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Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to the media on Sept. 10 about the Ontario Superior Court decision that the provincial government's legislation to slash the size of Toronto's city council during an election was unconstitutional.

Fred Lum

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Withstanding Mr. Ford

Re Doug Ford To Invoke Notwithstanding Clause To Override Judge’s Toronto Council Ruling (online, Sept. 10): An Ontario Superior Court judge rules that the provincial government’s law, reducing the number of Toronto city councillors, was unconstitutional because it was enacted during an election. The simple course for the Ontario government would be to wait six months and reintroduce the legislation. But like bullies everywhere, Doug Ford does not like to be challenged, especially by a judge.

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So the Premier says he will invoke the notwithstanding clause, something Ontario has not done before, after waiting a whole four hours from the time the judgment was delivered. Very impulsive, very rash, very disturbing.

William O’Meara, Toronto

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I watched with a shudder as Ontario Premier Doug Ford casually said he would invoke Section 33, also known as the notwithstanding clause of our Constitution, in response to the Ontario Superior Court’s decision ruling against the Premier’s effort to cut the size of Toronto’s City Council with an election already under way.

Section 33 has only been invoked three times outside of the province of Quebec, and never in Ontario. It is used rarely because governments should be extremely wary to enact laws that blatantly infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead, the proper mechanism to resolve this issue is an appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Mr. Ford’s justificatory claim that we live in a democracy is only half-right. We live in a constitutional democracy. The notwithstanding clause was not meant to be used this way and the shadow cast by this precedent looms large. We should all be worried.

Nicole Chrolavicius, lawyer, lecturer in constitutional law, Osgoode Hall Law School

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Withstanding Doug Ford would seem to be Ontario’s biggest challenge. Perhaps Canada’s, too.

Tracy Fellows, Montreal

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Clearly it is time to review the constitutional relationship between provinces and cities. The Constitution, written in a period of a largely agrarian economy, is no longer appropriate. Canadian hub cities now drive their region’s economies, and accommodate the majority of their provincial populations.

Cities need greater taxing powers and unassailable governance authority. What better evidence of this than Doug Ford’s actions to dictate to the City of Toronto?

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A.J. Diamond, Toronto

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There seems to be no doubt that Doug Ford has the authority to cut the size of Toronto’s city council almost in half, the constitutional aspect only involves when.

What will be the ripple effect for the country with his entirely needless disrespect of our Charter? Why blow up the bathtub to empty the bathwater?

Marian Michaels-Jones, Calgary

NAFTA pressures

Re U.S. Escalates Pressure On Canada For Dairy Concessions in NAFTA Talks (Sept. 10): The notion that Canada’s dairy farmers are hurting the U.S. is ridiculous. There are more dairy cows in Wisconsin alone than there are in all of Canada.

Some 35 states export primarily to Canada, which is their largest trading partner. Canada should hold tight until after the U.S. midterm elections and let those states’ senators and governors put pressure on the President.

Stephen A. Crocker, Edmonton

Serena’s … serenade

Re You Can Call Williams A Poor Sport, But You Can Never Call Her A Loser (Sports, Sept. 10): As a husband, father and grandfather, I support the current efforts to highlight and support the need for equality. The embarrassing histrionics by Serena Williams that occurred during the U.S. Open women’s tennis final had nothing to do with that. It was simply another attempt at gamesmanship that did not work. The young woman on the other side of the net stayed focused and kicked her … well, beat her handily!

Jack Fleming, Mississauga

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Cathal Kelly is wrong. We won’t remember Serena Williams’s meltdown in 10 years time.

How often in the the current commentary have you seen any reference to a similar tirade in 2009, when she screamed at a line judge, on having a foot fault called: “If I could, I would take this [deleted] ball and shove it down your [deleted] throat.” It took a friend to remind me of the incident, which wasn’t cited in the articles I’ve read.

Mike Wills, Toronto

Reason to be angry

Re The Danger Posed By Culture Wars (Sept. 8): The Globe and Mail’s editorial writers must be from another planet. They argue that culture wars must explain Canadians’ level of anger because we are so well off materially. Have they not noticed that nearly six million (16.8 per cent) of Canadians are living in poverty (Low Income Measure After Tax, 2016), and that income inequality has continued to rise?

The 2016 census showed that between 2005 and 2015, the median incomes of the bottom 50 per cent of families rose by 11.2 per cent in constant dollars, while the median income of the top 10 per cent rose by 16.4 per cent. Maybe some Canadians have material reasons to be angry.

Sid Frankel, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

Un/happiness in the hood

Re Why Are People In Vancouver And Toronto So Unhappy? (Sept. 8): People like me, who moved out of the city decades ago, know that the inescapable crowded conditions of city life promote stress and anxiety.

Being surrounded constantly by strangers is disturbing. I was never able to quit smoking until I moved to a more peaceful environment. Having a little green space to call your own provides a sense of security and tranquility, as does knowing your neighbours. Raising children without these things deprives them of a great deal of happiness.

David Tanner, Cobourg, Ont.

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I would be curious to see the actual questions that residents of Vancouver and Toronto were asked about their quality of life, which determined that they were unhappy. Yes, there are the strains of the high cost of living, traffic congestion, noise, safety etc. But what about how they liked the latest play, film festival, concert, Blue Jays game, opera, art exhibit, international cuisine or intellectual ferment? Those questions may not be relevant to residents in small towns and villages.

Of course, we make compromises living in a big city, and it can be stressful. But it reminds me of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall screenplay, where he talks of the man who told his psychiatrist that his brother thought he was a chicken. The doctor urges him to turn his brother in, but the man says he can’t, “because we need the eggs.”

Well, we city folks need the eggs, too. Happiness is where you find it.

Ulla Colgrass, Toronto

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