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14 King’s Counsel attorneys donated to Ontario legal professional basic

Greater than a dozen of the recipients of a controversial new honour for Ontario attorneys donated to both Lawyer Basic Doug Downey’s election marketing campaign or his using affiliation, the Star has discovered because the Ford authorities continues to face accusations of patronage for the way it selected at hand out King’s Counsel titles.

Elections Ontario political contribution knowledge exhibits that the names of 14 of the Okay.C. recipients match the names of people that donated to both Downey’s two election campaigns or to the Progressive Conservative affiliation in his using of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.

The names of 19 different recipients on the 91-person Okay.C. checklist additionally match the names of people who’ve donated to a wide range of Progressive Conservative campaigns and using associations during the last decade.

Lots of the Okay.C. recipients don’t seem within the Elections Ontario donor database in any respect. No less than seven have donated to different events, together with prime litigator Marie Henein, who donated $500 to a Toronto Liberal using affiliation in 2021. (Of these seven, 4 are additionally PC donors.)

Downey determined to revive the honorary designation to mark King Charles’s coronation and to acknowledge attorneys for authorized excellence and repair to their communities, his workplace stated this week. The designation carries no particular privilege other than permitting attorneys to make use of the initials Okay.C. after their names and put on silk robes in courtroom.

His workplace denied there’s any connection between donations and getting a Okay.C.

“It’s time they have been straight up with Ontarians,” stated NDP Chief Marit Stiles in a press release. “Are they promoting these honorifics? How did they decide these names? What was their course of?”

A few of the new Okay.C.’s introduced final Friday have been praised for his or her work and acknowledged as worthy recipients. However the authorities has additionally confronted widespread criticism and outrage for granting the title to quite a few Tory politicians, staffers and loyalists, with out beforehand making public any choice standards or details about the appointment course of.

Recipients embody Downey himself and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, who the Star reported this week was referred to as to the Ontario bar simply three days earlier than the federal government introduced she was getting a Okay.C.

By advantage of being a former Ontario legal professional basic, Mulroney, who had solely ever held a regulation licence from New York, didn’t should pay any charges or fulfill any of the Legislation Society of Ontario’s licensing necessities to change into an accredited lawyer.

The federal government beforehand stopped handing out the particular designations in 1985 underneath the then-newly elected Liberal authorities of David Peterson. He stated the title — often called Queen’s Counsel, or Q.C.’s, throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth II — had change into “corrupted” and extensively used as a patronage software.

Downey spokesperson Andrew Kennedy stated there isn’t a connection between donations and other people getting Okay.C.’s.

“No,” he stated. “As acknowledged beforehand, issues have been centered on those that went above and past of their dedication to the Crown and public service to offer counsel, experience and plenty of hours of their very own time to assist the federal government navigate by the challenges of COVID-19 and Ontario’s restoration.”

The variety of donors among the many new Okay.C.’s has nonetheless raised questions amongst critics, who’ve referred to as out the federal government’s secretive choice course of. (Downey’s workplace has stated there will probably be a public software course of going ahead.)

Stiles stated there are some worthy attorneys of distinction on the checklist, however stated the federal government is “utilizing them for canopy in what seems to be the most recent software in its cash-for-access tradition.

“The Queen’s Counsel designation was eradicated as a result of it turned a means for governments to reward their insiders,” she stated. “Now, we’re seeing it return, with Ford’s Conservatives giving themselves and their donors fancy new titles.”

Stiles can be demanding to know when Mulroney first discovered she was getting a Okay.C., and if it preceded her name to the bar final Tuesday, three days earlier than the federal government made the general public announcement in a Friday afternoon press launch.

“This complete factor raises extra questions than offers solutions,” she stated.

The notion of patronage “erodes belief,” stated Phil Triadafilopoulos, affiliate professor of political science on the College of Toronto-Scarborough, talking typically. “We marvel, why is that this occurring? Is that this to pay again a favour? Or is that this to earn a favour sooner or later?” he stated.

“If you happen to suppose that titles or positions are being divvied out due to household or private connections, or interest-based calculations, you then’re undecided if that particular person earned the title, earned the job, goes to be the one who represents that honorific correctly represented.”

