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Ford in Cambridge in first appearance since Lecce controversy

PC Leader Doug Ford makes a stop at Cambridge manufacture in his first appearances since conservative MPP Stephen Lecce 'slave auction' controversy

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford showed support for local businesses in the region during a stop at Cambridge punch and die manufacturer STEMA Precision on Bishop Street on Thursday. 

Co-owner of STEMA Asif Khan is hoping this tour of his plant will show Ford that Cambridge businesses are ready to lead in the global market. 

“We wanted to let the premier see what sort of the challenges and opportunities are in Ontario. We kind of explain what we're doing and how our approach is a little different than other people in manufacturing and how that could make Canada more competitive,” Khan said.

Ford toured the plant and was shown how STEMA has since branched out from its comfort zone in the automotive sector to take on jobs in the nuclear industry. They have been working with Bruce Power and Cambridge’s BWXT to help bolster Cambridge’s nuclear capabilities.

“Since COVID we have been working with these great companies to expand our services into the nuclear sector and diversify what we do here. We wanted to show Ford it’s a good idea to invest in Cambridge,” Khan said. 

Today's rounds for Ford are his first appearances since the “slave auction” controversy surrounding education minister Stephen Lecce, a PC candidate in the King-Vaughan riding.

Ford told reporters earlier in the day that he plans to keep Lecce as a candidate and he has his “full support.” 

“This is something he did when he was 19 years old in university,” Ford said. “He’s sorry.”

Lecce has been Ford’s education minister since 2019 and is the incumbent MPP in his riding. 

This is not the first time Ford has come to the defense of Lecce.

Back in February 2020, the Ontario education system saw the largest strike of educators in over 20 years. 

At the time, leaders of opposition parties called for the firing of Lecce, but Ford stood his ground and defended his position as minister.

Ford admits Lecce's actions were inappropriate, but stands by his decision to keep him in the running. 

“He’s been one of the strongest advocates about combating racism in schools, he has my support,” said Ford.