Premier Doug Ford says his family “is separate from the political process” after facing questions about the growing controversy over the stag-and-doe party for his daughter that developers attended last summer, just months before protected lands were removed from the Greenbelt.
In her first question in the legislature as leader of the official opposition, NDP Leader Marit Stiles — who has filed complaints with the integrity commissioner and auditor general about the Greenbelt issue — said that since the house rose before the holiday, “more concerns have been raised about (Ford’s) relationship with developers profiting from his Greenbelt carve-up and their attendance at family events.”
Ford, however, said “regarding any family matters, my family is separate from the political process. They aren’t involved.” He added he went to the integrity commissioner who deemed there was no violation based on information he provided.
Stiles countered “this is not about the premier’s family, it is about the premier’s behaviour.
“It’s about accountability and the integrity of the office that he holds … the government has a history of very specific land decisions that somehow end up benefiting their friends and their donors. Does the premier understand how bad this looks, not just for the premier, but for the integrity of his government?”
The PCs have removed 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt for housing in the Greater Toronto area, but are adding 9,400 acres to the two-million swath of protected land. Of the 15 parcels of land affected, eight were purchased since the Progressive Conservatives were elected in 2018, fuelling speculation developers were given advance notice.
Stiles said the NDP will be filing an additional complaint with the integrity commissioner later this week on the issue.
Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough-Guildwood) told reporters “a lot of questions remain unanswered” around developers attending the stag event, but that she would be in favour of tougher rules “and making sure that there’s transparency.”
The Star has reported that at least one developer who stood to benefit from the Greenbelt changes also attended the premier’s daughter’s wedding last summer.
Ford has said the party and nuptials were private events, no business was discussed and he had no knowledge of gifts given to the couple.
As question period resumed Tuesday, the government was also grilled on criticisms over its response to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa last year after Justice Paul Rouleau said in his report examining the crisis that the Ford government’s inaction was a “failure of federalism,” and noted then-solicitor general Sylvia Jones did not testify.
Speaking to reporters, House Leader Paul Calandra noted the head of the Ontario Provincial Police was there at the six-week inquiry, “the deputy minister was there. Cabinet documents were made available at the same time there was a select committee that was underway here in the province of Ontario, which had the solicitor general in front of it many times, had the deputy premier in front of it. I was in front of it.”
However, he added, “there are some opportunities” to improve co-ordination and communications between the different police services.
Stiles, however, said the government “ghosted the people of Ottawa.”
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