Notwithstanding Doug Ford

September 12, 2018

So episode 78 – a new record.  But you know that right? Because you subscribe to the show on iTunes and have already rated and reviewed the podcast – right? You should.

We interrupt our Staircase aftershow series to bring you this special podcast.

In late July, after not campaigning on the issue and in the middle of Toronto’s municipal election, Doug Ford and his Conservative government introduced Bill 5, also known as the Better Local Government Act, 2018.

Bill 5 radically altered Toronto’s electoral districts by cutting the wards from 47 to 25 and in most cases doubling both their physical size and the number of potential voters. The immediate impact of Bill 5 was wide-spread confusion and uncertainty.

So dramatic was this mid-election change that the new law was before the Ontario Superior Court in a matter of weeks. And this week the court released its decision finding Ford’s legislation unconstitutional because it violated both the candidates and the voters freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the Charter.

Ford’s reaction was swift and unprecedented – he said that the Ontario would invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter to push through the unconstitutional bill – despite the court decision.

Invoking the rarely-used notwithstanding clause is a nuclear option to deal with a non-urgent matter. But it seems that Ford is perfectly content to prioritize political expediency over Charter rights. It also seems that Ford either does not understand the relationship between the courts and the legislature – he says he was elected by the people so he should be able to do as he pleases – constitutional rights be damned.

And Ford says he will do it again if the courts try to hold him back.

This week we break down the legislation, the court decision, the notwithstanding clause and why this all matters.

It’s going to be a long four years.

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Emilie Taman on Twitter: @EmilieTaman

Michael Spratt on Twitter: @mspratt

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