Premier Ford says he is “confident” there was nothing wrong with his government’s handling of Greenbelt land

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday that he will take any potential probe by Royal Canadian Mounted police into the province’s Greenbelt controversy extremely seriously, but is confident that there has been no wrongdoing on the part of his government.

Speaking at a media conference inside Queen’s Park in Toronto, Ford said Ontario government will take RCMP’s potential probing extremely seriously, as he has “zero tolerance” for any wrongdoings.

Earlier this week, the RCMP confirmed that it has received a request from the Ontario Provincial Police to takeover the Greenbelt investigation. The OPP said they received several questions about the handling of the investigation, and they are referring the case to the RCMP to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest.

“If they decide to investigate — they haven’t decided yet — but if they do, I take it very serious. Extremely serious. And I’ll have zero tolerance if there was any nonsense going on,” Ford said.

The investigation request follows the resignation of Ryan Amato, the chief of staff for Ontario’s housing minister, who was said to be in contact with developers who owned land in the protected Greenbelt area, and was said to have been influenced in the decisions regarding the land swap.

Ford maintained that he never spoke to Amato about or directed him to select any properties to remove from the Greenbelt.

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“I can’t micro manage one of the largest — I call it a corporation — one of the largest corporations in North America of $204 billion of revenue, hundreds of thousands of employees, a GDP over a trillion dollars, and micro manage every single person. I don’t believe in micromanaging. I believe in delegating work through our ministers and their teams,” he said.

The Ontario government’s proposal to remove approximately 74,00 acres across the protected Greenbelt area to build more houses came under fire after Ontario Auditor General bonnie Lysyk released a report determining that opening the Greenbelt was unnecessary to meet the government’s housing goal.

According to Lysyk’s report, Housing Minister Steve Clark’s chief of staff, Ryan Amato, identified 21 of the 22 sites through a small team, ultimately settling on 15 sites. The audit report found that 12 of the 15 parcels of land chosen for removal from the Greenbelt came from specific requests from developers or their representatives.

The Premier also said that the government remains committed to moving forward with the housing plan, while acknowledging 14 out of 15 recommendations made by the auditor general.

“We are going to move forward with the 14 recommendations from the auditor general. It is the process that could have been better. We are correcting the process,” Ford said.

Rahat Sandhu

NEWS

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