Former Clarington Mayor Unmasked as ‘Mr. X’ in Land Development Scandal

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The mysterious individual, labelled as “Mr. X” in an intensely critical integrity commissioner report, has been unveiled as a former mayor of Clarington. It was discovered that this ex-mayor, who had openly bragged of his prowess in driving development through provincial orders, helped landowners to illicitly override protective measures imposed on Ontario’s cherished Greenbelt land.

John Mutton, the former public officer in question, is reported to have assisted a landowner in building on an 86-acre piece of woodland and wetland in Clarington. He allegedly achieved this by ingratiating himself with high-ranking personnel in Ontario’s housing ministry, promising Raptors tickets and golfing experiences. Interestingly, Mutton was not at the time, a registered lobbyist as required by provincial legislation.

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In a disclosure made by Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake, it was suggested that “Mr. X” could stand to earn as much as $1 million if the land was extracted from the greenbelt. This would transform what was relatively low-priced farmland into a profitable construction prospect, a move that could potentially infringe upon lobbyist laws which forbid payment contingent on successful lobbying.

The flagrant irregularities implicated in this incident highlight the urgency for tighter controls on lobbying, as posited by the current Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster. He has suggested the establishment of a fresh municipal lobbyist registry to accompany the existing provincial registry.

According to the Commissioner’s report, it’s clear that established rules were flouted in this case. Mayor Foster further adds that municipalities seldom monitor these activities, providing even more justification for an additional registry.

Mutton has largely remained aloof in face of these allegations, refusing to respond to emails and calls, and even refusing to leave his residences during the media’s attempts to reach him.

A company based in Oshawa, Municipal Solutions, associated with Mutton has also declined to comment. This firm defines itself as a multipurpose “fixer”, and reportedly oversees a division that cultivates new cannabis and psilocybin strains, the latter being the key component in psychedelic mushrooms.

Evidence on social media suggests Mutton’s close ties to conservative figures, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Although Ford himself has denied such associations, stating, “Anyone who does advocacy work should know if you don’t follow the rules you’re going to be accountable.”

Premier Ford’s alleged connection to Mutton has raised concerns among other party leaders. Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles voiced her apprehensions and Interim Ontario Liberal leader John Fraser has intimated discomfort over their proximity.

In a surprising social media post, Mutton claims pride in leading a firm notorious for overturning ministerial zoning orders, known as MZOs, which allow the provincial government to bypass local authorities on land use decisions.

In a recent report by Integrity Commissioner Wake, the method employed to develop the greenbelt was criticised as “rushed and flawed”. It was revealed that Steve Clark, the then housing minister, had transgressed ethical guidelines. Clark subsequently resigned from his post, which caused a reorganization of Ford’s cabinet. Ford took this opportunity to also announce an extensive review of all Greenbelt properties.

The property debates centered around an 86 acre lot in Clarington that had been bought by Peter Tanenbaum for approximately $2.7 million about two decades ago. Its value would substantially appreciate if legal authorization to develop were granted.

The report uncovers a contract negotiated between Mr. X and Tanenbaum, in which Mr. X would receive a monthly payout of $6,000 and a “Greenbelt Fee” of $225,000 upon removal of the lands from the Greenbelt. Additionally, a “Rezoning fee” of $775,000 would be given with approval to develop the land.

A recent search of the lobbyist registry confirms that Mutton is not registered, prompting Wake to announce an investigation into “Mr. X’s” possible violations.

Mutton has denied any allegations of lobbying, stating he was merely representing a landowner in his capacity as a developer.