Trudeau disappointed with Ford's constitutional override, but won't intervene

Cristina Cross
September 12, 2018

Tory said the city will oppose an application expected from the province to stay the judge's decision pending an appeal.

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.

"So any time a government chooses to invoke the notwithstanding clause to override the charter's protections, it has to be done deliberately, carefully and with the utmost forethought and reflection", Trudeau said during an event in Winnipeg.

He said 18 councillors wanted to reduce the number of City Council. Belobaba called Bill 5 "profoundly unfair" and found that nothing the government's lawyers had presented could reasonably explain why the 47-ward election for a city of almost 3 million people needed to be cancelled by legislative fiat.

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.

"Now that the court decision has been issued, I think it is extremely important that we hear from the premier and the government of Ontario and from other Ontario legislative leaders (on) why a reduction in the size of the city council in the middle of an election campaign is more important than considering such change... at a different time and in a much different manner?"

Ford will recall the legislature on Wednesday to re-introduce the bill, which highly regarded Justice Edward Belobaba struck down hours earlier as unconstitutional for violating freedom of expression for candidates and effective representation.

"This is good news for local democracy and to unfair government interference with election", Layton tweeted.

"I believe the judge's decision is deeply concerning and the result is unacceptable to the people of Ontario", Ford said.

Bill 5 cuts the size of Toronto's city council from 47 seats to 25, aligning them with federal and provincial ridings.

Legislation to slash Toronto's council almost in half in the middle of the municipal election campaign was struck down by the courts this week after a judge found it violated the right to freedom of expression for both candidates and voters.

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He also said that using the clause was not "undemocratic".

Holyday said if the matter isn't settled soon, and carries over into the new term of council, it could impact the municipal government's ability to get work done as politics will trump policy-making.

"My concern is democracy", the premier said.

Belobaba ordered an election resume with 47 wards, returning the campaign to a state before the Tories passed Bill 5 at Queen's Park. Joe Mihevic, who is running for re-election, wrote on Twitter.

The spokesperson said advance voting will begin on October 10 and nominations for candidates under the 47-ward model were closed on July 27 and certified.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam added that an appeal for the province would be a "steep uphill climb".

Ford had argued it would improve decision-making on the council. "Many candidates, particularly people of colour, LGBTQ, and young candidates, who have put their lives on hold to run for office, will now get their fair chance to express themselves in a free and fair election".

Although its use is often said to amount to "overruling the Charter", that's not technically correct: it's a part of the Charter, included as a compromise measure to ensure provincial support for the document's adoption in 1982.

"When Doug Ford tried to ram through this bill, he tried to silence newcomers to the political process and underrepresented voices", CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn said in a statement.

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the decision confirms that not even Ford is "above the law".

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