Was Blackridge advocating for both sides on safe consumption site issue?
Daryl Newcombe, CTV London
Published Thursday, June 6, 2019 6:55PM EDT
Blackridge Strategy, a political consulting firm embroiled in several controversies, now finds itself facing questions about whether it was playing both sides of the same issue.
Last year Blackridge was hired by the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) to do advocacy work supporting a supervised drug consumption program in London.
According to invoices obtained by CTV News through the Freedom of Information Act, the MLHU paid $6,325.63 to Blackridge for advocacy and communications work with the provincial government.
So Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health with the MLHU, was surprised to hear Blackridge connected with efforts to pull funding for the supervised drug consumption site at 446 York Street.
“It was a big surprise to hear people involved with Blackridge that were working on the other side of the issue at 446 York.”
During question period at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, London North Centre MPP Terence Kernaghan brought up the issue.
“There are deep connections between Blackridge Strategy and the premier’s own office staff. Lobbyists pushed to get the York Street site cancelled and sure enough that’s what happened.”
The appearance that Blackridge represented both sides of the same contentious issue is just the latest question facing co-owners Amir Farahi and Jake Skinner.
On Tuesday they put out a news release defending a pair of websites attacking Councillor Maureen Cassidy and former councillor Virginia Ridley during last year’s municipal election.
Efforts to reach Farahi and Skinner on Thursday to ask about the ethics of representing both sides in the supervised drug consumption site issue were unsuccessful.
The MLHU hired Blackridge months before the websites directed at Cassidy and Ridley were created.