It’s been a little over a month since the RCMP launched a criminal investigation into the controversial Greenbelt land swap. Now, Ontario’s former Housing Minister, Steve Clark, seems ready to rectify his involvement in the scandal, telling reporters on Wednesday that he’s willing to cooperate with the RCMP.
“I feel deeply remorseful for a process that was led under my watch,” Clark said.
Although Clark indicated that the RCMP hasn’t contacted him yet, he also said that if and when they do, he ‘looks forward’ to working with them and answering their questions.
Wednesday marks Clark’s first time speaking to reporters since he resigned, rather reluctantly, from his post as housing minister at the beginning of September. At that time, Clark referenced a report from the province’s Integrity Commissioner, released just a few days prior, which called the greenbelt land selection process, headed by his then-Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato, “rushed and flawed,” and favourable towards certain developers.
The report criticized Clark for not properly overseeing the process and failing to comply with the Members' Integrity Act and recommended that he be reprimanded.
"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," Clark wrote in his resignation letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford.
Since that time, the Province has tabled legislation that, if passed, would restore all land that was removed from the Greenbelt in 2022. The legislation extends to enhanced protections for the Greenbelt, and includes a provision that “future boundary changes can only be made through a public and transparent process.”
As well, Clark has returned to his riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. He told reporters on Wednesday that he’s spent the past two months "getting back to basics" and "reconnecting" with his riding. He also said that he believes he did the “right thing” by resigning from Ford's cabinet.