Just as the Greenbelt changes stood to hand some developers billions of dollars in profits, the municipal changes last November favoured some developers and made their land more valuable because housing could be built on it.
Ford continues to maintain that he had no knowledge of what was going on. “I don’t even know which lands you’re talking about,” he told reporters this week.
That despite the fact this is the most critical issue facing his government and the document release had received wide coverage.
He insisted he couldn’t recall the “thousands of changes” made to cities’ official plans to free up more land for housing. “There’s no one person that can review every single change.”
To date, the botched initiative has been written off as staffers running amok under an inattentive minister.
But this issue will not be going away any time soon.
The RCMP, on referral from the OPP, is just commencing an investigation into the Greenbelt affair. The provincial auditor general, whose earlier report pulled back the curtain on the debacle, is looking into other land-use decisions.
Fraser properly said that the premier needs to waive cabinet privilege — which saw great portions of the documents released Tuesday blacked out — and that the RCMP Greenbelt investigation must be expanded to cover the changes to municipal boundaries.
At a rambling news conference Tuesday in Etobicoke, the premier indulged in a carnival of deflection, distraction, evasion, offering up a veritable caricature of political stone-walling.
He talked about the double-double and egg sandwich he had at Tim’s. He announced an extended gas tax cuts. He denounced the federal carbon tax. He demanded the end of bike lanes on Bloor Street West. Some of his comments would have been laughable if they weren’t so palpably hypocritical.
“Every dollar counts,” Ford said with a straight face, even as his land-use chaos promises to end up costing plenty.
For instance, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Paul Calandra has already said municipalities would be compensated for any costs incurred as a result of the previous amendments to their official plans.
Ford needs to understand that while the serious matter of land use abuses remains unresolved, the folksy everyman act won’t cut it.
Until this reeking matter is explained, nothing he says on anything will have much credibility.