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The Greenbelt Scandal: Stinking Fish

September 8th, 2023 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, will Doug Ford be able to shed the foul odour of the Ontario Greenbelt Scandal?

I expect that the Greenbelt Scandal will become a case study for political scandals in the next edition of Public Administration casebooks. Consider the juicy timeline to date:


September 25, 2022: Housing developers, including the developer of three sites in York Region ultimately removed from the Greenbelt, attend Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s daughter’s wedding. Ford says the developers were personal friends and he has done nothing wrong.

November 18, 2022: The More Homes Built Faster Act 2022 passes in the Legislature.

December 14, 2022: Housing Ministry files regulations implementing the Ministry’s proposed Greenbelt boundary changes.


March 9, 2023: Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario report that Ontario’s municipalities already have 85 percent of the 1.5 million housing units needed in their approval pipelines.

August 11, 2023: Auditor General of Ontario Special Report on Changes to the Greenbelt released. Key findings include:

  • How land sites were selected was not transparent, fair, objective or fully informed.
  • Sufficient land exists for the target of 1.5 million homes to be built without the need to build on the Greenbelt.
  • Direct access to the Housing Minister’s Chief of Staff resulted in certain prominent developers receiving preferential treatment.

Among the 15 recommendations made: Re-evaluation of the 2022 Decision to Change the Greenbelt Boundaries. Doug Ford indicates his administration will act on 14 of the recommendations but will not reevaluate changes to the greenbelt boundary.

August 21, 2023: Ford announces expansion of “strong mayor” powers to smaller cities allowing mayors to propose housing-related bylaws and pass them with the support of only one-third of councillors. A blatant power realignment to suit the government’s agenda.


August 22, 2023: Ryan Amato, Chief of Staff for the Ontario Housing Minister, resigns. Scandal playbook tactic: Designate a fall guy and hang it all on him.

August 30, 2023: Report of Integrity Commissioner indicates Housing Minister Steve Clark failed to properly oversee the process that led to Greenbelt lands being selected for housing development and recommends he be reprimanded. Scandal playbook tactic: Be vaguely apologetic while assembling the golden parachute for the accused.

September 4, 2023: Housing Minister Steve Clark resigns from the cabinet. Doug Ford announces cabinet shuffle. Scandal playbook tactic: Shuffle the cards to deflect attention away from the real problem.

September 6, 2023: New Housing Minister Paul Calandra announces a Greenbelt review that will re-examine land already removed for development as well as the possible removal of additional Greenbelt lands, or additions to Greenbelt designated land, this time using a fair, transparent process. Scandal playbook tactic: Give the appearance of responding to the Auditor General’s recommendation using language so nebulous that in the end nothing may change.

On the Horizon: The specter of a possible RCMP criminal investigation. Scandal playbook tactic: Assemble the lawyers and start building the case that the RCMP does not have jurisdiction. Fallback tactic: Throw up the parliamentary privilege stonewall to assert that Ford cannot be required to testify.

Political scandals are stinking fish. The longer the scandal drags on the more the fish rot and the worse the stink gets. The stench of the stinking fish of the Greenbelt Scandal are making us all gag. No amount of political playbook tactics will mask the foul odour that now clings to Doug Ford.

~ 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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