Former mayor ID’d as mysterious consultant known as ‘Mr. X’ in Greenbelt report: sources

Former mayor ID’d as mysterious consultant known as ‘Mr. X’ in Greenbelt report: sources

The mysterious growth marketing consultant who Ontario’s integrity commissioner recognized solely as “Mr. X” in a scathing report in regards to the elimination of land from the Greenbelt has been recognized to CBC Information as former Clarington, Ont., mayor John Mutton.

In a report launched on Wednesday, Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake mentioned Mr. X was certainly one of two consultants employed by landowner Peter Tanenbaum to work on getting about 34 hectares of land on Nash Street in that group, about 83 kilometres east of Toronto, faraway from the Greenbelt and rezoned to allow growth.

Wake discovered that Mr. X could have engaged in unregistered lobbying and different potential lobbying violations whereas doing that work. 

Nico Fidani-Diker, principal on the lobbying agency OnPoint Technique Group, confirmed to CBC Information that he labored with Mutton as a marketing consultant on the Nash Street challenge.

“I had no interactions with Mr. Mutton aside from this one file,” mentioned Fidani-Diker, who beforehand labored as an govt assistant to Premier Doug Ford.

“I’m unaware of the main points of Mr. Mutton’s contract with Mr. Tanenbaum.” 

An indication welcomes drivers to the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Protect, the most important parcel of land Ford’s authorities faraway from the Greenbelt final December. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Two different sources, talking on situation of anonymity, who’re near the province’s Progressive Conservative authorities, recognized Mutton as Mr. X on Friday.

CBC Information was unable to achieve Mutton for touch upon Friday. 

Nonetheless, the Toronto Star, which was first to establish Mutton as Mr. X, reported that Mutton mentioned he had labored for Tanenbaum for “over 17 years” however careworn that it wasn’t as a lobbyist.

“I’m not a lobbyist. I’ve a growth companies firm the place we offer planning, engineering and every part,” the Star quoted him as saying. “I’ve by no means been contracted to do any kind of lobbying to get any lands out of the Greenbelt.”

The revelation is the newest twist in an argument that erupted after successive stories from two impartial legislative watchdogs revealed main flaws with the province’s determination to construct properties on the Greenbelt — an enormous 810,000-hectare space of protected farmland, forest and wetlands stretching from Niagara Falls to Peterborough meant to be completely off-limits to growth.

Wake discovered that Mr. X interacted with senior political staffers within the workplace of Housing Minister Steve Clark, organized golf with them that apparently didn’t occur and a paid lunch that did, and provided them tickets to a Toronto Raptors basketball sport.

A map of a portion of Durham region with land in Clarington highlighted.
This doc supplied by the Ontario authorities reveals the land in Clarington, Ont., that was faraway from the Greenbelt in December 2022. (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing)

He was additionally promised a million-dollar payout if he succeeded in influencing governments to permit housing to be constructed on his shopper’s land.

Wake, who additionally serves as Ontario’s lobbyist registrar, mentioned Mr. X didn’t register with the Ontario Lobbyists Registry with respect to the Greenbelt, which raises questions on potential non-compliance with the Lobbyists Registration Act.

“I’ll cope with the potential non-compliance individually, in my capability as Ontario’s Lobbyist Registrar, exterior of this report and inquiry.”

Mutton served as mayor of Clarington, a municipality with a 2021 inhabitants of about 101,000, from 1997 to 2006, in keeping with his LinkedIn profile. The profile says he has been president and CEO of the event agency Municipal Options since 2006.

Opposition criticizes Greenbelt land swap

Ontario’s opposition events had been fast to reply to the information.

“Each new revelation within the Conservatives’ rising scandal makes it even clearer that their soiled dealings on the Greenbelt Seize had been corrupt,” NDP Chief Marit Stiles mentioned in a press release referencing the Star story. 

“Ontario’s land-use coverage shouldn’t be run by Mr. X., or unregistered lobbyists; coverage adjustments shouldn’t be written by builders who stand to make billions and handed off to authorities officers on USB keys or in envelopes at personal events.”

