Politics Blog: Ford uses notwithstanding clause to stifle criticism
Ottawa – June 22, 2021 – At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s ratings were sky-high, but as the mishandling of the crisis became apparent, his numbers began to tumble.
Recent polling shows Ford to be one of the least popular premiers in the country only a few percentage points ahead of his conservative colleagues, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and at the bottom of the heap Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
Ford’s popularity has dropped so low that he has now done something that is a first in Ontario; invoking the notwithstanding clause permitted in Canada’s constitution to overturn a decision by the courts.
The Ontario Superior Court issued a decision that Government Bill – 254 violated the constitution by limiting the ability of those opposed to Ford from spending on advertising critical of his handling of issues in the lead up to the 2022 provincial election.
Ford’s strategy in the next election is to try and limit those opposed to him from criticizing his government while at the same time tripling the financial donations individuals can make to a political party. Instead of following the direction of the courts Ford selected the nuclear option by invoking the notwithstanding clause and introducing a new Bill – 307, which reinstated those parts of Bill – 254 deemed unconstitutional.
Ford fears advertisement campaigns in the lead up to the election over issues like his government’s inadequate response to covid outbreaks and deaths in long-term care facilities, in addition to legislation that protects private operators of long-term care homes from being held accountable by loved ones of the deceased.
Environmentalists and municipalities who are outraged by the governments use of MZO’s (Ministerial Zoning Bylaws) that bypass environmental regulations and pave sensitive wetlands and parts of the protected greenbelt to the benefit of Ford’s wealthy developer friends, need to be silenced.
Activists who were outraged at Ford’s attempt to give police more powers to arbitrarily stop people are not voices Ford wishes the public to hear. In Ford’s Ontario, health-care workers and teachers who have been on the front-line of the pandemic need to be silenced.
Ford’s legislation is not only attempting to silence critics, but it also allows the rich and powerful to make even larger donations to the Ontario PC Party. Changes in the legislation will allow for the tripling of donations to political parties. While the opposition NDP rely on smaller donations from more Ontarians the PCs rely on maximum donations from the wealthy.
These changes pave the way for those very CEO’s, developers and directors to give even larger donations to Ford’s PC Party in an attempt to gain exclusive access to the premier’s office.
Ford could have appealed the court’s decision but with less than 12 months from the next provincial election the quickest way to silence his critics was the use of the notwithstanding clause while at the same time allowing for the rich and powerful to give his party even more money.
You can tell a government like Ford’s is in trouble when they resort to such drastic actions to silence those who have felt the pain of his government’s mismanagement.