RCMP ‘investigating irregularities’ in PC Greenbelt scandal following auditor general’s report 
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RCMP ‘investigating irregularities’ in PC Greenbelt scandal following auditor general’s report 

Following a referral from the OPP, Canada’s top police force has confirmed it has taken over the investigation into the PC government’s handling of a land swap that pulled thousands of acres from the Greenbelt and put billions of dollars in land value into the hands of wealthy developers. 

Details of the flawed process that saw 15 parcels of land removed from the Greenbelt—the world’s largest collection of protected greenspace—were exposed in startling detail earlier this month following a report from Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario’s auditor general. 

Lysyk reported that “In June 2022, the Premier provided the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Steve Clark) with the direction to ‘complete work to codify processes for swaps, expansions, contractions and policy updates for the Greenbelt,’” a blatant contradiction of what Ford had been claiming publicly for more than three years, repeatedly promising the public he would not allow any development in the Greenbelt.

A month later, Ford’s office hand-picked the man who would secretly carry out the scheme to approve construction exactly where two prominent developers— Silvio De Gasperis and Michael Rice—instructed the PCs to grant land swaps in the previously protected Greenbelt.

The political staffer, Minister Clark’s chief of staff Ryan Amato, took the instructions from two developers in envelopes handed to him at a September 2022 dinner hosted by BILD, the principal lobby group for the residential building industry, according to Lysyk’s report. 

The day after the instructions were handed to Amato, a parcel of land in King Township, in the Greenbelt, was sold to one of the two developers for $80 million. It would be part of the approximately 6,800 acres in the Greenbelt controlled by the two developers, of the 7,400 that was eventually approved by Ford for future home construction.

Lysyk estimates the decision by Ford to greenlight the development will increase the value of the land held by De Gasperis and Rice by almost $8 billion. 

Lysyk reported that the assessed value of the 7,413 acres slated for future development in the Greenbelt had been $240 million. Now, after Ford’s decision, the land is valued at $8.523 billion. 

Late Tuesday, the PC government shared that Amato had resigned from his position in Clark’s office. 

The following day, the OPP announced it was referring an investigation into the scandal over to the RCMP. 

The RCMP confirmed the referral to “investigate irregularities in the disposition of the Greenbelt surrounding Toronto.” 

“We will review and assess the information received and will take appropriate action as deemed necessary,” an RCMP spokesperson told The Pointer. “As the investigation is in its infancy and is ongoing, we decline to offer any further comments.”

The RCMP investigation follows repeated requests for a police investigation made by opposition politicians and advocates in the days following the release of Lysyk’s report.


Ontario’s Greenbelt is the world’s largest area of protected greenspace.

(Greenbelt Foundation)


The potential for a criminal investigation into the Greenbelt land swap has been swirling around the PC government since the beginning of 2023. 

After the Ford government first announced the 15 parcels of land slated for removal, several complaints were filed with the police by environmental advocacy organizations which alleged the deal was influenced by well-connected developers and PC donors. Calls for an investigation intensified after reporting revealed several of the parcels of previously protected land opened for development were purchased by developers in the years since Ford was elected in 2018, and in one case, mere weeks before the announcement was made. 

Ontario’s integrity commissioner is also investigating the matter to determine whether Ford or Clark violated the MPP Code of Conduct during the flawed process to determine which pieces of the Greenbelt should be removed. 

Both Ford and Clark have repeatedly made the baffling claim they were unaware of the process used to choose the parcels of land. 

“It is absurd that they think they can blame a political appointee—there is absolutely no way the Minister and Premier did not know,” Victor Doyle, the original architect of the Greenbelt, previously told The Pointer. 


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Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark has faced repeated calls to resign following the release of the auditor general’s report. To date, he has refused to do so.

(Government of Ontario) 


Along with the police investigation, advocates are also calling on Lysyk and Integrity Commissioner David Wake to expand the scope of their investigations into the PC government

“Transparent, defensible and unbiased land use planning is a cornerstone of a healthy economy and democracy. We are concerned that, given the revelations from the Auditor General’s report about the Greenbelt land removal, there is a disturbing possibility that other recent provincial land use planning policies may have and may come from equally problematic processes,” the Alliance for a Livable Ontario wrote in a letter addressed to both Lysyk and Wake sent on August 18.



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