Canada Corner


Haha. You’re right. Actually after a little more reading I see that it has been abused there as well. I’m still concerned about slippery slope syndrome though. A closer look at the Charter shows that there is no provision for when it can or should be used. Oops.


Arguably it has been abused nowhere else. But it’s true Ford is the kind of guy who would try to reproduce that trick… good luck, Ontario!!


That’s…not the purpose of the Notwithstanding Clause in our Charter. It was included to ensure that our elected representatives maintained authority over our laws, as the constitution intended, rather than unelected lifetime appointees. There is a lengthy description of the purpose of the Notwithstanding Clause in the official notes when the Charter was enacted.

The notwithstanding clause was hoped, by Charter advocates, to be seldom utilized because of the potential political costs of overriding judicial protection of the individual and group rights protected in the Charter - and that has proven to be the case, to date, as it’s only been used in Quebec where support for infringing rights to favor francophone culture has proven to be politically popular.

However, in the future it’s quite possible we’ll see more use of the notwithstanding clause, and this case is a good example of why - a judge making a decision based upon political preference rather than reason, logic and jurisprudence, and the voting public is increasingly partisan so there are unlikely to be political consequences for invoking the clause when necessary to support the governing party’s platform – especially in cases like this which don’t involve an individual’s fundamental rights. Fortunately we haven’t given in completely to political extreme partisanship like the U.S., but sadly we’re trending in that direction.


I think that changing the size of the city council mid-election without proper consultation seems like a valid reason for the judge blocking it.

Ford could just wait a bit, and he wouldn’t even need to use the notwithstanding clause. He’s not that kind of guy though.


Except it isn’t. That’s like imposing an obligation on the board of directors of a corporation to discuss matters with a local community before making a corporate decision - it might be something you wish was required, but it’s clearly not a requirement and is contrary to hundreds of years of corporate law jurisprudence. Same with Ford’s actions, which are clearly supported by hundreds of years of administrative law. This isn’t a legally uncertain action. The judge just manufactured a reason to disallow something the judge disliked for political reasons

This is a naive perspective - the judge would have manufactured a reason then just like the judge manufactured one now. The stated reason is irrelevant since it had nothing to do with the judge’s actions - it was just a concocted (and absurd) rationalization for an action the judge wanted to make.


That’s why they can appeal the decision? But no, grudges needs settlin’ now.

For the American spectators at home, here’s a snippet of the judge’s ruling:


So redrawing districts in the middle of an election without following any sort of process is cool then? Seems like a bad precedent to set.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t care if Toronto has 10 or 100 councillors, but this move by Ford is fishy as hell. If he were acting in good faith he would wait until after the election and hash it out then.

Then Ford would be on firmer ground. For now, he looks all the more like the tinpot wannabe dictator his detractors claim he is.

In any case, everyone knows the provincial governments have supremacy over the municipalities, but as always working towards consensus rather than being an authoritarian jackass is how you get lasting results. You go this way and when the Ford government falls, poof, TO is back to 47 councillors (or however many the liberals want). It would be an absurd use of the otwithstanding clause that pretty much demands tit for tat down the road.


Appealing the decision would cost Ontario taxpayers over $7m as it would be ineffective prior to the election, and an unnecessary cost if the government is willing to use the notwithstanding clause to achieve its policy decision in any event.

As a Toronto resident, I’m both glad that the districts will be made consistent with federal and provincial elections and with the cost and efficiency gains of trimming an unwieldy administrative. 47 people in a room is completely unmanageable for effective governance.


We should trim parliament down to 25 seats.


All legal (and historically) required processes were followed, and “middle of an election” may be technically true because the process for registration of candidates was open, but it’s not as if they were in the middle of counting the votes or even campaigning (which wasn’t yet permitted). The actual election was almost 3 months away which, in Canadian terms, is a lengthy campaigning period. And obviously there was a need to act when this government did to avoid millions in additional costs and maintenance of the dysfunctional administrative body for another 4 years.

Its not that provincial governments have "supremacy"over municipal governments - there are only 2 levels of government in Canada: federal and provincial. Municipal bodies are just an organ of the provincial government, like a crown corporation, regulatory body, or agency. Again, the judge’s ruling is analogous to telling a corporation’s board of directors that it can’t reorganize the corporation’s audit committee – it’s an action within the absolute discretion of the decision maker, and a judge can’t legitimately just manufacture additional stakeholders who have to be involved in that decision.


I haven’t been keeping up with local politics to argue for or against the efficacy of the city council, so I was actually pretty neutral on Bill 5. I figured it’ll be reverted come next election. But cost savings is a clear pretense in a city with an operating budget of 11 billion.


Sounds like someone has a Republican agenda and is trying to trump his way to getting what he wants.


Here’s an interesting, lawyerly POV from Nathalie Des Rosiers:

She’s a sitting MPP who also happens to be one of the editors of the Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution.


If we don’t fight climate change, they’ll be more demand for oil! Whee.

Two years ago, Suncor shareholders forced company management to look at the future of oil demand and the oil sands in a low carbon world. Suncorreported back to shareholders that in a low-carbon world “new oil sands growth projects are challenged and unlikely to proceed” and “no new export pipelines are built out of the Athabasca Oil Sands region.”

I would have more sympathy for this position if the companies who control CAPP weren’t also running the American Petroleum Institute, which has been guiding Trump’s hand on climate policy. For instance, the New York Times has revealed that it was oil companies – not car companies – that were behind Trump’s attack on the Obama-era vehicle fuel efficiency rules that would have reduced oil consumption.

In a brilliant but evil twist, the oil lobbyists are now saying that Canadian governments should roll back climate policies to match the ones they wrote for Trump — even if this strategy can only succeed if we stop fighting climate change.