(September 25, 2023)
By: Kristin Rushowy, Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson, The Peterborough Examiner
Under fire over the $8.28-billion Greenbelt land swap scandal, Premier Doug Ford will introduce legislation within weeks to return the properties to the protected zone.
Ford’s move will enshrine in law his policy flip-flop from last Thursday, when he announced housing development would be prohibited on the 7,400 acres of Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area land.
As some 5,000 protesters demonstrated outside the legislature — against his plan for more privately delivered, publicly funded health-care services — the premier faced a barrage of opposition Greenbelt questions on Monday.
“Why would anyone trust this government to fix a disaster of their own making?” demanded NDP Leader Marit Stiles of a controversy that has cost Ford two ministers and two senior aides. A third minister has left politics for the private sector.
“All roads lead to the premier’s office in this scandal,” charged interim Liberal leader John Fraser.
Ford was defensive, saying life in Ontario is “1,000 times better” since his Progressive Conservatives came to power in 2018.
“When we took office … we inherited a bankrupt province from the Liberals, and the NDP supporting them. We have turned things around,” the embattled premier insisted.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra said legislation to be introduced soon would put 7,400 acres from the land swap back into the Greenbelt, along with 9,400 acres added elsewhere on the two-million-acre swath.