The increasingly clear indication from Ontario’s new right wing government is that it leans in. a very partisan disruptive direction and shows little respect for democratic rights and freedoms. It is nothing less than demagogic to argue the government is advancing democracy by making drastic changes in the composition of the council by cutting the number of seats in half in the middle of an election campaign. It adds insult to injury to claim that this was mandated by the outcome of the provincial election since his drastic plan was never revealed in any detail nor highlighted during the election. As Judge Edward Belobaba stated his action crossed the line and violated charter rights of freedom of expression in the section of the charter on fundamental freedoms.
.Furthermore it might well encourage Quebec again to use similar methods with respect to charter rights in the near future. This could only exacerbate federal tensions in the future as well as threaten the status of minorities. Pierre Trudeau as prime minister well understood the pitfalls of the notwithstanding clause in a political culture where authoritarian political tendencies were not uncommon. He and many others had witnessed such behaviour in Quebec and Ontario during the 1940s and 1950s . The most notorious was Quebec’s padlock law which he, Frank Scott and their allies in the union movement had fought against over many years. It is a return to the darkness of those days that we must avoid in these difficult days where authoritarian politics has been gaining ground.