Doug Ford fires privatization czar, chief investment officer and chief scientist
July 5, 2018
Premier Doug Ford has quietly fired Ontario’s chief investment officer, chief scientist, and removed Ed Clark as the premier’s business adviser in a post-election purge.
Sources told the Star that Ford’s newly elected Progressive Conservative government ended Allan O’Dette’s brief tenure as the province’s first chief investment officer at cabinet on Friday.
Remember them? Ed Clark, a former banker, worked for Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne as a business advisor. He was a key proponent of the sale of the province’s majority stake in Hydro One.
O’Dette, former president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, had been appointed by former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne in March 2017 to lead the Ontario Investment Office.
Also gone is chief scientist Molly Shoichet, a prominent University of Toronto professor named to her post last November by Wynne.
“The chief scientist was removed from her position. We will undergo a process of finding a suitable and qualified replacement,” Ford’s spokesman Simon Jefferies said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the renamed Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade confirmed O’Dette’s last day was Tuesday.
But the most prominent departure approved by cabinet was Clark, who had been Wynne’s business adviser and privatization czar since June 2015.
The former president and CEO of TD Bank, who was appointed chair of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario in January, was an instrumental player in the Liberal government.
Clark was a key proponent of the sale of the province’s majority stake in its Hydro One transmission utility as well as the architect of Ontario’s historic expansion of beer and wine sales into 450 supermarkets.
He also was a top booster of bringing Amazon’s HQ2 bid to the province and served as Wynne’s adviser on preserving jobs in the Ontario steel industry.
“I want to assure our public sector workers, our nurses, our teachers and our doctors, that no one -- and I repeat no one -- will lose their job,” he assured Ontarians the day before the election.
However, such changes are routine when a new government takes office, though it is not clear who, if anyone, will be selected to replace the three Liberal appointees.
NDP MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) was especially concerned about the signal Ford is sending by firing the chief scientist and rejigging government departments.
“The revelation that Doug Ford has fired Ontario’s chief scientist, coming on the heels of his announcement last week that he will scrap the ministry of research, innovation and science begs the question of whether or not Mr. Ford will run a government that believes in the value of science and scientific research,” said Tabuns.
“The people of Ontario deserve to know why this decision was made and why it was done in secret. Ontario families deserve to know what Doug Ford will cut next.”
Ford will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Queen’s Park on Thursday where the new premier is expected to discuss his decision to remove Ontario from its environmental cap-and-trade alliance with Quebec and California.