Doug Ford announced a reversal of his controversial sell-off of Ontario Greenbelt lands on Thursday, during a very serious press conference that the Premier chose to hold in a parking lot across the street from a Margaritaville location in Niagara Falls.
Amid intense scrutiny and a second cabinet resignation, Ford told assembled media and Ontario residents on Thursday afternoon that he “made a promise to you that I wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that, I am very, very sorry.”
“It was a mistake to open the Greenbelt. It was a mistake to establish a process that moved too fast. This process, it left too much room for some people to benefit over others. It caused people to question our motives.”
“As a first step to earn back your trust, I’ll be reversing the changes we made, and won’t make any changes to the Greenbelt in the future. Because, even if you do something for the right reasons with the best of intentions, it can still be wrong.”
The reversal on plans to sell Greenbelt lands to developers comes a day after a second member of Ford’s cabinet, Mississauga East-Cooksville MPP Kaleed Rasheed, resigned over the growing scandal, which itself came less than three weeks after Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark resigned from his post.
At the time of his resignation, Clark had just been found guilty of violating the province’s Integrity Act over his role in the Greenbelt scandal.
Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles issued a statement following Ford’s presser, calling the reversal “a victory for Ontarians, who fought long and hard to get this government to reverse their corrupt decision to carve up the Greenbelt.”
“It was clear from the beginning that this was the wrong decision, and yet Ford’s Conservatives pressed on,” stated Stiles, adding the move “was a calculated attempt by this government to benefit a select few of their insiders at the expense of everyone else.”
Though Stiles is satisfied with the outcome, she argues that “Mr. Ford continues to dodge responsibility as the Premier of this province, especially as this whole scandal has pulled back the curtain on a government all too comfortable making backroom deals.”
“This reversal won’t clear the air on a government that Ontarians know stinks.”