'No': Ontario housing minister issues emphatic denial of wrongdoing over Greenbelt changes

WATCH ABOVE: The province has launched a consultation into building homes in Ontario’s Greenbelt. Shallima Maharaj reports.

Ontario’s housing minister issued an emphatic denial of wrongdoing after his government was accused of giving developers insider information on a massive Greenbelt land swap that’s set to take effect in days.

The Ford government has faced fierce criticism over a plan to open up thousands of acres of previously protected land in the Greenbelt for development, breaking a promise made by Premier Doug Ford during the 2018 election campaign.

Questions have been raised on whether developers were told about the plan in advance, after a Toronto Star/ Narwhal investigation found one developer bought 700 acres of Greenbelt land in September weeks before the government announced its plan to open that property for development.

“That’s a big payoff for a Greenbelt gamble,” said NDP MPP Jeff Burch.

Burch asked Minister Steve Clark whether he or any other official with the Ontario government or Progressive Conservative party shared any information with developers “about the government’s plan for removing lands from the Greenbelt before it became public on Nov. 4.”

“No,” Clark fired back during Question Period at Queen’s Park.

The denial came one day after Clark refused to give a definitive answer to the same question despite being asked multiple times by the Official Opposition and members of the media.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner sent a letter to the Integrity Commissioner on Monday calling for an investigation into Clark and Ford and whether they broke Ontario’s Members’ Integrity act.

He also demanded the investigation probe whether developers were given advance notice of the impending decision.

Schreiner said the Members’ Integrity Act prohibits members from knowingly making a decision that furthers the private interests of an individual. He said it also prohibits providing insider information that furthers the private interests of an individual.

While the Integrity Commissioner has yet to confirm whether his office will launch an investigation, Clark said he would “assist” any probe.

“I look forward to being vindicated,” Clark said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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