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Doug Ford campaign confirms actors were hired to play the part of PC supporters at Monday’s debate rally

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2018-05-08 Inori Roy - Staff Reporter
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Doug Ford’s campaign has confirmed that actors were hired to play Progressive Conservative supporters outside Monday’s leaders’ debate.

“We were very confused by this situation, because we are getting record numbers of supporters to every event across Ontario. This was done by a local candidate and it won’t be continuing,” Ford’s spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said in an email.

Apparently campaign officials for Toronto Centre Tory candidate Meredith Cartwright, a prominent lawyer, hired the actors to rally for Ford at Dundas Square outside CityNews studios.

PC Leader Doug Ford arrives at the debates while supporters of all parties wait for their leaders in front of City TV in Toronto at Yonge and Dundas. Some of the Ford supporters were playing the part. © Rene Johnston PC Leader Doug Ford arrives at the debates while supporters of all parties wait for their leaders in front of City TV in Toronto at Yonge and Dundas. Some of the Ford supporters were playing the part.

Asked about the paid activists, Ford said he was unaware of what happened.

“We don’t need that,” he told reporters at a news conference, saying he will get in touch with the candidate.

A Toronto performer says that he was offered a paid role as a supporter at the rally.

Devanshu Narang, background performer and Chair of the ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) Additional Background Performer Caucus, revealed to the Star on Monday that he, along with other actors, had been offered parts as Ford supporters at the rally.

In an email obtained by the Star, casting agency CastmeBG said they were looking for “20 people to play real people at a Ford nation rally (Doug Ford).”

“You will be wear T-shirts of the PC candidates (Ford and Cartwright),” the email continued. It offered $75 to actors, who were expected to be present from the start of the afternoon rally at 2 p.m. to the end of the debate at 8 p.m.

Another background actor, who wished to remain anonymous, also received notice of the role. He turned it down, but claimed to recognize fellow background actors in the crowd at the rally, wearing Ford Nation merchandise.

Several actors contacted the Star independently to discuss the unusual gig.

Narang turned down the part.

“I was shocked to see this happen in Canada, in Toronto,” said Narang. “I find it offensive even to the Canadian democracy.”

With files from Victoria Gibson

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