I see from Dawn’s latest “Community Update” that she is planning a re-run of last year’s wonderful and hugely successful “Free” BBQ and Corn Roast

Maybe this year Doug Ford can put in an appearance – fresh from his run of magnificent Ford-Fests. I hope so!  All across Ontario, from Windsor to Scarborough to Kitchener, Doug has been treating the great people of FordNation to free hot dogs, free burgers, free veggie-burgers, free pop, free T shirts. And free rides for the kids! 

Remember, in FordNation everything is absolutely FREE! Everyone is welcome. No-one will be turned away!


Personally, I think Doug owes Dawn a favour. 

Our Ford appointee MPP is a “FordFanNatic!”. Dawn is wonderfully obedient and never strays off-message. Here is what Dawn told her many thousands of wonderful readers:

Save the Date – MPP Gallagher Murphy’s 2nd Annual Community BBQ

You’re invited to our 2nd Annual Community BBQ.  Autumn will be here soon and it’s great to get outdoors and spend time with my community meeting all the wonderful constituents. 

Since the last BBQ we have been busy working on behalf of everyone in the community, I hope we will see lots (of) my Newmarket-Aurora friends for a fun day of food, music and children’s activities.  I am inviting you all to my free BBQ on Sunday October 22nd between 2:00 & 4:00 pm at Newmarket Riverwalk Commons. Hope to see you there!


Last year's wonderful free BBQ cost the taxpayers a paltry $11,160.

Who amongst us would begrudge spending this trifling sum to stage such a spectacular event?

The Free BBQ and Corn Roast feeds the hungry, entertains our lovely neighbours and promotes our splendidly talented MPP - all in one go!

Dawn is such a treasure. 

Doug is lucky to have her - and others like her - in his caucus.

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Update on 10 September 2023: Doug Ford promises homes under $500,000 at Kitchener Ford Fest.

Yesterday’s bombshell story in the Globe and Mail reveals that Susan McGovern, appointed by Doug Ford to the Board of the Greenbelt Foundation, is the sister of Michael Rice who bought the Greenbelt lands at Bathurst in King for $80M and is the spouse of John McGovern, the Rice Group’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Planning. 

Nothing prepared me for this. 

I now realise the developers' tentacles extend everywhere. 

Everything is corrupted. From municipalities that bend the truth to hospital administrators who stay silent. 

Permanent, Protected and Prosperous

The Globe and Mail tells us:

“The government appointed Susan McGovern in 2019 to the board of the Greenbelt Foundation, which describes itself on its website as “the only organization solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous.” Her three-year term ended on Nov. 20.”

As I was scrolling through the readers’ comments on these astonishing revelations, I came across this one from Nick Wright (right) which, I think, neatly sums up the position.

Conflicts of Interest

The Greenbelt Foundation has a policy covering conflicts of interest of members (whose definition includes Board members), associates and employees: 

“It will be the responsibility of all members, associates and employees to identify when a real or potential conflict may exist, and to inform the Board or CEO of such situations when they arise.” 

We know from the Globe and Mail’s research that Susan McGovern did not declare any conflicts of interest. Perhaps she didn’t discuss Greenbelt issues with her brother or husband who were actively engaged in removing land from the Greenbelt throughout 2022 if not before.

I don’t know what she got up to in her years on the Greenbelt Foundation Board. But I have asked for sight of the Board minutes covering the period from her appointment to the Board until her departure and I shall see where it takes me.

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Update on 11 September 2023: Toronto Star Editorial: Doug Ford's Greenbelt fixation more than defies explanation. It demands further investigation. 

And the Greenbelt Foundation's Annual Report for 2020-21 tells us:

"Since February 2020, the Greenbelt Foundation and Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation have been integrated, working collectively to preserve, protect, and restore the environmental and agricultural integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine."

A new Oak Ridges Moraine Committee of the Greenbelt Foundation's Board of Directors was set up to oversee this work. Susan McGovern was a Committee member. The ex-Greenbelt land at Bathurst bought by her brother, Michael Rice, for $80M on 15 September 2022, contained land which was part of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Ford Government has now redesignated that land as a settlement area, open for development. See Timeline.



In a dramatic new development, this morning's Globe and Mail reveals a direct family connection between Michael Rice and John McGovern of the Rice Group and Susan McGovern, a former Ford Government appointee to the Greenbelt Foundation.

