Does Ford’s Ontario Election Win Put His Government Above The Law? He Seems To Think So.
A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted September 11th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
This past July, Doug Ford’s then barely four-week old Ontario government shocked people across the province with a sudden announcement that he had tabled legislation – Bill 5 or what he and his Tories where calling the “Better Local Government Act” – that would slash the number of seats on Toronto city council in half and cancel elections at large for regional council chairs in Niagara, York, Peel and Muskoka.
Ford made his announcement just hours before the deadline for people to register their papers as candidates in this October 22nd municipal elections – causing many to question why he would mandate such significant changes without consultation and when the municipal election process was already underway.
The City of Toronto chose to challenge Ford’s ‘Bettter Local Government Act’ in the courts. Niagara, Peel, York and Muskoka did not. And this past Monday, September 10th, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled that with respect to the moves Ford was making on Toronto at least – to slash the number of seats on its city council from 47 to 25 – those constitute a violation of the democratic freedoms enshrined in Canada’s Charter of Rights.
Then, within hours of the judge’s ruling, there was Ford announcing that he will not only use who knows how much tax money to appeal it, he will also go to draconian lengths to use the Charter of Right’s “notwithstanding clause” – usually reserved for emergencies that rise to the level of a major disaster, war or terrorist attack – to walk over the rights cited by the judge and do what he wants to do to Toronto’s city council anyway.
And why is he going to such drastic lengths?
According to him, it is because the judge, who dared to question the constitutionality of something he was doing, was appointed and he is the leader of a democratically elected government. Furthermore, Ford said he would not hesitate to reach for the notwithstanding clause again he felt it was necessary to impose his will, even if it means overriding the rights and freedoms of others.
Ford earned a reputation as a bully during the years he sat on Toronto city council and road shotgun for his late brother Rob when he was mayor. Now here he is bringing the same conduct and character to Ontario politics on the grounds that he won a provincial election with 38 per cent of the vote.
This guy is already behaving like a bully and dictator at the provincial level, and unless members of his caucus show the courage to restrain him, we have over three and a half more years of this.
Here is the Ford government’s September 10th media release on its determination to move over, despite court ruling based on constitutional law, with the slashing of Toronto’s city council. What municipal government in the province will Ford go after next?
Released September 10, 2018
Will call back the Legislature and invoke Section 33 of the Constitution to ensure the Better Local Government Act remains in effect as passed by Ontario’s democratically elected Legislature
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced (this September 10th) that his government will take immediate action to ensure the Better Local Government Act remains in effect as passed by Ontario’s democratically elected legislature.
“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.”
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