Just when it looked like the fallout over Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s failed pandemic response couldn’t get any weirder….
There’s been a lot happening in Ontario politics since the premier’s newly minted election team set out to rehabilitate Ford’s badly tarnished image a few weeks back. The strategy seems to be working. Ford is leading in the latest election polls, despite his abysmal approval ratings over his botched handling of the COVID-19 crisis. There’s vote-splitting between the Libs and NDP on the left to partly thank for that.
And then there’s Chris Sky, aka Chris Saccoccia, the muscle-bound and tattooed face of Ontario’s anti-mask movement, and his sidekick, Rob Carbone, self-appointed leader of the Republican Party of Canada, to turn Ford’s political comeback into fodder for supermarket tabloids—not to mention, an opportunity for the premier’s PR specialists to spin some much-needed sympathy for their boy.
On May 20, Toronto police announced that charges had been laid against Sky, over alleged death threats made against the premier.
Ford has received death threats before. It goes with the territory. Most don’t end up triggering charges but they all have to be investigated.
Ford’s friends over at the Sun were eager to turn the alleged threats into front-page news, describing Sky as a “conspiracy theorist” in its pages. It’s true. Sky has had his Instagram account suspended by Facebook for “multiple violations of our community standards”, namely, “harmful vaccine misinformation and content promoting widely debunked hoaxes”.
But it’s curious all the same for the Sun, given the bang-up job the newspaper’s columnists have done of their own messing the public health messaging on COVID. But back to Sky et al….
For those of you that haven’t been following, he’s become a COVID celebrity, parlaying vocal opposition to public health restrictions around the pandemic into appearances on the far-right online conspiracy shows like InfoWars, a book deal (or is that a pamphlet?), and a Twitter army of more than 41K followers.
Before he became famous, about all that was now about Sky is that his father happened to be a well-known developer in Vaughan. Now he’s currently wrapping up a cross-country speaking tour that’s taken him to anti-mask events in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The trip was supposed to include Manitoba but that province went to court to get an injunction preventing a planned rally in Winnipeg.
According to Toronto police, Sky not only threatened to kill Ford—but he also threatened to take out all the other premiers in the country, boasting about having guns and being able to shoot a target from a mile away.
The problem is that police are reportedly relying on Sky’s former friend and comrade-in-arms, the aforementioned Carbone, as their source of the allegations.
Until he blew the whistle on his bud, Carbone and Sky were like two peas in a pod. They shot a video together to the theme music of "Eye Of The Tiger" to seemingly consummate their bromance. It’s enough to make you blush, but Carbone has his own back story, which may lead the casual observer to wonder about how much his accusations may have to do with generating some publicity for his own political ambitions.
The Republican Party of Canada is not an officially registered party in Canada, which means it can’t legally raise funds. It’s not even clear to what extent the party is active. But Carbone has been able to raise its profile with the help of Sky. He’s been a regular at anti-mask protests.
His business background, however, is a bit murkier.
Carbone describes himself on his “billionaires only” website as “an accomplished entrepreneur and innovative global business leader, with success as one of the top private Traders in Global Investment and Private Financing.”
But some questions have been raised about the legitimacy of those claims after the publication of this report in Vice last summer.
For his doubters—namely, “TROLLS (his emphasis) and the Radical left”—Carbone also has a message on his website: “If you want verification of my company legitimacy have your attorney shoot an email in the contact form and one of my attorneys will make contact.”
It’s all turned into a bit of a questionable affair.
Sky denies the allegations against him and, in an email response to questions from us, hints at a business falling out with Carbone.
But it’s also no secret he was a thorn in Ford’s side. Besides being a vocal presence at Queen’s Park, his supporters have picketed in front of the premier’s house in Etobicoke.
Sky’s criticism of Ford has also gotten personal. He’s accused the premier’s family label business of profiting off the pandemic, citing past reports in the Globe pointing out, among other things, that the premier was late placing some of his assets in a blind trust. That may very well be.
Clearly, police believe there’s enough evidence to lay charges and enough reason to take Sky’s guns away. But he didn’t help his cause by allegedly trying to run over the cops who showed up in his driveway to arrest him.
For that, he’s also facing assault charges, which only seems to have boosted his acclaim among his followers. Indeed, all the characters in this tale, including the premier, are getting mileage out of this one.