Speaking during Question Period, Ford and his housing minister defended their decision to offer only brief consultations on a law designed to return land to Ontario’s Greenbelt.
The legislation, Bill 136, was introduced after Ford reversed his government’s controversial removal of 7,400 acres of land from the Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt scandal cost Ford two cabinet ministers and several political staffers.
During question period on Monday, the Ontario NDP asked Ford why there would only be one hour of committee hearings on the bill, and if the province was avoiding hearing feedback from the public.
“She said, ‘We need to hear from the public,’” Ford said of NDP environmental critic Sandy Shaw’s question.
“Do you know why you aren’t hearing from the public? They don’t give two hoots about that.”
The premier then pivoted to talk about the carbon tax, arguing that it was “the number one issue on every poll.”
After a bruising summer, the Ford government has started to take more confidence in polling, pointing to figures that suggest they may have weathered the worst of the Greenbelt crisis.
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A memo sent by the premier’s office to various Progressive Conservative-friendly commentators, and obtained by Global News, highlighted recent polling as good news.
“These numbers reflect not only the premier’s apology and reversal of the Greenbelt but also his strong leadership on issues impacting everyday people,” the message said, referencing a poll that put the PCs at 41 per cent, compared with 26 and 25 per cent for the Ontario NDP and Liberals.
The Ontario NDP also asked Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, why he would speak for a full hour on the Greenbelt bill at committee.
He said the public could still contribute their views through the Environmental Registry of Ontario and Calandra pointed out how unpopular the Greenbelt land swap was.
“When it comes to the Greenbelt Statute Law Amendment Act, we’ve made it clear: we made a public-policy decision that wasn’t supported by the people of the province of Ontario,” Calandra said.
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