Ford’s Contempt for Ontarians’ Constitutional Rights and Freedoms has put the Lie to that
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted September 13th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
‘We are doing this for the people of Ontario,’ Doug Ford, the province’s premier, declared in the provincial legislature this September 12th of his self-described ‘Government for the People’s’ rushed decision to stomp all over Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms so it can take a meat axe to Toronto’s city council.
Just as Ford got those words about doing the people’s work out of his mouth, uniformed guards moved in on people protesting in the galleries of a Queen’s Park legislature – a legislature that suddenly looked more like the Reichstag from 1930s Berlin. as these people were hustled away.
A few of those people, looking like someone’s grandparents, were taken out in handcuffs as if they were about to be locked in a cage in a banana republic.
What does that say for Ford’s “Government for the People”?
Apparently that all depends on whether the people Ford has in mind when he uses that term support any dictatorial thing he decides to do, even if it involves waving aside constitutional rights, or whether they are audacious enough to demonstrate some resistance, in which case the uniformed guards move in to take them away.
I know t I am not the only Ontarian who, from the moment Ford was sworn in late last June as the province’s 26th Premier, viewed his penchant for addressing us as “friends” and his Progressive Conservative Party as a“Government for the People,” as the five-and-dime shtick of a circus tent huckster or snake oil salesman.
Anyone who seriously followed the bullying, blustering buffoon that Doug Ford was during his years as a Toronto city councillor had to know it was only a matter of time before Ontario’s legislature would turn into the ruckus mess Toronto’s council chambers were when he and his late brother Rob, the city’s mayor, played the ringmasters there.
It was just a matter of predicting how long it would take – try less than 11 weeks to the day after he was sworn in as premier – for something quite like the Ford Nation circus of old to unfold inside the regal, oak-wood walls of Queen’s Park.
So what now of the ‘Government for the People’? Since Ford introduced it, this news site will continue to use the term, if only to amplify the sham of it all as Ford continues to do outrageous things, as he surely will, including cutting services vital to the youngest and oldest among us, and everyone in between.
The Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario has been long gone anyway. It died when extreme right-winger Mike Harris, Doug Ford’s old friend and mentor, began his reign as leader of the party and premier of the province in the 1990s.
This September 12th, as Ford and his ‘Government for the People’ barged into the provincial legislature to use the “notwithstanding clause” in Canada’s Charter of Rights to overturn an Ontario Superior Court judge’s recent ruling against his plans to slash Toronto’s council from 47 to 25 seats, Bill Davis, who was Premier in the 1970s and early 1980s of a real Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario and who played a role in writing Canada’s Charter, had this to say about Ford’s use of its notwithstanding clause –
“The sole purpose of the notwithstanding clause was only for those exceptionally rare circumstances,” said the 89-year-old Davis.
“The notwithstanding provision has, understandably, rarely been used, because of the primacy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for all Canadians,” added Davis. “That it might now be used regularly to assert the dominance of any government or elected politician over the rule of law or the legitimate jurisdiction of our courts of law was never anticipated or agreed to.”
It is doubtful Davis’s words would matter to Ford.
He has already warned that he would use this clause in the Charter again if he has to in order to get his way – the justification being that he won last June’s provincial election, even if less than four out of every 10 Ontarians who went to the polls in that election voted for his party.
Forget about democracy and a government for the people. What we appear to be witnessing the start of in Ontario now is four years of dictatorship where anyone who might go to the courts to defend their rights and freedoms might see them trampled by a government determined to assert its dominance.
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