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Ethics chief censures Minister Clark over greenbelt move

Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark has been found to be in violation of ethics over removal of lands from the greenbelt for development.

In his report issued yesterday, provincial Integrity Commissioner J David Wake, said Minister Clark violated rules when he left his staff unsupervised on the removal of lands.

Some greenbelt lands from Durham have also been earmarked for development. The provincial move is being opposed by several GTHA mayors and action groups.

“It is my opinion that Minister Clark has contravened both sections 2 and 3(2) of the Act [Members’ Integrity Act 1994],” said the commissioner.

He pointed out that Minister Clark has publicly acknowledged that there were problems with the process used to remove lands from the Greenbelt but has not “expressed any remorse for his own role” in this affair.

“I believed Minister Clark when he told me that he was unaware of that process. That belief is consistent with the totality of the evidence gathered in this inquiry.

“However, rather than being exclusively a mitigating factor when it comes to penalty, I find that his lack of awareness was also an aggravating element since he should have provided greater supervision and control over this significant undertaking entrusted to his ministry. The lack of that oversight led to the unfortunate results set out in this report,” said the commissioner.

“I am satisfied that a recommendation that the Legislative Assembly impose a reprimand by accepting this recommendation would be a sufficient penalty to be imposed at this time,” he added.

The act requires that the assembly consider and respond to this report including the recommendation within 30 days after the day the report is laid before it.

Commissioner Wake pointed out that  the Greenbelt Act provides that there shall be another 10-year review in 2025 to determine whether it should be revised.

“I sincerely hope that the experience of the exercise to remove lands from the Greenbelt as set out in this report will be used to inform that review and any subsequent process affecting these lands,” he added.

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