Actors hired to pose as Ontario Tory supporters outside leaders’ debate

TORONTO — Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservatives spent part of their day Tuesday explaining why a local candidate hired actors to pose as Tory supporters outside the first leaders’ debate ahead of the Ontario election.

A group of people hoisting signs and wearing shirts with slogans supporting Ford cheered as the party leader arrived at the CityNews television studios for the debate held in downtown Toronto on Monday evening.

It later came to light that the crowd was made up of actors hired by a Toronto candidate — a move that was wrong, Ford’s spokeswoman said.

“Doug Ford has attracted record crowds since entering the race for PC leader,” Melissa Lantsman said in a statement. “A local candidate made a decision to engage a casting agency. This was unnecessary and a mistake. It will not happen again.”

Ford said he didn’t know about the paid supporters when asked about the matter at a news conference.

“We don’t need to pay anyone. When we have events, we’re packed, we have standing room only,” he told reporters on Tuesday morning, adding that he would talk to Toronto-Centre candidate Meredith Cartwright about the situation.

Cartwright, who had shared posts on social media showing photos of the crowd outside the debate, said she had no comment when reached by phone on Tuesday.

The other parties were quick to pile on.

“We don’t have to pay people to come and support us, we have a very excited group of volunteers,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath. ”I think it’s kind of funny and in some ways kind of sad.”

Liberal campaign co-chair Deb Matthews laid into Ford.

“I guess we’ve come to expect that everything about Ford is fake,” she said. “The stories are fake, his facts are fake and now we know his supporters are fake.”

Ontario heads to the polls June 7.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Red Deer officials will allow Calgary to trial alcohol in parks

The result could determine if local rules are relaxed

Red Deer city council could provide more clarity around closed-door meetings, says review

Confidential matters were found to be handled appropriately by city

Special lift improves Lacombe patients’ therapy

A new mobility lift is helping physical therapy patients at Lacombe Hospital… Continue reading

Red Deer group is pushing to create a local ‘international village’ to promote unity

A city made up of immigrants has no place for intolerance, say group members

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canadian tattoo artist inks Toronto skyline on Blue Jays pitcher Stroman

Marcus Stroman found a way to show his appreciation for Toronto when… Continue reading

Team World sweeps opening day against Team North America at Continental Cup

LAS VEGAS — Team North America has some serious ground to make… Continue reading

SXSW to screen ‘Run This Town,’ which includes Rob Ford character

TORONTO — A drama that features a portrayal of the late Toronto… Continue reading

Most Read