Just after 9 am on Labour Day, Steve Clark resigned from his position as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in a letter also shared to his Twitter account.
"Since the Integrity Commissioner's report was released, I have continued to reflect on my role and my obligations to the people of Ontario," Clark begins, calling his chance to serve his constituents and the people of Ontario the greatest honour of his life.
Clark said, however, that the province's housing crisis "demands someone who is not a distraction from the important work that needs to be done."
The former minister's resignation comes on the heels of a damning report from the province's Integrity Commissioner, released last Wednesday, that found the Minister had violated multiple sections of the Members' Integrity Act for his failure to properly oversee the Greenbelt land selection process.
The Integrity Commissioner's insights followed a report released by the Auditor General earlier this month that pointed a finger at Clark's former Chief of Staff, who was allowed to run a biased selection process favouring certain developers and landowners, with no oversight from Clark.
Many public and political leaders alike called for Clark's resignation, but following both reports, Premier Doug Ford maintained his confidence in Clark, even as recently as last Thursday morning saying at a press conference that Clark will continue on in his portfolio. Clark, who similarly spoke at a press conference on Thursday, said that he accepted the report's findings and takes responsibility for the less-than-stellar selection process, but that he would continue on in his position.
"Although my initial thought was that I could stay in this role and establish a proper process so that these mistakes don't happen again, I realize that my presence will only cause a further distraction from the important work that needs to be done and that I need to take accountability for what has transpired," reads the letter addressed to Ford.
Clark says that he will continue on as the MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
As someone who has given my life to serving the people through our democratic institutions, it is my responsibility to adhere to the principles of Ministerial accountability. I will continue to serve my constituents as the MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes pic.twitter.com/5VvUMB43gi
— Steve Clark (@SteveClarkPC) September 4, 2023
The Ford government dragged its feet on implementing any sort of consequence around the Greenbelt land swap, which saw nearly 3,000 hectares of land removed from the protected Ontario Greenbelt and opened up for housing development through a murky process that ignored environmental criteria and will greatly enrich certain developers.
Clark's former Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato, who fronted most of the blame in the scathing Auditor General's report, kept his job for nearly two weeks after the report's release before eventually resigning.
Calls for Clark's resignation began soon after the Auditor General's report was released and were only heightened following the Integrity Commissioner's report, which found Clark had violated multiple parts of the Members' Integrity Act. It said that Clark chose to "stick his head in the sand" on the Greenbelt land removal process because he knew "the outcome would be politically challenging for him given his completely opposite stance on the Greenbelt for the whole of the government’s first term."
"Since supervision of staff is incumbent on the minister, Minister Clark’s lack of oversight led to some developers being alerted to a potential change in the government’s position on the Greenbelt, resulting in their private interests being furthered improperly," the report reads. "Minister Clark did not question or properly oversee Mr. Amato’s selection process before the matter was presented to cabinet."
The Integrity Commissioner recommended that Clark be reprimanded for his failure to comply with the Members' Integrity Act, and it now seems that reprimand — in one form or another — has come.