TORONTO — Ontario Minister Sylvia Jones defended Premier Doug Ford's request for a customized van as a "perfectly reasonable use of resources" on Tuesday.
Emails entered in court show that the premier's executive assistant, Nico Fidani, sent the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) a cost estimate for a van customized with a reclining leather sofa bench, swivel chairs, 32-inch television with a Blu-ray player, Wi-Fi and mini fridge.
The total cost, excluding the actual van, was pegged at about $50,000.
OPP deputy commissioner Brad Blair is threatening to sue the premier for defamation amid an ongoing controversy over the force's hiring of Ford's friend, Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner.
Blair previously alleged that the premier's office asked the OPP to keep the costs of the van "off the books."
NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said the vehicle "sounds like the Taj Mahal on wheels," during question period.
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Jones, the minister of community safety, said the request shows Ford's dedication.
It "means that he wants to continue to engage in the important work that we're doing in government, which is speaking directly to the people, making sure that we're working for the people, to find out what they believe our government should be working on," Jones said.
The documents also allege that Ford was frustrated with the force after he went on a trip with officers he didn't already know.
"I have asked for my own detail of officers who I trust already," Ford allegedly told an officer.
"It feels like I'm not being heard, like I'm getting f***ed around by the OPP, and I'm getting more pissed off."
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