KUCHARUK: when government infringes on democracy

Wide-eyed and a bit confused, I have been attempting to follow the politicking happening in Ontario where the province is hell-bent on drastically reducing the number of Toronto city councilors prior to the October municipal election. The current council sits at 47 members and the Provincial government wants to cut that number to 25.

The situation is made more peculiar because Doug Ford is the Premier of the Province and his resume includes time on that same Toronto council and a failed attempt at the mayoral race.

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In August of this year, the Province of Ontario adopted Bill 5: The Better Local Government Act. The Bill was the first attempt to reduce the size of the Toronto Municipal Government. The Bill was quickly challenged and just this week, a Judge voted that the Bill was unconstitutional and was quashed.

But wait….it’s not over. The Province of Ontario responded by stating that it would pass a new version of the legislation invoking something called the ‘notwithstanding’ clause which is a section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The clause allows the province to enact laws overriding the Charter for a limited time of five years. 

Don’t you find that uncomfortable? Doesn’t that scare you a wee bit? Granted, we don’t live in Ontario, but the clause that they are using is the same clause at the disposal for any Premier and Provincial Government to use if necessary.

It is almost as if they said, “We can do this the easy way (the original Bill 5), or the hard way (using the notwithstanding clause)”. 

At face value, this entire transaction is like watching a bully on a playground. Is this the type of politics we want our elected officials to play?

Some may say that, “What happens in Toronto doesn’t effect us – don’t worry about it”. I beg to differ, as these types of decisions become precedent setting and, in my opinion, infringe on our democratic process. 

Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes. You can read her book “Naked Tuesday” or catch her on CBC Radio Daybreak North where she shares her “Peace of Mind”. Follow her on twitter @judylaine.

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