Ford plays his char­ter trump card

PressReader - Tke Channel - Ford plays his char­ter trump card
Pre­mier Doug Ford has let it be known just how far he’s ready to go to en­force what he says is the will of On­tario vot­ers.In a move un­par­al­leled in On­tario his­tory and prece­dent-set­ting on the na­tional level, Ford has vowed to use the not­with­stand­ing clause of the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms to en­sure the down­siz­ing of Toronto’s city coun­cil.And he says Ot­tawa is on his radar, too.On­tario’s Su­pe­rior Court on Mon­day struck down the prov­ince’s bid to cut Toronto’s coun­cil to 25 seats from 47. In do­ing so, Jus­tice Ed­ward Belob­aba deemed the new gov­ern­ment’s leg­is­la­tion rushed and un­con­sti­tu­tional.But Ford de­scribed that rul­ing as “deeply, deeply con­cern­ing,” and an­nounced his ex­tra­or­di­nary step to over­ride it, say­ing, “What’s ex­tra­or­di­nary is a demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment be­ing tried to be shut down by the courts.”Mean­while, Ford said he’s been hear­ing ap­peals from the Ot­tawa area in the wake of his move to trim the Toronto coun­cil.Sup­port­ers laud Ford’s moves as bold. How­ever colum­nist An­drew Coyne con­cludes they may also have made com­par­isons be­tween the pre­mier and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump a lit­tle more apt.Pre­mier Doug Ford took the un­prece­dented step Mon­day of in­vok­ing a rarely used char­ter pro­vi­sion known as the not­with­stand­ing clause to push ahead with his plan to slash the size of Toronto’s city coun­cil in the mid­dle of a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, de­spite a court deem­ing the move un­con­sti­tu­tional.Ford said his Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment would also ap­peal the judg­ment, which con­cluded the prov­ince’s coun­cil cut­ting leg­is­la­tion was hur­riedly en­acted and in­ter­fered with the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion for both can­di­dates and vot­ers.“I be­lieve the judge’s de­ci­sion is deeply, deeply con­cern­ing,” Ford said hours af­ter the scathing court rul­ing. “The re­sult is un­ac­cept­able to the peo­ple of On­tario.”Ford’s use of the not­with­stand­ing clause, which gives pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures or Par­lia­ment the abil­ity to over­ride cer­tain por­tions of the char­ter for a five-year term, drew swift con­dem­na­tion from crit­ics, who said the size of Toronto’s city coun­cil was not the kind of is­sue the con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion was de­signed to deal with.The pre­mier, whose gov­ern­ment is fac­ing other le­gal chal­lenges on con­tro­ver­sial moves such as the scrap­ping of a mod­ern­ized sex-ed cur­ricu­lum, said he “won’t be shy ” about us­ing the not­with­stand­ing clause — known as Sec­tion 33 of the char­ter — again in the fu­ture.“My con­cern is democ­racy,” the pre­mier said. “What’s ex­tra­or­di­nary is a demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment be­ing tried to be shut down by the courts ... that should be con­cern­ing to ev­ery sin­gle per­son in On­tario.”Toronto Mayor John Tory called the use of the not­with­stand­ing clause a “gross over­reach” of the prov­ince’s pow­ers.“To use an over­sized ham­mer to abridge the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms of our coun­try, as if the mat­ter of how many coun­cil­lors we have for this elec­tion is some sort of na­tional emer­gency in­volv­ing the over­rid­ing of fun­da­men­tal rights, is a mis­take,” he said.Tory said the city will op­pose an ap­pli­ca­tion ex­pected from the prov­ince to stay the judge’s de­ci­sion pend­ing an ap­peal. The mayor also said city staff will ad­vise coun­cil­lors at a spe­cial meet­ing on Thurs­day how the mu­nic­i­pal­ity can pro­ceed with the up­com­ing Oct. 22 elec­tion. Tory also promised that if he is re-elected this fall he will try to take the is­sue to res­i­dents in a ref­er­en­dum.Bill 5 cuts the size of Toronto’s city coun­cil from 47 seats to 25, align­ing them with fed­eral and pro­vin­cial rid­ings. Ford ar­gued the move will im­prove de­ci­sion­mak­ing and save $25 mil­lion.

Pre­mier Doug Ford speaks to re­porters with Min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and Hous­ing Steve Clark in Toronto on Mon­day. Ford is push­ing ahead with plans for shrink­ing Toronto coun­cil.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.