Doug Ford on the Greenbelt, the agricultural preserve in Pickering and a timeline of broken promises


Published August 14, 2023 at 11:05 am

Premier Doug Ford’s promise five years ago that his government “wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt” has been quoted and re-quoted in the media several thousand times since that promise was broken last November.

“The people have spoken – we won’t touch the greenbelt. Very simple. That’s it, the people have spoken. I’m going to listen to them, they don’t want me to touch the greenbelt, we won’t touch the greenbelt. Simple as that.”

Eight months ago Ford announced a land swap that would remove environmental protections from more than 7,400 acres of protected lands, with the most valuable properties now ripe for development lying in the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve in Pickering.

Last week a scathing report from Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk alleged preferential treatment for s few select developers who stand to gain more $8 billion in land value profits from the land swap, with the bulk of those profits – at leat $6 billion – headed to the owners of land in the agricultural preserve in Pickering.

But Ford’s now infamous “we won’t touch the greenbelt” quote is just one of many in his political career, with some dating back to before he became Premier in 2018.

That year he was quoted in an interview about “fat cats” making “millions of dollars” in backroom deals. “I’m talking about all these guys making their deals behind closed doors and keeping it a secret and not telling the taxpayers. That is unacceptable. We have to make sure that we have some transparency down here.”

Two years before, in defending his brother Rob (who had served as Mayor of Toronto from 2010-2014 and died after a battle with cancer in March of 2016), Ford railed against his political opponents, saying “it’s all about filling their buddy’s pockets full of money.”

Fast forward to 2018 again and Ford is defending his own government after reports of corruption were made, claiming his party is “the most ethical, most transparent, most accountable caucus I’ve ever seen in politics.”

“We don’t do backroom deals,” Ford said. “Ninety-seven per cent of the time we have an ethical group of people here.”

Five years later he is in the hot seat after the damning report from the Auditor General, with Ford deflecting questions from reporters about developers making billions in profit from the land swap, saying he is “okay with the homebuilders contributing billions of dollars” to community projects like hospitals and long term care homes. “I’m okay with 150,000 people having a roof over their heads.”

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