The popular celebrity MPP for Newmarket-Aurora, Dawn Gallagher Murphy, will again be hosting a “free” BBQ this coming Sunday at 2pm at Doug Duncan Drive allowing constituents to meet their representative at Queen’s Park. 

Since Doug Ford personally selected her as the PC candidate for Newmarket-Aurora, Dawn has made a name for herself by tirelessly visiting places, handing out certificates and congratulating people for what they do.

It is busy work being a Progressive Conservative MPP.

Free Community BBQ

Last year Dawn billed the taxpayers for the full $11,160 cost of her first annual “free” BBQ.

This requires a certain kind of chutzpah.

Personally, I don’t think it's an appropriate use of public money. But that may be an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy view.

I wrote to the Speaker of the Legislature, Ted Arnott MPP, on 7 June 2023 suggesting the rules be changed to outlaw “free” BBQs, paid for out of public funds, say, in the twelve months prior to an election. 

In the circumstances, I thought my recommendation was pretty modest. I didn't want to push my luck.

Hostess with the Mostess

As I understand it, there is nothing to prevent Dawn holding one of her free BBQs in the immediate run-up to a calendared Provincial election, boosting her already stratospheric popularity as the hostess with the mostess. 

The Speaker acknowledged my email: 

“We will endeavour to review and respond to your message as soon as possible.”

But I heard nothing more.

I left it a month and I tried again with a gentle reminder and got precisely the same reply.

“We will endeavour to review and respond to your message as soon as possible.”

It looks like nothing is going to change.

Why not spend $22,000?

So I shall wander down to Doug Duncan Drive this Sunday at 2pm to see what’s happening. I won’t be eating or drinking anything paid for by the taxpayers but I want to talk to people.

Dawn believes her “free” BBQ is an appropriate use of public money. Otherwise she wouldn’t be doing this.

But, if I get the chance, I want to ask her why she is limiting her spending to only $11,160? 

What if the whole Town turns out for a free hamburger and fries?

Why not double that $11,160 and put on something really spectaclar? 


I suspect I’d be told there are rules that would prevent such a thing.

Except no-one can show me the rules.

In their entirety.

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Click “read more” to see my email exchanges with the Speaker, Ted Arnott.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the devious Paul Calandra, has now tabled the Greenbelt Statute Law Amendment Act, 2023 which will return lands to the Greenbelt that were removed from it in December 2022.

We wait to see if the Government rushes the Bill through all its stages at breakneck speed (to get this major embarrassment put behind it asap) or if it goes into Committee for line by line scrutiny, prolonging the agony.

The NDP official opposition has asked for a debate on the Integrity Commissioner's recommendation to reprimand former Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark.

Provincial Land and Development Facilitator

The Provincial Land and Development Facilitator – a Government appointee little known outside planning and development circles – had a key role in negotiating development agreements with Michael Rice and those like him who bought Greenbelt land in the protected countryside in the expectation it could, at some stage, be opened up for development.

What's happened to Paula Dill?

Paula Dill has been the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator for many years with her appointment being renewed periodically. But, curiously, her name does not appear in the current list of Ontario public appointments. (see below)

Ms Dill was interviewed by the Integrity Commissioner, David Wake, in connection with his inquiry into the former Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Steve Clark.

Development Agreements

Today I filed two Freedom of Information requests with the Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry asking for sight of records relating to the mandate given to her by the now disgraced Steven Clark. The Integrity Commissioner tells us Paula Dill was asked:

“to facilitate discussions on the 15 sites in the Greenbelt that were removed or redesignated to achieve development agreements that would accommodate a shared vision for attaining the Government’s objectives in these sites.”

I have also asked for sight of all records relating to the agreement in principle and/or draft agreement between the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator and Michael Rice, owner of the Bathurst lands in King Township which were removed from the Greenbelt in December 2022. 

Deputation to King Council

Elsewhere… my deputation to King Council this evening was ruled out of order as the Township has no Open Forum for members of the public and what I wanted to talk about was outside the Council’s jurisdiction. The Township Clerk, Denny Timm, tells me:

“Council does not offer an open forum component during its meetings. Council’s procedural by-law precludes deputations on matters that are outside Council’s jurisdiction. Your request pertains to the Integrity Commissioner’s Report, the hospital site selection, and provincial decisions regarding the Greenbelt lands – matters that are outside of Council’s jurisdiction and within the jurisdiction of the Province. I am therefore unable to accommodate your request.” 

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The Mayor of King Township, Steve Pellegrini, knows a lot more about the Greenbelt scandal than he is letting on.  

It seems to me he keeps his own Council in the dark.

