Integrity Commissioner acquits Doug Ford of conflict of interest over Bradford Bypass

Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake has cleared Prime Minister Doug Ford of any conflict of interest over the controversial Bradford Bypass project.

But Ontario’s independent legislative watchdog said Thursday it was releasing a separate report on whether Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney and Associate Transport Minister Stan Cho had violated the Transportation Integrity Act. deputies.

Following articles in the Star last month, NDP MP Taras Natyshak filed a formal complaint with the commissioner.

“Sir. Natyshak is concerned that, in violation of Section 2 of the Act, Prime Minister Ford has made decisions regarding the Bradford Bypass Project which have furthered his own political interest and improperly favored the interests private developers who donated to Prime Minister Ford’s political party, ”Wake Up wrote.

“I found that there were insufficient grounds to investigate Mr. Natyshak’s request regarding Prime Minister Ford,” he noted in an 11-page report.

“Because the legal and factual bases of the concerns raised with regard to Minister Mulroney and Mr. Cho are different, I have decided to publish two reports. “

A Torstar / National Observer investigation raised questions about ownership of land adjacent to the 16.2 km project that would link Highway 400 and Highway 404, and whether Progressive Conservative donors were favored.

Cho’s father co-owns the Silver Lakes Golf and Country Club in East Gwillimbury, which is reportedly spared from development due to a recently proposed rerouting.

The Associate Minister has declared a conflict of interest and no information about the circumvention is shared or discussed with him.

“I will have more to say about the role of the civil service and other experts in the Mulroney / Cho report to follow,” wrote Wake, a former judge who served as the Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Justice. ‘Ontario from 1999 to 2005.

Suffice it to say that the only support for this allegation is the Toronto Star article published on October 31 which links the Bradford Bypass project to the public record of party donations by developers, “the Integrity Commissioner said.

“While the media reports themselves cannot be considered evidence, they can be used to support direct and credible evidence to obtain the reasonable and probable grounds necessary for me to initiate an investigation. “

Wake, who was not available for interviews, noted that Natyshak said he had “strong suspicions of a perceived conflict of interest.”

“As I explained, a suspicion, however great, does not constitute reasonable and probable cause, which is the standard required by law before an investigation can be launched. Likewise, as I noted above, it is not open to me to draw conclusions regarding an apparent conflict of interest.

Ford did not immediately comment on the decision.

The Bradford Bypass, a key commitment of the Tories’ June 2 re-election campaign, would cross 27 waterways and traverse ecologically sensitive lands of Holland Marsh, affecting approximately 39 hectares of wildlife habitat and 11 hectares of wetlands.

Robert Benzie is the Bureau Chief of Star’s Queen’s Park and a journalist covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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