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From the comments: Has Doug Ford crossed the line? Readers react to use of notwithstanding clause

Reader interest in stories about Doug Ford’s choice to use the notwithstanding clause continues to be high on Tuesday. Today’s comments were selected from Marcus Gee’s column arguing that the Ontario Premier’s actions challenge the rule of law and from a contributed column on the same topic by Carissima Mathen, the vice-dean academic and a law professor at the University of Ottawa.

On on Sept 10 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the media about the Ontario Superior Court decision that the provincial government's legislation to slash the size of Toronto council, was deemed unconstitutional.

Fred Lum

From Doug Ford is challenging the rule of law itself by Marcus Gee

If this is really about cost savings and efficiency, and not a personal vendetta, why is Ford not applying the same conditions to all municipalities in Ontario? - dynbar

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I hope that people truly understand what is happening. The Premier of this province is going to suspend our fundamental rights under the Charter to ensure an ill advised, unsupportable and unconstitutional law is enacted. And as he said, this is just the beginning. - T Cloz

In response to T Cloz:

This is what happens when you have a judge who wants to make the laws. Good on Doug Ford. I do not like the man, but previous to this decision the majority of legal experts said the province had the right to do this. Another liberal judge making the laws is much more scary than elected official doing so. - Jack Bauer

From Doug Ford’s powers are not limitless - thanks to a system he neither understands nor values by Carissima Mathen

Excellent, fair-minded analysis, Carissima Mathen. This is a necessary corrective to the uninformed complaints about the judiciary that Ford made when announcing his intention to use the notwithstanding clause. - Kate2888

This is a great article. It does indeed raise a real concern about the rule of law in this land. I respectfully disagree with the judge in this case that Bill 5 infringed on a person's freedom of expression. I believe the judge over-stretched his arguments.

I disagree even more with Doug Ford’s decision to use the notwithstanding clause. Just like Donald Trump, Ford must realize that laws, even if passed by a democratically elected government, are subject to a reasonability test within the Constitution. That will not and never should change. Otherwise this government will indeed become a tyrannical majority. And that is indeed scary. - Guenther Moeller

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Yes, all that is true. I would suggest, peripherally, that Ford’s conduct also highlights the weakness of our first-past-the-post electoral system, which seems to encourage hyper partisanship and the mistaken belief that the winner takes all. - Moseby1

Thank you for the well written and thoughtful article. If only our Premier was capable of such intellect. - M_G

The judge had to shoehorn his decision into the Charter of Rights box, on the face of it the arbitrary and discriminatory Bill 5 on Toronto was wrong but there was probably no other way to overrule it. For due process the Province can take to Supreme Court but time’s a wastin’ and there’s supposed to be an election in October. The best course is to let go the 47 Council this time, everyone has four more years to figure out how many elected reps are needed to oversee Toronto administration. - paulsixe

The Charter exists to curb the abuse by politicians. The Notwithstanding Clause exists to curb the abuse by the judiciary. The judge’s decision in this case was an abuse of power and would have been overturned on appeal. Ford could have gone that way, but this would reward the stalling tactics of critics (including the judge). The one difference between these “abuses” is that politicians are elected and accountable to the public while the judiciary is not. On this one, the edge goes to Ford. - HabFan410

From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.

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