Discover more from newsBeyond POLICORNER
Your primer to the fall sitting
Plus: inside a control clash on Team Ted that led to a campaign manager's hot exit
We have fresh intel on Rasheed's "surprise" caucus exit. Inside an internal command clash on Team Ted that led to a top brass shakeup. But to start — here's a sneak peak into a fall session of spicy strategy and fresh policy pushes.
The House is back — and parties are in for a wild fall session with spicy strategy and fresh policy pushes after a slumpy summer for Team Ford with two blistering watchdog probes that saw him plunge in polling while losing two key ministers and senior aides.
Here's the curtain raiser on what to expect from each squad:
— Team Ford: As the government navigates through the aftermath of dual "scathing" watchdog probes into the controversial, cancelled Greenbelt land swap, Tories are teasing a boatload of legislation. "There's a ton to push through," one government source said, hinting at more housing bills expected to land on the Clerk's desk this fall — including a "big" omnibus.
— Team Stiles: It's all about spicy strategy. The party led off the session with a longshot bill to verso the Tories' Greenbelt changes — which the government shot down at first reading.
Behind the scenes, the bill was viewed as a bottom dog — but the party had another plan in mind. "If [PC MPPs] want to continue to defend their premier, they'd have to be on the record doing so," said a senior source, granted anonymity to discuss internal strategy. "By putting this to a vote, they'll be voting against the wishes of their constituents, ethical principles and standards," the source added.
As Stiles cozies up to the top job, her team is rejigging caucus' legislative game plan too — using PMBs and Opposition Day motions "more strategically." "Our idea is to introduce more signature platform pieces," the source said, teasing the legislative debut of policy planks on housing in a bid to contrast Stiles to Ford. "There are many issues important to members and we don't want to discourage them from being put forward," the source added. "They just might not be a signature platform piece."
Keep an eye out for spicy, disruptive procedural tactics. "We've got a few tricks up our sleeves," the source hinted. It wouldn't be the first: cue the table banging that left caucus ejected twice or the infamous zebra mussels bill.
As for Question Period: you can expect to see more grilling from Team Stiles on "the specifics" of the Greenbelt fiasco — and more.
— Team Fraser: "All Greenbelt, all the time," is how one Liberal source sketched the party's approach going into the fall sitting. "I think you're going to see a more fired up Liberal caucus — and likely a more concentrated approach given our history creating Greenbelt land and how angry people are."
Another agreed. "I think it's the Greenbelt for the next eight weeks until the leader comes in," texted a second insider. "I'm hoping that the current team keeps the pressure on, punch above their weight and offer good grounding while we await our next leader," a third Grit said.
Inside a top brass exit on Team Ted
Emma Wakelin is out as Ted Hsu's campaign manager — and her departure has sparked questions amongst Liberal circles about the "dark horse" camp's internal power structure.
Wakelin parted ways with Team Ted in early September to "pursue new opportunities," with seasoned organizer Catherine Milks taking the helm. While the decision to separate was "mutually" made by both parties, the star strategist's departure was a result of internal discord on the campaign, we've learned. Though "recollections" may vary, one source warned, behind the scenes, "multiple factors" were described to have led to Wakelin's surprise exit.
According to multiple sources, a shift in power dynamics within the campaign emerged as the key reason for Wakelin's departure. Immediate family members slowly took control of the campaign, impeding on the ability of senior staff, including Wakelin, to carry out their work and shape the course of Hsu's bid.
Meanwhile, the timing of her exit sparked suspicion. Wakelin was out of the team hours after Education Minister Stephen Lecce weighed in on the gender and pronoun policy debate in schools — with Hsu's lengthy response to it. "Is it Ted's social conservative leanings coming to light?" questioned one source.
Amongst insiders, including those on rival teams, Wakelin's departure came as a jolt to the race.
After Leo Lehman quit the post in February for "family reasons," according to one source, the veteran operative stepped in. Wakelin was sighted with Hsu during the wee days of the campaigns, guiding him through the launch and described as being "always with him" at stops. "So stupid of [Ted] to have lost Emma," texted one puzzled Liberal.
"It's not unusual for a candidate to want to take a campaign in a new direction and as a veteran campaign manager, I know the need to shift gears quickly during a campaign," Wakelin said in a curt statement. "I wish Ted all the best in this leadership and know that he would be a wonderful choice as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party."
Team Ted is keeping mum. "The campaign team has chosen not to provide comment on this story at this time," a spokesperson said.
Adil Shamji has backed out of the race for Liberal leader with the showdown entering a "second phase" — throwing his support behind hot shot rival Bonnie Crombie.
"Bonnie has a level of experience and strength that inspires confidence in Ontarians. She has inspired confidence in me throughout this campaign," Shamji wrote in a statement. "I am proud to stand with her and I know that she will lead our party and province toward a better, brighter, and more prosperous future." Global has the full story.
