The RCMP has confirmed that it has taken over the investigation into into the Ford government’s Greenbelt land swap controversy.
“The RCMP can confirm that we received a referral from the OPP to investigate irregularities in the disposition of the Greenbelt surrounding Toronto,” the service said in a statement.
“We will review and assess the information received and will take appropriate action as deemed necessary.”
On Tuesday morning, provincial police announced that they had passed the investigation over to their federal counterparts in an effort to avoid any “perceived conflict of interest.”
A spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford told Global News that the decision to hand the investigation over to the RCMP was made independently.
“The government is currently working to implement all 14 recommendations put forward in the report related to process,” Ivana Yelich said in an emailed statement.
Attorney General Bonnie Lysak released an explosive report on Aug. 9 which said that Ontario developers had received “preferential treatment” and had direct influence over the Ford government’s decision to extract lands from the Greenbelt.
According to the report, the province began working on removing protections to the Greenbelt land as soon as it won re-election in 2022.
Lysak released the report after a six-month investigation and interviews with a number of those involved, including Ford, who denied any wrongdoing.
The report provides links between the Premier’s Office, Housing Minister Steve Clark, a central political staffer who drove the project, and developers who benefitted from the deal.
The move to lift the protections on the 15 parcels, containing about 7,400 acres of land, raised their value for the property owners by $8.3 billion, according to the auditor general.
Lysak’s report also noted that six staffers were given three weeks to decide which areas of land should have their protections removed. It also said that most of the areas which were under consideration came from Steve Clark’s chief of staff
On Monday, Ford’s office confirmed that Ryan Amato, chief of staff to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing had resigned.
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