"She actually has a spine": Politicos brace for AG's Greenbelt probe
Also: Grit policy wars, new LG debuts (finally) and a "portal to Hell"
ABOVE THE FOLD
AG REPORT INCOMING — BONNIE LYSYK’s last act as Auditor General will be a scathing investigation into the Ford government’s hot-potato Greenbelt land swap.
Mark your calendar: Lysyk — who wraps up a decade of calling out government waste and mismanagement on September 3 — will release her report on August 9. Media and critics will get a three-hour embargoed head start, then Lysyk goes live for the public reveal in the Media Studio at 11 a.m.
It’s going to be a doozy: Sometimes, it can feel as though Ontario’s watchdogs have more bark than bite because of the relatively lax rules that govern what they can and can’t investigate.
But when it comes to the AG: “She actually has a spine,” said one ex-Liberal staffer whose own government had its fair share of searing audits.
As I previously scooped, the government has gotten its sneak peek at the report, as is custom — and “it ain’t good,” according to one senior Tory source.
Drip, drip, drip: The report is apparently so bad for the government that I’m not the only reporter senior staff are leaking to in order to brace the public for it. Hours after my scoop, the Star followed up (but it seems their government sources believed they had more time — “another few weeks” — before the bomb dropped.)
Another case in point: A pair of prominent developers — SILVIO DE GASPERIS and MICHAEL RICE — went to court in an attempt to block the AG’s order that they be interviewed under oath and fork over relevant records.
Timing is everything: Interestingly, the ex-staffer at the centre of the NDP’s complaint on the matter, LUCA BUCCI — the former chief of staff to the Housing Minister who went on to head up the Ontario Home Builders’ Association — abruptly left his post at the industry group this week.
Don’t forget: Lysyk isn’t the only one digging into the Greenbelt controversy at the behest of Oppo critics — Ethics Commish J. DAVID WAKE is also probing the matter. Both Premier DOUG FORD and Housing Minister STEVE CLARK have denied any wrongdoing, including tipping off PC-connected developers that the previously protected land was about to become very lucrative.
GRIT POLICY WARS — NATE ERSKINE-SMITH and BONNIE CROMBIE are at it again — this time, over sick-day policy proposals.
The pitch: This week, Crombie laid out her vision for health care, featuring 10 paid sick days for all workers in the sector. “Keeping our economy healthy starts by giving Ontario workers the support they need to stay home when they are sick,” she said.
The beef: Not so fast, replied Erskine-Smith. “This is a step backwards from our last election platform and interim leader JOHN FRASER’s important private member’s bill to legislate 10 paid sick days for all Ontario workers,” he said on social media.
NDPers also pounced. “Not all workers?” tweeted veteran strategist TOM PARKIN.
It isn’t the first time the leadership rivals have gone toe-to-toe: Erskine-Smith called out Crombie’s comments about the Greenbelt and governing from centre-right, while Crombie has slammed Erskine-Smith’s remarks that many viewed as ageist and sexist.
WHAT PAID SUBSCRIBERS GOT THIS WEEK: A Q+A with the Ford government backbencher and “good soldier” who’s often name-checked during cabinet shuffle speculation, the scoop on a Ford Fest cancellation, the latest fundraising standings in the Grit leadership contest, exclusive staff moves, the jump on fresh policing regulations, eyeball-emoji-inducing lobbyists, birthdays — and loads more you won’t find anywhere else.
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