In the heated political debate surrounding the real estate and retirement fund Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s announcement it will roll out a toll lane on the 407 Express Toll Route, Ford has talked of pursuing a $1-billion penalty against the 407-101 and 407-102 express toll route concessionaires for its past underperformance.
Earlier in May, it was revealed the Fords pursued the penalty without backing down for over two years, it was learned by CTV News.
Leaked documentation obtained by CTV News showing how Ford settled for $1-billion was the subject of a news conference and sold to the network by a “very well known,” former, prominent Ontario MP who was close to the premier.
“The $1-billion is when Ontario denied request, the decision not to proceed with penalty negotiation, at the request of the 407 toll concessionaire, i.e. CPPIB,” Leaked documents show.
The documents show Ford, as attorney general, signed an authorization “to commence a suit against 17 defendants for negligence under the contract”.
Ford then went on to say: “This is where it got complicated because CPPIB is a fiduciary,” he said, claiming CPPIB – the largest pension fund in the world – should take into account that the province had invested in the project for its future for residents.
“Citibank Canada, Credit Suisse, RBC, and now Citifinancial, all lead underwriters for the 407 for 40 years,” he said. “It really was a shakedown.”
Ford said “my concern is that it’s not what we’ve invested in, its not a good deal. This isn’t the same as the aborted GO Transit deal – what we did not did that doesn’t seem to be done with GO, on the 407 there’s a proposal.”
Critics have argued that Ford doesn’t have a sound legal case with the state pension plan not party to the agreement — the 407 toll concessionaire would be.
Related: Latest 407 controversy: Prime minister furious over scrapped tolls
The 407 privatization that kicked off in 2010 served as a blueprint for a similar plan for the Gordie Howe bridge between Windsor and Detroit. The deal saw the federal and Ontario governments each match an equivalent amount to purchase 35 percent of the project.
Though there’s no connection between the transaction to the Mercedes Freeway and the King Street option in the 407 debacle, it could also represent a template in a situation where Ford tries to assert his government’s financial assets — which on paper, rank in the top 20 wealthiest in Canada — in such a manner.