Ontario NDP asks integrity commissioner to look into Ford’s ties to developers, lobbyists

The Ontario NDP is calling on the province’s integrity commissioner to look into whether or not Premier Doug Ford violated the Integrity Act as it relates to two family events involving developers and lobbyists.

Marit Stiles officially submitted a letter of complaint on Thursday to Commissioner J. David Wake, asking for an opinion as to whether or not Ford breached Section 2 (Conflict of Interest), Section 4 (Influence), and Section 6-1 (Gifts) of the Act.

Ford has faced questions about developers attending his daughter and son-in-law’s $150-per-ticket stag-and-doe event last August before their wedding.

“This complaint looks at, what I think is, the latest in a troubling pattern of apparent conflict and conduct by this government, and by this premier,” Stiles tells CityNews 680.

“The premier of this province should be obligated to avoid any kind of conflict, but also the appearance of conflict.”

In her letter to the commissioner Stiles says invitees felt “browbeaten” into purchasing tickets to the event in question.

“I am concerned that invitees felt pressured to contribute to the Premier’s family fundraiser, particularly as some invitees felt they weren’t being asked as “friends” of the Premier – but as government stakeholders – and feared impacts on their professional reputations and working relationships with the government,” writes Stiles.

Ford was not in the legislature to respond to questions Thursday from Stiles, but government house leader Paul Calandra calls her complaint a “drive-by smear.”

“(They) tried this once and the integrity commissioner has said that there was no issue,” Calandra said. “The premier has answered the question. So (the NDP figures) let’s try another smear tactic. Let’s try bringing the family into it.”

The scrutiny of Ford’s relationships with developers comes after the province announced in November that it is removing about 7,400 acres from 15 different areas in the protected Greenbelt, while adding more parcels elsewhere, in order to build 50,000 homes.

Ford has said he did nothing wrong, adding he asked the integrity commissioner to look at family event and the commissioner’s office “found there was no violation.”

The Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario previously stated that based on information provided, Ford had no knowledge of gifts given to his daughter and son-in-law and there was no discussion of government business at the summer event.

“We don’t know what information he provided to the integrity commissioner, so it really wasn’t a complaint,” Stiles says of Ford’s previous statements. “This is asking the commissioner to investigate.”

Last month, the integrity commissioner and auditor general announced they were both launching separate investigations into the Ford government’s plans to open protected Greenbelt lands for housing development.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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