Premier Doug Ford is under fire Thursday after promoting a cannery owned by Progressive Conservative donors who have been fined for environmental offences.
Sun-Brite Foods president Onorio (Henry) Iacobelli and his wife, Lina, donated a total of $4,922 to the PC Party in 2018 and 2019, Elections Ontario’s political contribution database shows. Ford visited the southern Ontario cannery Thursday, part of a summer tour the premier said was meant to thank the public for doing their part during COVID-19.
The company has twice been reprimanded by Ontario’s environment ministry — once in 2018 for releasing toxic water that smelled like sulphur, resulting in a fine of nearly $300,000, and another in 2012 for dumping waste on farmland without permission.
“While visiting Sun-Brite Foods Inc. today, I saw some of the best quality Ontario grown tomatoes!” Ford wrote in a tweet about his visit. “These guys are the #OntarioSpirit.”
The connections with Sun-Brite were first reported by Global News.
“This is a clear case of ‘follow the money,’” said Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner in a statement.
“We need a premier who will create laws that reward companies for doing the right thing and not treat laws that protect our water as red tape.”
Ford’s office and Sun-Brite Foods did not immediately respond to requests from National Observer.
The cannery is in Leamington, Ont., southwest of Chatham-Kent. The company operates the brand names Unico and Primo, and works for clients such as Heinz and Campbell’s.
Premier Doug Ford is under fire Thursday after promoting a cannery owned by Progressive Conservative donors who have been fined for environmental offences. #onpoli
Sun-Brite was fined $287,500 in 2018 for a 2015 incident where the company discharged toxic water and did not report it to the province.
After residents of nearby Kingsville, Ont., complained about a foul smell coming from a drain, inspectors found water that was blackish-grey, warm, smelled like sulphur and was toxic to aquatic life. The company pleaded guilty to two charges.
The company also received a slap on the wrist in 2012 when it spread stinky organic waste onto farmland without getting provincial authorization, prompting complaints from neighbours. The government did not fine Sun-Brite, as the company voluntarily agreed to fix the problem.
Schreiner pointed to Bill 132, a piece of legislation the Ford government passed last year that lessened many fines for polluters.
“Doug Ford is rewarding not just a PC donor, but a company that was fined $287,500 under water protection laws that the Conservatives have since weakened,” Schreiner said in the statement.