The RCMP says it has launched an investigation into the Ontario government’s Greenbelt land swap.
The police force says its “sensitive and international investigations” unit is leading the probe after the case was referred to them by the Ontario Provincial Police.
“While we recognize that this investigation is of significant interest to Canadians, the RCMP has a duty to protect the integrity of the investigations that it carries out, in order to ensure that the process leads to a fair and proper outcome,” said a statement from the RCMP on Tuesday.
It said no further updates would be provided at this time.
The province removed land from the protected Greenbelt last year as part of its broader push to build 1½ million homes by 2031.
Two legislative watchdogs found the process to select lands for removal from the Greenbelt was flawed and favoured certain developers.
Premier Doug Ford has apologized for the land swap and said in September the lands would all be returned to the Greenbelt.
In late September, Ford said the Greenbelt actions of his Progressive Conservative government were a mistake. “I made a promise to you that I wouldn’t touch the Greenbelt. I broke that promise. And for that, I’m very, very sorry,” Ford said at a press conference in Niagara Falls, Ont., where he was meeting with his caucus.
Ford previously said he is confident nothing criminal took place.
In a statement Tuesday, Ford’s office said they would fully co-operate with any investigation. “We have zero tolerance for any wrongdoing and expect anyone involved in the decision-making about the Greenbelt lands to have followed the letter of the law.”
Ford’s office added there will be no further comment at this time “out of a respect for the police and their process.”
Please watch The Globe and Mail for updates on this development.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
TODAY’S HEADLINES – ISRAEL
Vancouver man confirmed as second Canadian victim in Hamas attack – Ben Mizrachi, 22, was among those killed during a terrorist attack on the Supernova music festival in southern Israel on Saturday.
Ottawa urged to dispatch evacuation flights for Canadians stranded in Israel –The Official Opposition is calling on the Canadian government to dispatch evacuation flights for citizens in Israel, noting other countries have already done so.
Prime Minister condemns rallies in support of Hamas – Justin Trudeau expressed unwavering support for Israel and condemned demonstrations in support of Hamas taking place across the country, saying nobody in Canada should be celebrating terrorism.
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES
B.C. signs health deal with Ottawa, worth $1.2-billion – British Columbia is the first province to sign a tailored funding agreement with the federal government as part of the $196-billion health accord the Prime Minister offered provinces this year. Under the deal, Ottawa will shift $1.2-billion to B.C. over three years.
Canadian soldiers asking for donations to help with housing, food costs, memo says – The military’s chaplain-general says morale among troops is the lowest it’s been in recent memory as many soldiers struggle with the cost of living.
Carney endorses Labour shadow chancellor – Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, has endorsed Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the Labour Party in Britain as a future British chancellor of the exchequer, basically a finance minister, The Guardian reports.
Anaida Poilievre expected to step up fundraising role for Conservatives – She has been increasing her profile with Conservatives and Canadians, narrating television advertising and providing well-received introductions for her husband, Pierre, at the party’s leadership convention and last month’s policy gathering in Quebec City.
THIS AND THAT
Commons and Senate on a break – The House of Commons is on a break until Monday. The Senate sits again next Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister’s day – Private meetings in Toronto.
Ministers on the road – In Vancouver, Health Minister Mark Holland and Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan joined B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside to make the health care funding agreement announcement. In Thunder Bay, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu announced measures to protect and restore Lake Superior. Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings made an announcement on agri-food companies in the Nova Scotia community of Coldbrook as part of a day that also included meeting with Chief Sidney Peters at the Glooscap First Nation Office. In Toronto, International Trade Minister Mary Ng delivered a keynote address at the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business’ Accelerating Africa 2023 event. Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, in Montreal, announced an investment of up to $150-million to build a new container terminal for the Montreal Port Authority within the city of Contrecoeur.
Jean Charest paying off campaign debt – Former Quebec premier Jean Charest is holding an event in Montreal as part of his effort to pay off debt from his unsuccessful bid to win the leadership of the federal Conservatives.
Prime Minister’s day
Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings and travelled to Yellowknife for private meetings.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, on an official trip that has taken him to Paris, Edinburgh and Belfast, is in Belfast meeting with the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the vice-president of the political party Sinn Féin and Sinn Féin’s North America country director.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is in her Vancouver Island riding. She is unable to fly pending an MRI after recently having a stroke.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in private meetings.
No schedule released for other party leaders.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Emily Rose, Reuters correspondent in Jerusalem, breaks down the attacks by Hamas on Israel as they unfolded, Israel’s response, and where the war could be headed.
