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Greenbelt Gift-wrapped Giveaway: Ford’s Shameful Legacy

August 19th, 2023 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, will be the Greenbelt Gift-wrapped Giveaway be Doug Ford’s shameful legacy?

I will put my cards on the table. I have never been a supporter of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. I have an intense dislike for the man and his bullying style of leadership. I was employed by an Ontario government funded association for many years. Speaking out would have been biting that hand that feeds me. But I retired in the spring of this year and can now speak my mind.

The Auditor General of Ontario’s Special Report on Changes to the Greenbelt, and the Ford government’s response to it, sheds a bright light on how Doug Ford chooses to operate. The report is 95 pages long but the Executive Summary tells the story. A few excerpts from it:

“We found that how the land sites were selected was not transparent, fair, objective, or fully informed. It also can be shown that there was sufficient land for the target of 1.5 million homes to be built without the need to build on the Greenbelt.

“In conducting our work, we learned about the exercise that was used to recommend the removal of lands from the Greenbelt for housing. It was seriously flawed and was dismissive of effective land-use planning…

“Direct access to the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff resulted in certain prominent developers receiving preferential treatment. About 92% of the approximately 7,400 acres ultimately removed from the Greenbelt are five land sites put forward by two developers (which included a land site associated with a third developer) who had access to the Chief of Staff in September 2022.”

The report with its 15 recommendations could not be more damning. Ford and his Housing Minister have been in damage control mode since it was released. They have indicated they will comply with 14 of the recommendations but not the one that really matters: Re-evaluation of the 2022 Decision to Change the Greenbelt Boundaries. In summary, their response is:

We will pay lip service to the report but refuse to acknowledge the wrongdoing it reveals. Under no circumstances will we concede we broke the rules and breached the public trust. Notwithstanding all the evidence that what we did was wrong, we are bulldozing ahead with our ill-conceived plans.

A secondary controversy has erupted out of the report: use of personal cell phones and communication devices, rather than government issued ones, by Ministry staff while conducting ministry business. This runs counter to records retention and transparency requirements for elected and non-elected public service staff.

We can be certain that this is not the end of the matter. The opposition NDP and Liberal parties will be hounding the Ford government over the report for some time to come and rightly so. But Doug Ford’s modus operandi will continue to be what it always has been: I’m the boss. I thumb my nose at the rules and official processes and do whatever I want to do.

In answer to the question that started this post: Yes, the Greenbelt Gift-wrapped Giveaway will be Ford’s shameful legacy when his controversial reign as premier finally ends.

~ Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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