Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford says his candidate Stephen Lecce has his full support, a day after Lecce apologized in the wake of a published report about a so-called “slave auction” during his time as a fraternity leader in university.
Ford said Lecce acknowledged it was inappropriate, has said sorry, and has been a strong advocate of combating racism in schools during his time as education minister.
“He’s sorry. This is something he did when he was 19 years old and in university. He apologized for this. He said it was inappropriate. I believe it’s inappropriate,” Ford said during a campaign stop in Kitchener Thursday.
PressProgress, an outlet founded and funded by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute, published a story Tuesday night alleging that while Lecce was a Western University student he participated in a 2006 event dubbed a “slave auction” at Sigma Chi.
The fraternity has has no formal affiliation with Western.
WATCH | Ford pressed on time between taking questions from media on the trail:
In a statement, Lecce did not deny his participation and said that he “unreservedly” apologizes and will advance the interests of all Ontarians, regardless of faith, heritage, orientation or race.
Three NDP candidates, who were members of the party’s Black caucus during the previous government, said in a joint statement that slavery is not a joke and called on Ford to remove Lecce as a candidate.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has said Lecce’s actions raise serious concerns about his understanding of anti-Black racism and his ability to serve students, families and staff who are Black.
Ford says he would ‘tighten’ rules around MPP allowances
During the campaign stop Ford was also asked about revelations that at least seven MPPs who served in his government — six of whom are running as PC candidates in this election — received thousands of dollars in the form of allowance from their local riding associations.
Lisa MacLeod, who is seeking re-election in the riding of Nepean, took more than $44,000 since 2018. Meanwhile, Kaleed Rasheed, PC candidate in Mississauga East–Cooksville took $23,000 in that same period.
In total, the seven MPPs received more than $120,000 in so-called top-ups.
Riding associations receive funds from political donations, fundraising events and money that comes from taxpayers in the form of per-vote subsidies.
Ford said he “wasn’t too happy” when he learned about the allowances and that, if the PCs form government, he would sit down with the other parties at Queen’s Park to take a “good, hard look at these rules and tighten them up.”
Ford also stressed that all of expenses were approved at the local level, allowed under Elections Ontario guidelines and independently audited.