The chair of a committee that helps choose justices of the peace has resigned from his paid post after The Globe and Mail revealed his ties to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s former chief of staff.
Andrew Suboch resigned on Wednesday after a two-week review into his appointment, a Premier’s Office spokeswoman said.
“Andrew Suboch has just advised the Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee that he is resigning effective immediately," Laryssa Waler, Mr. Ford’s executive director of communications, said in a statement to The Globe and Mail.
“The Attorney-General has spoken to the Chief Justice and advised that he intends to designate a judicial member of the Advisory Committee as the interim chair, who will oversee this year’s Justice of the Peace recruitment and appointment process."
Mr. Suboch was named to the Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee last September and became chair in February. In an email to The Globe on Wednesday night, Mr. Suboch confirmed he resigned but did not provide any additional comment.
In a phone call before his resignation on Wednesday, Mr. Suboch said he had discussed his appointment with other members of the committee but the conversations were confidential. He said no one from the government had asked him to resign.
“Right now I am chair of the JPAAC and that’s all I’ll say about that,” he said. He resigned less than two hours later.
The Globe and Mail first reported June 25 on the personal connection between Mr. Suboch, a personal injury and insurance lawyer, and Dean French, Mr. Ford’s former chief of staff, who resigned last month amid a patronage scandal.
Mr. Suboch is a long-time friend of Mr. French and their sons played lacrosse together. His appointment was put under review by Mr. Ford’s government on June 25.
Mr. French resigned from his top post in Mr. Ford’s office on June 21 after it was revealed that two people with personal ties to the former chief of staff were given lucrative foreign appointments: a former lacrosse player who is friends with Mr. French’s son and the second cousin of Mr. French’s wife. Both of those appointments have been revoked.
Upon his departure from government, other appointments with connections to Mr. French were uncovered, including his niece, who resigned from the Public Accountants Council. Mr. Ford’s office has since launched a review of pending government appointments and pledged to also examine current appointments brought to its attention.
Ontario’s strategic transformation adviser, Peter Fenwick, was also fired last week after the Toronto Star reported that he had long-time ties to Mr. French. His office was also dissolved.
On Monday, Mr. Ford said he dealt swiftly with the patronage scandal that has enveloped his office. But he dismissed queries about his former chief of staff’s departure as being “into the weeds" and refused to answer questions about whether he pushed Mr. French to quit.
“Let’s be very clear: Dean French is no longer there. We changed our chief of staff,” Mr. Ford said in Calgary, where he was meeting with Western premiers. “We’re moving forward. My goal is to focus on our economy, not about getting into the weeds and what the media likes to do 99 per cent of the time.”
As committee chair, Mr. Suboch earned a per diem of $566. The core committee meets about 12 times a year, according to a government website.
However, other meetings can be called to screen applications, hold interviews and make recommendations to the attorney-general. In 2017, then-chair Karen (Kaz) Flinn took home $113,766, according to the Sunshine List.
Mr. Suboch has long-standing ties to Mr. French. Mr. French encouraged Mr. Suboch's son to begin playing lacrosse when he was 5 and later coached him, according to a 2014 blog post.
As well, one of Mr. French's sons was a teammate of Mr. Suboch's son at the U19 men's lacrosse world championships in 2016, when Mr. French was chairman of Team Canada.
In 2012, Mr. Suboch was found to have engaged in professional misconduct by the Law Society of Ontario. He previously told The Globe he has had thousands of clients and his record speaks for itself.
Mr. Suboch said he has a record of community service and has served in his role with integrity. He said he was qualified for the position and "faithfully" filled out an online application form. He said Mr. French did not tell him he would get the position.
When asked whether Mr. French told him to apply, Mr. Suboch told The Globe, “I don’t know, recall, who advised me to apply.”