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Ford's constitutional override to slash city council 'disappointing': LeBlanc

14 September 2018

She said the Ford government was elected "overwhelmingly by the people, for the people" and assured the crowd that "I am Ottawa's voice at Queen's Park, not the other way around".

Ford suddenly introduced the legislation, which would primarily slash the number of Toronto city councillors by nearly half, in July. "I wish we were talking about how close we were going to come to protecting supply management in this province".

Ford's remarks sounded alarm bells for Vanessa MacDonnell, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Ottawa.

Far from being the result of Ford's personal proclivities, as is largely being claimed in the bourgeois press, the Ontario premier's embrace of anti-democratic methods of rule is part of an worldwide process rooted in the deepening global capitalist crisis.

More commonly referred to as the notwithstanding clause, it's a scarcely-used mechanism that allows a federal or provincial government to skirt around certain charter rights in order to pass legislation.

"What is very concerning moving forward is if our decisions in changing the law to make this province being shot down by the courts", Ford said Monday.

The council-cutting bill and the notwithstanding clause that will ensure its implementation were introduced by Ford's government Wednesday afternoon following a commotion from the Opposition benches.

Mayor John Tory, who met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday evening to discuss the matter, acknowledges any legal battle against the notwithstanding clause would be steeply uphill, but says city lawyers have been told to look at all possibilities.

The province's use of the notwithstanding clause - a provision being invoked for the first time in Ontario - has drawn condemnation from critics, who've said it was not created to deal with this kind of issue. "It's a shame that our premier is such a petty, vindictive human being whose focus is on himself and his own quest to show those folks in Toronto that he's the boss of them".

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"There was chaos inside here today", he said.

"He truly is a premier for the people", she enthused.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the premier appears to believe that winning a majority means he is above the law. "He is bringing a risky view of democracy to Queen's Park, predicated on his belief that he can rule by decree".

Early reaction to the move has not been good for Ford. "And that is just what you are doing". "I just don't think that's the way to go", Savage said. But he said Canadians consistently rank the charter as one their most prized institutions and some may conclude the premier is against it.

Hours after Belobaba's ruling was released, Ford announced during a news conference that the government would appeal the decision while also calling MPPs back to the legislature to reintroduce the act. In particular, Keesmaat seized on a comment made by Ford on Monday that Tory "says one thing behind closed doors and then says something totally different in front of the cameras".

In the less than three months since Ford took office, his Progressive Conservatives have adopted a flurry of right-wing measures, including cuts to welfare, a provincial hiring freeze, the appointment of a commission charged with laying the groundwork for billions in spending cuts, and legislation outlawing a strike by graduate teaching and research assistants at York University. The senior Mulroney said he hadn't discussed the issue with her.

Despite the complications, however, Macfarlane said there would be value in revisiting the issue.

"An elected official doesn't have full power to do whatever he wants, she wants - there are some rules to follow, those of the constitution", she said.

Ford's constitutional override to slash city council 'disappointing': LeBlanc