In a report filed today with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake, K.C., determined that the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP for Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes contravened the Members' Integrity Act, 1994. Minister Clark contravened sections 2 and 3(2) by failing to oversee the process by which lands in the Greenbelt were selected for development, leading to the private interests of certain developers being furthered improperly.
The inquiry established that Minister Clark’s former Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato, was the driving force for the process by which lands in the Greenbelt were selected for development. Mr. Amato was involved in the selection of 14 of the 15 properties that were removed from the Greenbelt or redesignated and received information provided to him by certain developers.
The inquiry found that Minister Clark misinterpreted the mandate letter in relation to the Greenbelt particularly with respect to what was expected and by when, which led Mr. Amato to embark on a rushed and flawed process. This process was unfair to those landowners who had an interest in seeing their lands removed and who were unaware of the potential change to the government’s Greenbelt policy. Since supervision of staff is incumbent on the minister, Minister Clark’s lack of oversight led to some developers being alerted to a potential change in the government’s position on the Greenbelt, resulting in their private interests being furthered improperly. Minister Clark did not question or properly oversee Mr. Amato’s selection process before the matter was presented to cabinet.
In conducting the inquiry, the Commissioner, general counsel and Office staff received evidence from 62 witnesses and reviewed more than 2,300 documents.
Commissioner Wake launched an inquiry into this matter after Marit Stiles, Leader of the Official Opposition and MPP for Davenport in December 2022 requested an opinion under section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994.
In view of this finding, Commissioner Wake has recommended to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that Minister Clark be reprimanded for his failure to comply with the Act.
The full report can be found online, under MPP Integrity, Commissioner’s Reports.
Applicable sections of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994
- Section 2 of the Act prohibits an MPP from making a decision or participating in a decision if they know or reasonably should know there is an opportunity to further their own interest or to further another person’s private interest improperly.
- Section 3 of the Act requires that MPPs shall not use or communicate information that is obtained in their capacity as an MPP and that is not available to the public to further or seek to further their private interest or to further another person’s private interest improperly.
- Section 30 of the Act provides that any MPP who believes that another member has contravened the Act or Ontario parliamentary convention can request that the Integrity Commissioner give an opinion on the matter.
- Section 34 of the Act requires that the Commissioner make a recommendation with regard to a penalty if there is a finding that an MPP has contravened the Act. If the Commissioner recommends that a penalty be imposed, the Legislative Assembly may approve the recommendation or may reject the recommendation.
About the OIC
The Office has seven mandates under five pieces of legislation:
- Members’ Integrity, providing confidential conflict of interest advice to MPPs and conducting inquiries into alleged breaches;
- Ministers’ Staff Ethical Conduct, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to public servants in ministers’ offices;
- Lobbyists Registration, operating Ontario’s lobbyist registry and conducting investigations into potential non-compliance;
- Public Sector Ethics, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to Ethics Executives in ministries and public bodies;
- Disclosure of Wrongdoing, receiving whistleblowing disclosures from current and former members of the Ontario Public Service; and,
- Expenses Review:
- Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, Opposition leaders, and their staff; and,
- Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of selected provincial agencies.
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