Word of the doc's decision to quit the race came less than a week after we started asking about an imminent withdrawal, with a senior advisor denying the "rumors," saying the race was "just getting started."
A new survey by Campaign Research is testing the Ford government's messaging on skilled trade apprenticeships — while scouting support for upped private sector union involvement in training and the favorability of the "likely" new Grit captain.
While it's unclear whether the ten minute poll was drafted on the Tories' behest, it gauges support for key policy lines and Ford's political foes.
On the onset: While the survey's polestar is apprenticeship buildup, pollees are asked to "indicate how much" they agree with each avowal — including whether there should be beefed up "choice" in education and an option to pay for healthcare to "get better service." Among those statements:
I should be able to pay for my own healthcare to get better service?
What's good for the environment is good for the economy?
For me, more freedom means less government in my life?
Government favours big companies over individuals?
Paying as little taxes as possible is important to me?
Law enforcement needs more power to do their job?
The government needs to do more to stop business from leaving Ontario?
I support the building of oil and/or natural gas pipelines?
The government should allow for more choice in education?
Up next: The canvass pries into the government's push on skilled trade apprenticeships, questioning the effectiveness of messaging on the "Skills Development Fund" — a cash top up to build new and upgrade existing training centres — and signaling that more training by private sector construction unions' could be on the way.
Are you aware of the current labour shortages in various industries, including construction and skilled trades?
Are you aware that many private sector construction unions have their own training facilities, training programs and apprenticeship initiatives?
Have you or someone you know completed an apprenticeship through a private sector construction union?
In your opinion, how effective are the training programs hosted by private sector construction unions' training facilities in preparing apprentices for successful careers in the skilled trades?
Do you agree or disagree that these construction union apprenticeship programs contribute to a stronger and more skilled workforce?
Also: The questionnaire probes support for the federal and provincial party captains — and "likely" Liberal leader Crombie. Participants were asked which party they would "most likely vote for" if an election were held tomorrow.
Staff at Ontario's public broadcaster are off the job for the seventh week — with the union claiming that the management's latest offer does not go far enough with wages. Catch up here.
A proposal to "resolve bargaining" between the union representing Ontario's high school teachers and the Ford government through a binding arbitration process has been OKd by the union's membership. The details.
AT THE PALACE
— The House goes on a short hiatus starting Monday for constit week. No committee meetings are scheduled until the week after.
— With the House back in action, the Tories are already a player down in the upshot of punishing Greenbelt blowback and a dicey trip to Vegas. Kaleed Rasheed quit cabinet and caucus after admitting that he "mistakenly" gave the province's ethics watchdog false info about a trip to Las Vegas with a developer mate and two key aides in Ford's inner circle.
We have some fresh intel on his exit — and his whereabouts:
Behind the scenes, Rasheed's departure caught some off guard. According to one source granted anonymity to speak on internal matters, Rasheed, viewed as a rising star amongst Team Ford's ranks, was in town for the caucus getaway before word of his "surprise" resignation broke.
"If Mr. Rasheed can clear his name through the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, he will be provided an opportunity to return to caucus," the Premier's spokesperson wrote. "While incredibly difficult, this decision was made so as not to distract from the important work of the government," Rasheed said.
Meanwhile: Rasheed — who is now posted up in the far corner of the House — is nowhere to be seen. His social media accounts have gone dark and he has yet to make an appearance since the House resumed. "He's MIA — completely,” a source familiar with Rasheed said, unreachable via phone or text.
— With a revamped cabinet and twin Liberal newbies, there's a fresh chamber seating plan. Check out who's posted where.
WHAT WE'RE READING
THE GLOBE: "Chrystia Freeland hires veteran Liberal insider as new chief of staff" by Robert Fife and Bill Curry
THE TRILLIUM: "Lecce staffer suspended after being charged with defrauding Vaughan legion" by Charlie Pinkerton and Joseph Quigley
GLOBAL NEWS: "Government lawyers acknowledge Doug Ford uses personal phone for government business" by Colin D'Mello and Isaac Callan
THE STAR: "Former mayor broke ethics rules with relationship, watchdog finds" by David Rider
THE NARWHAL: "Ontario favoured unnamed third parties over experts when forcing Hamilton to expand" by Fatima Syed and Emma McIntosh
CANADIAN PRESS: "Ontario Pharmacists Association says ability to prescribe birth control should be next" by Nicole Ireland
Thank you for reading POLICORNER. Have predictions for the fall session? Insight into Team Ford's strategy? Our next big scoop? Hit me up — I'm all ears and you'll stay anon. Was this edition forwarded to you? The biggest players at Queen's Park get this newsletter in their inbox — join them today.