Toronto, Ont./ Traditional territories of several First Nations including the Williams Treaties First Nations, Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation — Ecojustice, on behalf of Environmental Defence, is taking the Ontario government to court to make sure it tells the public the truth about the Greenbelt scandal, and about the government’s relationship with developers.
Environmental Defence, represented by Ecojustice, submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request in late 2022 to find out what kind of influence developers had on the Ontario Cabinet and Premier in its Greenbelt decision.
The Ontario government has failed to comply with its legislative obligation to respond to this request and has also failed to respond to an Information and Privacy Commissioner Order.
Since these environmental groups submitted the FOI request, the Ontario government has been publicly admonished by the Auditor General and the Integrity Commissioner, several ministers have resigned, and the government has reversed its Greenbelt plan. The government is now under criminal investigation by the RCMP.
Important questions remain about the involvement of government officials in the Greenbelt scandal. There are information gaps in the Auditor General’s report and the investigation carried out by the Integrity Commissioner.
These groups have now launched a judicial review to force the Ontario government to comply with its legal duties to make a decision about the release of documents relating to the Greenbelt scandal.
Laura Bowman, Ecojustice lawyer, said:
“The Premier told the Integrity Commissioner that he had no knowledge of developer influence on the Greenbelt decision last November, yet information about this is not being released, and the Ministry is not following the legal process required. Releasing information on how the Greenbelt decision was made, without further delays, is in the public interest.
“The public deserves to know how important land use decisions are being made. This case is important to upholding the integrity of the access to information system.
“We’re taking the provincial government to court to ensure Ontarians get the truth”
Tim Gray, Environmental Defence executive director said:
“The laws of Ontario require government to follow the orders of the Privacy Commissioner but they are refusing to do so and keeping vital information about who knew what and when from being available to the public
“The Greenbelt scandal will not be over until all the information about developer influence on the Ontario government has been revealed and the people responsible held accountable”