And, for some unfathomable reason, they are terrified to ask about his role in trying to get a new hospital built on prime agricultural land in King’s protected Greenbelt.

The evidence shows Mayor Pellegrini cannot be relied upon to tell the truth. He said the first time he spoke to the developer Michael Rice was at a meeting on 1 November 2022 when Rice offered Southlake Chief Executive, Arden Krystal, land in the protected Greenbelt for a new hospital for a nominal fee. Pellegrini’s statement was false. And, to this day, he continues to dissemble.

Pellegrini's lunch with Rice

Pellegrini had lunch with Michael Rice at the Terra Restaurant in Vaughan on 10 August 2022 and had a meeting with the developer on 17 October 2022 to discuss the presentation to Southlake on 1 November 2022. Why did Pellegrini lie? It is inconceivable he would have forgotten meeting Michael Rice earlier.

On 19 April 2023, Pellegrini told me by email:

"I ask(ed) Mr. Rice at our lunch if he would be interested in donating land for the proposed 2nd Southlake. The follow-up meeting was to deal with this matter."

The follow-up meeting on 17 October 2022 included King's Director of Growth Management, Stephen Naylor.

"Moving this idea forward since 2019"

Pellegrini told the King Sentinel in February that he had been intimately involved in the search for a suitable site for a second Southlake:

“I have been moving this idea forward since 2019 – on different lands, with different landowners. At the time of our meeting, I brought the idea of a hospital forward to the Rice Group and they were open to discussion.”

But now, fearful where this Greenbelt scandal is going, he is furiously back-peddling, portraying himself as an interested bystander, insisting the real decisions will be taken by the Province and Southlake. (Click “read more” below for Pellegrini interview with Kelly Cutrara)

"Other lands"

In his report of 30 August 2023, the Integrity Commissioner, David Wake, wrote in paragraph 288:

“… the Mayor explained that other lands in the vicinity (of the Bathurst site) had already been discussed as a possible hospital site and that if Mr Rice contributed land from his recently purchased property, he believed it would potentially be a viable option for the hospital and a significant benefit for King Township.”

No-one on King Council – neither elected officials nor senior staff – will admit to knowing where these “other lands” are. Nor will they say who was involved in the discussions on whether these lands would be suitable for a new hospital. The Township has no records of any search for land suitable for a new hospital. Their Director of Growth Management, the tight-lipped Stephen Naylor, says nothing. There are no records of meetings where these “other lands” were considered. And no-one on King Council is curious enough to ask him.

Why doesn’t someone just ask him? 

I would love to have an hour on a public platform with Mayor Pellegrini, just the two of us, taking him through the Greenbelt scandal in his own municipality, asking him what he knew and when he knew it. But I doubt that’s going to happen.

Deputation turned down

So I put in for a deputation to speak to King Council on either 16 or 30 October 2023, whichever was the more convenient for them. In the five minutes allocated, I intended to put one or two simple and straightforward questions directly to Mayor Pellegrini, asking him to identify the “other lands” suitable for a new hospital and who was involved in the discussions. And who was the other party?

Was it John Dunlap, the (now former) Southlake Board Member, landowner and land agent who facilitated the sale of the Greenbelt lands from Bob Schickedanz to Michael Rice?

Unhappily, the Township Clerk, Denny Timm, tells me a deputation is not possible as:

“Council does not offer an open forum component during its meetings. Council’s procedural by-law precludes deputations on matters that are outside Council’s jurisdiction. Your request pertains to the Integrity Commissioner’s Report, the hospital site selection, and provincial decisions regarding the Greenbelt lands – matters that are outside of Council’s jurisdiction and within the jurisdiction of the Province. I am therefore unable to accommodate your request.”

It's too bad there is no open forum. Nor any report from staff updating Council members on the Province's change of heart on developing the Greenbelt. Perhaps I would have been able to hang a deputation on the back of that.

Code of Conduct. 

King Township’s Code of Conduct tells me:

“Members shall act and are expected to perform their functions with honesty, integrity, accountability and transparency.”


“in all respects, a member shall refrain from making statements known to be false or with intent to mislead Council or the public.”

I have been in touch with some other members of King Council about Pellegrini’s “other lands’ but they cannot shed any light on these discussions – when they happened and who was involved. I wrote to elected officials on 25 September 2023 (Click “read more” to see email) but all I get is radio silence.

Silence no longer an option

With the RCMP now involved, looking the other way is no longer a sustainable or defensible position. 

On Tuesday 10 October 2023, the RCMP announced it was launching a criminal investigation into

“allegations associated to the decision from the Province of Ontario to open parts of the Greenbelt for development.”

