Questioning Doug Ford’s Resume

After looking at Doug Ford’s Wikipedia page and reading his 2016 book Ford Nation, I have questions about three areas of his resume: his role in the family business, his lack of post-secondary education, and his approach to politics.

Doug Ford describes himself in the book as an “independent Canadian business leader,” and has claimed that his role as president of the family business, Deco Labels and Tags, has demonstrated his managerial competence. Deco, however, is privately held and not required to report its financial results publicly, so it is impossible to judge. If Doug wanted to demonstrate his capability as a business executive, he would release Deco’s audited financial results for the years in which he was chief executive. (Fat chance, you say.)

He is still chief executive now, and that creates a major conflict of interest problem. What provisions will he make for Deco to be run entirely at arms-length so that, if elected premier, there are no conflicts of interest? The City of Toronto’s integrity commissioner concluded in December 2016 that, when Ford was a Toronto city councilor, he had improperly used his influence on behalf of two companies that were clients of Deco, so he already has history of conflict of interest. Traditionally, it has proven very difficult for the owners of a family business to turn over the leadership to a non-family manager.

The Wikipedia page also reports that when he was elected city councilor in 2010 Ford said he would donate his salary to community organizations. It is not clear whether he actually did this. To appear public-spirited, he could make a similar promise regarding his salary as premier, if elected. This, too, would represent a conflict of interest, because the source of his income would then be Deco, and he could therefore make decisions with a view to ensuring that it prospered.

In Ford Nation, Doug Ford admits that “I didn’t have the marks for university.” In 1984, he started at Humber College and “was bored silly in the lectures.” When faculty in the colleges soon went on strike, Ford quit and didn’t return when the strike ended a month later. I think the attack on “the elites” that is a theme of his campaign is an attempt to turn this weakness into a strength, arguing that advanced education is not necessary for political leaders.

I take a different perspective. In some major nations – notably the UK, France, and Japan – the widespread expectation is that political leaders will be the graduates of elite educational institutions. While I would not go quite that far, I do not think higher education is irrelevant or, as some current-day populists would have it, an impediment to political leadership. It is reasonable to expect that the premier of the province has succeeded at post-secondary education. It shows an ability to persevere at a challenging, long-term venture. In addition, university education imparts some habits of mind that are critical to effectiveness in politics, such as making tradeoffs and thinking systemically. Ford’s simplistic approach to policy issues – the subject of future blog posts – suggests that he lacks such abilities.

In Ford Nation Doug writes that the essence of his approach to politics is Deco’s approach to business, namely “customer service excellence.” Doug, like his late father and brother, takes pride in spending time on constituency service, always returning calls from constituents and often visiting them. While no constituent’s call should go unanswered, it is not clear that the best person to answer is a councilor or MPP. While it is valuable for a politician to know what the voters are thinking, it should not be his only priority in allocating his time.

The opportunity cost of a politician spending so much time on constituency service is that he spends too little time on learning and thinking about policy issues. This is not at all a surprising choice for a person without the marks to go into university and who was “bored silly in lectures.” A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially when the mind in question is that of the Premier.

These unanswered questions about Doug Ford’s resume are critical. Maybe the election campaign will provide answers. Or maybe not. Why would he reveal anything more than required, especially if the public is not asking? In the run-up to the election campaign, both citizen media and the main-stream media, particularly investigative journalists and editorial boards, should be demanding more information from Doug Ford.


  1. Right on the money with that. I wish the media was you instead of what we got. Doug has no platform because he is an incompetent jerk who has no post secondary education, and probably limited high school given he spent his time with his school business project, dealing drugs, as was rumoured. Pushing forward his PRIVATE business experience as “expertise” is a joke if the PUBLIC has no access to his performance.

    • I totally agree with you, in your calling this idiot an incompetent jerk. What has happened to this lovely World.

