Doug Ford says he will waive cabinet privilege in RCMP Greenbelt investigation

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Premier Ford to waive cabinet confidentiality in RCMP’s Greenbelt probe
Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed the RCMP will have access to all government documents in their Greenbelt investigation. Global’s Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello reports.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will waive cabinet confidentiality giving the RCMP’s Greenbelt investigation full access to internal provincial documents.

The federal police force is investigating the Ford government’s decision to remove 7,400 acres of land from the Greenbelt to allow developers to build more housing.

Two parliamentary watchdogs found the decision favoured some developers, who saw their land jump in value by an estimated $8.3 billion dollars after the decision.

On Friday, Ford indicated he would allow police detectives access to confidential cabinet documents in their probe.

“They have full access, I support them 1,000 per cent,” Ford said in response to a question over whether he would waive cabinet confidence.

Documents prepared for cabinet or discussed during cabinet meetings are closely guarded in Ontario.

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They are immune from release under freedom of information laws and strict policies are in place to keep discussions private — traditionally frank conversations about policy and a place where cabinet members air dissenting views.

“We’re working through our office and we support the RCMP on anything that they’re doing — they’re good people,” Ford said. “And we’ll always support all our police services, including the RCMP.”

The RCMP has been in touch with some staff to set up interviews, but Ford said they have not yet spoken to him.

Before the RCMP announced its investigation into the Greenbelt decision, both Ontario’s integrity commissioner and auditor general published detailed reports on the process.

The Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake said his office was given “extensive documentary disclosure” from the Ministry of Housing, the Premier’s Office, and the Secretary of Cabinet as he investigated who was responsible for the Greenbelt decision-making.

The disclosure resulted in 2,300 multi-page documents, which the commissioner said included “cabinet submissions, briefing presentations, letters, text messages, emails, calendars, and maps.”

Wake, however, was unable to obtain communications between government staffers and developers, which were seen as a key to the process.

“The documents gathered included very few emails and no text messages exchanged between the minister’s chief of staff and developers and their representatives with respect to the Greenbelt project,” Wake said in his report in August. “I was advised that many communications took place by telephone call and that documents were frequently hand-delivered on USB sticks or on paper.”


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