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Ford questioned on promoting winery after owner made donation to PC party

Last Updated Jul 29, 2019 at 4:40 pm EST

Premier Ford is seen touring the Pelee Island Winery in a photo posted on the FordNation Facebook page on July 23, 2019. FACEBOOK/FordNation

Pelee Island Winery and Premier Doug Ford are facing some online backlash after reports that the winery’s president donated to the Ontario Progressive Conservative party just weeks before the premier made a video urging Ontarians to buy the company’s wine.

As a result, #BoycottPeleeWinery was trending on Twitter in Toronto Wednesday.

Elections Ontario’s political donations page shows Walter Schmoranz donated $1,050 on Feb. 26 and $1,000 on July 12.

A screenshot of the Elections Ontario political contributions page shows two donations by Walter Schmoranz, President of Pelee Island Winery. Source: finances.elections.on.ca

On Sunday, Premier Ford shared a video on Twitter, urging Ontarians to “go out and buy a bottle of Pelee Island wine,” followed by “it’s coming to a convenience store near you.”

The clip is styled as an Ontario News Now video — the PC party’s taxpayer funded news arm — promoting the government’s plan to sell alcohol at convenience stores. It shows the premier speaking with Rick Nichols, MPP Chatham-Kent-Leamington and walking through the winery, surveying its operations.

The move is raising questions about “cash for access,” but Premier Ford’s press secretary Ivana Yelich issued a statement that says the premier was unaware of Schmoranz’s donation.

“As the Premier has always said, no one can buy Doug Ford. The Premier meets with small business owners from across the province on a regular basis and promotes small businesses in Ontario at every opportunity. He will continue to support and promote small businesses and the incredible contribution they make whenever he travels across the province,” the statement said.