Skip to main content

Ontario councillor 'not impressed' after accepting free Ford gala tickets from 'Mr. X' after Greenbelt scandal


A Pickering, Ont. councillor said she would advise extreme caution before accepting a free ticket to the premier’s gala fundraiser after learning hers was provided by the man dubbed “Mr. X”, who’s now under investigation by the province’s Integrity Commissioner for his alleged role in the Greenbelt scandal.

Cllr. Lisa Robinson was one of at least two politicians to receive donations of $1,500 tickets to the PC Leader’s Dinner in March from “Mr. X” — revealed to be former Clarington, Ont. Mayor John Mutton — that prompted calls for Elections Ontario to investigate who actually paid.

“Now I’m pretty cautious on everything I do with tickets. I had no idea,” Robinson said in an interview, saying she didn’t know the value of the ticket at the time, which was over the maximum threshold Pickering councillors are allowed to accept.

That was the first headache, she said. Robinson and the other recipient, mayor Kevin Ashe, were not punished by the city’s own Integrity Commissioner for accepting the tickets.

Then, the other shoe dropped, according to Robinson, when she heard Mutton’s name come up in the investigation into the Ontario Greenbelt land swap.

“I saw John Mutton’s name come up the other day and I said, ‘Huh, wait a minute,’” Robinson said.

Records show both Ashe and Robinson declared the gifts, worth $1,500, as donated from Municipal Solutions, an Oshawa, Ont. company run by Mutton.

Mutton did not return calls and messages from CTV News Toronto.

The province’s Integrity Commissioner detailed how Mutton pushed to have land north of Nash Road removed from the Greenbelt so it could be developed, and potentially net himself as much as a $1 million commission.

The report said he offered golf games and Raptors tickets to senior housing ministry figures and may have broken lobbyist rules as lobbyists are not allowed to be paid on the results of their work. Mutton was not a registered lobbyist.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford (right) and former Clarington mayor John Mutton (left).

That parcel was one of 15 removed from the province's protected Greenbelt at the time, which could net some $8.3 billion to the landowners due to increased land values. The Integrity commissioner found the process was flawed and advantaged a few connections developed.

The fallout prompted the resignation of housing minister Steve Clark and his chief of staff Ryan Amato, and prompted the premier to shuffle the cabinet. The premier has since called for a review that could bring even more land out of the Greenbelt.

The lack of the paper trail with Mutton’s name in donation that would correspond to the tickets prompted calls from watchdog group “Democracy Watch” to get Elections Ontario to investigate.

NDP Finance Critic Catherine Fife said she would support a call to get to the bottom of who paid for the ticket — a political donation that she said, by being re-donated, was then stripped of information about where the contribution was really from.

“Many Ontarians are concerned about who has influence and power, and following the money matters in these instances,” she said.

Pickering’s Mayor, Kevin Ashe, said he has known Mutton for a long time and he was one of several people to offer him tickets shortly before the event was to be held. He said he didn’t know who the purchaser was.

“From my understanding, Mr. Mutton was selling tickets on behalf of the party and probably has sold these tickets to people that knew they were not going to attend. They filled up the tables. That’s not unusual,” he said.

The PC Party hasn’t confirmed Mutton’s role, but said last week all donations were done according to Ontario’s election finance rules.

Elections Ontario told CTV News in a statement, “Elections Ontario does not comment on whether or not it is investigating a matter.”

Robinson says she’s been very concerned about the Greenbelt, and its impact on the province’s farmland, and on the standing of the PC government, which has also dropped in the polls after the scandal.

“I can tell you I’m not impressed. Right from the beginning I’ve not been in favour of this approach to the Greenbelt — it’s very undemocratic,” she said.

“I’m conservative through and through. I’m hoping that this does not have a lot of impact on the government,” she said. Top Stories

Stay Connected