Twitter users in Ontario may be noticing a peculiar new tag trending on the platform today, #GravyPlane, and for anyone guessing what the heck it refers to, you’ve come to the right place.
The term, of course, is a nod to Doug Ford’s (and his late brother, Rob’s) historic use of the term “gravy train” to refer to politicians’ over-spending, which some are saying the premier is now guilty of himself.
Reports have been swirling online that Ford, who asserted in 2019 that he’s “the only premier in history that refuses to use the premier’s plane that costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” hitched a ride with the Ontario Provincial Police to FordFest Windsor, a PC Party celebration that took place on Friday.
A video of a small private plane landing in the Southern Ontario city has been posted to YouTube and shared widely, with a caption identifying the OPP aircraft, a Pilatus PC-12, and claiming that it had “Doug Ford aboard for FordFest.”
The OPP gave Doug Ford a personal flight to Windsor for his #FordFest campaign event!!!
How is this ok? https://t.co/BnuRQiTp6F
— TDot Resident (@TDotResident) August 14, 2023
People are wondering if a police escort via the skies is normal for a premier, and are concerned about the publicly-funded force paying for the leader to attend a campaign event, which is not “official government business.”
One of the accounts sharing the video to socials dug up news about the Conservatives historically funding Ford’s private flights when he was travelling for both governmental and party reasons, which they did to avoid costing taxpayers.
Insiders told the Globe at the time that the use of a private plane for government business “was highly unusual” seeing as Ontario has two planes designated for that purpose — the ones referenced, and unused, by Ford — but did say it is pretty standard for politicians to schedule party events in the same location as government announcements.
In 2019 @fordnation was defending his request for a souped up, tricked out van by saying he’s the only premier that doesn’t waste taxpayer money by taking the premier’s private plane.
— Jen X (@jennyleeshee) August 15, 2023
Ford did pay a visit to the University of Windsor over the weekend as part of his premier’s duties, so that alone could be justification for the OPP-funded flight, which the force confirmed that Ford was on for his own protection.
“The OPP’s Protective Services Section provides security services for the Premier of Ontario, as well as the Lieutenant Governor and the Executive Council,” a police representative told blogTO on Tuesday.
“The purpose of the Protective Services Section is to ensure that neither violence nor intimidation influences political process nor government decision making. The OPP takes the safety of protectees very seriously… and is responsible for the transportation and security of the Premier at all times.”
Still, despite this reasonable explanation, many are using this new information as further evidence of Ford and his team’s corruption, especially in the midst of the Greenbelt development scandal.