Ontario Premier Doug Ford Orders Tougher Penalties for Lobbyists Amid Scandal

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has taken action in response to a troubling integrity commissioner report, instructing the province’s attorney general to review and enhance legislation governing lobbyists. 

The move is prompted by revelations of unfair advantages given to certain developers with connections to the housing ministry regarding the removal of Greenbelt land. The report also exposed an unregistered lobbyist referred to as “Mr. X” who attempted to influence officials with offers of lunches, Raptors tickets, and golf outings as part of a land deal arrangement.

Sources have indicated that “Mr. X” is former Clarington Mayor John Mutton. In response, the Office of the Attorney General issued a statement condemning such behavior and emphasizing the importance of ethical and transparent public advocacy within the democratic system.

The government has committed to reviewing lobbyist legislation, with potential changes discussed, including heightened accountability and increased penalties, potentially even involving jail time, for those found violating the law. However, specific details regarding the severity of offenses warranting jail time or criminal charges remain undisclosed.

Under the current Lobbyists Registration Act, offenders can face up to a two-year prohibition from lobbying, public disclosure of their name and violation, and fines ranging from $25,000 for a first offense to $100,000 for subsequent violations. Potential violations encompass conflicts of interest, improper financial transactions, or encouraging payments based on lobbying success.

The report’s findings underscore the need for revising the lobbying regulations. The integrity commissioner’s investigation revealed that “Mr. X” negotiated a $1 million “Greenbelt fee” linked to land development, an act that would have been prohibited if he were a registered lobbyist.

Premier Ford’s request to review lobbyist rules was one of 15 recommendations from the Ontario auditor general’s critical report, which also highlighted the government’s favoritism toward specific developers in Greenbelt land decisions. The government has accepted 14 of these recommendations, acknowledging flaws in the process. 

Additionally, both the housing minister, Steve Clark, and his chief of staff responsible for Greenbelt site selection have resigned in the wake of the auditor general and integrity commissioner reports.

Information for this story was found via CTV News, CBC, X, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

Leave a Reply