affected 60,000 customers.
Sandhu worked nine years at the company that owns and operates the toll highway through the GTA. While the company did not specify who was being investigated, Sandhu released a statement calling any allegations against him “totally baseless.”