Watch | Ontario NDP Chief Marit Stiles discusses the Mr. X allegations: 

former mayor idd as mysterious consultant known as mr x in greenbelt report sources 2

Doug Ford ‘clearly implicated’ in Greenbelt controversy, Ontario opposition chief says

Ontario NDP Chief Marit Stiles discusses the allegations of unregistered lobbying and different potential lobbying violations associated to the Greenbelt land swap by ‘Mr. X,’ who sources recognized to CBC Information as former Clarington, Ont., mayor John Mutton. ‘This deal is admittedly very soiled,’ Stiles mentioned on Saturday.

Interim Liberal Chief John Fraser referred to as the entire state of affairs “shady.”

“You’ve received this one who’s an unregistered lobbyist who’s received this contract that provides them bonuses in the event that they get the piece carved out of the Greenbelt that’s working with the one who’s the manager assistant to the premier at one level,” he mentioned. “It’s simply all too shut, it’s beginning to appear to be all roads lead again to the premier on this Greenbelt file.”

Reached late Friday, Inexperienced Celebration of Ontario Chief Mike Schreiner informed CBC Information the Greenbelt scandal isn’t about fixing the housing disaster. 

A man in a suit smiles for the camera.
Ryan Amato resigned because the housing minister’s chief of employees in August following the publication of the auditor common’s report. (Ryan Amato/LinkedIn)

“It’s clear that the premier is extra centered on serving to well-connected Ford insiders money in tens of millions and billions than serving to abnormal Ontarians discover a dwelling they’ll afford,” Schreiner mentioned. 

CBC Information reached out to the premier’s workplace for remark late Friday however didn’t instantly hear again. 

Raptors tickets, golf and a $225K ‘Greenbelt charge’

Tanenbaum bought the land for $2.75 million in 2003, property data present, two years earlier than the Greenbelt was created. 

The integrity commissioner mentioned Tanenbaum signed a $6,000 monthly contact with Mr. X’s consulting firm on Aug. 9, 2022. The contract promised Mr. X a “Greenbelt charge” of $225,000 if he helped efficiently take away the land from the Greenbelt and one other $775,000 “rezoning charge” if the municipality agreed to permit residential growth.

This contract seems to run afoul of the lobbyists act, in keeping with Wake, which “prohibits lobbying when fee is contingent on the diploma of success in lobbying.”

On Sept. 18, Mr. X informed Tanenbaum in an e mail that he had a gathering scheduled for the following week with Kirstin Jensen, Clark’s deputy chief of employees, and that Clark’s chief of employees Ryan Amato was anticipated to attend.

“Ours is the one file that I’m discussing. I even have them coming to golf at Goodwood in two weeks with me and to a Raptors sport,” the e-mail mentioned, in keeping with the report.

On Oct. 7,  Mr. X wrote in one other e mail to Tanenbaum that Amato had requested for a “authorized description” of the Clarington lands and a “GIS shapefile,” which is an information file containing detailed details about the shapes of geographical options.

Amato was evasive when requested by the commissioner in regards to the extent of his interactions Mr. X.

He mentioned he didn’t attend the assembly with Mr. X and didn’t keep in mind being invited to lunch. Wake discovered the time of the lunch, nevertheless, was blocked off on Amato’s calendar for an occasion labelled “personal.”

Amato mentioned he by no means went {golfing} or to a Raptors sport with Mr. X.

A man in a suit speaks at a lectern while another, standing to one side, puts his hand to his forehead.
Ford, proper, listens as Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark speaks throughout a press convention in Mississauga, Ont., on Aug. 11. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press)

Jensen did attend the lunch with Amato, in keeping with the integrity commissioner. She confirmed it passed off at Joey restaurant on the Toronto Eaton Centre on Sept. 27 and that Mr. X “in all probability paid.”

She mentioned they didn’t focus on something Greenbelt-related however that Mr. X gave her a handout he requested her to provide to Amato.

Jensen additionally denied ever going {golfing} or attending a Raptors sport and denied receiving such invites.

Wake discovered that details about the Nash Street property in Clarington was ultimately included within the first bundle of properties Amato gave on Oct. 3 to the so-called Greenbelt Mission Crew — the small workforce of ministry officers Amato oversaw that ultimately chosen the 15 properties for elimination from the Greenbelt.

The Clarington website was among the many properties that had been eliminated.

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