The Leader of Ontario’s New Democratic Party says that, as Premier, Kathleen Wynne appears to have turned “a blind eye” to allegations that one of her cabinet ministers intimidated a Greater Toronto Area mayor over a proposed housing development.
A Globe and Mail investigation published Thursday detailed how, in 2013, then-infrastructure minister Glen Murray invited the then-mayor of Caledon, Ont., Marolyn Morrison, to a meeting at Queen’s Park, to discuss the town’s growth. At the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. Morrison and her staff say, Mr. Murray asked all staff members, including his own, to leave the room so he could speak with Ms. Morrison privately.
After the door was closed, Ms. Morrison says Mr. Murray told her that he had “complaints” about her and that “he could make them go away” if she supported residential housing in a certain area of her town, near the village of Bolton. She says she refused. Mr. Murray has not denied asking staff to leave the room but disputes the mayor’s characterization of the meeting, calling it “pleasant.”
Ms. Morrison says she told Ms. Wynne, in a 2014 phone conversation, about the meeting with Mr. Murray, and that the Premier told her “I’ll be dealing with him.” On Thursday, Ms. Wynne told reporters that she did not recall being told about the incident: “I don’t recall a contentious exchange with Glen Murray, I just don’t recall.”
On Thursday, Andrea Horwath, the Leader of Ontario’s New Democrats, said that Ms. Wynne’s lack of recall is “not going to cut it.”
“When the mayor comes forward with allegations about being intimidated by a minister of the Crown … you would think that somebody, like the Premier, would step up and shut that kind of thing down,” Ms. Horwath said in an interview. “It’s pretty worrisome that that didn’t happen. It seems like a blind eye was turned to this kind of stuff.”
As a cabinet minister, Mr. Murray was an acquaintance of Spiros Papathanasakis, who was the focus of The Globe’s investigation. Mr. Papathanasakis is well known for having run a community centre for at-risk youth in downtown Toronto, where he attracted a wide range of support from politicians of all stripes. But The Globe’s investigation found that he has also operated as an unregistered, underground lobbyist who advocates for companies and friends.
In 2009, Mr. Papathanasakis had tried to secure a witness-free meeting with Ms. Morrison to discuss housing on the same area of land near Bolton. Mr. Murray, who resigned from public office in 2017 and now heads the environmental think tank Pembina Institute, has said that all of his conversations with Mr. Papathanasakis were “about local community issues” in his riding.