Ontario Premier Doug Ford won’t take no for an answer from an Ontario judge. As the National Post reports, Ford announced Monday night that his Conservative government will use the notwithstanding clause to overrule a court’s decision to block provincial legislation to cut the size of Toronto’s council from 47 to 25 representatives.
The notwithstanding clause is part of the Canadian constitution and can be used by the Canadian prime minister or provincial premiers to ignore court decisions that overturn government legislation. It has rarely been used; Quebec utilized the mechanism twice to enforce French language laws in the province.
Ford is calling provincial legislature back into session to pass a bill to override the court’s declaration that the Better Local Government Act, the bill to cut the city council, is unconstitutional.
“I believe the judge’s decision is deeply, deeply concerning,” Ford told a news conference. “The result is unacceptable to the people of Ontario.”
A judge ruled Monday that the Ford government enacted the legislation too quickly and pushed it through the legislature before “a consultation ever took place.”
“There is no evidence that any other options or approaches were considered or that any consultation ever took place,” Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba insisted in his decision. “It appears that Bill 5 was hurriedly enacted to take effect in the middle of the city’s election without much thought at all, more out of pique than principle.”
But, speaking to reporters, Ford emphasized that judges are not elected, while he was and he promised to move swiftly to overrule the judge.
“Our first order of business will be to reintroduce the Better Local Government Act, and with it invoke Section 33 of the Constitution,” Ford said.