This massage had a not-so-happy ending
Also: Grits go at it, Surma on the spot, protests aplenty, happy birthday to top staffers and more
ABOVE THE FOLD
IT’S CURTAINS FOR KALEED — L’Affaire Greenbelt has claimed another minister: KALEED RASHEED.
What happens in Vegas…: The former Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery will sit as an Independent after he failed to get his story straight on the Vegas trip he took with a developer pal and a pair of Premier DOUG FORD’s aides.
To wit: Rasheed initially told Integrity Commissioner J. DAVID WAKE he only had a chance meeting with developer SHAKIR REHMATULLAH in the Vegas hotel lobby, but as it turns out, the pair got “Good Luck Ritual” massages at the same time, and on a different date Rasheed originally claimed. CTV News got the stunning report.
Shuffle up: A day after, the Premier’s Office confirmed Rasheed’s resignation in a statement, saying they both “agreed” he would resign “effective immediately” — but that he could make his way back into the PC club if he can clear his name via the Integrity Commissioner. A new minister will be named “in the coming days.”
That’s unlike ex-Housing Minister STEVE CLARK, who got to stay on the PC bench after his own Greenbelt-prompted resignation. Rasheed makes three, after Clark and Clark’s ex-chief of staff RYAN AMATO stepped down over the land swap debacle.
In his own words: Rasheed said he made the “incredibly difficult” decision to resign from both cabinet and the PC bench so as not to “distract” from the government’s work, and that he looks forward to clearing his name “so that I can return to the Ontario PC team as soon as possible.”
Fat chance: It’s rare for ousted Tories to make their way back into the government’s good graces. Reading between the lines, one party source suggested Rasheed getting kicked out while Clark got to stay on just sealed his fate. “The fact that he got kicked out out of the blue means that PO found out he *can’t* clear his name,” they charged.
More to come: Wake seems to be cooking up another bombshell. His lengthy investigation that found Clark violated ethics rules by not properly supervising Amato also included a bunch of juicy details on the Vegas trip, Mr. X’s illegal lobbying and more. At least two other reports are due out, on Ford’s daughter’s stag-and-doe and Amato’s actions — but it isn’t yet clear how in-depth those investigations will be.
Oppo pounced: Interim Liberal leader JOHN FRASER said all roads lead to the Premier’s office. “It is important to remember that both DOUG FORD’s former Principal Secretary, AMIN MASSOUDI, and the current Director of Housing in the Premier’s Office, JAE TRUESDELL, were both on the same trip to Las Vegas that is at the centre of Minister Rasheed’s removal from Cabinet and Caucus.” Fraser wants Ford to “open the books” on the $8.3-billion Greenbelt giveaway and “give Ontarians the answers they deserve.”
Ford speaks — 4 p.m.: Flanked by his front bench, the Premier will break from the low-key PC caucus retreat in Niagara Falls to meet with reporters. Spoiler alert: He’ll get bombarded with questions about the latest blow to the Greenbelt file.
GRITS GO AT IT — The Greenbelt also took centre stage at the offshoot Liberal leadership debate put on by Toronto Metropolitan University — with frontrunner BONNIE CROMBIE in the hot seat. The highlights:
Shot I: Crombie was again likened to DOUG FORD and shamed for her wishy-washy comments on the Greenbelt. YASIR NAQVI, who won the line of the first debate by calling her “Doug Ford lite”, again took aim at Crombie’s record and asked if she’d return money donated by developers. “I don’t know how Bonnie Crombie can say you will bring ethics back when your style of politics has a lot of similarities to Doug Ford when it come to the donors.”
Chaser I: Crombie fired back that she’s “very proud” of her moneymaking prowess and that she follows the fundraising rules. “We need a leader who can raise money and I’m raising a war chest and we’re going to need it.”
Shot II: Erskine-Smith continues to hammer Crombie on her Greenbelt remarks. “Are you still open to land swaps on the Greenbelt?” he asked.
Chaser II: Crombie flipped the script, saying she didn’t want to “attack my fellow candidates on the spot because we’re all Liberals, we’re all one family,” and suggested the PCs or NDP could capitalize on the clip of them infighting in an attack ad in the next campaign. “I wouldn’t want to be in an ad, in case you’re leader, criticizing you.”
Measuring the drapes: Every candidate but Erskine-Smith said they would run for MPP in 2026 even if they don’t take the Grit crown on December 2. That’s likely because Erskine-Smith’s federal Beaches-East York riding is already repped by a Liberal at Queen’s Park: MARY MARGARET McMAHON. But he isn’t ruling out a move from the Hill to the Pink Palace, saying he wants to talk it over with his family first. All contenders agreed that their leadership rivals would have a place in their cabinet if they take the Premiership in 2026.
The next party-sanctioned debate takes place in Stratford on Sunday, October 1.
Hot off the presses — As we scooped yesterday, Crombie finally released her housing policy platform, to much applause. It features, among other bold things, a requirement for builders to include at least 20 per cent “long-term affordable units” as a condition of sale of all provincial surplus lands, including GO station parking lots, phased-in rent control — and yes, NATE ERSKINE-SMITH — she will implement the PCs housing task force recommendations within two years of 2026. Have at it.