NEW IN BOOKS
The Duel: Diefenbaker, Pearson, and the Making of Modern Canada by John Ibbitson. (Signal/McClelland & Stewart)
John Ibbitson’s new book spotlights the long-running political rivalry between John Diefenbaker and Lester B. Pearson. Diefenbaker was the Progressive Conservative prime minister from 1957 to 1963, then succeeded by Pearson, a Liberal. Pearson was prime minister until 1968. Ibbitson, writer at large for The Globe and Mail, covers the lives of the two men against the backdrop of a lively period of Canadian history.
Both men were born in small-town Ontario, served in the First World War – though neither saw combat – and flourished after. Ibbitson responded by e-mail to Politics Newsletter questions:
You have spent four years working on this book. What was the spark that led you to begin work on the project?
Many of us know the conventional narrative of the Diefenbaker-Pearson decade: John Diefenbaker’s years as prime minister were impaired by his paranoia and indecisiveness. Lester Pearson’s governments, on the other hand, gave us medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and the flag. That, at least, is what I was taught when I first began studying Canadian political history.
But over decades of writing and reading, I kept coming across examples of accomplishments that had their origins in the Diefenbaker governments. It seemed to me that history needed to be revisited. Many of the foundational achievements of modern Canada – in immigration, health care, justice, equalization, human rights – came out of or were advanced by the Diefenbaker governments. Pearson’s governments built on these achievements. As much as John Diefenbaker and Mike Pearson loathed each other, they together helped create the welfare state we know today.
Beyond that, it seemed to me that this was a cracking good story: a decade-long fight between two leaders for political power. And each of them was more like the other than either would admit. Put those two things together and it seemed to me that you had the makings of a book.
Once you decided to proceed with The Duel, how did you approach the research and writing?
The research period for the first draft largely occurred during pandemic lockdowns. For that draft, I relied on secondary sources and interviews. For the second draft, I flew out to Saskatoon to spend time at the Diefenbaker archives, and accessed Pearson’s correspondence in Ottawa. It was all a bit backwards, but it worked.
What can current federal politicians learn from the experiences of Diefenbaker and Pearson?
At our best, our political leaders build on the accomplishments of their predecessors. Diefenbaker built on the legacy of Louis St. Laurent. Pearson built on Diefenbaker’s legacy. Pierre Trudeau helped complete the welfare state that he inherited from those who came before him. Policy should seek to improve what exists, rather than seek to tear everything down.
Were you surprised by anything you learned about the men?
Oh yes. I was very surprised by the similarities of their experiences in the First World War. I knew little about John Diefenbaker’s first wife, or his remarkable career as a crusading defence attorney. I was shocked to learn that the St. Laurent cabinet voted to terminate the Avro Arrow program shortly before the 1957 election. I had no idea the Kennedy administration had interfered so blatantly in the 1963 election. The Rivard and Munsinger scandals were wonderfully titillating.
This is your ninth book. How was working on it different from your previous books?
And there have been plays and novellas as well. Each chapter of my career has built on what came before. My years at the Ottawa Citizen, Southam News and the National Post prepared me for The Globe and Mail. The Landing increased my confidence as a writer. Stephen Harper was my first big biography. The Duel reflects, I hope, my growth as a journalist and as a writer over four decades.
Do you have any plans for your next book?
Of course! But I’m not quite ready to talk about that, yet.
The Globe and Mail on Canada standing by Israel: ”Affirmations and solidarity are easy enough at the moment, but they will become more difficult to sustain as Israel begins to uproot Hamas from the Gaza Strip, as it must, and recover the hostages seized by the terrorist organization, if it can. It will be tempting, as casualties inevitably mount, to lapse into the lazy notion that the two sides in the conflict need to agree to a ceasefire.”
Marsha Lederman (The Globe and Mail) on how your Jewish and Palestinian friends are not doing okay: “For some, the events of the past three days have actually been triggering. Many Jews are descended from Holocaust survivors, victims of pogroms, and other violent campaigns against our ancestors who were targeted because they were Jewish. My parents were Holocaust survivors and I promise you the inherited trauma is real. I have spent my life having nightmares about being hunted, hiding for my life. We tell ourselves we are not being rational; the Holocaust was long ago and we are safe and under no threat. We, maybe with the help of professionals, try to calm our irrational, epigenetically altered minds. And then we see Jews being rounded up, humiliated and slaughtered. Just like our ancestors were.”
John Rapley (contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, 50 years ago, war with Israel upended the world economy – now it barely registers: “So far, government bonds rallied a bit as investors sheltered in U.S Treasury paper, oil prices ticked upwards, but beyond that you’d be hard pressed to find many signs of stress. Partly that’s down to the changed geopolitics of the Middle East. With more countries normalizing relations with Israel, there’s much less risk of the conflict escalating beyond Israel and its immediate neighbours.”