Premier Ford Continues Efforts to Evoke Notwithstanding Clause

Queen's Park
Queen's Park building seat of the Ontario Provincial Government. The Ontario Legislative Building which houses the viceregal suite of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and offices for members of the provincial parliament

QUEENS PARK – Ontario Premier Doug Ford is moving forward in his efforts to change Toronto City Council.

This morning the Premier announced that his government will pass a motion that will evoke Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – the notwithstanding clause, to overrule a decision by the courts overturning the legislation passed this summer on reducing the size of Toronto City Council.

“Canada’s Constitution makes it clear. The province has exclusive responsibility over municipalities,” said Ford in announcing his government’s action. “The Better Local Government Act will reduce the size and cost of government while reducing dysfunction at City Hall. The people who are most vocal and fighting this move are a small group of left-wing councillors looking to continue their free ride on the taxpayers’ dollar and a network of activist groups who have entrenched their power under the status quo.”

Ford announced that his government will immediately recall Ontario’s Legislature and introduce legislation that, if passed, will invoke Section 33 of the Constitution and ensure the Better Local Government Act is preserved in time for the October 22 Municipal Election.

Ford also announced that his government will immediately appeal Judge Belobaba’s decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

“I believe this decision is deeply concerning and wrong and the result is unacceptable to the people of Ontario,” concluded Ford. “If you want to make new laws in Ontario – or in Canada – you first must seek a mandate from the people.”

The Official Opposition New Democrats are calling the move as the wrong step forward by Ontario.

“Invoking the notwithstanding clause in a case like this is an unprecedented move, literally suspending the Charter rights of Ontario people in order to plow ahead with his revenge plot against his political enemies at Toronto City Hall,” said Horwath.

“A good leader doesn’t just ask if he has the right to do it, but whether it’s the right thing to do.”

The notwithstanding clause allows a provincial government to suspend a part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a period of up to five years. Its use is incredibly rare in Canadian history.

Horwath said she not only opposes Ford’s plan to invoke the notwithstanding clause – but also opposes any plan by Ford to use public money to fund an appeal on the court’s ruling, saying it’s wrong to waste more of Ontarians’ money on Doug Ford’s revenge plot. The decision from Justice Edward Belobaba was clear, she said.

“The Province has clearly crossed the line,” wrote Belobaba in his decision, which also stated that “Passing a law that changes the City’s electoral districts in the middle of its election and undermines the overall fairness of the election is antithetical to the core principles of our democracy.”

During Question Period in Queen’s Park this morning the public gallery was cleared after several people attempted to protest the move by the Ford Government.

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