Yet less than two months ago - on 25 August 2023 - Doug Ford, the archetypal wide boy, told reporters he was confident nothing criminal took place in the lead up to the decision to open-up parts of the protected Greenbelt to development.

The RCMP should interview Steve Pellegrini under caution to find out what he knew about the deal to build on prime agricultural land in the protected Greenbelt in his own municipality and when he knew it.

Pellegrini should break the habit of a lifetime and tell the truth.

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See Timeline which shows who was involved and when. See also: King Township Official Plan September 2019

Click "read more" below for Pellegrini's interview with Kelly Cutrara and for my email to King Township's elected Officials.

Corruption is a spreading stain in the Ford Government.  

Ford and his enablers like Paul Calandra contaminate everything they touch.

From their casual disregard for the truth to their shameless and brazen behaviour.

Calandra replaced the disgraced Steve Clark as Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister who looked the other way when his Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato, was dismantling the protected Greenbelt.

But Calandra also stays on as the Government’s business manager in the Legislative Assembly. This allows him to keep a finger on the pulse of what's happening.

Call Doug Ford on 416 325 1941

Yesterday at Queen’s Park, the Opposition Leader, Marit Stiles, asks Ford to publish his personal phone logs for a one-week period last November during the flurry of Greenbelt announcements. Through a Freedom of Information request, Global News finds out there is no evidence Ford used his Government-issue phone. So, in breach of all the rules, did the Premier use his own phone instead?

Calandra refuses to say.

The Auditor General made it clear in her report of 9 August 2023 that Ministers’ phone and email records must be kept:

“Files that relate to the development and delivery of the Government’s policy and legislative agenda, including issues under consideration by the Minister that may form part of the Government’s policy agenda, must also be retained.”

Missing the Point

Deliberately missing the point, Calandra tells us the Premier takes calls from anyone and everyone, all the time:

“The Premier has been very open with respect to how people can contact him. As I said last week, he in fact gave his phone number out in the House, publicly, for everybody to call. I know I’ve been with him, and a number of our caucus members have been with him, when he’s answering calls from constituents with respect to programs or services for people in his riding. He’s not going to stop doing that because that’s the type of person he is.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. But the Government promised to accept all the Auditor General's recommendations, including this one about phone calls and emails.

(As it happens, I called Doug Ford on 5 November 2022 on 416 325 1941. I spoke to a real person but it wasn’t Doug Ford. The Main Man didn’t get back to me. But that was no surprise. There are 14,789,778 people in Ontario)

But anyway… what about the phone logs?

Standing Orders

While Calandra dodges the questions, those around him are clapping like trained seals.

Calandra has presided over two recent revisions of the Standing Orders at Queen’s Park. Sounds dry as dust yet these Standing Orders shape the way in which Ford’s inchoate policies become the law of the land.

In Calandra’s watch, long-standing Parliamentary conventions are quietly thrown overboard. Bills are put on the Statute Book when they are still out for public consultation.

The Auditor General tells us 35,000 responses to the Greenbelt consultation were binned, not analysed. 

No Committee scrutiny

Major pieces of legislation such as the Bill dissolving Peel Region are never sent to Committee for detailed line-by-line scrutiny. This robs people who have knowledge and expertise from putting their views directly to MPPs.

Democratic conventions such as showing up for election debates have been ditched by the Progressive Conservatives.

Ford’s lobotomised PC candidates believe detailed election platforms are for the birds. In their place we have FordFests, free meals for voters and ‘free” BBQs paid by taxpayers.

Ford believes manifestos would be an albatross around his neck so, instead, he simply promises “to get the job done”. Whatever that is. 

At the last election in June 2022, Ford did not give any hint he would allow development in the Greenbelt. A policy he put in motion as soon as the votes were counted.

Politicians v Judges

In 2018, in the tussle over the size of Toronto City Council, Doug Ford lambasted the judges, pointing out he was elected and they weren’t.

Oh dear! 

Ford meant that as a slam dunk. But it has backfired. Spectacularly.

The judges, too, have a role to play.

As Ford is now finding out. 

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Click “read more” below to read the exchanges yesterday between the Opposition Leader Marit Stiles and Paul Calandra. The full version is in Hansard here

Newmarket Today reporter, Joseph Quigley, deserves a round of applause for breaking the story on 30 September 2023 that the Provincial Government would veto a new hospital on the lands in King, owned by developer Michael Rice, that are to be returned to the Greenbelt.

The story was picked up by the Globe and Mail this morning. You can read Jill Mahoney's piece by clicking: "read more" below.

The full story is still to come out.

I want a complete truthful account from all the main players. 

We don't have that yet.

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