Click "read more" for this morning's jaw dropping Globe and Mail revelations.

Update on 9 September 2023: From the Globe and Mail: Opposition demands Greenbelt reversal amid revelations of Ford government appointee's family ties

Doug Ford’s press conference earlier today was painful to watch.

His opening statement ends with a flourish invoking the Almighty: 

“Thank you and God bless the people of Ontario.”

Now he is taking questions from journalists, mainly about the Greenbelt scandal.

He frequently moves off-topic giving us a torrent of statistics. Five to six million people coming to Ontario. 800,000 last year. Modular homes for under $500,000. Wartime homes. 60,000 new nurses 8,000 new doctors. Thousands and thousands of new educators. Over 8,000 this year alone. Four subway lines. $70 billion on transit. $30 billion on highways and roads and bridges. On and on he goes, gushing figures. Millions. Billions. Trillions. He will always fight for hard working blue collar people.

He reminds me of those apparatchiks in the former Soviet Union lauding the latest five-year plan and reeling off statistics on tractor production. 

Re-evaluating everything. Consulting everyone

Oh yes...He also says he is going to review and re-evaluate all the land in the Greenbelt.

“We're going to review the whole system including the 14 properties. We're going to review all the properties. We acknowledge the process wasn't up to snuff by any means… (interruption) We're going to make sure that all properties are reviewed… all 700-800 is mandated in legislation that we should review. We're going to review them. We're going to make sure they stand with their merit and that's what we're going to look at. 

…the provincial facilitator will continue working with the land-owners and the builders to move forward. But they are going to review the whole process, not just the 14 lands (but) the 700-800 applications and they’ll be able to sit down and talk to stakeholders, the indigenous communities, people that need homes. We’ll be talking to communities and we’ll do a complete review."

Phew! That sounds like a lotta work. And a lot of consultation for a Government that until today ignored what people had to say. They didn't even read or analyse the comments from the public on the Greenbelt proposals. Straight into the waste paper basket!

Community centres, hospitals, long term care homes, parks

Ford is asked if the Government entered into a legally binding agreement with any of those (ex-Greenbelt) landowners that they would have to build X amount of housing on that land.

Ford says it will be up to the facilitator to ensure that these lands include community centres, hospitals, long term care homes, parks 

“and that’s something that we wouldn’t be able to do if a builder down the street, for instance, decides to build. We don’t go up and say you’ve got to build this. You’ve gotta build that. We rely on the municipalities to build homes to make sure that they get the permits out in a timely fashion. We’ve given them every single tool possible to make sure that makes their life easier to get homes built…”    

Now we are into a stream of consciousness with Ford making it up as he goes along. 

We are looking at the brain behind FordNation.

Personally, I want to see the plans for the development and servicing of the ex Greenbelt lands at Bathurst purchased by the developer Michael Rice on 15 September 2022 and which include a new hospital. 

I am sure the Town of Newmarket will wish to see those plans too.                 

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Update on 7 September 2023: from the Toronto Star's Martin Reg Cohn: Doug Ford's Attack on the Greenbelt hits a new low

The Greenbelt scandal is currently with the RCMP who are deciding whether to launch an investigation. 

Surely there can be no doubt now that the Police should investigate to determine if there have been breaches of the criminal law. 

Was Ryan Amato – Clark’s former Chief of Staff – a rogue operator or was he doing his master’s bidding? 

Clark insists he did not know what Amato was getting up to behind his back.

Clark, with his resignation as a Minister this morning, belatedly takes responsibility for the actions of his Chief of Staff. It is a bedrock constitutional principle that Ministers take responsibility for what is done in their name and they are answerable to Parliament.  


The Ontario Legislature will consider the Integrity Commissioner’s report when it returns later this month. David Wake is recommending Clark be reprimanded. Clark’s resignation does not render the Integrity Commissioner’s report otiose.

Amato had implied authority. He could issue orders to public service staff only because he was acting on the Minister’s behalf. He had no authority in his own right.

In her special report on changes to the Greenbelt the Auditor General asked the Premier, in turn, to request the Integrity Commissioner, David Wake, to determine if Amato “acted contrary to the requirements of the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 with respect to his liaisons with land developers and their representatives.” 

