Doug Ford responds to questions on Dean French patronage scandal with focus on economy

Doug Ford in Calgary

Ontario Premier Doug Ford dismissed multiple questions about last week's patronage scandal regarding his former chief of staff, during a news conference with several other premiers. 

Speaking in Calgary, Ford was asked if he takes any responsibility for the scandal, which resulted in Dean French leaving the premier's office and a review of pending government appointments. 

"I addressed that pretty quickly, matter of fact, I addressed that immediately when we were in Toronto, but my friends, we're not here to talk about Dean French," Ford said. "We're here to talk about internal trade." 

The premier's office originally stated French resigned for a role in the private sector, however, two cabinet ministers in the past week suggested Ford took more of an active role. 

Ford did not take questions from reporters last week.

When asked by NEWSTALK1010 to clarify if French resigned or fired, Ford simply said French is no longer in his office. 

"We've changed our chief of staff, Jamie Wallace is our chief of staff, he's a great chief, I think the cabinet gets along quite well with him, so does the caucus," he said. 

"The people that listen to NEWSTALK1010 Lucas, don't worry about that, do you know what they worry about? They worry about if the economy is going." 

Ford joined premiers from Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and New Brunswick in Calgary, ahead of all premiers meeting later this week in Saskatoon.

"This is not about the prime minister," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said regarding the message the meeting sends. "My hope is that the current federal government returns to its initial promise of a cooperative approach to federalism."

The meeting also comes as the Ontario Court of Appeal recently ruled the federal government does have jurisdiction to impose a price on pollution, following a similar result in Saskatchewan. 

Both governments plan to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

"None of us, nor do our citizens appreciate a message that it's either Ottawa's way or the highway," he said regarding Bill C-68 and C-69. "Rather than threats, we would prefer cooperation." 

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe echoed Kenney's message. 

"This meeting here today is advocating on behalf of the people that we represent in our respective jurisdictions," he said.