Today the Ontario court ruled that Bill 5 which reduced the number of city councillors on Toronto city council was unconstitutional and struck it down. I am not a lawyer so cannot say whether it was the right decision or not, but personally I believe Ford’s decision to push through the changes during the middle of an election in a hastily matter was clearly inappropriate. This is not about saving taxpayer’s money, this is about him getting back at the left wing councillors who opposed him and his brother while in city hall. Such abuse of power is vindictive and wrong and when leaders behave like that, they need to be held accountable. I am not against reducing the size of city council, but it should apply for elections in 2022, not one already under way.
I believe the government has the right to appeal this although I believe it is a waste of time and taxpayer’s money to do so. What though is quite chilling to me is the willingness to invoke the notwithstanding clause. This has very dangerous implications and if used regularly could set a bad precedent that will encourage governments not just in Ontario but elsewhere across the country to regularly use it. It is an emergency valve and should only be used in such cases. More importantly any time it is invoked, I believe it should only be done with all party support to ensure there is a strong consensus. Using it without multi party support opens the door to abuse of power which is what the Charter and constitution were created to prevent against. We may sometimes not like the way courts rule, but part of a democracy is having strong checks and balances, not giving government unlimited power to do as it pleases. For those on the right cheering this on; I ask would you feel the same if say Trudeau lost on the attestation for summer jobs and then invoked the notwithstanding clause? The Tories won’t be in power forever and if they can use it, absolutely no reason some future government including one on the left will not use it. Also the fact he plans to use this regularly to override the courts is quite worrisome. It shows Ford thinks he has the right to do whatever he wants when he does not.
The only good news here is he promised it is a free vote and therefore it is imperative at least 14 PC MPPs break ranks and kill this. There are many smart moderate ones who probably realize this is a bad idea and whatever push back they get short term it is the right thing to do and will benefit them long term. Even Harper who lost many cases never went this far. I no longer live in Ontario, but if I did, this is a deal breaker for me and would likely make it very difficult to vote PC in 2022 and we aren’t even 100 days into the mandate. Doug Ford appeals to the rabid angry base and my worry is far from helping conservatism, he will make it toxic in Ontario thus making it very difficult for Conservatives to win federally even if they are more moderate. I warned all along choosing Doug Ford was a big mistake and everything that has happened so far is just proving this. Had Elliott or Mulroney been leader, we wouldn’t have this problem and in fact they could help lead to a long term revival in moderate conservatism instead of short term win, but a long term decline. Also as his poll numbers sink which I believe they will, hopefully enough in the party will see he is taking them over the edge and thus get rid of him as their leader. While no fan of Justin Trudeau, he must be smiling today as next election he will have Donald Trump, Doug Ford, and probably Jason Kenney to use as whipping boys as to why Canadians shouldn’t vote Conservative and it will probably work too.