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Ford 'confident' RCMP will find no criminality in Greenbelt land swap

The Canadian Press
Ford 'confident' RCMP will find no criminality in Greenbelt land swap

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday he’s confident that nothing criminal took place in his government’s process of removing land from the protected Greenbelt for housing development.

Ford took questions for the first time since the housing minister’s chief of staff resigned this week and the RCMP announced that it would weigh the available evidence and decide whether an investigation is warranted.

“If they decide to investigate – they haven’t decided yet – but if they do, I take it very serious, extremely serious, and I have zero tolerance if there was any nonsense going on,” he said Friday.

Ford said he is “confident” there was no criminality.

A report this month from the auditor general found that the chief of staff to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark selected most of the sites that were removed from the Greenbelt for housing, rather than a team of civil servants struck for that purpose.

The auditor also said that developers who had access to chief of staff Ryan Amato at an industry event wound up with 92 per cent of the land and the property owners of the 15 sites removed from the Greenbelt stand to see their land rise in value by $8.3 billion.

Ford and Clark have said they didn’t know how the sites were selected, which opposition politicians have said defies belief. Ford explained Friday that he was unaware of the details when he signed off on the plan at a cabinet meeting because he believes in delegating.

“You get stuff put in front of you before cabinet, which I did, my exact words (were), ‘Cross the T’s, dot the I’s, everything’s fine,’” Ford said.

“I can’t micromanage 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 micromanage every single person. I don’t believe in micromanaging.”

NDP Leader Marit Stiles said Ford’s certainty that there was no criminality doesn’t jibe with his assertion that he was unaware of the details.

“He’s so confident, and yet he says he doesn’t know anything,” she said. “So which is it?”

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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