TORONTO-First Nations leaders from across Ontario are calling for Housing Minister Steve Clark’s resignation or his removal from cabinet over his handling of changes to protected Greenbelt land.
The Chiefs of Ontario, a group representing 133 First Nations, says it was “extremely” concerned by the issues raised by the province’s auditor general in a damning report last week.
The report found the government’s plan to open Greenbelt lands for housing favoured certain developers who had access to the minister’s chief of staff in a process that disregarded or ignored possible environmental, agricultural and financial risks and impacts.
Premier Doug Ford has said no one received preferential treatment, and that the government would accept all of the auditor’s recommendations to change the process, except for one suggesting he reconsider the removal of those lands from the Greenbelt.
The Chiefs of Ontario say they will continue to work with the ministry, but will cease any current relationships with Clark until “an adequate resolution of this issue has been confirmed.”
The chiefs say they will also request a meeting with Ford and Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford to make a number of demands to repair their working relationship, including returning removed parcels of Greenbelt land and reinstating environmental protections for it.
Further, they are joining calls from opposition politicians for the Ontario Provincial Police to launch a formal investigation into the issue.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2023.