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Ford doubles down on housing plan amid calls to fire minister over Greenbelt swap

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on August 31, 2023 with No Comments

Premier’s office has said so far that Steve Clark will keep his job Premier Doug Ford doubled down on statements around building more homes in Ontario while fielding pointed questions from reporters Thursday, the day after Ontario’s integrity commissioner recommended Housing Minister Steve Clark be reprimanded for his role in the province’s controversial Greenbelt land swap.

At an unrelated news conference, Ford was asked repeatedly why Clark will keep his position despite the report from J. David Wake that said the housing minister failed to have proper oversight over the process that led to protected Greenbelt lands being selected for housing development, ultimately allowing the interests of some private developers to influence the project. You can read more about that story and find the full integrity commissioner’s report here.

“Minister Clark is part of our team and will continue to be part of our team,” Ford said. “At the end of the day, I’m not happy with the process, we’re changing the process, but I have to build these homes, and we’re going to continue to build the 1.5 million homes in every corner of this province.

“I’m responsible for everything that happens in the province. And I always make sure we hold our caucus and our ministers accountable, to follow the mandate that we gave them the mandate we gave,” he said.

Ford said he’s done with removing land from the Greenbelt, but also said he “won’t hesitate” to throw land owned developers back in under those previous environmental protections if housing isn’t built. He said the issues that have emerged around the Greenbelt that “everyone is making such a big deal about” are a “sliver” compared to the issues other people have.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of people that don’t have homes,” he said. “When we have a housing crisis we have two options, we sit back like the other government did and let the province fall apart, or we move forward and build homes.”

Wake’s report came weeks after the province’s auditor general released an extensive report that showed property developers connected to the government influenced the decision to open up the Greenbelt to their financial benefit.

Yesterday, Ford’s office said Clark would keep his job and made no mention of sanctions, despite fresh calls from the political opposition at Queen’s Park to fire him.

Clark said in a statement following the report’s publication that he accepts its findings, stating there were “clear flaws in the process.” But he echoed the premier’s office’s comments, pledging a commitment to building housing.

Ford is speaking Thursday alongside Labour Minister Monte McNaughton and Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Clark is expected to hold his own news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET.

 

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