Doug Ford does the business of politics differently - 2019-02-25
Man cannot live on pasta alone. Neither can premiers, not even a premier of the people: It's heavy on carbohydrates and sodium, and even tougher on your fiscal health.
Spaghetti dinners — served at these iconic $25-a-plate fundraisers cited by Tories as evidence of their close connection to the people — only go so far. You can't look the little people in the eye, or the big donors in the pocketbook, while charging $1,250 for a plate of wet noodles. Which is why Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives are primed for a prime rib upgrade — or whatever's on the menu for their posh fundraiser Wednesday night. You can't serve spaghetti when you're trying to make a meal out of it — or make $2 million out of the evening. At that price point, donors deserve a succulent fundraising feast. But the main course is merely a sideshow for the main attraction, which makes the 2019 Toronto Leader's Dinner a must-see (and must pay up) event:
At centre stage, all eyes will be on the premier and his trusty Teleprompter. On the sidelines, all ears will be attuned to his cabinet, cheerfully strolling and trolling the hall, backslapping and whispering in the ears of well-heeled donors as befits Ontario's Government for the People. The message has gone out that this is a command performance. Not to be missed, if you ever want to get a hearing from this government. In case you didn't get the memo, and as my colleague Robert Benzie first revealed last week, high-powered lobbying firms are having their arms twisted by the governing Progressive Conservatives to twist, in turn, the arms of their clients, so that everyone's backs will be properly scratched. Even if that means twisting the rules out of shape. Consider it the quid pro quo for well-connected lobbying firms: Connections are a two-way street, and when it's party time, it's time for the party to call in favours from lobbyists who spend their time (and their clients' money) seeking favours. As Benzie disclosed, Sussex Strategy Group told clients that it "has been asked to help with the event," to the tune of $12,500 for a table of 10.