Andrew Scheer, federal Tories back Doug Ford’s use of notwithstanding clause

Mindy Sparks
September 16, 2018

Mr Ford is the brother of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford and the recently elected premier of Ontario, Canada's most populous province. Joe Mihevc, who brought forward the resolution to ask for Ottawa's assistance.

Ontario voters were right to turf the previous government, but after yesterday's abhorrent behaviour, you have to wonder if we went from bad to worse.

A provision of the Constitution technically permits the federal government to disallow provincial legislation, but the provision was last used in 1943, raising questions in legal circles about whether it has become obsolete.

"I don't think that's a role that the federal government needs to take on", he said.

Toronto city clerk Ulli Watkiss said every delay between now and the October 22 vote affects her ability to ensure fairness, regardless of whether Toronto's electoral map will retain its current 47 wards, or 25, as the Ontario government wants.

The city's clerk says that a "tipping point" has been reached and it is now "virtually impossible" to carry out a fair and democratic election on October 22.

"It is becoming very hard to expect that voters and candidates can operate under these scenarios", Watkiss said.

On Monday, an Ontario judge ruled that the law cutting the size of Toronto's council from 47 wards to 25 violates the right to free speech because it was introduced so close to the October municipal election.

While Ford's use has caused controversy in Ontario, the clause's supporters say it's perfectly legitimate - as legitimate as any other bit of text in the constitution. The provincial government has appealed the ruling and reintroduced its changes this week in a new bill, compounding the chaos facing the clerk as she oversees preparation for the election.

"We're all here to keep standing up for Toronto and I know we're all prepared to continue to do that because we believe in this city".

Ford, a former city councillor and failed mayoral candidate, has said his plan will save $25 million and improve decision making on council.

"It is wrong for the premier to attack our fundamental charter rights for political gain", he said in a statement. "The dysfunction follows a certain individual around wherever he happens to be elected".

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford and Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey sit with the Reid family at their farm in Plympton-Wyoming.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said Thursday that he still believes the city can head to the polls as scheduled.

Clark would not say whether the province has a backup plan should the clerk find that the city can not be ready in time, despite repeated questions on the issue.

The opposition parties have vowed to use procedural tools to delay the bill as much as possible.

During today's meeting members of city council voted 26-10 in favour of directing the city solicitor to challenge the provincial bill in court.

It capped off a rowdy day at Queen's Park that saw protesters removed from the public galleries, including some seniors in restraints who had refused to budge after Speaker Ted Arnott gave the order to clear the viewing areas of the legislature.

Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party leader, declined an interview on the subject Wednesday, but in the past has advocated for the clause's use. She said the Toronto caucus is satisfied with Trudeau's decision not to intervene.

"We've used the notwithstanding clause in this province in the not too distant past", Moe said. "We live in a democracy".

The legislation has passed first reading and the Tory house leader has said it is expected to pass final reading on the week of September 24.

The source said legislators will be called back to Queen's Park Saturday at 1 help speed up debate on Bill 31, dubbed the Efficient Local Government Act.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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