The RCMP announced that it will investigate Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s attempt to “swap” land in the Greenbelt, a move that was previously criticized for benefiting his developer friends.
“Following a referral from the Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP O Division’s Sensitive and International Investigations (SII) unit has now launched an investigation into allegations associated to the decision from the Province of Ontario to open parts of the Greenbelt for development,” reads a statement posted by Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello on X (formerly Twitter).
In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, the RCMP states that they will not be providing further updates at this time.
The Greenbelt land transfer attempt took place last fall but only recently resulted in the resignation of two cabinet ministers and two senior political aides, including Minister of Housing Steven Clark. The resignations followed a harsh critique by the auditor general criticizing the successful lobbying of government officials by developers.
Premier Ford previously got feisty in response to D’Mello’s questioning of his Greenbelt land swap plans, which would see approximately 3,000 hectares of protected countryside replaced by similar areas including areas within the urban river valley.
Urban sprawl with mass immigration influxes into the area conflicts with Ontario’s Greenbelt, the world's largest protected greenspace that encompasses two million acres of farmlands, forests, wetlands and watersheds. It’s regarded as the heart and lungs of the heavily developed Greater Toronto Area.
In 2021/2022, Toronto received nearly 160,000 immigrants, which represents nearly three-quarters of the entire province's immigration statistics.
Ford previously condemned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expansive immigration targets, stating that the official numbers cited aren’t accurate.
“It’s probably up to seven or eight hundred thousand that are arriving,” Ford previously told reporters. “I didn’t get a phone call saying ‘surprise, surprise we’re dropping this many people into your province. Good luck, you deal with them.’”