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Ontario Premier Doug Ford in the Legislature on Sept. 17, 2018. Mr. Ford said he would use the notwithstanding clause to cut the size of Toronto's city council if the courts ruled against him.Fred Lum

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Ford, and the courts

Re Ontario Court Grants Stay Of Ruling That Derailed Ford’s Plan To Cut Toronto Council (Sept. 19): Four hundred or so “legal professionals” added their name to an open letter written urging Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney to stand up to Premier Doug Ford “to value the role of the judiciary and the important check that the courts have on the impulses of the government.”

All of the legal drama was caused by Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba’s ill-founded reasoning, not by Mr. Ford. The Belobaba decision was a legal abomination: The Ontario Court of Appeal called it a “dubious ruling” and cited the strong likelihood that Judge Belobaba “erred in law.”

The appellate level of our judiciary has spoken. Like a lightning bolt striking from above, a three-panel judge of Ontario’s highest court gave anti-Ford rabble-rousers what they wanted – the rule of law. But it wasn’t exactly what they expected. The Court of Appeal gave Judge Belobaba and the City of Toronto a big smackdown.

It’s a good thing we have the Court of Appeal to set the record straight. And uphold the rule of law.

Adam Ridolfi, Woodbridge, Ont.

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One judge looked at the facts and the law, and ruled one way.

Three judges looked at the facts and other parts of the law, and ruled the other way.

I agree with one ruling and disagree with the other. But I respect all the judges involved for seeking to ensure that the actions of the provincial government conformed to Canada’s supreme law, the Constitution.

I reject the suggestion that any of the judges was an “activist judge,” a buzz-phrase imported from the United States that disparages the court, the law and the foundation of a civil society.

Michael Moore, Toronto

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Despite Premier Doug Ford’s legal victory, his behaviour in this case raises serious concerns about his character. Having made it clear ahead of the judgment that if he lost in court, he would invoke the Charter’s notwithstanding clause, what Mr. Ford in effect said was, “I will respect the court’s decision only if I like it.”

First, he says judges should not overrule legislatures. Then he turns to a court to challenge the interpretation of an act of the federal legislature.

His supporters should have many more opportunities to be twisted into pretzels coming up with enabling justifications for their erratic leader over the next four years.

It appears he has scores to settle, and he has just begun to fight.

Norm Beach, Toronto

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You report that the appeal court said the question for the courts was not whether the bill to cut the size of Toronto’s council mid-way through an election was “unfair” but if it was “unconstitutional.” It found it was within the province’s power to be unfair.

The question for voters is more complex. In the court of public opinion, unfairness counts.

Cindy Mason, Edmonton

Getting to a deal

Re Top Republican Says Congress Frustrated With Canada Over NAFTA Talks (Sept. 19): One has to assume that the Canadian negotiators have also read The Art of the Deal.

Norman Rosencwaig, Toronto

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Our supply management systems benefit small groups of farmers at the expense of almost all Canadians, particularly low-income Canadians. If we want a deal that provides us with continued access to the huge American (read manufacturing) market, and benefits both countries, it’s time for Canadian negotiators to make some significant concessions.

David Enns, Cornwall, Ont.

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The United States pours millions of gallons of milk down the drain every year. One would like to think it could at least be given to school breakfast programs, needy families or developing countries. But no, they find it easier to treat it like waste.

Now, President Donald Trump wants to dump it onto the Canadian market and decimate our dairy industry. Shameful.

John A. MacEachern, Middleton, N.S.

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The Trump administration has set artificial deadlines, imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, and has threatened the “ruination of Canada” with 25 per cent auto tariffs – all efforts to bully Canada into signing an agreement that is unacceptable to us. And now Steve Scalise, a leading House Republican, complains about Canada’s negotiating tactics. A bit rich, don’t you think?

Brian Dougall, Ottawa

Rising sea levels

Re Devastating Flooding From Hurricane Florence Spreads Across Carolinas (Sept. 17). In 2012, North Carolina enacted a law that was tantamount to banning the use of the latest science-based predictions on how much coastal areas would be affected by sea-level rise from climate change and storm surges.

The U.S. Geological Survey went on record in 2012 predicting that sea levels would rise at three to four times the so-called “global” average rate along the Carolinas. But the North Carolina law restricted sea-level predictions (used to guide coastal development policies) to those based on historical averages.

Efforts by the $1.2-billion coastal tourism lobby effectively forced politicians to stick their heads in the sand – sand that is being inundated as we speak. Instead of protecting coastal communities, all this law has done is protect real estate interests, and the bill is coming due.

Chris Gates, Quinte West, Ont.

Floored by Alleslev

Re Why Did The MP Cross The Floor? Opportunism Or Ideology (Sept. 19): I hope Leona Alleslev, who is my MP, is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame as a result of betraying her supporters. A nondescript and largely ineffective politician, her electoral victory was due solely to her Liberal Party allegiance.

Announcing her switch, she sent her constituents the most fatuous, self-serving rationale I have ever read. One hopes she will gain some career perspective in her Conservative clothes over the next year, before she is returned to the private sector to seek new employment.

Frank Malone, Aurora, Ont.

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I am confused. Presumably voters who elected her as a Liberal MP voted against the Conservative Party, yet when Leona Alleslev switched sides, they inadvertently supported the Conservative Party. Their vote was wasted as they now have what they did not want – another Conservative MP.

What is a voter to do?

Bill Van Wyck, Windsor, Ont.

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Let’s hope Leona Alleslev doesn’t count Winston Churchill, a two-time floor-crosser, among her heroes, or the Liberals may get her back one day.

“Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat,” Churchill is reported to have said. Inspiration for Ms. Alleslev?

Emily Nguyen, Vancouver

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