Doug Ford

Toronto accuses Doug Ford of behaving like a dictator

How far will Doug Ford go to get his own way?

It's a question many in Ontario are asking today following the Premier's announcement that he wants to invoke a rare and controversial clause to effectively overturn a Super Court Judge's ruling against his move to slash 22 seats from Toronto city council.

Ontario Justice Edward Belobaba announced early Monday morning that the new provincial government's council-reducing legislation, Bill 5, violates Canada's charter of rights and freedoms.

"The provincial legislature enacted Bill 5, radically redrawing the City of Toronto's electoral districts, in the middle of the City's election," read Belobaba's 21-page ruling in favour of Toronto. "The Province has clearly crossed the line."

Ford was expected only to appeal the ruling, which would have drawn out the process, but left it in the hands of court officials.

Instead, announced that he would use Section 33 — a constitutional "notwithstanding clause" to do what he wants, regardless of any charter rights his laws might appear to violate.

Ford would be the first premier in Ontario's history to invoke this controversial clause, which was intended to serve as a "safety valve" for governments whose legislative agendas conflict with Canadian charter rights.

The premier also indicated during a press conference on Monday afternoon that he was willing to use this clause as many times as he has to in the future.

Needless to say, his opponents are shocked. Heck, everybody is shocked.

"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 NDP leader Andrea Horwath in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

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

Toronto mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat said similarly in a statement that Ford's conduct is egregious and over the line.

"It is completely unacceptable to suspend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in pursuit of old political grudges," she said.

"And that is what this is about. Premier Ford did not campaign on this issue. He has no democratic mandate to do this. And it is a disgrace to suspend the Charter on this or any other issue."

Ford himself maintains that it was Justice Belobaba who acted undemocratically in blocking his council-cutting bill.

He called the decision "deeply, deeply concerning" and said that Ontario voters should have the final say in what happens — three months ago.

"They’re the judge and jury. No one else," he said of those who voted his party into a majority government at Queen's Park in June.

When asked by City News journalist Cynthia Mulligan if he was concerned that he'd be called a dictator for invoking the notwithstanding clause, Ford replied simply: "I was elected. The judge was appointed."

Lead photo by

FordNation


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