Ontario housing minister resigns over ethics violations in Greenbelt scandal News
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Ontario housing minister resigns over ethics violations in Greenbelt scandal

Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark on Monday resigned from the Canadian province’s cabinet following a scathing report from the Ontario Integrity Commissioner released last week, which found that Clark had put himself into a position with a conflict of interest and violated integrity mandates while overseeing the process of opening protected Greenbelt lands to housing development. The Greenbelt is a protected area of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds located in Southern Ontario. At two million acres, it is the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt zone. 

Clark wrote that while he has “always tried to fulfill the mandate of getting more homes built, this crisis demands someone who is not a distraction from the important work that needs to be done.”

Clark’s resignation comes as the latest in a string of blows to the ruling Conservative government, led by Premier Doug Ford, which faces a growing crisis in the ongoing Greenbelt scandal. The political furor stems from the Ford government’s decision back in December 2022 to remove lands from the protected Greenbelt for housing development. In addition to environmental concerns, critics have alleged that developers who bought the lands had been tipped off in advance of the decision, raising concerns of corruption and reckless governing. 

The Integrity Commissioner’s report follows a separate report released in August by the Auditor General of Ontario, which found that the lands selected for development were “not chosen using an objective and transparent selection process,” and that well-connected land developers were given “preferential treatment” during the selection process.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is also considering whether to launch an investigation into the Greenbelt scandal after the matter was referred to them by the Ontario Provincial Police.

Premier Ford today announced that his government would be conducting a “top to bottom” review and re-evaluation of all lands in the Greenbelt, stating that the move is “needed to ensure that the people of Ontario […] have confidence in the decisions we’re making.” He has, however, refused to table a bill which would reverse the December decision entirely.