Uncovered nomination docs lead to more allegations of Liberal ‘cronyism’

By Sabrina Nanji January 19, 2021

Accusations of cronyism are again swirling around the Ontario Liberal Party nomination contest in Richmond Hill.

Queen’s Park Today has obtained the full nomination application package of candidate Roozbeh Farhadi, who is also the spouse of Najva Amin, chief of staff to Grit Leader Steven Del Duca. Sources in the party claim it reveals Farhadi was given the inside track to run in the next election.

The documents show Farhadi submitted his nomination papers and enlisted a campaign manager by August 2020 — months before he says he stepped down as president of the local riding association on October 5.

Liberal insiders say that put him in a conflict of interest because, as president, he was in charge of recruiting OLP candidates in Richmond Hill.

At issue is that key players in the riding association seemed to know the former MPP for the riding, Reza Moridi, did not plan to run again months before he made it public in October.

When Queen’s Park Today reported on excerpts of the package it reviewed last year, Farhadi said he didn’t step down for months because the riding association was waiting on Moridi’s plans. However, the popular ex-MPP signed Farhadi’s nomination documents last summer. He previously told QPT he didn’t recall doing that, but now confirms it happened.

The full package shows Farhadi also listed Moridi as his top personal reference in the summer. A source with knowledge of nomination mechanics said it’s unusual to list someone as a reference if you expect they might run against you.

On July 20, it was also signed by Kimia Ghorban, who later became the riding association’s new president. That suggests she knew Farhadi was formally seeking the nomination before he resigned as president, and that Moridi was benched.

Riding association ‘created a fiction,’ senior Liberal charges
“None of this looks transparent or fair because it isn’t,” charged one senior Liberal insider.

“They wanted to give Farhadi a head start so they created the fiction that Reza Moridi hadn’t made a decision. Meanwhile, Farhadi was in a conflict of interest — he should have been leading the candidate recruitment process, but he himself was secretly running.”

The Liberal went on to accuse Amin — Del Duca’s chief of staff who also signed Farhadi’s nomination papers — of “using her friends and contacts” to give her husband a leg up.

“If Steven Del Duca is elected premier, this is the cronyism and corruption that we can expect,” they alleged.

Ghorban — who also sits on the party executive and worked with Amin in Del Duca’s office when he was transportation minister — said her witness signature and the fact that she acted as “commissioner of oaths” doesn’t constitute an endorsement. “I would be happy to provide the same [legal] service to any other nomination candidate,” she said.

OLP president Brian Johns maintained the rules were followed in Richmond Hill. “Any concerns suggesting otherwise are without merit,” he said. Farhadi was greenlit on October 21, after he had resigned as president (per OLP’s rulebook). Farhadi and Amin referred questions for this story to the party.

There’s no date for the Richmond Hill nomination contest yet; Farhadi is the only official contender thus far.

The riding is currently represented by PC MPP Daisy Wai but had been a Liberal stronghold until the 2018 general election.