  2. An excellent summary! Contains important points regarding Doug Ford’s lack of critical thinking or any training in the same. The piece also provides insightful comments on some of the less obvious concens regarding conflict of interest, if one is self-employed. Doug Ford’s established conflict of interest track record while on the Toronto City Council is also important. It seems time for a follow up piece by the same author … please.

    It’s extrememt unfortunate that the Ontario electorate was guided more by their hatred of Kathleen Wynne, rather than a critical assessment of Doug Ford and his proposed policies.

    For those who enjoy thoughtful analysis on a related theme, I recommend “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer. The book is an excellent read on the importance of clear critical thinking based on the available facts, as well as the perils unfounded group-think.

  3. Apparently the electorate is faced with the choice of electing professed elites having an inflated notion of their own omniscience which they assume confers the right to set and enforce restrictive, arbitrary and unconstitutional rules of behaviour for their lesser brethren–or, alternately, “rude fellows” who have an instinctive respect for individual freedom but who often lack the formal educational background and fundamental concept of ethics which is desirable for persons holding responsible positions of public office. There is no necessary correlation between pure intelligence and morality. Politics is a quest for power and politicians of all stripes are inclined ruthlessly to repress any influences which they think may adversely affect their fortunes at the ballot-box, irrespective of principles which invariably they will sacrifice in the interests of power. The best policy of the electorate is to seek representatives who are honest and not supportive of vested interests,, in the hope that they may be capable of learning and anxious to do so. Political democracy in the absence of genuine economic democracy has rightly been called “dynamite”.
    Economic democracy can only be achieved when the false claim of the banking system to ownership of the communal capital or Cultural Heritage is challenged and the credit which they create to monetize the community’s real wealth is paid instead, without being accounted as debt, directly to consumers in the form of National Dividends and to retailers at point of sale to established falling, or Compensated Prices. Individuals must be freed from enslavement within the tyrannical Pyramid of Power with the Monopoly of Credit residing at its apex.

  4. Given the current cuts in Ontario public schools I would suggest u tweet this article – I would do so but I belive the author ought to represent his views – Ford is possibly the most bone headed premier we have ever had and he needs to be called out on his incredible lack of knowledge ,lack of care,and lack of interest in life long learning

  5. Doug Fords Company DECO LABELS in Etobicoke popped up 3 times in the Ministry of Labour Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Office Summary’s for Employment Standards Act Violations Unpaid Wages Vacation Pay Termination Pay.

  6. Recently I have been seeing posts that claim Ford dropped out of high school after grade 10, but I can’t find any information that either confirms or denies this claim. Does anyone know?

    • I’ve also seen that claim (about dropping out in Grade 11, therefore only completing up to Grade 10), but can’t find any confirmation anywhere…

    • Excerpt from, ‘Questioning Doug Ford’s Resume’ 
      written by Sandford Borins, Professor of Public Management. April 8, 2018 

      In ‘Ford Nation’, Doug Ford admits that “I didn’t have the marks for university.” In 1984, he started at Humber College and “was bored silly in the lectures.” When faculty in the colleges soon went on strike, Ford quit and didn’t return when the strike ended a month later. I think the attack on “the elites” that is a theme of his campaign is an attempt to turn this weakness into a strength, arguing that advanced education is not necessary for political leaders.

  7. In response to Janna and Adam, I checked Ford’s book Ford Nation. On page 91 he says that he was in Grade 13 but didn’t have the marks to be admitted into university. Two pages later he says that he started Humber College in September 1984 but quit because of a teacher’s strike a month later. He doesn’t say that he graduated from Grade 13. When Grade 13 was in existence, those who completed it earned a Secondary School Honours Graduation diploma, while those who completed only Grade 12 earned a Secondary School Graduation diploma. Likely, Ford earned only the latter, which would have been acceptable for admission to college.

    In any event, my point was that Ford doesn’t understand or respect education at any level, which his government’s policies have amply demonstrated.

  8. I would love to see a follow-up to this article of the author’s view point a year later after the budget release and cuts to education, libraries, etc. have been announced.

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