Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would waive cabinet confidentiality, giving the RCMP’s Greenbelt investigation full access to the province’s internal documents.
Federal police are investigating the Ford government’s decision to remove 7,400 acres of land from the Greenbelt to allow developers to build more housing.
Two parliamentary watchdogs estimated that the decision favored some developers, who saw the value of their land increase by about $8.3 billion after the decision.
On Friday, Ford said he would allow police detectives access to confidential cabinet documents as part of their investigation.
“They have full access, I support them 1,000 percent,” Ford said in response to a question about whether he would waive cabinet secrecy.
Documents prepared for Cabinet or discussed at Cabinet meetings are closely guarded in Ontario.
They are shielded from disclosure under freedom of information laws and strict policies are in place to keep the discussions private – traditionally frank conversations about politics and a place for cabinet members to express opinions dissidents.
“We work through our office and we support the RCMP in everything they do – they are good people,” Ford said. “And we will always support all of our police services, including the RCMP.”
The RCMP have contacted some staff to set up interviews, but Ford said they have not spoken to him yet.
Before the RCMP announced its investigation into the Greenbelt decision, Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner and Auditor General released detailed reports on the process.
Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake said his office received “extensive documentary disclosure” from the Ministry of Housing, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretary as he investigated who was responsible for decision-making regarding the Greenbelt.
The disclosure resulted in 2,300 multi-page documents, which the commissioner said included “documents submitted to cabinet, briefing presentations, letters, text messages, emails, calendars and maps.”
Wake, however, failed to secure communications between government staff and developers, which were considered key to the process.
“The documents collected included very few emails and no text messages exchanged between the minister’s chief of staff, the developers and their representatives regarding the Greenbelt project,” Wake said in his August report. “I was informed that many communications were done by telephone call and that documents were often delivered by hand on USB sticks or on paper. »
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