Ontario integrity commissioner halts Ford stag-and-do investigation IG News

IG News Updates,

Ontario’s integrity commissioner says he is temporarily setting aside a request from the NDP to issue an opinion on Premier Doug Ford’s daughter’s stag-and-do event, which was attended by some developers.

Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake said in a statement today that there are some “flaws” in NDP Leader Marit Stiles’ request, but he is not dismissing it outright β€” just withholding it β€” because of the overlap with a related investigation. You can read the interim decision in full at the end of this story.

Stiles also asked Wake to investigate what she called the “curious timing of recent purchases of greenbelt land by powerful landowners with donor and political ties to the Ontario PC Party”.

Wake says he and his staff are reviewing the “extensive material” collected so far, conducted independent research, and are preparing subpoenas for several witnesses to interview.

Styles thanked the commissioner for his work so far.

“It also acknowledges the limitations of the Members’ Integrity Act, yet indicates that the evidence I have presented may meet the high bar of reasonable and probable grounds for a full investigation into the conduct of the Premier, which that pending the conclusion of their investigation into my complaint. dismantling the Greenbelt,” she wrote in a statement.

Both Ford and Urban Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark have refused to tip developers ahead of the public announcement that the government will remove land from 15 separate areas of protected greenbelt so that 50,000 homes can be built.

Ford has acknowledged that some of the developers, who are friends, attended the $150-a-ticket stag-and-doe event, and media reports say that lobbyists and government relations firms were also invited.

Stiles said the event raised the appearance of a conflict of interest and cited media reports that invitees felt “intimidated” into purchasing tickets.

Wake said there are several issues in his complaint.

For one, he said the only question is whether Ford himself received any funding, which the premier has denied. Wake said the rule on receiving gifts does not apply to adult children of a member.

The commissioner also said that reliance on media articles citing unknown sources is problematic.

“It is difficult to assess the motivation or veracity of such claims,” ​​he wrote. “In the interest of fair process I should be able to interview actual witnesses and not cardboard cutouts.”

Wake also noted that the Members’ Integrity Act does not govern perceived conflicts of interest, only actual ones.

“I recommended that the legislature review the act to clarify whether it should apply to appearances of conflict (in 2016), but nothing was done,” he wrote.

Here is the interim report from the Integrity Commissioner, released Thursday afternoon: