Premier Doug Ford Overrules Judge With Notwithstanding Clause And Makes History

Bill Davis

Bailey said the government is also appealing the initial ruling to get the opinion of a higher court, but he suggests there's urgency in saving significant dollars in Toronto over the next four-year council term.

"As Toronto MPs, we have worked hard to build a strong and effective relationship between our government and the city".

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government said the Legislature will convene on Saturday to help "speed up" the passage of a bill that would slash the number of Toronto city councillors almost in half ahead of the municipal election.

Toronto had challenged the province's council-cutting legislation in court and a judge agreed that passing the bill in the middle of municipal election campaign violated the freedom of expression rights for voters and candidates.

Supporters of Mr Ford's say his use of the clause is a justifiable response to what they see as judicial activism.

"As elected representatives of the city, we want to assure the people of Toronto that we understand and respect the critical role that city hall and local democracy play in building the communities in which we live", the statement said.

"We will never stop standing up for Toronto and the rights of our citizens", said Tory. 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.

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I still think that the bill is nothing more than Doug Ford's vindictive attempt to punish his political enemies on council, but that's nearly a moot point at this stage.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath noted that several provincial and federal Conservatives have spoken out against the notwithstanding clause. "How can the premier be so certain that he is right when so many thoughtful Conservatives are telling him he is utterly and totally wrong?"

The premier, however, once again dismissed arguments that he is overriding charter rights, saying the notwithstanding clause is itself part of the Constitution. "This is going to be the will of the people".

The PCs and the New Democrats have been battling over how quickly the bill should be passed, with the NDP attempting to slow the process down.

However, late Thursday a source confirmed to The Canadian Press that the government will hold a rare Saturday sitting of the legislature to speed up passage of the controversial bill.

An email marked "Strictly Confidential" was sent to Progressive Conservative MPPs Thursday night ordering them back to the Legislature Saturday at 1 p.m.

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