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Wynne snubs Ford but meets with London mayor facing charges

Patrick Maloney

By Patrick Maloney, The London Free Press

Coun. Joe Swan and London Mayor Joe Fontana. (Free Press file photo)

Coun. Joe Swan and London Mayor Joe Fontana. (Free Press file photo)

LONDON, Ont. -- While Premier Kathleen Wynne is avoiding Toronto's Rob Ford, it's not a snub extended to all controversial Ontario mayors.

The Ontario Liberal leader visited London, Ont., last year and had a face-to-face chat with Mayor Joe Fontana, who faces criminal charges while Toronto's higher-profile Ford does not.

Just months before that Fontana-Wynne discussion last March, police laid three charges against the London mayor -- fraud under $5,000, breach of trust by a public official and uttering forged documents -- relating to a $1,700 Public Works Canada cheque. The Crown alleges the cheque was used to pay for Fontana's son's 2005 wedding reception, when Fontana was a Liberal MP and cabinet minister.

Ford's string of brutal behaviour -- he's admitted to drinking and driving, using crack cocaine, public drunkenness and hanging out with known criminals -- led his council colleagues to strip him of all power, but no criminal charges have been laid against him.

Thursday, Wynne's office indicated the fact Fontana is functioning with all his mayoral powers -- and Ford is not -- explains her different handling of the two politicians.

"Toronto city council made a decision about the leadership at the city," a spokesperson from Wynne's office wrote in a statement. "The premier has met and will continue to meet with Deputy Mayor Kelly, who has the decision-making authority (in Toronto)."

Fontana, on vacation, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Wynne, in her dealings with the mega-city, has gone to Toronto deputy mayor Norm Kelly.

To one longtime political observer, there's nothing wrong with Wynne refusing to meet with Ford.

"I know he's the mayor of the city, but on the other hand he's discredited himself," University of Toronto politics Prof. Nelson Wiseman said. "What Wynne has done is perfectly OK.

"For someone who's been consorting with criminals, is this the kind of person the premier should be meeting with?"

patrick.maloney@sunmedia.ca

@patatLFpress

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