Toronto Liberal MPs slam Ford's 'heavy-handed' use of notwithstanding clause

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney and his daughter Caroline arrives for the Spirit of Hope benefit in Toronto

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's spokesman, Brock Harrison, said Ford is well within the law to use the notwithstanding clause because the constitution puts muncipalities under provincial authority.

While this was, in reality, the situation before Ford's use of the notwithstanding clause and his proclamation that he intends to use it again when his decisions are overturned in the courts, the general belief was that the notwithstanding clause would rarely be used because voters would punish most if not all governments that used it with defeat in the next election due to the popularity of the Charter.

The notwithstanding clause gives provincial legislatures and Parliament the ability to usher in legislation that overrides charter provisions, but only for a five-year period.

On Monday, an Ontario judge ruled that the law cutting the size of Toronto's council from 47 wards to 25 violates the right to free speech because it was introduced so close to the October municipal election.

While Conservative pundits were quick to defend Ford, members of the Conservative party have been largely quiet on the topic until now.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday he was disappointed in Ford's decision but that he would not block Ford's move.

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

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Toronto councillors decided Thursday to continue to fight the province's legislation in the courts, with Toronto Mayor John Tory saying the city had to pursue all legal options regardless of the odds.

"This is about preserving the will of the people, this is about preserving democracy", said Ford who sat in his seat in the Legislature for much of the protest, sometimes breaking out in a grin and occasionally exchanging verbal jousts with NDP MPPs who pointed at him as they were led away by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

"Frankly, the uncertainty is making this very hard", she said.

"We've used the notwithstanding clause in this province in the not too distant past", Moe said.

Ontario voters were right to turf the previous government, but after yesterday's abhorrent behaviour, you have to wonder if we went from bad to worse.

Mr Ford says his government invoked the clause so Toronto's election could proceed on time while they appeal against the judge's ruling.

- with files from Joan Bryden in Saskatoon.



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