Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday August 10, 2023
Doug Ford’s Greenbelt Scandal: A Breach of Trust and Environmental Stewardship
In a revelatory exposé, Doug Ford’s alleged corruption is exposed in a damning 93-page report by the auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk. This report vividly depicts Ford’s apparent disregard for transparency, accountability, and environmental concerns. Last fall, Ford’s government unlocked 7,400 acres of ecologically protected land, shrouding the entire process in impropriety that cannot be ignored.
Lysyk’s report raises questions about Ford’s motives. The argument that this land was essential to address housing needs is undermined by Lysyk’s finding that such vast acreage was unnecessary to fulfill the promise of constructing 1.5 million homes. This calls Ford’s credibility into question and raises suspicions of ulterior motives.
The most alarming aspect is the lack of transparency in site selection. Lysyk’s report reveals opaque and biased criteria. Ford’s administration favoured well-connected developers, notably demonstrated by Ryan Amato’s role, chief of staff to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark. The report uncovers a direct link between Amato and influential developers, indicating preferential treatment.
The report goes beyond revealing government dealings; it exposes an ethical void. Amato’s attendance at a private event with landowners and developers, where confidential information was shared, showcases the cozy relationship between Ford’s government and industry influencers. Amato’s delay in opening developers’ requests, only to later provide the information to the Greenbelt project team, suggests orchestrated manipulation.
Ford’s defensive stance is equally troubling. Despite compelling evidence of favouritism and ethical breaches, he insists “there’s nothing to hide.” This dismissive approach undermines Ontarians’ demand for transparency and integrity from their leaders.
The environmental consequences are deeply concerning. The report outlines potential damage to prime agricultural land, wetlands, woodlands, and endangered species. Ford’s disregard for environmental protection is alarming, particularly in a climate-conscious era. Removing these protected areas jeopardizes wildlife, heightens flood risks, and compromises water quality.
Ford’s administration appears to have overlooked long-term impacts, prioritizing developers’ interests over public and environmental welfare. The suggestion that the value of these removed lands could surge by billions underscores suspicions of favouritism.
Ongoing investigation by the Integrity Commissioner underscores the severity of the situation. Public demand for truth remains paramount, and Ford must be held accountable for his administration’s actions. His tendency to deflect responsibility or feign ignorance about a biased selection process is a disservice to Ontarians.
This scandal signifies more than an isolated incident; it exposes a deeper problem corroding our democracy and eroding public trust. Ontario deserves leaders upholding the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and accountability. Doug Ford’s actions, as detailed in the report, cast serious doubt on his fitness as one such leader. (AI)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro. If you’re creative, give illustration a try: