It was just over a week ago that Premier Doug Ford misplaced a rebuke against Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner for turning down the opportunity to host a Chinese glass plant in a riding he doesn’t represent. But now allegations have been made that Ford is meeting with Xinyi behind closed doors in order to find a way to get the glass plant built after all.
The NDP allege that Ford’s response about Xinyi to an unrelated question from Schreiner on September 17 is proof that Ford has met with the company behind closed doors. During Question Period that day, Ford chastised Schreiner for “Guelph’s” decision to not allow Xinyi to build a plant here, and thus secure 400 jobs. Ford then said that any riding in Ontario would be more than happy to welcome such an opportunity.
Of course, it was the Township of Guelph-Eramosa that voted 4-to-1 against approving the rezoning of the land to build the Xinyi plant, which was immediately to the west of the Guelph border. Also, Schreiner does not represent Guelph-Eramosa at Queen’s Park. That honour goes to Speaker of the House, and Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Arnott.
“Why does Mr. Ford think the township of Guelph/Erasmosa should rip up a longstanding industrial water limit bylaw and threaten the drinking water in the region?” asked NDP critic for the Environment and Sustainability, Ian Arthur. “The people who depend on this at-risk aquifer are worried about Ford’s declaration that he not only met in secret with Xinyi, but that he’s taking the corporation’s side – and they have good reason to be.”
Schreiner, in a follow-up letter to the Premier, was equally aghast.
“Premier, you owe the people of Guelph and Guelph/Eramosa township an apology for disparaging a decision they had every right to make,” wrote Schreiner. “Even more disturbing are reports that you held closed-door meetings with Xinyi. It would be inappropriate for your government to interfere in a municipal decision, and even worse, to do so behind closed doors.”
“Premier, I am asking you to respect the people of Guelph/Eramosa, including their elected councillors, and fully disclose the details of your closed-door meeting,” he added.
According to the NDP, the Integrity Commissioner has no record of a meeting between Ford and representatives from Xinyi.