Oct 06, 2023
By Jane Brown
While the Opposition New Democrats at Queen’s Park push the governing Ford Progressive Conservatives to release details on the 95 year deal with Therme Canada to revamp Ontario Place, there are also questions around what Mark Saunders did as a special advisor on Ontario Place development.
The former Toronto police chief was appointed to the role in February of 2021, a term that lasted until just before the provincial election in June of 2022.
Saunders was reportedly paid $170,000 annually for the position, but a Freedom of Information request from NDP MPP Chris Glover found there were no recommendations, reports or advice given by Mark Saunders to the Ford Government.
“Can the premier show any evidence the special advisor produced any advice?” Glover asked in the Ontario Legislature.
In response, the parliamentary assistant to the infrastructure minister skirted the question by saying, “Ontario Place holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Ontarians.
“There’s nothing,” said NDP Leader Marit Stiles later, “They can’t provide a single piece of information so I think Ontarians have a lot of questions. This isn’t just anyone, this is close ally of the premier’s.”
After his time as special advisor on Ontario Place, Mark Saunders later launched failed campaigns to become a PC MPP and to replace Mayor John Tory in the June 2023 Toronto byelection, an election in which Premier Doug Ford endorsed Mark Saunders.