Integrity Commissioner concludes Clark breached sections of the Members’ Integrity Act - recommends Minister reprimanded. 

By Pepper Parr

August 30th, 2023



It is a stinker.

It is 190 pages long that was produced quite quickly.  Set out below is a portion of the document.   A deeper reading and some analysis will follow.

J. David Wake, Integrity Commissioner said:

The matter went before cabinet on November 2, was approved, and after a short 30-day public consultation period, the Greenbelt changes took effect.

The resulting public outcry over this move led to a complaint filed with me on December 8, 2022.

Marit Stiles: Leader of the NDP opposition at Queen’s Park

In that complaint, Marit Stiles, Member of Provincial Parliament for Davenport, asked for my opinion on whether Minister Clark contravened sections 2 (Conflict of Interest) and 3 (Insider Information) of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994. Making or participating in a decision that furthers another person’s interest improperly is prohibited under section 2 of the Act. Communicating information that may be used to further another person’s interest improperly is prohibited under subsection 3(2) of the Act.

My inquiry was limited to determining whether Minister Clark’s role in the decision to remove certain properties from the Greenbelt contravened the Act.

In the course of this inquiry, my staff and I received evidence from 61 witnesses plus Minister Clark. We reviewed maps, documents, text messages, emails, briefing decks and other documents totalling thousands of pages. Much of the evidence was gathered through the exercise of my powers under section 33 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009 to summons witnesses and to have them produce relevant documents. I was satisfied with the level of cooperation shown by all witnesses and their counsel in this inquiry in making themselves available and producing documents.

The evidence paints a picture of a process marked by misinterpretation, unnecessary hastiness and deception. It shows that Mr. Amato advised Minister Clark to “leave it with me” as he embarked on a chaotic and almost reckless process that I find led to an uninformed and opaque decision which resulted in the creation of an opportunity to further the private interests of some developers improperly.

Ryan Amato: Chief of staff to the Minister of Municipalities and Housing resigned earlier this week.

Mr. Amato gathered packages of materials from developers keen to have their lands removed from the Greenbelt. When submissions for Greenbelt removals were met with “send me more information” instead of only a polite acknowledgement, this was a subtle change in the messaging that was noticed quickly by the ever-sensitive antennae in the developer network. Certain members of the development community seized the opportunity and provided Mr. Amato with detailed maps, files and reports supporting the removal of various properties from the Greenbelt. There was no public call for submissions, consultations or assessments, but those developers who caught wind of this change – and sought access to Mr. Amato – obtained the opportunity for their lands to be removed.

Based on the evidence, of the 15 properties that were removed from the Greenbelt or redesignated, Mr. Amato was involved in the selection of 14. This report outlines the evidence gathered on how each of the 15 properties came to be included in the cabinet submission.


The public servants believed that Mr. Amato was providing direction and/or approvals from the minister and the Premier’s Office. But by his own admission and that of other witnesses, Mr. Amato was operating largely alone and undirected.

I find that Mr. Amato was the driving force behind a flawed process which provided an advantage to those who approached him. It was unfair to those landowners who had an interest in seeing their lands were removed and who were unaware of the potential change to the government’s Greenbelt policy. The argument that they could be considered at a later time must not be particularly comforting to them now and since the December removals, no action has been taken to consider any other properties for removal from the Greenbelt.

It is incumbent on the minister, however, to supervise his staff. Members cannot hide from accountability under the Act where, through undue carelessness or inattention, they fail to oversee important policies or decisions in their offices. I find that the minister made three critical decisions which contributed to the improper result of the process.

Portions of the Mandate Letter the Premier sent to Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Minister of Municipalities and Housing Steve Clark

First, Minister Clark misinterpreted the mandate letter’s timing for Greenbelt removals which led Mr. Amato to embark on a rushed process with unfortunate results.

Second, he made the decision to withdraw from the supervision and direction of this highly significant initiative within his ministry, leaving it to his recently appointed chief of staff who had never served in that capacity before and who was “drinking from a firehose” trying to grasp all of his new responsibilities.

Third, he made the decision to take the proposal to cabinet without having questioned Mr. Amato or the deputy minister as to how the properties had been selected for removal or redesignation.

Mr. Amato’s communications to developers must be attributed to Mr. Clark since I find that he failed to oversee an important initiative in his ministry which led to some developers being alerted to a potential change in the government’s position on the Greenbelt with the result that their private interests were furthered improperly.

During the inquiry, I encountered evidence that is relevant to mandates I have under other pieces of legislation, on which I have outlined and offered commentary as well as recommendations in this report.

Based on the evidence gathered in this inquiry, I conclude that Minister Clark breached sections 2 and 3(2) of the Act. Accordingly, I have recommended to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that Minister Clark be reprimanded for his failure to comply with the Act.

While now public the Integrity Commissioner reports has to be presented to the government who can ignore it, accept the recommendation or decide to take a different approach.


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3 comments to Integrity Commissioner concludes Clark breached sections of the Members’ Integrity Act – recommends Minister reprimanded. 

  • Perryb

    Imagine if:

    Judge: “Mr. Ford, you were caught while robbing a bank”

    Ford: “I admit the process was flawed, but intentions were good and I will fix that in the future”

  • Sharon Dickerson

    Are you kidding,! You get reprimanded for leaving your homework at home. If you don’t or won’t take responsibility for such a large project as the Greenbelt what are you really doing?

  • Rick law