The 14 people embody a number of individuals related to the provincial or federal Conservatives.

  • Downey’s chief of employees, Joseph Hillier, donated $1,000 in 2020, $1,441 in 2021, and $449 in 2022 to the using affiliation.
  • Former chief of employees Michael Wilson donated $441 in 2021 and $500 in 2020 to the using affiliation.
  • Maureen Harquail, a former federal Conservative Celebration candidate who now serves as chief govt officer and registrar of the Ontario Motor Automobile Business Council, donated $1,882 to the using affiliation in 2021, in addition to $250 to Downey’s marketing campaign in 2018.
  • David Younger, who served as a PC legal professional basic within the early 2000s, donated $750 to the using affiliation in 2020.
  • Downey’s ex-policy director Amanda Iarusso, who was referred to as to the bar 5 years in the past and now works in personal apply, donated $441 to the using affiliation in 2021.
  • Former PC occasion president Blair McCreadie donated $441 to the using affiliation in 2021.
  • Ex-federal Conservative cupboard minister Peter Van Mortgage donated $162 in 2019 and $450 in 2020 to the affiliation.

They didn’t return the Star’s requests for remark.

  • Authorized Help Ontario board chair and former chief of employees to ex-PC premier Ernie Eves, Steve Pengelly, donated $250 to Downey’s marketing campaign in 2022. He advised the Star he has donated to PC and Liberal campaigns. “I count on nothing in return for my very modest monetary help to these working for elected workplace who I do know are good, moral people, ready to shoulder the heavy burden of elected workplace,” Pengelly stated, including he’s recognized Downey for at the least a decade, working intently collectively when Pengelly was govt director of the Ontario Bar Affiliation and Downey was the treasurer.

The remaining people embody attorneys in personal apply and civil servants:

  • Lawyer Sander Grieve donated $441 to the using affiliation in 2021. He didn’t return a request for remark.
  • Lawyer William Thomas Barlow gave $300 to the affiliation in 2020. He additionally didn’t return a request for remark.
  • Heather Zordel — the previous chair of the Ontario Securities Fee, who resigned final 12 months after only a few months within the function — donated $441 to the using affiliation in 2021. She declined to remark.
  • Actual property lawyer and member of the Legislation Society of Ontario’s board of administrators, Sidney Troister, donated $500 to the using affiliation in 2021. Troister had pushed successive provincial governments for years to enhance the Planning Act, one thing that Downey took on after being elected, and was profitable in getting the act amended. Troister declined to remark.
  • Provincial authorities lawyer Christopher Diana confirmed to the Star that he gave $200 to Downey’s marketing campaign in 2018. Diana is senior counsel with the Ministry of the Solicitor Basic’s authorized companies department, and has argued circumstances at each stage of courtroom and in tribunals.
  • Industrial lawyer Patrick Shea stated his $441 donation was a portion of a ticket to a fundraiser occasion to which he was invited. Shea made an analogous donation of $778 to the Eglinton-Lawrence using affiliation in 2022. He stated he was invited “by people who I both labored with or who had supported me in my community-based tasks … These people occurred to belong to a specific occasion.” Shea added: “Had I been invited to an occasion held by one other occasion, I most likely would have additionally attended that occasion, however I’ve by no means been really invited to a Liberal or NDP fundraiser.”

Downey can be recognized in a 2016 information article as a buddy of lawyer and Okay.C. recipient Fay McFarlane of Orillia, who made no donations.

On the event of McFarlane turning into a regional small claims deputy choose, Downey — who had not but entered provincial politics — advised The Orillia Packet & Instances: “I feel that she’s going to deliver a perspective to the bench that won’t in any other case be there.”

McFarlane, who didn’t return the Star’s request for remark, expressed her pleasure at turning into a Okay.C. on Fb final week.

“Huge congratulations to me,” she stated in a single publish.

“I as soon as once more really feel I deserve some rewards for the way I do something I can to assist so many and search for nothing in return however blessings from above,” she stated in one other.


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