The battle lines between Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto’s council have been drawn and this may perhaps be one of the first of many skirmishes and battles between them.
Earlier this week Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba struck down Premier Ford’s plan to ensure council seats didn’t increase from the current 25 to 47. The judge admonished Ford and his Progressive Conservatives for interfering with the right to freedom of expression for both candidates and voters when the province enacted the Better Local Government Act last month.
Hours after the ruling, Premier Doug Ford announced his government would recall the legislature to table the bill again. He vowed to appeal the decision in court and said he would take the extraordinary step of invoking the ‘notwithstanding clause’ for the first time in Ontario’s history.
The clause, also known as Section 33, allows governments to pass laws that appear to violate certain charter rights.
“He’s the judge. I’m the premier. He gets to use his tools. I’ll use every single tool to stand up for the people of Ontario, stand up for the 2.3 million people that elected this government,” Ford said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory called the use of the notwithstanding clause a “gross overreach” of the province’s powers.
On Wednesday, the Doug Ford government tabled Bill 31, the Efficient Local Government Act. If passed, the law would reduce the number of council seats to 25 from 47 in the upcoming municipal election. Candidates would have two days after the bill receives royal assent to run under the 25-ward model.
Chaos ensued at Queen’s Park with protesters being escorted out in handcuffs and the City of Toronto staff are expected to provide an update on how they will move ahead to carry out the election.
Voters are set to go to the polls on October 22. – CINEWS