The Notwithstanding clause comes back to haunt us just as Pierre Trudeau warned it would. Ontario Premier Ford says he intends to use it to overcome a Superior court decision declaring his restructuring of Toronto city council in the midst of an election violates the charter of rights.

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.

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About haroldchorneyeconomist

I am Professor of political economy at Concordia university in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I received my B.A.Hons (econ.&poli sci) from the University of Manitoba. I also completed my M.A. degree in economics there. Went on to spend two years at the London School of Economics as a Ph.D. student in economics and then completed my Ph.D. in political economy at the University of Toronto. Was named a John W.Dafoe fellow, a CMHC fellow and a Canada Council fellow. I also was named a Woodrow Wilson fellow in 1968 after completing my first class honours undergraduate degree. Worked as an economist in the area of education, labour economics and as the senior economist with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation for the Government of Manitoba from 1972 to 1978. I also have worked as an economic consultant for MDT socio-economic consultants and have been consulted on urban planning, health policy, linguistic duality and public sector finance questions by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan,the cities of Regina and Saskatoon, Ontario and the Federal government of Canada. I have also been consulted by senior leaders of the British Labour party, MPs from the Progressive Conservative party, the Liberal party and the New Democrats on economic policy questions. Members of the Government of France under the Presidency of Francois Mitterand discussed my work on public sector deficits. I have also run for elected office at the municipal level. I first began to write about quantitative easing as a useful policy option during the early 1980s.
This entry was posted in Canada, civil liberties, Doug Ford and authoritarian politics, Ontario elections, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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