A cabinet minister in Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government has resigned after his office admitted to giving incorrect information to the province’s Integrity Commissioner during the Greenbelt investigation.
Kaleed Rasheed, who was minister of public and business service delivery, resigned from both cabinet and the Progressive Conservative caucus on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Premier’s Office said.
Mr. Rasheed is the second minister to leave cabinet in the aftermath of a report from the province’s Integrity Commissioner, J. David Wake. Former housing minister Steve Clark also resigned from cabinet after Mr. Wake determined that he broke ethics laws for failing to oversee his former chief of staff, who drove the process for selecting lands from the Greenbelt for development.
“Premier Ford and MPP Kaleed Rasheed have agreed that Mr. Rasheed would resign from cabinet and the Ontario PC caucus, effective immediately,” spokeswoman Caitlin Clark said in a statement.
“If Mr. Rasheed can clear his name through the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, he will be provided an opportunity to return to caucus. A new Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery will be named in the coming days.”
Mr. Rasheed, who represents Mississauga East-Cooksville, issued a separate statement on social media.
“While incredibly difficult, this decision was made so as not to distract from the important work of the government,” he said. “I look forward to taking the steps required to clear my name with the Integrity Commissioner so that I can return to the Ontario PC team as soon as possible.”
The statements did not disclose why Mr. Rasheed resigned. But he did so the day after CTV News and Queen’s Park publication the Trillium reported that Mr. Rasheed’s office acknowledged providing inaccurate travel details to Mr. Wake about a trip the former minister took to Las Vegas in early 2020, where a developer who benefited from the Greenbelt decision was also vacationing.
Mr. Rasheed told the Integrity Commissioner that during the course of the trip, which was also attended by Mr. Ford’s former principal secretary Amin Massoudi and current housing policy director Jae Truesdell, he was “shocked” to run into a developer, Shakir Rehmatullah – who is also a friend – in the lobby of his hotel. The former minister also told Mr. Wake he was not able to obtain his proof of payment from the hotel, despite numerous attempts.
Mr. Rehmatullah’s companies own lands that were removed from the Greenbelt in 2022, and since 2020 they have received at least five ministerial zoning orders, which allow the province to override local planning rules, according to Mr. Wake’s report.
Mr. Rasheed initially told the commissioner the trip took place from Dec. 6 to 8, 2019. The report also said Mr. Rasheed provided an invoice from a travel agent for three flights to Las Vegas for those dates, indicating he paid $4,550 in cash, and stated that he believed he was paid back by Mr. Massoudi and Mr. Truesdell for their share.
But on Tuesday, CTV News reported that Las Vegas hotel employees told the outlet that Mr. Rasheed, Mr. Massoudi and Mr. Rehmatullah received massages at the same time on Feb. 1, 2020, in the hotel spa.
Mr. Rasheed’s office told the Trillium and CTV News that the December trip was rescheduled to early 2020 and that he “mistakenly” shared information with Mr. Wake based off the former itinerary. His office said Mr. Rasheed “discovered” the trip actually took place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, 2020.
“Upon receiving the information, Minister Rasheed contacted the Integrity Commissioner’s office to correct the record and has shared the supporting hotel invoice and proof of payment paid for by the Minister. All relevant information and records are with the Integrity Commissioner,” it said in a statement issued to news media. The office did not reply to a request for comment from The Globe and Mail on Wednesday.
Michelle Renaud, a spokeswoman for Mr. Wake, confirmed the office has received revised information from Mr. Rasheed regarding the trip, and is aware of his resignation and the statement from the Premier’s Office.
Mr. Rasheed is the second Conservative cabinet minister in a matter of weeks to resign “as a result of the Ford Conservatives’ corruption crisis,” NDP Leader Marit Stiles said in a statement.
“And we know that we’re just scratching the surface. This government is spiralling out of control. Mr. Ford needs to answer for that.”
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner repeated his call for a public inquiry into the Greenbelt land swap. “How many more cabinet members have to resign in shame before the Premier steps up and takes accountability for his $8.3-billion Greenbelt scandal?”