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ABOVE THE FOLD
MYTH BUSTERS — The rumour mill is churning out wild facts and fantasies at the Pink Palace. Let’s suss out what’s reality and what’s fiction:
ETHICS PROBE: With the Ford government in damage control mode after the Greenbelt saga exploded — following the Auditor General’s bombshell, the abrupt exit of the Housing Minister’s chief of staff, and the RCMP taking over a review from the OPP — Queen’s Park watchers are waiting with bated breath for Integrity Commish J. DAVID WAKE to release his report on the matter. And it ain’t over yet.
Insiders expect Wake’s report to drop sometime in late September or early October — just in time for when the House is set to reconvene, making for some fiery Question Periods.
But you may have to hold out a little longer.
Per my sources, Wake is “on to something big” and recently updated the list of folks he is looking to interview as part of his probe. There are about a dozen new names, according to one source, including those inside government and beyond.
Officially: Wake’s office isn’t saying much. That’s typical at this stage in the game. But they have confirmed that they’ll wait to complete this current investigation — which zeroes in on Housing Minister STEVE CLARK, at the behest of Oppo NDP Leader MARIT STILES — before deciding whether to probe Clark’s now-ex-chief of staff RYAN AMATO, at the request of the Premier’s Office — something that was recommended by the AG.
Unofficially: One source with knowledge of the land-swap investigation tells me Wake is looking into the possibility of unregistered lobbying and under-the-table bonuses — which are a no-no under the rules.
SHUFFLE UP: Will they or won’t they? Tory circles are split on whether Premier DOUG FORD will shake up his front bench anytime soon — which was the hot rumour of the summer.
But with the Greenbelt drama hounding the PCs — and Clark in particular — some insiders expect them to wait until Wake releases his findings on the Housing Minister, who is in the firing line.
Still, a last-minute change in this week’s regular cabinet and caucus meeting schedule had many wondering if a shuffle was imminent.
IN THE HOUSE: We’re less than a month away from the return of the Legislature, and I’m hearing it’ll be a quick session featuring a relatively early mini-budget Fall Economic Statement and a fairly light legislative agenda.