RCMP investigating anti-teacher group linked to developer with strong ties to Doug Ford’s government
|Toronto Star 04 May 2021 at 15:27|
Vaughan Working Families took out full-page ads in the Star and other major newspapers in Feb. 2020 in advance of province-wide teachers’ strikes. The ads were an apparent contravention of the Election Finances Act, according to Elections Ontario.
A spokesperson for the RCMP confirmed the investigation is ongoing and said there would be no further comment.
The provincial NDP raised the RCMP investigation in the Ontario legislature Tuesday morning, asking Premier Doug Ford and education minister Stephen Lecce if “they’d like to tell Ontarians what they know about these attack ads.”
At the time, the offices of Ford and Lecce denied they had any involvement in the ads, which appeared amid tough contract negotiations between his government and the province’s teachers.
Colour advertisements from Vaughan Working Families appeared in the Star, the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Sun proclaiming “Teachers’ Union leaders are risking student success.” The ad included a stock photo of a woman holding up a “provincial report card” that contained several grammatical errors.
The Star later apologized for running the ad.
“Teachers were under attack from the Ford government, and they got some help in that attack from Vaughan Working Families in the form of an advertising blitz,” said NDP MPP Peter Tabuns. “Mr. Ford and Mr. Lecce should tell Ontarians everything they know about these ads that came directly from their insider donors and buddies.”
The NDP described developer Michael DeGasperis as the chair of Vaughan Working Families, which prior media reports say is connected to a company called Vaughan Health Campus of Care as well as a charity called Vaughan Health Care Foundation.
The Canada Revenue Agency’s charities directorate shows DeGasperis is a director and the president of Vaughan Health Care Foundation.