Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Halifax mayor says Ontario premier’s ‘notwithstanding’ clause plan is ‘outrageous’

Halifax mayor says Ontario premier’s ‘notwithstanding’ clause plan is ‘outrageous’

Justin Trudeau made it clear Tuesday he would not block the Ontario government's use of the Constitution's notwithstanding clause to forge ahead with plans to cut the size of Toronto city council, even though he was disappointed with the province's decision.

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has compared that to living in an "elected dictatorship". "He was appointed by one person", declared Ford.

"Every day that goes by, it's tougher and tougher".

Just hours later, the Premier announced he would use Section 33 of the Charter, known as the notwithstanding clause, to override the ruling, and threatened to use it again if judges strike down other legislation. So, Ford accused the courts of being undemocratic for upholding the constitution.

Horwath accused the premier of trampling people's rights to pursue a personal vendetta against Toronto, where Ford served one term as a city councillor and unsuccessfully ran for mayor. It came into force as an amendment to the Constitution in 1982.

The premier maintains cutting Toronto city council to 25 seats from 47 is necessary to streamline decision-making and save taxpayer money.

The promise to scrap cap-and-trade helped Ford and his Progressive-Conservative party win a majority in the Ontario legislature in June.

This has caught citizens off guard, wondering why he would tackle such an issue while most are waiting for relief on kitchen table priorities like jobs, healthcare, education and energy.

Ford knows full well that he has no mandate for this deeply unpopular agenda and is therefore mobilizing all the tools of state power at his disposal to put down an emerging working-class movement.

The federal government has never invoked the notwithstanding clause.

Far from being the result of Ford's personal proclivities, as is largely being claimed in the bourgeois press, the Ontario premier's embrace of anti-democratic methods of rule is part of an worldwide process rooted in the deepening global capitalist crisis.

Macfarlane said that while the federal government could reopen the debate through a constitutional amending formula, all provinces would need to be onside in order for any national change to take effect. And the federal Liberal government, which previous year announced a 70 percent increase in defence spending by 2026, is now promising big business that its fall fiscal update will be devoted to boosting "corporate competitiveness".

"Throughout his blustering afternoon press conference, Ford revealed a view of government, and of democracy, that is essentially pre-constitutional".

The case alleges that the Ford government unlawfully failed to provide for public consultation on a regulation that ended Ontario's cap and trade program and on Bill 4, the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018, now before the legislature. "That's the only thing that stands in between me and my government or anyone else who is trying to do me wrong", Sharon Howarth said while standing in line.

To carry out the wholesale deregulation, corporate tax cuts, and evisceration of what remains of public services that Ford is talking about, the ruling elite requires strong, authoritarian state structures to suppress popular opposition.

"The Ford government's first action when it stepped into office was to gut a program created to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, without offering any immediate alternative", said Charles Hatt, Ecojustice lawyer, in a statement.

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