Ontario Independent

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Back-channel talks are being led by Doug Ford’s former chief of staff

Back-channel talks are being led by Doug Ford's ex-chief of staff.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dean French is leading the back-channel negotiations between the City of Ottawa and the protesters occupying its downtown.
  • According to the premier’s spokesperson, Ford was not enlisting the French to mediate with the protesters in Ottawa.

The back-channel negotiations among the City of Ottawa and the protesters occupying its downtown are being led by Dean French, the controversial former chief of staff to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

According to multiple sources, French is acting as Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s go-between in conversing with the leaders of the protest that has engulfed the city for the past 19 days.

According to sources, the French brokered a deal last weekend to confine the protest zone to the streets immediately surrounding Parliament Hill, under which the approximate 400 trucks in residential areas would move.

Also read: In Ontario, here’s a list of what’s reopening and when

However, a couple of trucks have moved, and one of the protest leaders, Tamara Lich, cast doubt on whether this deal had been made.

On Tuesday, Watson informed CBC News that French approached him as well as said he had contacts among the truckers engaged in the protest and could help them negotiate.

French also confirmed his participation in the talks. He told CBC News that he is involved as a private citizen and will bring the protest to a peaceful conclusion.

Back-channel talks are being led by Doug Ford's ex-chief of staff.
Back-channel talks are being led by Doug Ford’s ex-chief of staff. Image from CBC News

In the summer of 2019, French resigned from the premier’s office’s top political position. He presided over Ford’s turbulent first year in office and was at the center of several political controversies, including:

  • The appt of Ford’s longtime friend, veteran Toronto Police Superintendent Ron Taverner, to lead the Ontario Provincial Police. Taverner eventually resigned from his position.
  • According to the Toronto Star, the president directed senior political aides to direct police to raid unlicensed cannabis stores during the first day of legalization.
  • Many patronage visits to plum taxpayer-funded jobs, some for people with close personal ties to the French.

According to the premier’s spokesperson, Ford was not enlisting the French to negotiate with the Ottawa protesters.

“Neither the premier nor his office have spoken to Mr. French and are unaware of any professional or personal involvements he may have,” said Ivana Yelich, Ford’s director of media relations, in an email.

Source: CTV News

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