It never ends for the Ontario Tories. Maybe it never will. Leader Doug Ford stands accused of helping Etobicoke Centre candidate Kinga Surma sign up scads of new party members “for free” — which is to say someone else paid the membership fee, which is a clear violation of party rules. Inconveniently for Ford, it is precisely the sort of behaviour that led to several Patrick Brown-era nominations being overturned, and which is exactly the sort of “rot” (as interim leader Vic Fedeli famously put it) that Ford promised not to tolerate under his watch.
If the audio clip the Liberals released Thursday morning isn’t a smoking gun, the barrel is certainly hot to the touch. “It doesn’t cost ya anything,” Ford is heard saying. Surma specifically mentions “fill(ing) out a membership form” to someone, at which point Ford interjects: “You don’t have to fill that out. She’ll take your name (and) number; just sign it.”
Ford could perhaps claim it’s not him on the tape, or that the discussion isn’t what it seems, but he hasn’t. And anyway, that wouldn’t help defuse a remarkably detailed 11-page affidavit sworn by Pina Martino, who was battling Surma for the nomination in Etobicoke Centre. Sent to the PC party’s legal counsel on Nov. 18, 2016, three days before the nomination meeting, and at some point obtained by the Liberals, the affidavit reports dozens of interactions with named individuals who were on the party members list but who said they hadn’t paid or hadn’t filled out a membership form.