Rebel MPP Amanda Simard quits Tories over French cuts

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Maverick MPP Amanda Simard has quit the Progressive Conservative caucus in protest of Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to French-language services.

Simard (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) resigned from the Tories on Thursday. Her potential departure was first reported by the Star on Friday.

“Effective immediately, I am no longer a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus,” Simard wrote in a letter to Speaker Ted Arnott.

“I will continue to take my place in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as an Independent,” she added. “Please advise me if need to take any other steps as a result of this change. Thank you in advance for your continued support.”

Simard, who was the lone francophone member of Ford’s team, quit over the decision to eliminate the French-language watchdog and his cancelation of a French university.

“That’s Amanda’s choice,” a visibly dismayed Ford said after an early morning caucus meeting at Queen’s Park.

Asked by Walsh if he knew Simard was defecting, he said: “No.”

But Ford insisted he has “a strong team” that is “more united than we’ve ever been.”

“We stick together. We’re united. Solid, solid, united,” he said, adding the mood in caucus was “positive.”

The Liberals, who have seven MPPs, have been courting Simard to join their ranks. That would give them eight, which is the threshold for official status in the house. The Tories are raising that bar to 12 over fears of defections from their benches.

In the 124-member house, there are now 74 Tories, including the speaker, 40 New Democrats, the seven Grits, Green Leader Mike Schreiner, and two Independents.

Former Tory minister Jim Wilson, who resigned from the PC caucus last month after a scandal, is the other Independent member.

There are concerns in the Tory government of other disgruntled MPPs bolting. At least two MPPs from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area have privately expressed concern over the direction of the government.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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Rebel Media speaker says pride flag and swastikas comparison ‘unintentional,’ apologizes

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A member of Alberta’s United Conservative Party is apologizing for making what he says was an unintentional comparison between the rainbow LGBTQ pride flag and swastikas in a speech this weekend.


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John Carpay issued a statement Sunday evening, saying he wished to clarify the remarks he made at a conference organized by the conservative news outlet Rebel Media in Calgary the previous day.

In the statement, Carpay says he was discussing the nature of totalitarianism when he “referred in the same sentence” to the rainbow flag and the flags bearing Nazi and communist symbols.

In doing so, he says he “unintentionally drew a broad comparison” between them.

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He says he meant to stress the need to defend fundamental rights such as free speech, and that slogans touting diversity and inclusion have been abused in ways that undermine those freedoms.

Carpay, a lawyer and president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, is behind a legal challenge to Alberta’s law on gay-straight alliances.

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