Premier Doug Ford Overrules Judge With Notwithstanding Clause And Makes History

(Screenshot courtesy of Doug Ford via Twitter.com)

Premier Doug Ford has slashed Toronto city council — again. This time with a clause. And just like that, history has been made in Ontario …

Ford says an Ontario judge’s ruling that found his government’s move to cut the size of Toronto city council during the campaign for next month’s election violated the Constitution.

READ: Doug Ford To Slash Toronto Council Seats, John Tory Responds “This Is Not Right”

The premier calls this unacceptable, and so he has officially proceeded to reintroduce the bill to cut council, by invoking the notwithstanding clause in the charter.


“Today we will be reintroducing a bill that will make the City of Toronto operate more efficiently for its citizens. We’re using Section 33 of the Constitution because we believe that the will of the elected legislature should be respected,” says Ford in a tweet.

“I was elected. He was appointed,” Ford has also said of Justice Edward Belobaba — the judge whose ruling found the government’s move to slash the size of Toronto city council violated the Constitution.

READ: Doug Ford Promised Ontario This Housing ‘Plan’ Pre-Election: What Will Become Of It?

So Premier Doug Ford’s PC government has now made history because this is the first time in Ontario that the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been used to override a court ruling.

No prime minister — and few premiers have ever invoked this.

There have been supporters of the premier and there has been an outcry as well.


Supporters say there would not be a clause in the Charter if it weren’t meant to be used and say it’s a democratic tool.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Mayor John Tory Plans To Make Toronto More Affordable

Constitutional expert Wayne MacKay, professor emeritus of law at Dalhousie University, told the CBC that in an era of populist politicians, using the notwithstanding clause may no longer be considered politically dangerous.

“[It’s] maybe going to be seen as a politically good thing to do — that maybe you’re not going to, as traditionally viewed, lose votes by setting aside the charter,” MacKay said.

READ: How Doug Ford Exploits Ontario’s Growing Urban/Suburban Divide

The Opposition NDP, Green and Liberal parties had asked Progressive Conservative MPPs to vote against the bill invoking the notwithstanding clause — but in a public vote, dissidence would have been surprising.

Of note, the notwithstanding clause has been used more than 15 times, and mostly in Quebec.

And since there is no longer a question of whether or not Premier Doug Ford will invoke the clause, the next question is whether or not he will use it again and again if he’s not satisfied with a result.

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