Ontario NDP leader calls Doug Ford ‘corrupt,’ challenges premier to sue

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Premier Ford shuffles cabinet
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Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles used provocative language to describe Premier Doug Ford’s recent scandals and dared him to take her to court if he disagrees.

Standing outside the Ontario Legislative Chamber, Stiles called the premier “corrupt” and claimed the premier is preoccupied with making government-funded deals “that only benefit his insider friends.”

“This is a corrupt government,” Stiles charged. “This is a corrupt premier.”

Stiles pointed to the recent Greenbelt scandal, which saw 7,400 acres of protected land opened for development in 2022, primarily benefitting developers who were suspected of having insider access to the government.

After a months-long investigation, Ontario’s Auditor General revealed that developers were given “preferential treatment” during a politically driven process that was carried out after Premier Ford directed his housing minister to “codify processes for swaps, expansions, contractions and policy updates for the Greenbelt.”

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Click to play video: 'Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles reflects on year dominated by Greenbelt scandal'
Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles reflects on year dominated by Greenbelt scandal

Stiles also said the ongoing RCMP investigation into the Greenbelt deals, the premier’s use of a private cellphone, the use of Gmail for government business by the premier’s chief of staff, and battles with the Information and Privacy Commissioner to keep government records out of the public view are evidence of “absolute corruption.”

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While Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner determined a “flawed process” with little ministerial oversight was largely to blame for the Greenbelt land removals, he pinned the blame on political staffers and cleared the Premier’s Office.

In spite of that, Stiles stood by her comments and dared the premier to take legal action.

“You know what? He wants to sue me. Go for it,” Stiles said in a direct challenge to the premier to take her to court for defamation.

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While Stiles comments are politically unsurprising, the location where she made them could land her in legal hot water because MPPs don’t have the protection of parliamentary privilege outside the legislative chamber.

“This privilege protects legislative bodies from legal liability for statements made in the course of their duties, allowing them to call the executive branch to account without fear,” lawyer Dennis Grigoras wrote in an article about MPP privilege.

“Parliamentary privilege, however, is not limitless. Statements made outside of privileged forums, for instance, can make assembly members legally liable,” Grigoras wrote.

Click to play video: 'Doug Ford’s chief of staff used private email for ‘political discussions’'
Doug Ford’s chief of staff used private email for ‘political discussions’

Stiles, however, said she would welcome a lawsuit suggesting the public could learn more about the Greenbelt scandal during disclosure.

“Come on out,” Stiles said. “We’ll see what information we can get in those proceedings.”

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Global News reached out to the Premier’s Office early on Thursday afternoon for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The premier has maintained, however, that “no one can influence the Fords.”

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