Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 13, 2023
Welcoming the RCMP Investigation: A Turn of Events for Doug Ford’s Greenbelt Developers
In a dramatic twist, an RCMP investigation has been launched into Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s controversial plan to open up the Greenbelt for development. Developers who once stood to profit from Ford’s decisions are now anxiously awaiting the outcome, and for those of us who value transparency and accountability in government, this investigation is a welcomed development.
The announcement by the RCMP follows a referral from the Ontario Provincial Police, marking a significant step in the pursuit of justice. The Sensitive and International Investigations (SII) unit, responsible for handling cases that threaten Canada’s political, economic, and social integrity, will be leading the probe. This unit specializes in political investigations, examining elected officials on allegations of fraud, financial crimes, corruption, and breach of trust. Given the gravity of the situation, it is imperative that this investigation unfolds diligently and impartially.
The Greenbelt, a protected natural area, was at the centre of controversy last year when the province decided to remove land from its protection in a bid to build 1.5 million homes by 2031. This move faced public outrage and resulted in the resignation of two ministers, as well as investigations by the integrity commissioner and the auditor general. Their findings revealed a flawed process that seemed to favour certain developers, raising questions about potential wrongdoing.
The criminal probe is a significant step forward in seeking answers and justice. The auditor general’s report highlighted that developers could stand to benefit by $8.3 billion from the land swap. While Premier Ford has maintained his confidence that nothing criminal took place, the investigations uncovered a tangled web of questionable actions by government officials.
One focal point of the investigations has been Ryan Amato, the chief of staff to the housing minister at the time. The commissioner’s report and the auditor general’s findings have raised concerns about Amato’s interactions with developers. His resignation in the wake of these findings is a testament to the seriousness of the situation.
The decision to bring the RCMP into the investigation is a critical one, given the need to ensure that the process is free from any perceived conflicts of interest. Premier Ford’s commitment to cooperating fully with the investigation is a step in the right direction.
The opposition, particularly the NDP and the Green Party, welcomes the investigation as a means of obtaining more answers and accountability. They argue that the people of Ontario deserve to know the truth behind these actions, which have the potential to significantly impact the province’s future.
The involvement of the RCMP underscores the gravity of the situation and the need to get to the bottom of what transpired. It is crucial to uphold the integrity of our institutions and ensure that public officials act in the best interests of the people they serve. As the investigation unfolds, we must all keep a close watch on the proceedings and trust in the process to deliver a fair and just outcome.
In the end, the RCMP’s involvement in the Greenbelt land swap scandal is a beacon of hope for those who believe in the importance of transparency, accountability, and ethical governance. It is a chance for justice to prevail, and for the public to have confidence that their interests are protected. The unfolding events serve as a reminder that no one is above the law, and that our democratic institutions must be safeguarded from any undue influence or wrongdoing. (AI)