Frank Klees, the former Progressive Conservative MPP for Newmarket-Aurora, is a friend of the developer Michael Rice who purchased 687 acres of Greenbelt land at Bathurst in King for $80M on 15 September 2022. The lands are now open for development. (Photo right)

Klees, an ex-Cabinet Minister turned consultant lobbyist, worked under contract for the Rice Group from 8 October 2019 – 11 September 2020. He had previously lobbied for changes to the boundaries of the Greenbelt. 

What are you attempting to influence?

The Lobbyist Register required Klees to describe his lobbying goal(s) in detail in respect of the Rice Group. It asked:

“What are you attempting to influence or accomplish as a result of your communications with Ontario public office holders?” 

Klees replied in his Delphic way:

“The objective of the communications is to brief certain Ontario public office holders on the economic development opportunities represented by a number of the client’s emerging projects.”

Clear as mud. 

Emerging Projects

What were these emerging projects? Klees refuses to say.

The register tells lobbyists they should give specific information about their lobbying goals and the intended outcome of the lobbying.

Whatever happened to the specifics and the intended outcome? In the Klees case, the “emerging projects” should have been clearly itemised.

Klees’ answer as it stands is entirely meaningless. And if the object of the Register is to promote transparency then it is clearly failing.

Family friend

Frank Klees is family friend of Michael Rice. (Photo right)

On 2 June 2009 Klees spoke in the Legislature welcoming the family to Queen’s Park:

“I am honoured to introduce family members of James Albert Rice, who are in the House with me today. I will have the honour of paying tribute to Jim Rice later on in the proceedings.

Present with us are Mary Rice, his widow, Doris MacDonald, Douglas MacDonald, Bobby MacDonald, Barb Collins, Aaron Collins, Patty Rice, Joe Pfaff, Jimmy Rice, Susan McGovern, John McGovern, Euston McGovern, Conrad McGovern, Parker McGovern, Michael Rice, Martha Rice, Theresa Davis and Matthew Rice. I would ask that we welcome them warmly to the Legislature.”

Klees then delivered an encomium to Jim Rice who founded his construction company in York Region. Klees closed saying this:

I am honoured, as a member of this Legislature and as a friend of James Albert Rice and his family, to invoke the recognition of all members of the Legislature of this great Canadian for his spirit of giving to his family, to his employees and to his community. May that spirit inspire us all.”

Clearly, Frank Klees is close to the Rice family. Then and now. 

Lobbying Register inadequate

The Auditor General’s special report on changes to the Greenbelt described lobbying as

“a practice available to those who have the means to fund it and who know how to contact politicians or their political public service staff. The private interests that lobbyists are paid to advance can be at odds with the public’s interest. Thus, lobbying has the potential to influence government to make decisions that do not represent the interests of the majority. 

Although it is a driver of political change and has always been part of Canadian politics, lobbying is closely related to patronage (the exchange of personal gifts or favours) and carries with it the potential for conflict of interest. Therefore, it is usually closely scrutinized and regulated.”

Klees' entry in the Lobbyist Register tells us absolutely nothing about what he got up to on behalf of the Rice Group. We are given vague generalities and nothing more - just the way the insidious network of developers and PC politicians like it. 

The Lobbyist Register, as it currently stands, is woefully inadequate and not fit for purpose.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

more on Frank Klees.

On Thursday (14 September) York Region’s Committee of the Whole will be considering a report from the Chief Administrative Officer, Bruce Macgregor, on the Provincial review of regional government. 

It tells us that on May 18, 2023, the Province committed to assessing the upper-tier municipalities of Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Waterloo and York by appointing Provincial “facilitators”.

The Province should have announced the name of a facilitator by today – but it hasn’t. 

Instead, the new Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Paul Calandra, is having second thoughts about a revamp of two-tier government in York, Halton, Durham and other regions. (photo right)

Ford’s 2019 review of regional government went nowhere. The reports of that abortive exercise still haven’t been published.

And here we are again.

Back where we started.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click "Read more" below for the Toronto Star report. The Globe and Mail quotes Markham's Mayor Frank Scarpitti:

“The fact is, the status quo is not an option. If in fact they want to see, and they do, more housing built in the next decade, reform is needed.”

Scarpitti has zero support on York Regional Council for his proposal to abolish all nine lower tier municipalities and create a new megacity. Former Ontario Liberal Leader and now Mayor of Vaughan, Steven Del Duca, wants a full scale municipal reorganisation. Del Duca favours a “single tier” Vaughan taking over many services currently provided by York Region. It's all very broad brush - and not thought through. 

Update on 12 September 2023: From Global News: Ford's mandate letters

Update on 13 September 2023: From Global News: Ontario Regional Government review to move ahead without facilitators. And from the CBC. Calandra's request to the Legislature's Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy Committee was posted on Twitter.

