Friday , May 14 2021

Ontario MPP Amanda Simard leaves the computer group after cuts in francophonic services

Ontario MPP Amanda Simard left the progressive conservative group to maintain it independent after publicly criticizing Prime Minister Doug Ford's government for changes to French-language services in the province.

In a letter sent to President Ted Arnett early Thursday, Ms. Simard, who was the only member of the Franco-Ontario team of Mr. Ford, said her decision to leave was effective immediately.

"I am no longer a member of the Progressive Conservative Caucus", writes Ms. Simar. "I will continue to take my place in the Ontario Legislative Assembly as an independent one."

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Ms Simar did not respond immediately to the request for comment on Thursday.

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The announcement came as colleagues of a group of Ms. Simard met in Queen's Park to discuss her future. A senior government source told Globe that a number of members of the group had urged her to be expelled from the caucus, following Mr. Ford and his government.

After Thursday's meeting, Mr Ford told iPolitics that he did not know that Ms. Simard would leave the caucus. "We are more united than we have been," he said.

For days, Ms. Simard speaks against a government decision in the autumn fiscal update to cancel plans for a francophone university and to terminate the French guard's office.

"I ask the prime minister and the government to annul their decisions. And so, I do just what I have been elected," Simard told reporters in Queen Park this week.

On Wednesday, Mr. Ford told reporters that he had spoken to Mrs. Simard last week and told him that he had supported her. However, he has since said he avoided calls from his office.

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"My cabinet chief tried to contact Amanda, my secretary-general tried to contact Amanda. Other people in my office tried to get in touch with Amanda." Amanda never returned the calls, "he said.

"She decided not to be part of her."

After a significant protest from the Franco-Ontarian community, the PC government pulled back last week with the announcement that it would create a position of a French language commissioner under the auspices of the Ombudsman's Office. Mr Ford also officially appointed Attorney General Carolina Malrone as Minister of Francophone Affairs and vowed to engage a senior political advisor on francophone matters. But the plans for the Francophone University, which Mr. Ford during the election campaign were not resurrected.

"Over the last few days, we made several changes, I've listened," said Mr. Ford. However, he said there was not enough money in the province for Francophone University.

Ms. Simar said that "partial cancellation" is not enough. On Wednesday, she voted against the government's economic update in the legislature.

Mrs. Simard, representing the eastern Ontario Riding of Glengari-Prescott-Russell, served as a city councilor in the Russell community before joining the Tory List under the then leader Patrick Brown. He has a law degree from the University of Ottawa and previously worked at Parliament Hill as a political adviser.

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With a report from the Canadian press

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