Wake is currently looking into this.

Breaking Rules

It is as plain as a pikestaff that Amato broke the rules. 

Section 6 of O.Reg.382/07 states: 

6. (1) When performing his or her duties to the Crown, a public servant shall not give preferential treatment to any person or entity, including a person or entity in which the public servant or a member of his or her family or a friend has an interest. 

(2) When performing his or her duties to the Crown a public servant shall endeavour to avoid creating the appearance that preferential treatment is being given to a person or entity that could benefit from it. 

(3) A public servant shall not offer assistance to a person or entity in dealing with the Crown other than assistance given in the ordinary course of the public servant’s employment. 


It is beyond dispute that the developers Michael Rice and Silvio de Gasperis received preferential treatment that will net them billions of dollars from a process that was totally corrupt.

The Auditor General told us that during her audit she came across examples of what appeared to be preferential treatment which 

“included providing information about the ownership and purchasing of lands, setting up investment-opportunity meetings with Minister’s Office staff, and the consideration of draft legislative and regulatory changes… We found situations where lobbyists working for developers emailed political staff to suggest amendments to legislation. In these cases, political staff copied and pasted the wording of the lobbyists’ proposed amendments into a new document, which they then forwarded onto Deputy Ministers for inclusion in legislative packages. Senior non-political public servants, who were directed by political staff to carry the proposal forward, appeared unaware that the proposed amendments had originated from a lobbyist.” 

Ontario’s laws were being written by lobbyists.

Amato says investigation would vindicate him

In Amato’s resignation letter he said he had been “unfairly depicted” and suggested he would be vindicated in any investigation

“I am confident that I have acted appropriately, and that a fair and complete investigation would reach the same conclusion.”

I want to see that investigation conducted by the RCMP.

Michael Rice’s defence is simply that he is a very good businessman with a very sharp eye for development opportunities. He was not tipped off by anyone. He just figured it all out by himself. (Michael Rice photo right)

Rice was prepared to make land available for a new hospital and had been in touch with Southlake about a number of sites before settling on the Greenbelt land at Bathurst. Wake gave weight to this.

What was public knowledge - and what wasn't

The fact that Southlake was looking for a second site was public knowledge in August 2021, perhaps before. The Chief Executive, Arden Krystal,  said the lands – or some of them – could be donated by a benefactor.

But at that stage it was not public knowledge that John Dunlap, a Southlake Board member, would facilitate the sale of the Bathurst lands from the President of the Ontario Home Builders Association, Bob Schickedanz, to the developer Michael Rice – nor that Dunlap owned land immediately adjacent to it. That information emerged later.

Who knew what and when?

And we haven’t heard from Arden Krystal – or from any of the people at Southlake - about what they knew and when they knew it. Light – as I often say - does not escape from Southlake. 

When did Krystal first realise the Bathurst lands were in the protected countryside in the Greenbelt? And what did she do about it? Did she lobby the Ministry of Health to have the lands removed from the Greenbelt? What professional planning advice did she and the Southlake Board receive?

And when did King Township’s Director of Growth Management, Stephen Naylor, tell Mayor Pellegrini that the Bathurst lands were in the protected Greenbelt and the implications of this? 

Rationale for removal of the Bathurst lands from the Greenbelt

Commissioner Wake tells us that on 27 or 28 September 2022 Michael Rice gave Ryan Amato 

“a map outlining the area proposed to be removed from the Greenbelt, a rationale supporting the removal, a summary confirming consultants had been retained to do environmental and servicing assessments and an explanation of various servicing options for the site.”

Was Naylor presented with this information at the meeting with Michael Rice on 17 October 2022?

If not why not?

Did he ask Michael Rice when the lands would be removed from the Greenbelt because planning law, as it stood on that date, would not have permitted the development Rice had in mind.

If I had stripes on my sleeve I would interview Arden Krystal, John Dunlap, Stephen Naylor and Steve Pellegrini (amongst others) under oath to find out exactly what they knew and when they knew it.

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Click "read more" for Auditor General's recommendations to the Premier. The Auditor General's report is here. The Integrity Commissioner's report is here. And my Timeline of Southlake and the Greenbelt land at Bathurst is here.

Update on 4 September 2023. From the Toronto Star's Martin Reg Cohn: Steve Clark's departure: too little too late