OPP looking into allegations of ‘illegal’ lobbying of Premier Doug Ford’s office

OPP looking into allegations of ‘illegal’ lobbying of Premier Doug Ford’s office

The Ontario Provincial Police anti-rackets squad is investigating allegations of “illegal and unregistered lobbying” of Premier Doug Ford’s office.

Former Tory MPP Randy Hillier, who was ejected from the PC caucus last month, raised his concerns about the alleged lobbying and is in discussions with integrity commissioner J. David Wake about an ethics probe.

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson stunned the house Thursday when he revealed that the New Democrats have been told by the Ontario Provincial Police that detectives “will review the allegations.”

After Bisson’s revelation, a defiant Ford immediately said there was no substance to the claims.

The premier, who gives out his cellphone number to members of the public, told the legislature that Ontarians can contact him directly so lobbyists have no influence on his office.

Government house leader Todd Smith echoed that, saying Ford is “the most accessible premier in the history of Ontario.”

But with Detective Staff Sergeant Sean Chatland and Detective Inspector Anne Goodwin, director of the OPP anti-rackets branch, the matter is being taken seriously at Queen’s Park.

Hillier was initially suspended from caucus one day after a private meeting with Ford where he outlined some of his concerns.

The maverick Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP had not yet expanded upon his accusations of illegal lobbying of Ford’s office.

Hillier was suspended from the PC caucus on Feb. 20 and permanently expelled on March 15. He now sits as an independent MPP.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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