You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the beginning of what has turned into an all-out brawl between Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto's city council.
Ever since Ford voiced his intentions to cut the council in half, dropping from a planned group of 47 to 25, the city has been watching with a close eye to see what would happen. It's clear that everything finally hit a breaking point last night.
Earlier in the day on Monday, Judge Belobaba ruled that Ford’s plan, that was initially announced back in July was ridiculous. As a result Belobaba ruled that the “province had crossed a line,” finding that Ford’s plan violated charter rights. Though that didn’t stand for long since a few hours later at Ford’s press release, he announced he would be utilizing a clause that hasn’t ever been used in Ontario before, the “NotWithStanding” Clause.
If you haven’t heard of the clause before, it was introduced back in 1981 when the Charter of Rights came about. It was used as a way to compromise in case provinces needed to overrule such rights to push forward certain elements of their agenda, as well as entice other provinces to join the Charter who were skeptical at the time.
Though it has been decades since its introduction, the clause was just as controversial then as it is now, and with Ford using it, he’s triggered an uproar amongst Torontonians.
.@SenateCA There seems to be consensus that Ontario Premier Doug Ford either doesn’t understand or doesn’t agree with Canada’s democratic Constitutional framework, which includes a system of judicial review. #cdnpoli #onpoli— Tony Dean (@TonyDean_TO) September 11, 2018
Already 6 court challenges with this new Ontario Provincial government. In just the first 3 months. Democracy? And what of all the taxpayer money wasted in this fight over Toronto Council? What have we done electing Doug Ford? Four years of this. Yikes.— Nancy Robertson (@nancyrobertson) September 11, 2018
Overriding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at a whim, when you've been found to be violating the constitutional rights of Ontarians, is absolutely terrifying. Doug Ford will use the Notwithstanding clause whenever he fails to get what he wants. The makings of a dictator.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) September 10, 2018
In regards to whether Ford can actually do this, considering he currently maintains a majority government, he is able to pass the vote if he reintroduces quickly - which would be the only thing standing in his way when it comes to the clause coming into effect before the new election. With this in mind, it’s expected the bill will be reintroduced as fast as possible in order to get the ball rolling before the election on October 22nd.
The fact that this is the first time Ontario has ever seen this clause used is a big deal, especially considering it’s only ever been used outside of Quebec in a few select instances. Many critics have noted that Ford’s response with such a clause on a non-serious issue is especially concerning.
Either way, we've got another 4 years ahead of us as a province, and if the first few months have told us anything, they will most likely be filled with controversy.