Update on 14 September 2023: From Newmarket Today: York Region loses $34.9M in development charges thanks to Housing Bill

I see from Dawn’s latest “Community Update” that she is planning a re-run of last year’s wonderful and hugely successful “Free” BBQ and Corn Roast

Maybe this year Doug Ford can put in an appearance – fresh from his run of magnificent Ford-Fests. I hope so!  All across Ontario, from Windsor to Scarborough to Kitchener, Doug has been treating the great people of FordNation to free hot dogs, free burgers, free veggie-burgers, free pop, free T shirts. And free rides for the kids! 

Remember, in FordNation everything is absolutely FREE! Everyone is welcome. No-one will be turned away!


Personally, I think Doug owes Dawn a favour. 

Our Ford appointee MPP is a “FordFanNatic!”. Dawn is wonderfully obedient and never strays off-message. Here is what Dawn told her many thousands of wonderful readers:

Save the Date – MPP Gallagher Murphy’s 2nd Annual Community BBQ

You’re invited to our 2nd Annual Community BBQ.  Autumn will be here soon and it’s great to get outdoors and spend time with my community meeting all the wonderful constituents. 

Since the last BBQ we have been busy working on behalf of everyone in the community, I hope we will see lots (of) my Newmarket-Aurora friends for a fun day of food, music and children’s activities.  I am inviting you all to my free BBQ on Sunday October 22nd between 2:00 & 4:00 pm at Newmarket Riverwalk Commons. Hope to see you there!


Last year's wonderful free BBQ cost the taxpayers a paltry $11,160.

Who amongst us would begrudge spending this trifling sum to stage such a spectacular event?

The Free BBQ and Corn Roast feeds the hungry, entertains our lovely neighbours and promotes our splendidly talented MPP - all in one go!

Dawn is such a treasure. 

Doug is lucky to have her - and others like her - in his caucus.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Update on 10 September 2023: Doug Ford promises homes under $500,000 at Kitchener Ford Fest.

Yesterday’s bombshell story in the Globe and Mail reveals that Susan McGovern, appointed by Doug Ford to the Board of the Greenbelt Foundation, is the sister of Michael Rice who bought the Greenbelt lands at Bathurst in King for $80M and is the spouse of John McGovern, the Rice Group’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Planning. 

Nothing prepared me for this. 

I now realise the developers' tentacles extend everywhere. 

Everything is corrupted. From municipalities that bend the truth to hospital administrators who stay silent. 

Permanent, Protected and Prosperous

The Globe and Mail tells us:

“The government appointed Susan McGovern in 2019 to the board of the Greenbelt Foundation, which describes itself on its website as “the only organization solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous.” Her three-year term ended on Nov. 20.”

As I was scrolling through the readers’ comments on these astonishing revelations, I came across this one from Nick Wright (right) which, I think, neatly sums up the position.

Conflicts of Interest

The Greenbelt Foundation has a policy covering conflicts of interest of members (whose definition includes Board members), associates and employees: 

“It will be the responsibility of all members, associates and employees to identify when a real or potential conflict may exist, and to inform the Board or CEO of such situations when they arise.” 

We know from the Globe and Mail’s research that Susan McGovern did not declare any conflicts of interest. Perhaps she didn’t discuss Greenbelt issues with her brother or husband who were actively engaged in removing land from the Greenbelt throughout 2022 if not before.

I don’t know what she got up to in her years on the Greenbelt Foundation Board. But I have asked for sight of the Board minutes covering the period from her appointment to the Board until her departure and I shall see where it takes me.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Update on 11 September 2023: Toronto Star Editorial: Doug Ford's Greenbelt fixation more than defies explanation. It demands further investigation. 

And the Greenbelt Foundation's Annual Report for 2020-21 tells us:

"Since February 2020, the Greenbelt Foundation and Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation have been integrated, working collectively to preserve, protect, and restore the environmental and agricultural integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine."

A new Oak Ridges Moraine Committee of the Greenbelt Foundation's Board of Directors was set up to oversee this work. Susan McGovern was a Committee member. The ex-Greenbelt land at Bathurst bought by her brother, Michael Rice, for $80M on 15 September 2022, contained land which was part of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Ford Government has now redesignated that land as a settlement area, open for development. See Timeline.



In a dramatic new development, this morning's Globe and Mail reveals a direct family connection between Michael Rice and John McGovern of the Rice Group and Susan McGovern, a former Ford Government appointee to the Greenbelt Foundation.

Click "read more" for this morning's jaw dropping Globe and Mail revelations.

Update on 9 September 2023: From the Globe and Mail: Opposition demands Greenbelt reversal amid revelations of Ford government appointee's family ties