Doug Ford’s right-hand man, PC MPP heads to Las Vegas in 2020 with greenbelt developer: sources

Both denied involvement in ministerial zoning orders or decisions to remove greenbelt land that benefited the developer

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published here trilliumA new Village Media website dedicated exclusively to covering provincial politics in Queens Park.

Sources said Premier Doug, a top Ford aide and Progressive Conservative MPP who is now a cabinet minister, traveled to Las Vegas in 2020 with developer Shakir Rahmatullah, whose companies have been involved in several Ford government projects, including greenbelt land swaps. The decisions have benefited. trillium,

In February 2020, Amin Masoodi was Ford’s principal secretary. kalid rasheed then he was in the middle of his first term As Mississauga East – was MPP for Cooksville and deputy whip of the government caucus.

information provided to trillium Multiple independent sources connected and unrelated to the government indicate that Rahmatullah, Masoodi and Rasheed were in Las Vegas at the time of the trip. These sources were granted anonymity to protect them from retaliation.

in response to questions from trilliumNeither Masoodi nor Rasheed denied accompanying Rahmatullah on a trip to Las Vegas in early 2020. Rahmatullah did not respond to questions sent to him by email before this story was published.

Spokesmen for Masoodi and Rasheed both denied in their emailed responses that Rahmatullah paid for the trips to Las Vegas.

Rasheed’s spokesman said, “Minister Rasheed never made a trip paid for by Mr. Rahmatullah.”

Masoodi said, “I have never been on any visit paid for by Mr. Rahmatullah.”

When asked before this story was published whether they had paid for the trip to Las Vegas with Rahmatullah, neither of them answered.

A Ford spokesman said in a statement that “the prime minister was not aware (of the visit).”

“The expectation remains that all MPPs and employees will comply with all rules and obligations set forth in the law,” a Ford spokesperson said.

Since 2020 Rahmatullah’s Flato Developments and his other associated companies are received at least five ministers Zoning Order (MZO) for rapid development. Many of these are for projects near the land owned by Flato Upper Markham Village Inc. near Rahmatulla, which was under greenbelt protection till last year.

Some of this plot of 102 acres One of 15 parcels in Markham was freed for development by the Ford government, which removed development-restricting protections from its greenbelt land swap. Flato bought this plot in 2017 for $15 million.

Ford broke promise by removing land from Greenbelt last year they made in 2018 “Don’t touch the Greenbelt.”

The Ford government’s justification for removing a total of 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt last year is that 50,000 homes can be built on them to contribute to the government’s goal of building 1.5 million new homes in Ontario by 2031.

Rasheed’s spokesman said the minister had “an ethical screen on any government decisions relating to Mr Rahmatullah and his companies.”

Typically, an “ethics screen” is a set of procedures established for an individual in government, such as a cabinet minister, to keep them from making transactions that could affect the business of a spouse, family member, or close friend. .

Masoodi said that when he was working in the government, he was not directly involved in the decisions that benefited Rahmatullah.

“I had no direct role in the decisions to issue specific MZOs during my tenure in government,” Masoodi said in an email. “To the best of my knowledge, decisions on specific changes to the Greenbelt were made after I stepped down from government.”

As Principal Secretary to Ford, Masoodi was the most senior employee in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for managing stakeholders. He often met with individuals and companies interested in a wide range of government business, including his daily calendar from when he worked in the Prime Minister’s Office. trillium Retrieved through Freedom of Information requests, show.

In Ford’s political career, Massoudi was one of his closest, most loyal, and longest-serving allies. By the time Masoudi left the provincial government late last summer, he had served in roles close to the prime minister for more than six and a half years of Ford’s eight years of elected office, when they shared the City of Toronto. time in the hall.

Rasheed was given his first ministerial appointment by Ford on June 18, 2021, when Ford named him associate minister of digital government. After being re-elected in the spring of 2022, Rasheed was appointed Minister of Public and Business Services Delivery on June 24, 2022.

Multiple sources told that Masoodi, Rahmatullah and Rasheed are all friends trillium, Rashid called Rahmatullah his “dear friend” While introducing him in the legislative chamber in 2018. When asked, neither Masoodi nor Rasheed’s spokesperson denied that the three were friends.

A spokeswoman for Ontario’s integrity commissioner would not say whether Masoodi or Rasheed reported the Las Vegas trip to his office, or whether Rasheed sought an official opinion from the commissioner about the appropriateness of the trip, as MPPs can. The operation of the Integrity Commissioner’s Office is shaped by five separate laws that significantly limit how much it can disclose about its work.

According to a post he made, Masoodi’s last day of work in the provincial government was August 26. LinkedIn is.

Corporate records as of May 2023 show him as the sole director of his lobbying business, Atlas Strategic Advisors Inc.

on June 13Masoodi confirms trillium The integrity commissioner was “investigating a matter involving Atlas” after a spokesperson for the commissioner’s office confirmed that it had “received information regarding Amin Masoodi and possible non-compliance with the (lobbyist registration) Act.” Masoodi denied any wrongdoing by his lobbying firm. “At ATLAS, we are aware of and follow the important rules imposed on lobbyists. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect,” Masoodi said in an email.

On Wednesday, about an hour after Masoodi answered some questions in email prior to the publication of this story, an attorney from Heinein Hutchison Robitaille LLP emailed trillium regarding inquiries from government officials and customers and potential customers of Atlas while preparing the June 13 story.

The lawyer wrote that Masoodi and his company are prepared to use “all normal legal remedies available” against the publication and the journalist reporting the story.

“You are, therefore, directed to desist from making any statement, allegation or false implication that Mr. Masoodi has been involved in any legal or ethical violation in the course of his work while in public service or thereafter,” the lawyer wrote. Are.”

No one, including Masoodi or his lawyer, has directly disputed anything reported in the June 13 story. trillium It has not asked to correct or change anything in that story and stands by its reporting.

Source link

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 0 Average: 0]